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BS in Physics to MS in Mechanical Engineering

  1. Jul 31, 2013 #1
    I currently have a bachelor's in physics and I want to get into mechanical engineering. Should I get a bachelor's or a masters in mechanical engineering. I have the opportunity to enter a masters program, but it doesn't seem to make sense to me that they would accept me into the program without any background. Has anyone else gone through this or have any info for me? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 31, 2013 #2
    I think its possible to do well in a masters of mechanical engineering program if you either take a couple of post bacc undergrad courses in mechanical engineering or pick up some quality textbooks, read through them, and solve an abundance of problems prior to enrollment.

    You should already have a strong understanding of mathematics, Newtonian mechanics, and thermodynamics. Your critical thinking skills should be developed on par with other engineers. Depending on what your focus is in the mechanical engineering program, you will need to cover the lost ground that other engineers learned in undergrad.

    For example, if you are choosing a thermodynamics/fluids program, buy introductory books on thermodynamics, heat transfer, and fluid dynamics. You can get feedback on forums for recommended texts, contact the potential graduate professors for what they would recommend, or you can look at the required texts for the undergrad engineering program that offers the masters program and pick from there. Read through them. Attempt as many problems as you can. Get your hands on robust solution manuals.

    Undergrad for mechanical engineering covers a lot of breadth and not so much depth. This can be to your benefit because most masters programs are focused on depth and not breadth. You can save a lot of time by not learning the undergrad courses that are not necessarily applicable to your focus. I would say here is the breadth of areas covered in my undergrad:

    1. The mechanical design path: Strength of Materials -> Mechanical Design 1 -> Mechanical Design 2 & Finite Element Methods 1 -> Mechanical Design 3

    2. The thermofluidics path: Thermodynamics 1 & Fluid Mechanics 1 -> Thermodynamics 2 & Fluid Mechanics 2 -> Heat Transfer

    3. Dynamics & Controls path: Advanced Dynamics -> Vibrations -> Control Systems

    4. Mechantronics path: Microcontrollers & PLCs & Several Programming Courses -> Mechatronics Design 1, 2, & 3

    Do you already have a job or knowledge to what you would like to focus on within mechanical engineering? If not, I would get the undergrad degree because it is more flexible. It would be a shame if you focused of thermofluids and found out later that you would rather do control systems or design structures & mechanisms.
  4. Aug 1, 2013 #3
    Thank you for your thoughtful post. I am currenyly a physics teacher. I wish I could get a job as an entry level engineer but I figure companies want to see an ME degree. I was thinking about thermo and fluids. I looked into the bachelors but my local school wont let me get a second bachelors thats so closely related to physics...dont know why but that is their policy. Is one of the fields hotter than the others because my biggest concern is about getting a job when I graduate? Also from your post i guess I wouldnt be able to get a job in the other fields which seems like id be pigeonholing myself. Would you agree?
  5. Aug 3, 2013 #4


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    Unless the field you're planning on going into needs a Professional Engineer licence, you might be able to find a company willing to take you on as an entry level engineer with a BS in physics.
  6. Aug 3, 2013 #5
    Every posting I look at either says they want a degree in the particular field or experience. Do u think its worth applying anyway?
  7. Aug 6, 2013 #6
    Its definitely worth applying. Try picking up a few useful skills (like drafting) to augment your resume for the entry level position. I think you can get access to most modern cad platforms from 0-100$.
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