Can't decide between physics or engineering

In summary, the student is considering what courses to take in college and is unsure about what to do. They have found the best part of their course to be mechanics and are unsure about what to do next. They have researched different areas of study and found that engineering is the area that best suits their interests.
  • #1
Darth Frodo
212
1
Well it's the time of the year when I need to decide what courses I want to do in college.
Originally I was hell bent on physics but I'm almost finished my course and I'm unsure.

There are 7 main sections in my course in high school.
1. Optics
2. Mechanics
3. Waves/light/sound
4. Electricity
5. Magnetism
6. Radioactivity
7. Particle physics

I found optics to be ok. It wasn't the most interesting thing to start with but it kept my interest until mechanics.

I loved! mechanics. It was definitely the best part so far! I thought it was so interesting how projectiles could be calculated etc..

Waves/light/sound was good too I found it to be cool.

Electricity, This is what I'm doing right now. I FIND IT INTOLERABLE! It so boring. I have no drive to even learn it.

I have yet to do the others, i'll have a better idea after those, but given that I loved mechanics so much, should I do engineering instead.

Thanks for reading. Any help would be much appreciated.

P.S. here's the course I am interested looking at right now.

http://www3.ul.ie/courses/MathematicsAndPhysics.php
 
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  • #2
Do both or do engineering physics.

Engineering is basically applied physics. The more physics one masters, the better engineer one will be.
 
  • #3
What you have to remember is what you think you enjoy more.

Engineers are all about practicality.

As in "gravity works in this way, therefore I can build this"

Physicists are all about discovery.

As in "gravity works in this way, therefore I can do an experiment to find out more about this other thing".
 
  • #4
I agree with Astronuc, go into engineering science for first year. That way you get a solid foundation for both physics and engineering and you can declare your major second year once you've had a feel for both.
 
  • #5
Physics and engineering programs often overlap for the first two years (or more). You can make this decision much later. Don't worry about it now!

If the schools you're applying to force you to declare one or the other on your application, choose whichever one will make it easier for you to gain admission. Seriously! You can always change your major later.

- Warren
 
  • #6
Thanks for everyone's input. You americans have a very different system over there. Here, you enter your degree and that's it! You can't change. Not only that, but once you have decided on the area you wish to study in, you fill out the application form and if you are offered you 1st choice, you can't accept the 2nd. It's complex and stressful.

Why on Earth don't physicists do fluid mechanics. That really bugged me! We're supposed to learn how the world works, it's stupid!.
 
  • #7
Darth Frodo said:
Thanks for everyone's input. You americans have a very different system over there. Here, you enter your degree and that's it! You can't change. Not only that, but once you have decided on the area you wish to study in, you fill out the application form and if you are offered you 1st choice, you can't accept the 2nd. It's complex and stressful.

Why on Earth don't physicists do fluid mechanics. That really bugged me! We're supposed to learn how the world works, it's stupid!.
The last statement is rather myopic.

Learning how the world works is part of figuring out how to make things work better, or more efficiently. There is a spectrum of interests and specialties between physicists and engineers.

Fluid mechancis, thermal-hydraulics, or computational fluid dynamics (and even plasma physics) are each broad areas. Many power/energy conversion systems and propulsion systems use working fluids. Optimizing the elements that extract the energy/momentum requires intimate knowledge of Navier-Stokes equations in one or two phases. Optimizing the solid mechanical elements requires intimate knowledge of structrual dynamics, materials behavior, corrosion, tribology, . . . .

I changed my major from physics (with specialities in nuclear and astrophysics) to nuclear engineering. Had I known then what I know now, I would have double majored in physics and nuclear engineering. As a nuclear engineering student, I did certain electives in electrical, mechanical, aerospace engineering and materials science, along with various courses in mathematics.
 
  • #8
A practical issue to consider is that a BS in mechanical engineering will probably qualify you for a good job. In physics, it's best to get a PhD in order to compete for good jobs.
 

1. Can you explain the difference between physics and engineering?

Physics is a branch of science that deals with the fundamental laws of nature and the behavior of matter and energy. It involves studying and understanding the fundamental principles that govern the universe. On the other hand, engineering is the application of scientific and mathematical principles to design and build structures, machines, devices, and systems. It involves using the knowledge gained from physics to create practical solutions for real-world problems.

2. Which field offers more job opportunities, physics or engineering?

Both physics and engineering offer a wide range of job opportunities in various industries, such as technology, manufacturing, healthcare, and research. However, engineering tends to have more specialized and practical applications, making it a more in-demand field for job opportunities.

3. Which field has a higher salary potential, physics or engineering?

The salary potential for both physics and engineering can vary greatly depending on factors such as job role, industry, and location. Generally, engineering tends to have higher salary potential due to its practical applications in industries such as technology, aerospace, and energy.

4. Can I major in both physics and engineering?

It is possible to double major in both physics and engineering, but it may require a heavier course load and more time to complete. You may also need to carefully plan your course schedule to ensure you fulfill the requirements for both majors. Alternatively, you can pursue a major in one field and a minor or concentration in the other.

5. Which field is more challenging, physics or engineering?

Both physics and engineering can be challenging fields, but they require different skill sets. Physics requires a strong foundation in mathematics and critical thinking skills, while engineering requires a combination of analytical thinking, problem-solving, and technical skills. Ultimately, the level of difficulty will vary for each individual depending on their strengths and interests.

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