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Advice needed

  1. Dec 10, 2008 #1
    hi, I'll try to make this as short as possible and I'll try not to turn it into an engineering vs physics thread; just basically I've been very worried as to what to do with regards to my degree; I've recently been making good strides in my grades and thinking I'll be passing everything ok this semester so I can move up to upper division courses next semester.

    only thing is the time I'll need to complete a degree in physics like I wanted would take me ~2 years (maybe more) just due to scheduling constraints of my school, engineering on the other hand looking at the course work and where I am couse wise I could finish in about a year, year and a half; I was looking at electrical and it looks interesting enough and from what I read here I could work right out of school with it though I must admit the idea of doing physics excites more especially since this semester kind of forced me to take a liking of math.

    so cliffs basically:

    - physics finish degree in about 2-2.5 years (this would include 3 semesters mandatory independent faculty supervised research in an area of my choosing, and maybe I could get an REU when I have senior status for a physics major), if I did this I'd probably try grad school

    - electrical engineering try to finish in about a year, year and half, from what I've read about them I might like controls or signals, doubt I'll have time to do much research though I might apply to an REU if I can handle it, might still try grad school but the financial security is the one thing that has me at a crossroads here, I'm already in some debt as it is

    - I'm interested in particle physics as well as biophysics/medical applications as well as teaching if that helps any, I've been reading up on med physics grad programs and it would appear I could get in those with whichever one of these I'd choose

    thanks in advacne for any help, its appreciated
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 10, 2008 #2
    I think you will be much more employable with an EE degree than with a Physics degree. You will find that you can do much the same sort of work with either, if you want to do so. As far as the mathematics is concerned, EE can be every bit as mathematical as Physics, so don't think that you would be giving up Math by choosing Engineering.

    Much of the difference has to do with how you see your self. Do you want to study things simply for the sake of learning about them, or do you want to develop something from them? If we go back to root meanings, science is about knowledge while engineering is about making things. Clearly you cannot make things without knowledge, but it is a matter of where you put your emphasis. What you should do depends on how you see yourself.
  4. Dec 10, 2008 #3


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    If this helps any, to get into a medical physics program you generally need an undergraduate degree in physics. The program I went through has accepted engineering physics students. I think it might be a stretch for someone from electrical. And the programs are very competative, so if you don't have the right background, it will be that much more difficult to get in.

    If time wasn't a factor, which path would you choose?
  5. Dec 10, 2008 #4
    dr. d - yeah the employability is one thing that gets me, if i did a physics degree I wouldn't mind at all teaching high school, I'd see myself as a teacher tbh though I do find myself wondering about the applications of the abstract things pure science studies.

    ah, thanks for that info, yeah for the most part the program descriptions say they'd take other majors but they'd need the right physics background anyway.

    if time and money weren't factors, physics.
  6. Dec 12, 2008 #5
    any other suggestions? I'm really drawing a blank here, I was thinking the longer physics degree might help me focus on material more whereas I'd be doing lots of classes at once to finish engineering, I realize that's the norm but still, any other suggestions are appreciated, I know it's stupid but I'm just having a real hard time deciding on either one.
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