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Programs Applied physics or engineering physics

  1. Apr 23, 2016 #1
    I know I see many forums with this question but I still want to know which is the better choice. I am a senior about to graduate and go to University.

    I originally wanted to do pure physics undergrad and possible go for astrophysics in phd but I realize getting a job in that is very hard. So my next area of interest would getting a masters in aerospace engineering. The university in going to doesn't have it as an undergrad but rather has it as a concentration under mechanical engineering.

    Should I do applied physics and take mechanical engineering electives or do engineering physics (which is not abet accredited) for undergrad in order to go for a masters in aerospace?

    The only reason I won't just simply go for majoring in mechanical engineering is that I really am interested in physics so I wanted to take as much classes in it as I can. Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 23, 2016 #2


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    Engineering is not a walk in the park either, engineering degrees are often quoted as having the highest drop out rate and highest workload of all degrees.
    This is a podcast interview with an aeronautical engineer about career planning:
    He sheds a lot of light on the challenges of entering the aerospace/aeronautical field - How few students make it to graduate, how few of those graduates actually get a job as an engineer and how few of those actually get to do the job they wanted to do.

    That's fairly normal, aerospace engineering is a subdiscipline of mechanical.

    In safety critical industries like aerospace, accreditation and licensure are often critical. Not having an ABET or sim. accredited degree may hurt/destroy your chances of entering the field.

    If you want to be a Physicist, do a physics degree, if you want to be an aerospace engineer do an aerospace degree. Trying to float somewhere in the middle may result in you not being able to do either.
  4. Apr 23, 2016 #3
    Thank you so much and I realize both fields are tough but I know for a fact there's very less jobs open for physicist to do actual physics work, and I just thought anything with "engineering" in the title would be good for the job market
  5. Apr 24, 2016 #4


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    You're welcome. And I do generally agree with that statement.
    I just wanted to point out that getting an engineering degree does not earn one direct entry to an engineering career. By most accounts engineering does have a 'strong job market' but this is a relative assessment and doesn't mean all engineering graduates get to be engineers. The podcast has some discussion and stats around this (only 1 in 3 engineering degree holders work as engineers..).

    My advice is to go in with an open mind, I did ME and when I started I had my heart set on working in power generation, then I did an internship at a power plant and realised it wasn't for me. Then I wanted to work in aerospace, then I had a couple interviews at Rocket Lab and the long hours and low pay turned me off that (less $/hr than my starting rate as an electrician's apprentice 8 years ago..). Now I work in product development and it's my dream job. In hindsight, product development aligns so well with my personal projects & interests I don't know why I considered anything else. I just took time to find what suited me best.

    Overall, I'd recommend doing a lot of googling, get an idea of whether what you think you want is actually what you think it is. What do aerospace engineers do day to day? Where are the aerospace companies located? Do you want to live there? The aerospace engineering job market is said to be boom and bust, can you handle that? What is plan b if your don't get an aerospace job? etc etc etc
  6. Apr 25, 2016 #5
    Yeah going in with an open mind is a good idea I'm just worried I won't be able to take a variety of different career based courses to test if I like them or not. Do you have any advice or idea about a science-y engineering field that is in demand or has a good job outlook? I got accepted to the college I'm going to as a physics major and I'm still unsure what to do . Thank you
  7. Apr 26, 2016 #6


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    Job markets are local so you'll want to find local data. High school careers advisors, local government &/or state employment data, skill shortage lists, Job listing websites, engineering association salary surveys etc etc keep in mind some fields are more cyclical and/or more vulnerable to market changes than others eg Petroleum engineers are often near the top of highest paid job lists at the moment but a shift in oil consumption/production could change that before you graduate (just an example, it's total speculation on my part)
    It can take a while to sort the wheat from the chaff but if you're investing years of your life and many thousands of dollars in your education it's worth spending the time to know what return on your investment you can expect.
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