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Astrophysics senior looking into Aerospace Master's

  1. Jul 28, 2014 #1
    Let me firstly and quickly apologize if this topic has been covered before. I know you all answer a lot of these questions, so please link me to some past discussions as you see fit.

    I am going into my last year as an astrophysics major, and I'm a bit dismayed at my job outlook with just a bachelor's degree, and I'm not willing to spend 6 more years in grad school, then 2-3 more with post-docs. Aerospace engineering has always caught my eye, so I'm thinking of pursuing a master's degree. I've been working on an engineering certificate with a mechanical emphasis (basically a minor) alongside astrophysics, so I feel like I've at least put a foot in the door so far. I guess I'll just rattle off some questions:

    What should I be doing right now to prepare for my applications?
    What sort of specializations should I be looking into?
    In your experience (if applicable - or you can guestimate), how is the transition from physics to engineering?
    What would the faculty board like to see in my application as a prospective student?
    What other questions should I be asking?

    Thank you so much, and sorry again if this feels repetitive.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 5, 2014 #2
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated
  4. Aug 5, 2014 #3
    Just saying this. Not sure if you already know: to my knowledge, Aerospace engineering is a ton of fluid mechanics and mechanical engineering. Physics and astrophysics majors don't really take fluid mechanics at any level. Thus you will almost certainly be at a disadvantage against an AE undergrad. They take multiple fluid courses because it's very important.

    Tl;dr: I'd suggest learning fluid mechanics.
  5. Aug 9, 2014 #4
    Yeah, I'm planning on taking that pretty soon, so I guess that'll help quite a bit. What do you think about going mechanical vs aerospace?
  6. Aug 9, 2014 #5


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    No wonder these people are unemployable! No fluid mechanics at all in a physics curriculum, undergrad or graduate? That's like a math major skipping differential equations.

    I think the more enlightened physics programs schedule at least one course in FM, if not as an undergrad, at least in the graduate programs. It's also possible that the FM material is included in a course which is not called 'fluid mechanics' as such.
  7. Aug 9, 2014 #6


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    it depends on what you are wanting to research. this being said, i was going to go aero but ended up mechanical. i was interested in fluids, and both have this in common, so i went by school and professor, which turned out to lead me to mechanical.

    i guess what i'm saying is, what specifically interests you? if it's in both, look for both. if it's only in one, you've answered your own question.

    hope this helps
  8. Aug 9, 2014 #7

    I think that's what I'm having some trouble with. I can tell you all sorts of specific research areas to do with astronomy, but i haven't really done my homework learning active areas of research with AE. Any resources you could point me too?
  9. Aug 9, 2014 #8


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    Yea I think many undergrads struggle with knowing what to research. My advice is to involve yourself with faculty and talk to professors. I know I started out by contacting professors about research, found what I did and didn't like and went from there. Hope this helps!

    Also, what part of what you're currently studying interests you? Once you know you can check out grad school departments and see what areas each research. It's pretty easy on most of their websites, and from there you can compare faculty to what you enjoy.
  10. Aug 9, 2014 #9
    physics goes more towards electrical engineering than mechanical. most things in physics can be said to be more useful in electrical engineering than mechanical.

    classical mechanics is used in computer graphics all the time.

    EM? no brainer.

    QM? no brainer.

    Thermo? Physics thermo is mostly stat mech, and stat mech is used in semiconductor physics.
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