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Academic Future _ advising needed

  1. Feb 16, 2012 #1
    I am an undergraduate Physics major in my 4th year (of 5.5). I recently changed to Physics from Engineering Physics (previous to that I was pre-vet) because frankly engineering classes are very boring for me. So basically I have had through a sophomore/junior level engineering education and a mixture of physics course (QM-absolute favorite class ever, Nuclear, Modern I and II). However recently found that I don't care that much for academia (i.e. I don't want to get a Phd in physics). So I have found myself at a quandary because at the bachelor level engineers are much more employable than physics majors.

    My advisor didn't have any qualms about me joining as a physics major because he believes strongly that I will go to graduate school through the Phd level (top tier even). However I'm not so sure it is right for me. I have had the opportunity to do several research projects (mainly computer simulation work) in both engineering and physics and found them to interesting but not something I want to do forever. The idea of going to graduate school and developing an original project is quite daunting. I'm afraid I will run out of steam.

    This summer I have the opportunity for several REUs/ research positions in mechanical engineering, physics simulation, and hopefully accelerator physics. I really enjoy physics and math but crave something a bit more active then sitting behind a computer console all day long. I suppose I could get a masters in nuclear engineering but I feel that returning to engineering from physics would be chasing my tail. The reason I chose physics as my major was partly because I enjoy the academic rigor however I realize I will not be in school forever.

    Did I make a mistake? How should I go about choosing my summer plans with an uncertain future?

    Any advise appreciated!
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2012 #2
    well, first -- there are areas of experimental physics which will not have you "sitting behind a computer" all day.

    Without knowing specific place of acceptance... are there any groups that seem better than others.. or any locations that seem better than others or... ? Who you work for and where you are, etc. can be critical to happiness. Sounds crazy, but try to find happiness now, and perhaps it will direct you to happiness later.
  4. Feb 22, 2012 #3
    You are very right and thanks. Now that I read the message I realize it sounds a bit bleak...
    Could you be a bit more specific about "areas of experimental physics which will not have you "sitting behind a computer" all day.

    I am currently working on particle simulations of local geometry of small numbers of distinguishable particles which the hopes of developing a model of depletion interactions.

    Last summer I participated in a Mechanical Engineering REU at Texas A&M doing thermodynamic engine simulation which was interesting but not something I think I'll want to do forever.

    My mentor said there was a possibility of doing some accelerator research with him during the summer (contingent upon a grant). Also I have applied and am applying to several REUs in physics across Texas (where I am a resident) such as Baylor, TCU, TAMU, etc. (Not sure about the probability of getting one these)

    However there is a quantum electronics workshop that I am aware of in late July-early Aug. which I would like to attend but can't if I accept an REU.
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2012
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