Real Four Year Plans

Below are the four year academic plans of actual students:

Materials Science Specialty – Alex Welch, Class of 2016

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  • For my undergraduate studies, I majored in engineering physics because it allowed me to gain a strong theoretical background and apply this knowledge to different engineering disciplines.  For example, in the physics department’s quantum mechanics course we proved Bloch’s theorem, and then in an MSE class, we used this proof as the basis to understand band structures in crystals.  I value the flexibility the major has given me to explore numerous departments, exposing me to experts from many fields.
  • Matsci 150 is the independent research course in the material science department.  I really enjoyed being able to do research during the school year  and see how what I was learning applied to actual research.  This also allowed me to do internships during the summer instead of feeling obligated to spend a summer on campus doing research.
  • I went abroad to Berlin my junior year fall which was a fantastic experience.  I highly recommend going, but be sure to plan out your courses well in advance to make sure that you can fulfill all of the requirements.
  • ME 203 and CS 107 are VERY time consuming classes, only take them if you are truly interested in the material.
  • Phys 130/131 with Sean Hartnoll were fantastic, some of my favorite classes.  I also really enjoyed Matsci 199 and Matsci 346, where I learned about semiconductors and nanophotonics.
  • This plan left me very free senior year to take many other classes that I am interested in such as policy and meditation classes.

Computational Science Specialty – Jinhie Skarda, Class of 2017

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 Renewable Energy Specialty – Kevin Moy, B.S. ’14

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  • In my experience, physics professors can be hit-or-miss, so I chose to take Quantum Mechanics (EE 222/223) and Statistical Mechanics (ME346A) in different departments. Those classes were some of the best I took at Stanford; they were completely self-contained, as all of the textbooks, notes, and slides were written by the professors teaching the course. All of the class material and lectures were stellar.
  • Don’t be afraid to petition classes in! For example, I petitioned in GEOPHYS 120 as physics units, CME 181 as my computational course, and MATSCI 152 as a depth course. All were great classes with interesting material, and with enough technical rigor for the major.
  • Plan ahead, but be prepared to change those plans. I studied abroad junior spring in Beijing, which not only meant I had to double up on classes winter quarter, but scheduling changes meant I had to take the second half of E/M in senior spring… along with ME 203. Two courses I recommend NOT taking if you’re trying to Camp Stanford your last undergrad quarter.
  • I transferred a bunch of upper-level courses to my coterm in CEE (Atmosphere and Energy). I highly recommend this program as a continuation of the renewable energy track in EPhys, since a lot of the classes I took for A/E were also great classes that I would have counted towards EPhys anyway (MATSCI 302, MATSCI 303, EE 237, and CEE 176B, to name a few).


Electromechanical Systems Design Specialty – Seth Winger, B.S. ’11

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  • I spent spring quarter junior year abroad in Berlin, where I finished my TIS requirement by taking OSPBER 45, the off-campus equivalent of CS 181.  Going a abroad was a fantastic opportunity, and very doable even in a unit-heavy major like Engineering Physics — I highly encourage it.
  • I took CME 104 out of sequence.  It wasn’t a huge mistake to not take it my freshman year, though, and I feel like having completed MATH 131P made CME 104 much easier for me.
  • I really enjoyed ENGR 60 and CS 106B as fundamental choices, but thought ENGR 14 was, in all honesty, boring, and would choose another class if I had the chance.  It’s listed as a prereq for ME 80, but really isn’t necessary if you’re confident with F = ma.
  • EE 222/223 are a great option for the quantum sequence.  They’re a bit less mathematically rigorous, but include some very cool applications of the science.
  • This plan is light senior year.  I’m an ME coterm, and am able to fill my units senior year with master’s classes, which means I only need to take 30 units next year.

Energy Systems Specialty – Chris Young, B.S.H. ‘ 10

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  • MATH 131 hadn’t been split up into physics/math focus yet during my sophomore year. Complaining from our class may have helped that process along.
  • I highly recommend the CME series for math. I’ve used MATLAB in almost every other engineering class that I’ve taken, and from my experience people from the MATH 50 series don’t get the same foundation. Material from those classes remained relevant for the rest of my undergrad career.
  • Taking the 40 series for intro physics is a perfectly viable option, although I imagine the 60 series is more like what all the other upper level physics classes are like.
  • Frankly, PHYSICS 170, 171 was all over the place for me, and I didn’t really understand most of the material until I took Physical Gas Dynamics (ME 362A – kinetic theory and statistical mechanics) and thermo (ME 370A) as a grad student…
  • I’m a fan of the EE 141, 242 E&M sequence too. The classes are really geared towards solving problems and I learned all I needed for other classes that have drawn upon E&M theory (including plasmas, which is fundamentally more physics-y).
  • I took ME 70 and 80 without having ENGR 14, definitely not a problem.
  • I know ME 140 is specific to the energy systems depth, but it’s a really sweet class. We analyzed (and ran in the lab) a turbojet engine, fuel cell, and hybrid rocket motor. The class ends with a competition for the best rocket fuel grain design.
  • Honors Program: If you’re doing research in a lab on campus this is a pretty good deal. You enroll in honors units for your department (ME 191H in my case) and get credit for work you would be doing anyway. Writing the thesis (which really doesn’t have to be that long – this is still undergrad) is a great way to organize everything you’ve done and put all your hard work neatly in one place. I found that just writing a little bit about each part of my project filled up the whole thing without a lot of extra work. And you get a snazzy “B.S.H.” on your diploma.

Materials Science Specialty – John Melas-Kyriazi, B.S.H. ‘ 11

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  • I started out as a biology major, which is why I took chemistry instead of physics my freshman year. I also took a number of computer science courses, including BioE 214 (a great class on bioinformatics). I began the physics 60-series the winter of my sophomore year, which made fulfilling the engineering physics major requirements somewhat tricky but not impossible.
  •  I petitioned to have MSE 331, a computational materials science class, fulfill my numerical methods requirement. In general, don’t be afraid to submit program deviation petitions; it’s a great way to gain flexibility and to get to take the classes that interest you most.
  • Doing undergraduate research was an absolutely amazing experience. Try it out for a summer and see if you like it — it’s definitely worth the time.

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