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Schools Astrophysics or Aerospace Engineering (Princeton University)

  1. Mar 30, 2009 #1
    Hi! I don't know what to pick as a major. I am extremely interested in both fields (moreso than any other major at the school), however, I don't want either discipline to occupy my entire life as an undergraduate (I'd like to have some free time). I already satisfied most of the freshman/sophomore year requirements. I'm currently a freshman and I don't think I have room to shop both majors next year. I'm not thinking about job opportunities, I plan to go onto grad school in any case.

    Any advice?

    Thanks in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2009 #2


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    Gold Member

    Welcome to physics forums,

    I suggest pick neither? The reality is unless you are a perfect machine, these degrees will in fact take up most of your life. Now there is some relief, because the first 2 years life is a 'breeze' - at least in comparison to the others. After that, life will presumably be dedicated to getting 'decent' grades, depending on how difficult you find classes.

    I have seen people who try to 'stuff' free time into an AE degree and find that their either their grades suffer or they lack a fundamental understanding of the material.

    My advice is do it if you truly like it. You will probably find nice things like on campus clubs which you can enjoy.

    P.S. its not all impossible but depending on your definition of free time, (lots of parties? traveling?) during your junior and senior years that stuff is not recommended in order to stay on track especially for engineering and science degrees.
  4. Mar 31, 2009 #3
    I would say pick astrophysics if you want to have fun and learn about the secrets of the universe. Pick aerospace engineering if you actually want a job. Don't worry, you'll get an intellectual challege out of this too. I'm saying this just to warn you that that the job market in astrophysics isn't all that great. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun major (otherwise I wouldn't be doing my PhD in it). But from what I see, you're way more employable with an engineering degree.
  5. Apr 2, 2009 #4
    in any case, i expect to get a certificate (kind of like a minor) in finance for versatility. would this, when combined with a hard science or engineering major where there's a heavy emphasis on quantitative analysis, open up more jobs for me?


    by free time, i don't mean "go out and party like crazy". right now i do a lot of things on campus like clubs and activities and i don't want to forfeit those things (maybe some of them, but not all of them).

    what do you guys think?

    thanks in advance!
  6. Apr 3, 2009 #5
    do you do plasma physics in aerospace engineering. and is it different from space engineering where you build satelittes and stuff.
  7. Apr 3, 2009 #6


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    Gold Member

    No plasma physics sorry =(

    AE's do not design sattelites. Think of them as specialized Mech E's. They design aircraft and spaceshuttles.
  8. Apr 3, 2009 #7

    Aerospace Engineers can design satellites should they pursue that path.

    They won't be working on the space shuttle for long as it's retiring basically in a year or so.
  9. Apr 3, 2009 #8
    AE's also design ships and submarines. A submarine is essentially a blimp in a more viscous fluid.
  10. Apr 3, 2009 #9
    Hah, if we're going to broaden the field, then they also can be involved in cars, or pretty much any sort of vehicle or structure that deals with fluid dynamics.
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