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PREPARE FOR PHYSICS-BASED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN A TECHNICAL FIELD OF YOUR CHOICE.

Engineering Physics (EP)

en·gin·eer·ing phy·sics

A combination of strong physics education with an individually-chosen engineering discipline.

Also Known As: Physicist, Applied Physicist, Scientific Entrepreneur, Scientist, Government Officer, and many more

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WHY EP AT MICHIGAN?

High degree of flexibility: Good for motivated students who are driven to a specific field of interest, to define their own research, and want a strong physics background.

Individualized Study: Students define their own curriculum and define core 20 credits with faculty advisor, which may include research within the College of Engineering or in a science department.

Research: Many Engineering Physics students carry out research in their focus areas. Reach out to any of your professors to get involved in their research project, or join a student organization that focuses on a subject you’re passionate about.

An adult and child watch a bright and smoky firework display

What do Engineering Physicists do?

We work in teams to advance scientific knowledge by studying the laws of nature and applying them to vast fields like fiber optics, medicine, and nuclear physics.

ACADEMIC FOCUS AREAS

  • Aerospace Engineering

    The science and practice of flight split into two branches: Aeronautics- the study and design of aircrafts within our Earth’s atmosphere- and Astronautics- the study and design of spacecrafts flying just outside of our atmosphere and beyond.

    Courses: Solid Mechanics & Aerospace Structures, Aircraft & Spacecraft Propulsion, Control of Aerospace Vehicles

  • Biomedical Engineering

    The application of the life sciences and engineering principles to bridge the gap between medical technology and medicine in practice.

    Courses: Circuits & Systems, Biomedical Design, Biophysical Chemistry & Thermodynamics

  • Chemical Engineering

    The application of the natural sciences, math, and sometimes coding to develop cost-effective and environmentally-friendly ways to develop materials and energy that can improve the world.

    Courses: Material & Energy Balances, Mass & Heat Transfer, Reaction Engineering & Design

  • Civil Engineering

    The design of structures and infrastructure that will be safe for the general public and support modern society.

    Courses: Sustainable Engineering Principles, Solid & Structural Mechanics, Statics & Dynamics

  • Climate and Meteorology

    The study of the atmosphere and its characteristics.

    Courses: Earth & Space System Evolution, Atmospheric Thermodynamics, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics

  • Computer Engineering

    The design and construction of computing systems from the hardware to the software to harness technology in new, productive, and surprising ways.

    Courses: Computer Organization, Signals & Systems, Programming & Elementary Data Structures

  • Computer Science

    To conduct research to develop new methods, architectures, and algorithms in order to solve complex problems, then invent the future by developing the vast array of applications that operate within these frameworks.

    Courses: Data Structures & Algorithms, Computer Architecture, Programming & Elementary Data Structures

  • Data Science

    The extraction of actionable knowledge from rich and varied datasets to quantify and address the pressing concerns of a modern society.

    Courses: Applied Regression Analysis, Probability & Statistics, Data Structures & Algorithms

  • Electrical Engineering

    The study of the laws of electricity and application of these laws to design and develop electrical systems to solve problems in any field of study you choose

    Courses: Signals & Systems, Circuits, Electrical Engineering Systems Design

  • Environmental Engineering

    The design of solutions to improve environmental quality and protect humans from adverse environmental effects

    Courses: Thermodynamics & the Environment, Sustainable Engineering Principles, Hydrology & Floodplain Hydraulics, Environmental Microbiology

  • Industrial and Operations Engineering

    The highly creative and collaborative study of the optimization of systems comprised of humans, machines, and processes, emphasizing critical thinking, global citizenship, and the pursuit of the common good.

    Courses: Industrial, Operations Modeling, Ergonomics, Optimal Methods, Markov Processes

  • Materials Science Engineering

    The investigation of how materials perform and why they fail so that we can create materials with unprecedented functions and properties.

    Courses: Physics of Materials, Solid Mechanics, Kinetics & Transitions in Materials Engineering

  • Mechanical Engineering

    The application of fundamental physical mechanics to build the technology of the future.

    Courses: Dynamics & Vibrations, Heat Transfer, Circuits, Fluids

  • Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering

    The use of traditional mechanics based engineering skills and large scale system integration abilities to design and construct marine vessels and structures for a varying ocean environment.

    Courses: Marine Thermodynamics, Vessel/Platform Design, Marine Structures, Marine Hydrodynamics

  • Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences

    The control and use of energy to solve various engineering problems.

    Courses: Nuclear Instrumentation Lab, Nuclear Reactor Theory, Thermo/Hydrodynamics in Nuclear Systems

  • Space Sciences and Engineering

    Designing, building, operating, and analyzing data from instruments to explore the space environments of our Earth and other planets.

    Courses: Earth & Space System Evolution, Solar-Terrestrial Relations, Radiative Transfer

  • 20 credits of your Engineering Physics degree will be specialized in an area based on your interest. Examples of focus areas are listed below. Students may also identify an interdisciplinary focus area, subject to faculty advisor approval.

20 credits of your Engineering Physics degree will be specialized in an area based on your interest. Examples of focus areas are listed below. Students may also identify an interdisciplinary focus area, subject to faculty advisor approval.

Sample Course List

First-Year

First-Year

  • Fall Semester
    • CoE Core Calculus I (Math 115)
    • CoE Core Engineering 100
    • CoE Core Chemistry (125/126 and 130 or 210 and 211)
    • Elective Intellectual Breadth
  • Winter Semester
    • CoE Core Calculus II (Math 116)
    • CoE Core Engineering 101
    • CoE Core Physics (140 and 141)
    • Elective Intellectual Breadth

Sophomore Year

Sophomore Year

  • Fall Semester
    • CoE Core Calculus III (Math 215)
    • CoE Core Physics (240 and 241)
    • Major Requirement Principles of Engineering Materials (MATSCIE 250)
    • Elective Intellectual Breadth
  • Winter Semester
    • CoE Core Differential Equations (Math 216)
    • Major Requirement Waves, Heat, and Light (Physics 340)
    • Major Requirement Electrical Circuits (EECS 314/215)
    • Elective Intellectual Breadth

Junior Year

Junior Year

  • Fall Semester
    • Major Requirement Methods of Theoretical Physics (Physics 351)
    • Major Requirement Modern Physics (Physics 390) or NERS 311
    • Major Requirement Physics Lab Elective
    • Major Requirement Engineering Elective
    • Elective General Elective
  • Winter Semester
    • Major Requirement Intro to Mechanics (Physics 401)
    • Major Requirement Math, Physics, or Engineering Course
    • Major Requirement Engineering Elective
    • Elective General Electives

Senior Year

Senior Year

  • Fall Semester
    • Major Requirement Electricity and Magnetism (Physics 405)
    • Major Requirement Math, Physics, or Engineering Course
    • Major Requirement Engineering Elective
    • Elective General Elective
  • Winter Semester
    • Major Requirement Statistics/Thermal Physics (Physics 406)
    • Major Requirement Engineering Elective
    • Major Requirement Engineering Lab Elective
    • Elective General Elective

Individualized schedules will be made by students in consultation with an advisor who will tailor their classes to better fit the student's needs.

Practice Your Purpose

Apply the skills you are learning in class to the real world.

Professional Development

two sets of students giving each other piggy back rides laugh in front of blue balloons spelling "SPS"
Society of Physics Students
7 female team members wearing lanyards smile and pose for the camera
Society for Women in Physics
Students wearing biophysics shirts gather and smile for a picture
Biophysics Club
Health Physics Society Logo
Health Physics Society

Alumni Biographies

Each of these alumni are real people who were once in your shoes, deciding a major. Explore their path and how a Michigan education set their life in motion.

  • Alex Talwar headshot
    • Alex Talwar
    • Greenheck Fan Corp.
  • Lauren Mancia headshot
    • Lauren Mancia
    • Scientific Computing and Flow Physics Lab
  • Benjamin Isaacoff headshot
    • Benjamin Isaacoff
    • US Department of State, Office of the Science & Technology
  • Keith Cooley headshot
    • Keith W. Cooley
    • Principia, LLC
  • David jordan headshot
    • David Jordan
    • University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University
  • Eric Gillman headshot
    • Eric D. Gillman
    • General Motors Global Technical Center
  • William Geoffrey West headshot
    • William Geoffrey West
    • West Physics
Alex Talwar headshot

    Alex Talwar

    Greenheck Fan Corp.

Lauren Mancia headshot

    Lauren Mancia

    Scientific Computing and Flow Physics Lab

Benjamin Isaacoff headshot

    Benjamin Isaacoff

    US Department of State, Office of the Science & Technology

Keith Cooley headshot

    Keith W. Cooley

    Principia, LLC

David jordan headshot

    David Jordan

    University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University

Eric Gillman headshot

    Eric D. Gillman

    General Motors Global Technical Center

William Geoffrey West headshot

    William Geoffrey West

    West Physics

Not sure what major to choose?

Tap into our network of 85k+ engineering alumni. Do you have questions you’d like answered? Our alumni are always eager to talk about engineering.
(Current and admitted UM students only.)

Speak to an Alum
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Industries & Occupations

  • Graduate School
  • Research and Development in High-Technology Industries
  • National Laboratories
  • Federal Government

Find salary information at the Bureau of Labor Statistics

LEARN MORE

LEARN MORE

Alex Talwar headshot

Alex Talwar

  • Greenheck Fan Corp.
  • Application Engineer

University of Michigan, BSE Engineering Physics, 2006
Career Summary

My professional journey has been somewhat unconventional, but there is certainly more than one way to reach a destination. Following graduation, I wasn’t sure what I really wanted to do and did not have a clear path to follow. I went to stay with some family in England and ended up finding work with a small engineering firm specializing in fuel saving systems.

The variety of knowledge and skills I obtained through the Engineering Physics program provided an excellent foundation for this multidisciplinary job. I was able to build upon and expand my professional skill set throughout my five years with the company by travelling around Europe and meeting with clients to supervise equipment installations, setup data monitoring, establish testing protocols, analyze data, and report on the effectiveness of the purchased equipment.

I was later hired almost immediately as a Product Development Engineer with responsibilities as a Test Lab Supervisor for the predominant manufacturing firm, Greenheck Fan Corporation. Since then, I have gained extensive valuable career experience managing various testing and engineering projects while supervising a highly effective cross-functional team.

After four and a half years in the test lab, I was offered the role of Application Engineer with a view to broaden my exposure within the company and further develop my professional skill set. My current responsibilities include providing effective customer support and product education, conducting training sessions around the country, managing a variety of engineering and marketing projects, participating in industry associations and committees, and helping to increase company presence worldwide. I am fortunate to work for a company that places a strong emphasis on employee development and continuous improvement through learning, innovation, and teamwork.

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

I feel that I am well placed for a successful career and long term prosperity, and I am very thankful for the strong foundation that my Engineering Physics degree provided for me. Along with my prior work experience, my Engineering Physics degree from The University of Michigan gave me a distinct advantage when applying for jobs.

Advice for Students

My advice is to enjoy every moment at the University of Michigan. Try not to take things for granted, but also don’t think that you need to have everything figured out. Life is a journey, and sometimes things don’t go as planned. Be open to new experiences and enjoy the ride!

Lauren Mancia headshot

Lauren Mancia

  • Scientific Computing and Flow Physics Lab
  • Medical Scientist Training Program Fellow

University of Michigan, BSE Engineering Physics, 2012
Wayne State University, Post-Baccalaureate coursework, 2013
University of Michigan, MSE Mechanical Engineering, 2015
University of Michigan, PhD Mechanical Engineering, 2020 (anticipated)
University of Michigan Medical School, MD, 2021 (anticipated)
Career Summary

As an undergraduate at Michigan, I majored in engineering physics because I had a strong interest in research and appreciated the flexibility in coursework requirements and opportunities to count research projects towards course credit. I planned to attend graduate school in either physics or a traditional engineering discipline after graduation. Through coursework and research projects, I found that I enjoyed applied math and numerical modeling which led me to Prof. Eric Johnsen’s Scientific Computing and Flow Physics Lab (SCFPL) in mechanical engineering.

I decided to pursue a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and to continue my undergraduate research on modeling cavitation in viscoelastic materials. The application for this project was to focused ultrasound treatments for solid tumors and blast injuries. It was my first exposure to biomedical applications, and I noticed that there was very limited interaction between clinicians and researchers in computational fields. I had familiarity with the healthcare filed from volunteer work at a local hospice and decided that becoming a clinician myself would be personally fulfilling and could potentially fill a need for further collaboration between medical and computational researchers. Fortunately, my advisor Prof. Johnsen was supportive of this change in plans, and I finished the pre-med requirements at Wayne State University.

I applied to medical schools as an MSE student in mechanical engineering and was ultimately accepted at the University of Michigan. I completed two years of medical school and then re-joined SCFPL as a PhD student in mechanical engineering through the Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP). This fellowship program funds students pursuing combined MD and PhD degrees. I’m now an MSTP fellow in the final year of my PhD with a planned defense in 2020, and I then have my final year of medical school with a planned graduation in 2021.

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

I’ve enjoyed my past 10+ years at the University of Michigan, and I’ve especially appreciated the proximity of family. From my time here, I’ve learned it’s important to find good mentors and to respond to e-mails quickly.

Advice for Students

Choose a career based on what you like to do rather than what you like to study, and if someone has accomplished something you want to accomplish–ask them how they did it.

Benjamin Isaacoff headshot

Benjamin Isaacoff

  • US Department of State, Office of the Science & Technology
  • AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow, Adviser to the Secretary of State

University of Michigan, BS Honors Physics, BS Mathematics, BSE Engineering Physics, 2012
University of Michigan, BSE Electrical Engineering, 2015
University of Michigan, Graduate Certificate in Science, Technology, and Public Policy, 2017
University of Michigan, PhD Applied Physics, 2018
Career Summary

During my doctoral education, as a full-time scientist, I started asking more socially engaged questions about what was happening around me. In particular I became interested in understanding why and how the enterprise of science works the way it does. I had a lot of concrete questions in mind, like where does the money come from, or how does publishing really work, or how does university research become usable technology? I was also asking more abstract questions, like is all of this research helping people or society, and if so, which people and how much, and if not, why not? Or, is the world we’re building with these new technologies and insights one we want, and who is included in we?

To help better understand some of these questions and others I dual-enrolled in the University of Michigan Science, Technology, and Public Policy program to gain a deeper understanding of these dimensions of science and society. In this program I learned about the delicate interplay between politics and policymaking and was guided in explorations of the politics and policy of critical science and technology areas.
After completing my PhD I did a congressional fellowship, advising US Senator Gary C. Peters on science and technology issues. I found that job exciting and fulfilling and decided to stay on in DC working in science and technology policy.

Advice to Students

Don’t forget that you’re at a very large, world-class, research university. Which is to say that given U-M’s size, there is so much always going on for you to explore or participate in and if you don’t take advantage of at least some of the things happening at U of M, you’re really wasting some incredible opportunities. Furthermore, this is a research university, and as such, unlike at many other institutions where you could have gone for school, participating in research is one of the best opportunities you will have to deeply engage with faculty and and other academic staff.

Keith Cooley headshot

Keith W. Cooley

  • Principia, LLC
  • President & CEO

University of Michigan, BSE Engineering Physics, 1967
University of Michigan, MSE Nuclear Engineering, 1972
Career Summary

Over the course of my career, I moved from strictly technical work to positions in which I interacted more with staff and clients. Frankly, I found that I enjoyed personal interactions and the opportunity to work for the betterment of communities impacted negatively by the damage we’ve done to the environment

Career Timeline
  • Focus: HOPE
  • Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth
  • NextEnergy Center
  • Principia, LLC
Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

Interests: Running, Tai Chi, Biking, Reading, and Skiing
I was a “walk-on” Gymnast for UMich and enjoyed sports while in school in addition to socializing with faculty when presented with those opportunities.

Advice for Students

Be passionate about learning new things, be disciplined in doing things you find important, and look for the best in people.

My motto has been to find a way to make a difference in the lives of others. A positive reputation will grow from that.

Favorite Quotes:
“A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle”
“In times of crisis the wise build bridges while the foolish build walls.”
Also, please take a look at this article.

David jordan headshot

David Jordan

  • University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University
  • Chief Medical Physicist, Associate Professor of Radiology

University of Michigan, BSE Engineering Physics, 2001
University of Michigan, MSE Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences, 2003
University of Michigan, PhD Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences, 2005
Career Summary

My favorite thing about my job is also the most challenging: there are many different responsibilities and at the beginning of every day I have to quickly triage and prioritize. Many days feel chaotic and it can be difficult to keep making progress on the non-urgent projects that need consistent effort to move forward, but these are important in the long run. Being active on the Solar Car Team at Michigan taught me a lot about success in this kind of environment. We had new, unexpected challenges arising often, and many team members with very different jobs; everyone had to keep executing consistently over many months to arrive at the goal of building and fielding a successful car and transporting the team and equipment across the country or around the world to participate in race events.

Favorite Student Orgs

I’m a proud alum of the UM Solar Car Team (and the original owner of the UM SOLAR license plate)

Favorite Classes

My favorite class was NERS 515 and I strongly recommend a tough course in Radiation Detection and Measurements to anyone even remotely interested in the kind of work I do.

Advice for Students

It sounds cliche, but as students, really try to embrace that teacher who pushes you outside your comfort zone or doesn’t let you get by on what you can already do well; they will force you to develop new skills and knowledge, if you let them. While there shouldn’t really be any “easy A’s” in Michigan Engineering, 10-20 years down the road, the hard-fought B-minus will be much more memorable and pay much greater dividends in your career and professional life. These are the people you will really want to track down to say “thank you” once you truly understand the impact they had on your education.

Eric Gillman headshot

Eric D. Gillman

  • General Motors Global Technical Center
  • Senior Advanced Technology Specialist, Automated Driving Advanced Sensing (Radar)

University of Michigan, BSE Engineering Physics, 2007
University of Michigan, MSE Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, 2009
University of Michigan, PhD Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences, 2012
Career Summary

After completing my PhD in 2012, I accepted an NRC Postdoctoral position at the Naval Research Lab (NRL), working on low-temperature plasma physics research with space applications for satellites and spacecraft. In 2014, I accepted a Karles Distinguished Fellowship and became permanent staff, working in the same group on many of the same projects at NRL. Following 6 years at NRL, I accepted a position at General Motors (GM), utilizing my honed skills and technical depth in electromagnetics (E&M) to work on the advanced radar development group for applying radar to autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars).

Despite starting out as a plasma physicist, the skills that I learned along the way through grad school and continuing at NRL helped to position me for a job and direction application that I never thought I would work on: Autonomous vehicles. At the time of my graduation from Michigan, self-driving cars was a dream. Now I get to work on making it a reality.

I have learned so many skills that go well beyond E&M, and well beyond academics. Invaluable skills such as software engineering, laboratory skills, and automating data collection on laboratory equipment and actual test vehicles. In addition, you meet so many people who help you along the way, and you never know when, where, or how your paths will cross again. Taking advantage of and developing those professional relationships is one of the most important skills that is a continuous job and learning experience.

Reflection on Time Spent at U-M

I liked the flexibility of my Engineering Physics undergraduate degree. I took a lot of physics classes, and focused my degree in the Aerospace department, taking most of the same classes as an aerospace engineer. Entering grad school, I was working on mostly aerospace projects such as ion thrusters, but eventually this evolved to anything relating to plasma physics.

William Geoffrey West headshot

William Geoffrey West

  • West Physics
  • President & Chief Medical Physicist

Georgia Institute of Technology, B.N.E. Nuclear Engineering, 1993
University of Michigan, M.Eng. Radiological Health Engineering, 1995
University of Michigan, Ph.D. Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences, 2011
Career Summary

After my Master’s at Michigan, I was trained and worked as a nuclear inspector for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.After several years in government service, I decided to try my hand at private practice as a medical physicist for a small private consulting firm in the Atlanta area.When I returned to the University for my Ph.D., I decided to start my own medical physics services firm based in Ann Arbor.It slowed down my Ph.D. work, but eventually I finished my degree and, with the help of a great team of staff, some of whom are also Michigan graduates, West Physics has grown into the largest provider of diagnostic medical physics services in the world.My education at Michigan, and particularly in the Nuclear Engineering & Radiological Sciences department, opened many career doors for me and helped me to get a great start in an exciting industry!

Advice to Students

Direct your education and career, as much as possible, into areas that you are excited and passionate about. This will make the work easier and your results better. Having said that, nothing has been more important in my career than persistence and grit. Brilliance (or charm) will get you in the door, but only persistence and determination separate someone from the pack.

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