1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Attn: Engineers; Need Help About School!

  1. Dec 29, 2008 #1

    I am a junior student at a liberal arts college (Pacific Lutheran University) and I am interested in majoring in engineering, but the school does not offer an engineering degree. I have several options as an undergraduate and I wanted to get some advice.

    Option I

    I could transfer to a school with an undergrad engineering program and spend two years studying for a BS in Mechanical Engineering (probably finish in May 2011). (After that possibly a MS.)

    Option II

    I could study for a BS in Physics (finish Dec 2009) and complete a semester-long internship at an engineering firm (Spring 2010) and then apply to a grad program for engineering (or forget the internship and apply for a grad program and take undergrad engineering courses in the spring).

    Option III

    I could study for a BS in Applied Physics (finish in May 2010) and then apply to a grad program.

    Also, about how long would a grad program take me to complete from a BS (Applied) Physics (I assume I will need basic undergrad engineering courses?) compared to a student with a BS in Mechanical Engineering?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Specifically I am looking for an working engineer's perspective on what is important.

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 29, 2008 #2
    If mechanical engineering is your intented career path and you plan to pursue graduate school in this area you may consider transfering to the Unviersity of Washington. It is a great school and will be a hell of alot cheaper than PLU. Downtown seattle is across the bridge from campus too.

    This seems like it may be the most direct route and the cheapest too. UW also will have a ton of opportunities for research experience which will strengthen grad school aplications.
  4. Dec 30, 2008 #3
    I'd say your best bet would be to follow similar advice to the post above. If I'm mistaken, someone please correct me, but I'm fairly certain that an undergraduate degree in physics/applied physics really wouldn't help you gain admittance to any sort of grad school for any type of engineering. Perhaps I'm wrong. Regardless, your best bet would most definetly be to take the extra time and get the BS in Mechanical Engineering. What's the point of getting a degree you wont use?
  5. Jan 2, 2009 #4
    Well this hasn't been the advise I'm been getting from my school. The people at my school say that some physics majors who want to go to grad school in engineering will cross over but I think these people have focused their electives into the type of engineering their interested in. I would still suggest that the OP should go with the option to switch majors with mechanical engineering but should do some research on where some physics programs would bring their graduates if he/she has the time and passion for physics.
  6. Jan 2, 2009 #5
    One concern I'll add is that it can be difficult (even if you later pursued an MS in engineering), to get "Professional Engineer" (P.E.) certification. You might want to look at this link: http://www.graduatingengineer.com/articles/19991102/The-ABC's-of-PE-Certification". Note especially: "First, an aspiring PE must graduate from a four-year engineering program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)."

    Some jobs will require that you have professional certification. Therefore I concur with other posters. Go to another school.... and remember that advisers at your present institution won't be inclined to give you that advice. To colleges, "students" are (to a large extent, sadly) viewed as "revenue units" (a term I steal from James Howard Kunstler's discussion of Las Vegas in The City in Mind.).

    Edited to add (regarding jtbell's following statement): Here I refer especially to advising done through an advising center (which is the required form of advising for students early in their college careers at our institution).
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  7. Jan 2, 2009 #6


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Many of our physics majors go on to graduate school in engineering (various fields) and most of them do OK. I should qualify this by saying that this means regional schools like Clemson and North Carolina State, not schools like RPI or Georgia Tech.

    I'll also add that I've never (in 20+ years) tried to persuade a student to stay here instead of transferring elsewhere. In fact, I've never even had a student ask me about this. They seem to be quite capable of making up their minds themselves.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2009
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook