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Can science degree student do engineer's work?

  1. Jul 8, 2013 #1
    Hello, does anyone have anything to share on whether student graduated with a bachelor of science degree can be in engineers' position or do jobs that are similar to theirs? For example inventing things, applying theory to create something that are useful in life. And is this rare? I have read another post here with similar topic and it says it is really hard to apply for a job that has a title of 'engineer' in it with a physics bachelor degree. But my question is can I do similar works as them, or by studying engineering in graduate school (or any other way possible) to become an engineer? :)

    I am having this question because I want to be an engineer but I am in the science faculty in my university, I need to transfer to engineering faculty to study it but there is no guarantee for transfering successfully. So I want to know can I do the things above with a physics bachelor degree (or other science degree like math)?

    If this is possible I would major in physics or whatever first and then try to transfer in case I can't get into engi. in the end. If this is not very possible I might go for other majors in my faculty that are more 'applied' first because I think I am not very interested in doing researches in theories and knowing more about the world but can't apply them to real world by myself...
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  3. Jul 8, 2013 #2
    CAN they do it? It really depends on the specific job. The type of entry level and coop work a sibling of mine did (comp engineer) at Panasonic was testing prototype wireless phones and it was nothing complicated. Doing maintenance jobs on a cell phone service antenna or high voltage power lines is entirely different and the training in a physics degree is not specific enough for that. Designing waveguides/transmission lines? Maybe, I covered a bit of this in my coursework and labs.

    I knew one physics graduate that worked for some time doing data analysis at a thermal power plant but that was a long time ago.

    Getting an engineering position as a non-engineering degree holder is very rare, period.
  4. Jul 9, 2013 #3


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    It is unclear from your post how you're defining "engineer", so I'm assuming you're interested in the title since you mentioned in your post. The title "Engineer" is being used quite loosely these days. You could self-study for a few networking certifications and eventually become a "Network Engineer" without knowing any physics or calculus at all. If all you're interested in is the title, you don't need to go to college for it.
  5. Jul 10, 2013 #4


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    Yes, it is possible. But, if you want to work as an engineer your chances of success are much higher if you have an engineering degree. Consider this scenario: a company has a job opening for an entry level electrical engineer. Of their 10 applicants, 9 have electrical engineering degrees and one has a physics degree. Why would the company pick the physicist instead of the best of the electrical engineering applicants? Now, some positions at some companies are more general, and they will likely be more open to hiring a physicist.

    Whether or not a physicist CAN do the work is separate from getting a paid position to do the work. For some types of work the physicist will simply need a lot more training so will take longer to become a productive member of the team. For other types of work I suspect a physicist would take no longer than an engineer to train-up.

  6. Jul 25, 2013 #5
    Yes I agree it should depend on the type of job, and since I don't really know what kind of job engineers usually do, I know my question is kinda hard to be answer...
  7. Jul 25, 2013 #6
    Actually I am not sure about what different engineers really do in their job, I am just guessing that they usually design or invent new things and technology and this is what I want to do, so I guess I am using the more usual definition in this context...
  8. Jul 25, 2013 #7
    Yes I totally agree with you about the engineer position example. So I will try to get an eng degree if I can, but I would just be glad if I can do it without being an eng student. And I also agree with what you said in the second part, and I guess the job that is more difficult for physicist would be the more typical engineer's work and I might be more interested in those so in the end it might still be hard for me to do what I want with a phys degree :) .
  9. Jul 25, 2013 #8


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    If you are unsure of what engineers do, why do you want to be one?
  10. Jul 27, 2013 #9
    Yes and no. Physics students and other "science" students do not receive training in good design principles or engineering practices. Using software engineering as an example, I know for a fact that a lot of physics students doing research will do a lot of computer programming but most of them have only had a single programming course (if that) and have taught themselves the rest. Well, it's one thing to teach yourself how to make programs with C++ from a book but most self-teachers wouldn't bother to learn design patterns, good OOP principles, how to write clean, maintainable code, avoid high class coupling, etc. I'll bet a lot of the code they write is a big mess on the inside, even if it does "get the job done."
  11. Jul 27, 2013 #10


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    A good physicist, or a good engineer, or a good programmer, or a good scientist, or a good designer,... would need to be a bit or more, multidisciplinary.

    Have any physicists or others with Physics degrees but no engineering degree done any engineering work? Must be yes! A good guess is that they had at least one engineering course, or did practical work combined with study from written sources, or maybe somebody taught them.

    A scientific technician with no more than one programming course may study programming again on his own, find a good/useful book and a supportive community, and develop skill to design programs to process his data and use this data with his programs to make important technical decisions. With his own patience and experience, he can learn to write excellent programs in very neat and well organized code. His educational degree earned might be in something much different from computer science, but he may become very skilled at creating great programs - easy to use, reliable, and on the inside, well organized code. BUT his formal education and his on-the-job training were in something else.
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