I have a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, concentrating in VLSI, and I am currently in the process of switching fields to go into Physics. I love physics, and mathematics. I like pretty problems that need subtle insight to solve, which is why I'm moving from engineering to physics. Even though the prettiness of a problem may be subjective, I like the "feeling" I get when I'm doing physics, which was totally absent when I was working in VLSI.

That said, before I make the transition complete, I would like to learn about other areas of electrical engineering that may be closer in spirit to physics and applied mathematics. I have a vague idea that signal processing and imaging are areas that may be quite different from VLSI. Are there any others? Which area should I dive into to get a feel for a different kind of electrical engineering? (I have matlab on my computer and I would like to make use of it).

I especially like to use mathematics on real world problems, and the reason I didn't enjoy VLSI too much is because it is full of boolean algebra, which is somewhat boring and non-visual. It would be helpful if, along with your topic suggestion, you could tell me what areas of mathematics it would involve. Thanks in advance.

PS - I don't have enough points to add "projects" and "careers" tag, so it would be nice if someone could do that for me.

  • $\begingroup$ It would also be helpful if I could get started on some project that is industry-relevant. $\endgroup$
    – Joebevo
    Nov 30, 2012 at 12:05
  • $\begingroup$ From what you wrote, it seems like you're not actually that interested in "engineering" and are trying to make a transition to science and research. In my mind, engineering is more about applying solutions, while science and research strive to improve the current ones by solving present problems. Also, the areas you mentioned do not look to me like they have a lot in common with "electrical". Are you maybe also interested in Computer Science subfields in addition to things related to Electrical engineering? $\endgroup$
    – penelope
    Nov 30, 2012 at 12:53
  • $\begingroup$ @penelope: Yes, you are mostly right in that I'm looking to transition into a more scientific domain. However, before I do I'd like to make sure what I'm after isn't already present in engineering. You make a good point about applying stuff Vs solving new problems. (BTW, in my university, "electrical engineering" was a broad major, so I'm just checking out what the other areas have to offer. When I was there, there were students doing signal processing and DSP and image processing in this major at my uni) $\endgroup$
    – Joebevo
    Nov 30, 2012 at 15:29

1 Answer 1


I am a former physician, having done half graduation in mechanical engineering, then a master degree in product design. Nowadays, I work for a biomedical/bioelectric-equipment company, doing mostly software design (algorithms and workflow), using Numpy (matlab like) for prototyping.

THAT fulfills my need (incredibly similar to yours) to solve new problems, work with pretty-picture generation via numbercrunching, programming, and putting the head to perform hard intellectual work very often. I can tell no two months from the three years I am working here have been like one another, and the product portfolio keeps increasing.

In my spare-time, I have interest in geospatial stuff, most probably because I like to ride bikes on relatively remote places with maps and GPS, and the very description of geographical stuff allows for a lot of pretty-picturing. Recently, the avalanche of bike-riding GPS data on sites such as Strava, and the current problems CAUSED by traffic-engineering in big cities makes me think these statistical analysis from people displacement's big data can form a body of knowledge for an "anti-traffic-engineering" oriented for actual people instead of private automobiles.

I can "feel" there's a huge future demand, arriving pretty soon, for software tools that transform datasets into useful information. That can happen with medical imaging, geo-statistical imaging, traffic-engineering micro-modelling, and a lot of fields where data collection, transformation, analysis and interpretation is of huge importance, but still needs further development.

I'm not sure I am actually answering your question, but I feel your question is open to some daydreaming, so I hope this helps, and would be glad to answer any comment you may have!

  • $\begingroup$ I suggest you to take a good look (and READ) at this page. It was very inspiring to me: worrydream.com $\endgroup$ Nov 30, 2012 at 13:17

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