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Building bombs with a B.S.

  1. Jan 1, 2009 #1
    so i just survived my first semester at a real college, (transferred from community college), and got my A@# handed to me. I did however pass everything and learned a ton.
    I learned what real studying is and that im probably not cut out for grad school, but we shall see.
    i am curious if its still possible to get cool jobs like building bombs and guns etc. with a simple B.S in physics.

    also thanks everyone for all those priceless informative posts of the past.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 1, 2009 #2


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    I'm not personally an expert, but a friend of mine is in graduate school at UC Berkeley and knows quite a bit about this sort of thing, so I picked up some.

    To be honest, I think for the bombs that involve advanced physics, you'll probably need a graduate degree.

    You could always get a degree in explosives engineering (i.e. Civil Engineering) and work with the smaller stuff, though.
  4. Jan 2, 2009 #3


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    There are a lot of "cool" jobs you can get with a BSc in physics.

    If you are interested in military applications, the best route is to join the armed forces.
  5. Jan 2, 2009 #4
    I work for a defense contractor as a co-op student working towards a BS in Physics.

    The jobs exists, but they aren't nearly as common for someone with just a BS.
  6. Jan 4, 2009 #5
    gosh if i had realized this would turn into a discussion of morality i would have never posted.

    [response to crap deleted]

    Fireworks would be an awesome job but seems like its been perfected and not in need of any physicists.
    Im curious if firearms manufacturers hire physicists.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2009
  7. Jan 4, 2009 #6


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    Thread cleaned with our apologies, andy. People: if the only thing that you have to add to the thread is an editorial comment about the motivations of the OP, then don't post. You will receive an infraction for insults/hijacking, etc. This is not the forum to air your personal political/moral beliefs/adjenda.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2009
  8. Jan 4, 2009 #7


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    Andy, you really need to think more specifically about what you are interested in. The fields involved in weapons are extremely broad. Fireworks would probably be more chemistry, but there may be some smaller needs for engineering or physics. Guns are mostly engineering, but there may be a little bit of chemistry and physics. Missiles are probably a pretty broad mix of different types of engineering and physcs.

    Perhaps the best way to look into this would be to browse Monster.com to see what kinds of jobs people with physics degrees are getting in the defense industry and conversely, what type of people are working at particular types of defense companies.
  9. Jan 4, 2009 #8
    Perhaps go to a graduate fair and see what people in that field are looking for? There are usually many defence companies at those things.
  10. Jan 4, 2009 #9
    Maybe you sholud look into the SMART scholarship. It is for kids looking to do engineering/physics/science in the military. Pay for the college then guarantee a job in the DoD. Obviously read through the terms extremely well because there are plenty of things that terminate the contract (like dropping below a 3.0, not having enough courses/semester) but if you are sure that you want to go into the military field, can't beat free school and a guaranteed job. must take the job they offer you for at least the number of years they get you through school.
  11. Jan 4, 2009 #10


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    One could contact the various arsenals or proving grounds with respect to employment opportunity -

    Waterveliet is the oldest and has done some of the more interesting programs.

    Also Alliant Techsystems - produces the bulk of US munitions
    http://www.atk.com/capabilities/c_defense_default.asp [Broken]

    There is also the Army labs

    The Air Force and Navy have their own research labs.

    http://www.nrl.navy.mil/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  12. Jan 4, 2009 #11
    Bombs and guns...interesting. I can't comment on the guns, but as someone who is considering building nuclear bombs for a living, I can tell you what I've learned. I have a BS in physics and math, and I'm working on my PhD in astrophysics. I've asked my nuclear physics professor about jobs building weapons, and he told me that someone with a physics or astrophysics PhD can most certainly work with nuclear weapons. The American government has something called a stewardship program. Basically it involves taking care of our aging nuclear arsenal. And since there's a treaty banning nuclear testing, physicists in this field would also work with computer simulations to study nuclear weapons.

    There was also once a colloquium speaker at our department (who happened to also get her astrophysics PhD here) who worked at Los Alamos. She did classified weapons research, and also worked on repairing nuclear weapons. One of the problems is that most of the nukes were built years ago, and when parts go bad, they have to replace them with modern technology. One of her jobs is figuring out precisely how to do this.

    Everything I've learned about this field suggests that you'll need a PhD. Maybe there are jobs for people with just a BS in physics, but I've never heard about them. In my experience, a physics BS isn't very employable unless it's supplemented with a graduate degree. If you want to quit with your BS, then I'd recommend taking a few engineering and computer courses before you graduate. If there's a computational physics course, that would also be a good idea, because it looks like most of the physics jobs in weapons research involve a lot of computer simulations.
  13. Jan 4, 2009 #12
    Is it true that this is because the actual tests are now banned?
  14. Jan 4, 2009 #13


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    Two of my friends graduated with a B.S. in physics from a small university.

    The first does safety tests for large artillery. The second works for a defense contractor on classified projects, so I can't tell you what he does, but he probably gets paid better than many young PhDs in academia!

    The moral: You can work with weapons with a B.S. in physics and you can also get yourself a good paying job if you play your cards right.
  15. Jan 4, 2009 #14
    My dad (who also only has a bachelor's in physics - of course things are probably different now) designed torpedoes, mines and the like for British Aerospace. He said it was extremely interesting, for example things like the delivery systems or fluid/aerodynamics.

    So I'm sure from a purely scientific perspective it's probably fascinating.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2009
  16. Jan 5, 2009 #15
    there is most definitely jobs of that sort you could obtain with just a BS.

    Know of a few people who work for military contractors (Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, etc) doing those jobs and they all have various BS's...some in chemistry, some in math...others in computer science.

    Just need to look for them.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2009
  17. Jan 5, 2009 #16
    Hey Andy-

    Check out the various research labs for the military. Army research lab, naval research lab etc.
  18. Jan 5, 2009 #17
    very informative thanks.
    i was considering joining the armed forces after graduation but i must see what they offer.
    i feel it would be very interesting to work at one of the facilities astronuc listed. i will be looking into their opportunities.
    also ill check out the smart scholarship

    russ, im not sure yet exactly what im looking for but hopefully i will find something that interests me. I feel that industry will, whether its weapons, powertools, or jetpacks, be very "cool".
  19. Jan 5, 2009 #18


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    If you have some openings for technical electives, take a look at materials science/engineering and perhaps manufacturing engineering. One thing I regret not doing as an undergraduate was taking a course in manufacturing engineering (engineering technology) which basically focused on foundry technology.
  20. Jan 5, 2009 #19
    Is it easy to get a job in the army in America? Does it pay well?

    Do you basically become an officer or can you work as a regular scientist/engineer? (I.e a civilian).

    If it's possible to work as a civilian you may want to look into that as it removes the possibility of being sent overseas, unless that's not something you would mind.
  21. Jan 20, 2010 #20
    for the Air Force, where's the link to apply for jobs? Those links just talk about the labs but there's no link to apply for jobs
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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