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Engineering Advice? double majoring in chemical engineering and physics

  1. Jun 17, 2012 #1
    I'm starting college as a freshman in september, double majoring in chemical engineering and physics. It is one of the best engineering schools in the US, and I was accepted into the honors program. Physics is sort of a hobby for me. I just added it as a major because it wouldn't be difficult; I've actually been planning on chemical engineering for about 2 years.

    Honestly, my ideal job would be working as an experimental physicist on projects related to partcile colliders. However, I know that reality is going to squash those hopes. As a chemical engineer, I'm not totally sure what I want to do. I'm actually sort of worried with the threat of unemployment.

    I came here to seek advice because the users here seem like nothing less than the real deal when it comes to science buffs. What I really want to know what kind of jobs I can incorporate my majors in to. I am very open minded to anything that involves these fields because I love science. And these two areas are the ones I find the most interesting.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2012 #2
    I hope my reply is not too late for you. My advice for you right now is to spend your freshman year thinking about what to do exactly for your bachelor degree(s) and beyond. Whether or not you decide to do a double-major, you're going to have to take math, physics, chemistry in your freshman year anyway. If you're going to major in both, you need to plan things really tightly starting from sophomore year.

    When I was in college, the last six semesters were really tough for me. I still don't know how I survived that but it was totally worth it for me to get double degrees in both physics and ChemE. I didn't start out as either a ChemE or a physics major, so it took me a total of ten semesters to graduate. If things had been planned out better, it would take me 9 semesters because 8 semesters alone wouldn't be enough time to take everything. I don't know the curriculum of the school you're going to, so I can't say whether or not it will be possible for you to finish in 4 years. What I got were actually two separate degrees, so it's possible that a single degree with double majors won't take as long. It was back in the late 90's when I graduated. Things may have changed drastically now. I wouldn't know.

    The reason why I majored in both was similar to yours. When I was a junior, I decided that I wanted to go to grad school in physics or applied physics but I already took a lot of ChemE classes at the point, and I didn't want to throw away those credits. That's why I went for a degree in physics as well. It was really rough, and people around me thought I was a crazy woman for doing that because they had never heard of anyone finishing double majors in ChemE and physics at my school.

    I understand your feeling about the future. A very small fraction of physicists in grad school will end up with a long-term career in experimental particle physics. You may feel that there's a low probability you will get your dream job but don't do anything to cut out that remote possibility just yet. Give it a shot. If you double-major in both, then you can apply to grad school to be in a particles physics program later. Try to follow your dream until you can't go anymore. That way you won't regret not trying later on. Let's say you're writing your PhD thesis in physics and can't find a job as a physicist, at that point you may want to take some ChemE graduate classes at the same time. That might help when you're trying to go into industry after exiting the Physics world. Well, this is probably too far into the future for you. Graduating with both majors will give you a lot of options. That's all I can say really. Best wishes to you.
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