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Other 2 years for MS Eng or Longer for MS Physics? Science Entrepreneur Qs

  • Thread starter anasoori
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So I just graduated Chemical Engineering from SJSU at 27 yrs old. Took a few years off in CC and a few semesters off here and there for work mainly.

I'm personally interested in going into science entrepreneurship.



[My non-science career]

I was more focused on the entrepreneurship part initially but I've found that I am very likely to get stuck in non-science entrepreneurship for a while and maybe never be able to go back, which was a big turn off for me. Sure it would be nice to hope for an exit within a few years for a non science startup but theres a big likelihood it won't happen which means I'll spend a big chunk of my life trying to get to the point where I exit and fund my own science venture. So I decided it would be best to put my years into science, instead of a workaround that "might" get me there.
Along the way, I've become quite talented in sales, management, project management, recruitment, marketing, training, economics, operations, and business in general. As well as a good understanding of the venture or angel funding scene and challenges that startups face, not so much on the science side of course.
I also did just finish up the Harvard CORe HBS online pre-MBA course as I was considering an MBA but decided against it.



So, I went back, finished my ChemE degree and plan to get into research, build my science career and network, and go from there.



[GPA talk, feel free to move past this section]

My GPA was an abysmal 2.8 graduating ChemE. Mostly due to unauthorized semester withdrawals when I would start working 40-60 hour weeks.
I have ADHD which usually got in the way of me getting things in before the deadlines, but also had me think I was capable of more than I actually was, so I took risks etc.
GPA for last 2 semesters where I finally went to school without having a job I clock in at was about 3.5 with 31 units total covering the fundamental ChemE classes, ChemE electives, and some electives in engineering like plasma dynamics MEMS and 6 Sigma.
Overall, I'd say my STEM GPA is probably a 3.25 or more when you disregard my unauthorized drops and withdrawals.



I love physics. Physics is broad but there are several topics within physics that I believe are the key to shifting the paradigm in a few industries and in big world issues we face today, as you may all know.

I talked with the graduate physics advisor about the switch. He said take Phys 230 mathematical methods in physics and see how that goes.

I'm finding Phys 230 is somewhat challenging and I'm sure it'll get more challenging later. Mainly because I need to review some fundamental stuff in magnetism, mathematics, and practically learn quantum which I never actually studied in school. Wave stuff as well, and a few other fundamental things.

I am able to self-educate despite my ADHD but I need to build a structured approach for myself beforehand which is what I'll be asking about in another post. I also did focus a lot on actually learning from a fundamental sense pretty much everything I've come across in STEM, I may not do the homework on time but I'll usually pay attention in class and spend a lot of time reading the book and understanding the concepts fundamentally on my own time.

I can probably finish my MS ChemE in 2 years or potentially less. I'm also likely to get into a research effort in the department, but am somewhat reluctant mainly due to the nature of the research being done, I also don't want to get in only to jump back out a few months later because I'm switching to physics, so I'm waiting before I make that decision. I guess I want to go smaller than the scale we work at. I got an A in Physical Chemistry when I took it even though I was working 50 hours a week or so, I think I got a perfect score on the final too, class average in that class is below 50 I think and is no longer required for ChemEs.

I don't know all of the research efforts in the Physics department as not all are posted, but I'll be making my rounds next week to speak with research faculty. But I know I'll have a good amount of work ahead of me before I'm taken seriously, as was evident from the conversation I had today with one of the professors there.



[main question]

So my question to anyone who may have some input; if I want to get into startups that are science based, more on the physics side, what would you recommend?

Would you recommend I do my MS ChemE and do a thesis more on the physical chemistry side of things within 2 years, or should I go for physics and likely spend 3 or even 4 years doing my Masters but walking away with a much deeper understanding of the science and mathematics? An option that I'm unsure of may be to do ChemE MS while working with Physics optics research on blood analysis. Still need to talk to that prof though.

I am concerned with spending the 4 years as I'm no longer young and I'm not sure how hard it's going to get for me to enter into the companies I would want, or if this is even the right path for my overall goal.

I know that my entire approach at this is largely audacious, and probably unorganized too, but it's what I want to put my life into despite my shortcomings in academia.

I'm also interested in hearing some opinions or advice from anyone who has experience in the science startup world, is my approach flawed? There really isn't much guidance out there for this stuff, especially considering I'm at a state university and all the things that come with the territory.



[The broad list of topics I'd potentially be interested in]

To answer the "what do you even want to get into" question, I'll mention a few topics that I would be willing to put a few years into. The list is broad because I haven't narrowed down what is possible in either department and my school and what is possible as a transition after my MS. This is the list of things I've done reading on, looked up articles on, and generally have followed for a few years that made it into my graduate thesis ideas list.

Quantum computing, photonic computing, alternative computing in general such as some MOF research being done in IBM now.

Nano scale molecule manipulation (the stuff that breaks the rules of classic chemistry with mechanical manipulation of molecules)

Self replicating macro molecules

The potential in carbon capture & conversion to fuel via nano structures (nanospikes).

Applying AI to crack molecular & atomic modeling, accurate macro physical property prediction for theoretical compounds, etc.

Synthetic molecular machines

Nuclear fusion recently came back on my radar with the recent developments but I don't have a good understanding of where we are right now or much in that regard in general. My original passion is nuclear energy but I despise the archaic reactor design we use right now.

Nuclear propulsion

Direct conversion of nuclear radiation into electricity. alphavoltaics, betavoltaics, researching alternative materials with less likelihood for degradation

Nanofiltration solutions for water and air

Non invasive body scanning, brain scanning, or blood analysis technology that can provide active feedback at an affordable price on a consumer level. (I think physics breakthroughs is what will deliver this for humanity)



[Final remarks]

The professor I spoke with today said do your time, get your hands dirty, get into the material and after you've developed a good understanding for where physics is today you can decide with more conviction what you will do. I am intreagued by this, but the entrepreneur in me wants to make sure this really is the effective way to reach my goals. This is probably why I'm asking this essay of a question here right now. Do I spend a few years practically working from square 1 or 2 or do I leverage my engineering+business background and work my way into something meaningful.

Also, to answer the "you don't need to be a scientist to be a science entrepreneur" suggestion, I believe that in order for me to successfully run a science startup one day, I need to be able to very much grasp and wrestle with the concepts I'll be tackling, I don't think relying soley on the PhDs I can "hire" will be an effective method to ensure success, I want to leverage my own skills and approaches in organizing the research and more.
 

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Quantum computing, photonic computing, alternative computing in general such as some MOF research being done in IBM now.

Nano scale molecule manipulation (the stuff that breaks the rules of classic chemistry with mechanical manipulation of molecules)

Self replicating macro molecules

The potential in carbon capture & conversion to fuel via nano structures (nanospikes).

Applying AI to crack molecular & atomic modeling, accurate macro physical property prediction for theoretical compounds, etc.

Synthetic molecular machines

Nuclear fusion recently came back on my radar with the recent developments but I don't have a good understanding of where we are right now or much in that regard in general. My original passion is nuclear energy but I despise the archaic reactor design we use right now.

Nuclear propulsion

Direct conversion of nuclear radiation into electricity. alphavoltaics, betavoltaics, researching alternative materials with less likelihood for degradation

Nanofiltration solutions for water and air
In other words you want to write sci-fi, yes? Not be an entrepreneur?

Non invasive body scanning, brain scanning, or blood analysis technology that can provide active feedback at an affordable price on a consumer level. (I think physics breakthroughs is what will deliver this for humanity)
Been done already, MRI, auto-analyzers.
The professor I spoke with today said do your time, get your hands dirty,....
"Second that."
 
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In other words you want to write sci-fi, yes? Not be an entrepreneur?


Been done already, MRI, auto-analyzers.

"Second that."
"science fiction"

Love the sarcasm and pessimism. But not sure where you're going with it.

Everything I mentioned is stuff being worked on right now. I'm not suggesting I'm going to go start a company that will solve any of these problems or revolutionize them, I'm just saying it's what I'd be interested in doing my research or internship or have a graduate job in.

And some of the stuff mentioned is being worked on at my school and in nearby research facilities that have approached our department for people to join.

A few things are far out there, like nuclear propulsion, but are not really science fiction anymore, there's already talk of it on a theoretical level. I don't see it that far away with the space race so intense right now and there's already congressional funding for it, and it's being worked on in my state.

As for my entrepreneurial career, I'm far from forming anything on the level of the things I've talked about. I know nothing about any of the industries I've discussed and my decision on my venture will happen after years of experience in the field. Maybe if you take off those pessimism glasses for a moment you'd read my post differently.

The most I'd be able to approach with my knowledge today is something related to a traditional chemical processing plant. The only industry I'd probably be able to enter is industrial hemp processing due to the growth and lack of experience in the field and my experience with the consulting firm I did my project with.


"been done already"

Not really. I'm interested in making it provide active feedback on a level that an average consumer can afford, and have it be non invasive for blood analysis. The machines you're talking about are bench scale at best. And there's already work being done on blood analysis through the skin or with a combination of sweat data and other data points. Sweat is already showing promise in being used to measure hormone levels for certain hormones from wearable tech.


"second that"

Right, easiest answer, work harder, not possible, do what everyone else is doing.

So ya thanks for your kind words of discouragement. Any more negativity you'd like to drop in please feel free, that's what the internet is for afterall.
 
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Not sure exactly what you are asking. If you are to do a Phd you really have to do something that you are interested in, other wise it'll be very difficult to stick with it. Most scientists who end up entrepreneurs do so by accident almost. They discover something as an offshoot of their research that can be sold essentially.

I'd imagine with a Chemistry degree you could engage in research that tries to convert carbon into a "greener" gas now that green technology is all the rage, or investigate micro-organisms that "eat" plastics and try and commercialise what it is that you discover.
 

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