John O. said:
. . . what I really want to get to one day is large scale propulsion systems for manned spacecraft. My current interest for grad school is high-energy propulsion like nuclear, AM-catalyzed fusion and nuclear thermal rockets.
Kinda related, but not quite, you know the whole 'force field' thing from sci-fi, has magnetics even been considered in this? In one of my Electtonic Engineering classes we touch a bit on magnetics, but not really in depth, and that was the first thing I thought of and wondered why no one else (seemingly) has.