What is it?
Engineering Physics refers to the combined disciplines of physics, mathematics, and engineering. The field seeks ways to apply, design, and develop new solutions in engineering and holds promising career prospects for interested graduates of science or engineering.
Engineering Physics is unlike both traditional engineering or science disciplines – it does not restrict itself to one area. The focus is on applied physics covering highly specialised fields such as quantum physics, materials science, applied mechanics, electronics, nanotechnology, microfabrication, microelectronics, computing, photonics, nuclear engineering, biophysics, control theory, aerodynamics, energy, solid-state physics, and others.
The focus on coming up with integrated solutions sourced from multiple specialities ensures that the solutions are more optimal, effective, and efficient. The cross-functional focus also closes the gap between theoretical and practical sides of science and engineering.
Is it for me?
As stated, graduates of science or engineering can look to specialise in Engineering Physics. Scientists looking to move beyond theory, or engineers looking to create real solutions to tangible problems using theoretical rigour find this field exciting.
What kind of jobs can I get?
Qualified engineering physicists fit in into opportunities within high technology industries, some of which are in emergent domains. The roles span research and development, design, and analysis. The sector will depend on the engineering specialisation that is selected, i.e. mechanical, computer, nuclear, aerospace, etc.
Engineering Physics is well poised to grow as a segment specifically because of the many new sectors in which it has application as well as the technological progress in the last decade that has created entirely new industries. Some of the critical areas that will see job growth are discussed below.
The pressures of a growing global population and the need for sustainable agriculture are going to [belatedly] lead to science and engineering, playing a more significant role in how we grow crops. Agro Physics is an evolving field, and it involves the study of materials and processes in the sowing, harvesting, and processing of agricultural produce.
Artificial Intelligence or AI refers to machines that mimic human cognitive functions such as learning and problem-solving. This exciting field is growing by leaps and bounds and holds great promise in the automation of many processes besides an exponential growth in processing capacities.
Biomechanics involves the study of the structure, function and motion of the mechanical aspects of living systems. The field touches applications such as aerodynamics, orthopaedics, locomotion, pathology, oncology, among others.
Bionanotechnology refers to the combination of nanotechnology and biology. Here, biosystems within nature are used as inspiration for creating new nanodevices or nanoparticles. Nanomedicine is the open field that is looking to benefit from the progress made in Bionanotechnology, while agriculture is another sector that will see the application of new solutions.
A composite material is made from two or more constituent materials with significantly different physical or chemical properties that, when combined, produce a material with characteristics different from the individual components. The objective could be to make the composite lighter, stronger, harder, softer, resistant, flexible, rigid, etc. While composite materials have existed since ages (concrete and steel are composite materials!), limits in the development of new materials are constantly being pushed through progress in Engineering Physics.
Machine learning (ML)
ML is a subset of AI and refers to algorithms and statistical models that computer systems use to perform a task without any instructions input by human operators, relying on patterns and inference instead. ML is beginning to find application across many sectors including primarily Economics, Finance, Forensics, Medicine, Search Engines, etc.
The miniaturisation of various devices (think about the first cell phones and compare them with devices today) has led to the need for Microfabrication, which is the process of fabricating miniature structures of micrometre scales and smaller. Progress in material science, nanotechnology, and other fields have led to growth in possibilities in this field.
Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter on an atomic, molecular, and supramolecular scale. Apart from medicine, Nanotechnology holds immense potential for multiple industrial sectors such as defence, textiles, food packaging, sports, construction, and energy. The fruits of the research conducted in this exciting field over the years are only just beginning to be realised.
The human neural system is an extremely complex arrangement linking the brain with the rest of the body. Neuroscience is still making tentative progress in understanding how this system works and this pace has quickened lately, thanks to the improvement in imaging systems. Neural engineering is a discipline within bioengineering that uses engineering to understand, repair, replace, or enhance these complex neural systems. Aspects such as Neuroimaging, Neuromechanics, Neuromodulation, Neurorobotics, and Neuroregeneration hold great promise for patients who have been resigned to living with neurological disorders.
Robotics is the right combination of Computer, Electronics and Mechanical Engineering with Physics. While Robots have existed since many decades now, the application across more sectors, the sophistication of the robotic systems, and their efficiency are being enhanced through the many technological developments. This will lead to productivity and efficiency gains across multiple sectors.