Engineering degree -> Industrial Data science -> Physics/Astrophysics?

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

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seeyounext
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Oct 26, 2019 11:30 am

Engineering degree -> Industrial Data science -> Physics/Astrophysics?

Post by seeyounext » Mon Oct 28, 2019 6:35 am

Hi guys,

I'm applying to Astronomy/Astrophysics and Experimental Physics in US and Canada (I'm from Southeast Asian) this term and currently I'm not sure what to do.

So my profile has :
- BSc in Electrical Engineering from top school in my country (GPA ~3.5, valedictorian in cohort of 100 students), have done quite a few electrical projects (like solar panel simulation, mesh networking, building power measurement device, ...) and a theory-heavy thesis on signal integrity (secrecy outage analysis) which resulted in a 3rd author IEEE conference paper :(
- Physics related courses in my BSc: 1 course in Classical Mech, 2 in Thermodynamics, 5 in Electromagnetic :x 1 in Quantum Physics, 1 in Solid State Devices, I scored maximum grades on all these courses, but my knowledge is getting really rusty.
- 2 years working as Associate Data Scientist and then Research Engineer for one of the biggest private Machine learning firm in my country. I do 5-6 research projects in this time that involves processing crazily big datasets. So I'm quite competent in programming and big data processing techniques.
- Decent GRE (169Q 162V)
- Probably shitty pGRE, just took this Oct and not sure if I can even cross 50%, 2 years working in CS industry does heavy damage to my Physics memory.
- Somehow my program have ties with UIUC and borrowed exactly their syllabus in ECE, we even have professors from UIUC come teach us 2-3 courses every summer :shock: not sure if this will play any role

The biggest problem is I have virtually zero research experience in Physics, I did quite a few student capstone projects on electrical systems, but that's as close as it gets. I know that Astrophysics research will involve heavy data processing, is there any way I could leverage my competency in Data Science into my profile? Should I just screw it and apply to CS program where my profile is quite strong? I really love astronomy though, and I'm not really enjoying my work in Data Science

rahulshaw
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:20 pm

Re: Engineering degree -> Industrial Data science -> Physics/Astrophysics?

Post by rahulshaw » Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:18 pm

I am in the same boat as you. I feel, for us, its more about putting down our interest on the SOP very strongly and prove our point there that we can than our background. Congratulations for a fantastic GRE score. But I see PGRE as a very important factor for candidates like us as that is the best way we prove our point.

Best of Luck!! :D

geekusprimus
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2019 1:10 pm

Re: Engineering degree -> Industrial Data science -> Physics/Astrophysics?

Post by geekusprimus » Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:09 am

seeyounext wrote:The biggest problem is I have virtually zero research experience in Physics, I did quite a few student capstone projects on electrical systems, but that's as close as it gets. I know that Astrophysics research will involve heavy data processing, is there any way I could leverage my competency in Data Science into my profile? Should I just screw it and apply to CS program where my profile is quite strong? I really love astronomy though, and I'm not really enjoying my work in Data Science
First of all, astronomy programs aren't nearly as picky about the Physics GRE as physics programs. A lot of them still require it (but not all of them; UIUC might actually be one of them, come to think about it), but astronomy programs, despite having a lot of overlap with physics programs, are still fundamentally different.
Secondly, consider looking for professors who do a lot with instrumentation and data analysis. Things like signal processing are huge in astronomy, and techniques like machine learning are having a pretty significant effect on astronomers' abilities to filter their images and pick up patterns that could be significant. I would lean pretty heavily into your experience doing data analysis, and I'm sure if you've got an EE background, you probably have some useful exposure to signal processing.

seeyounext
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Oct 26, 2019 11:30 am

Re: Engineering degree -> Industrial Data science -> Physics/Astrophysics?

Post by seeyounext » Wed Nov 06, 2019 4:46 am

rahulshaw wrote:
Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:18 pm
I am in the same boat as you. I feel, for us, its more about putting down our interest on the SOP very strongly and prove our point there that we can than our background. Congratulations for a fantastic GRE score. But I see PGRE as a very important factor for candidates like us as that is the best way we prove our point.

Best of Luck!! :D
Thank you, I'm working on my SOP but damn trying to make a good point in less than 2 pages is really hard it turns out :)
geekusprimus wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:09 am

First of all, astronomy programs aren't nearly as picky about the Physics GRE as physics programs. A lot of them still require it (but not all of them; UIUC might actually be one of them, come to think about it), but astronomy programs, despite having a lot of overlap with physics programs, are still fundamentally different.
Secondly, consider looking for professors who do a lot with instrumentation and data analysis. Things like signal processing are huge in astronomy, and techniques like machine learning are having a pretty significant effect on astronomers' abilities to filter their images and pick up patterns that could be significant. I would lean pretty heavily into your experience doing data analysis, and I'm sure if you've got an EE background, you probably have some useful exposure to signal processing.
Yeah you're right, I'm also searching and sending e-mails to any Physics Professor who has to deal with lots of data, hope that will help :oops:



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