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Career help, please?

  1. Oct 29, 2004 #1
    Well, hey!

    Pretty much, I'm a senior, and it's time to make the decision for careers and colleges. And I'm struggling. I'm having a hard time choosing between aerospace and physics. Advise, please? I don't just want to build rockets.. I don't just want a degree in physics. I guess I just want to "explore space." But I love physics too. Would it be ok to major in engineering, while taking a lot of physics?

    Colleges, yes, I could use some adivse here. I don't want to jump into a super-cometitive college right away like MIT. Is it ok to transfer into a ivy league after undergrad year? Any recomendations for colleges? Thanks! =)
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 3, 2004 #2


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    It's probably more difficult to transfer to a "top" college AFTER a year or so in a "regular" college than to be admitted as a freshman. The "top" college is going to ba a little suspicious of how well you will be prepared for their upper level courses since you haven't take THEIR lower level courses.

    Back when I was in college, around 1970, one of my friends was in "Aerospace Engineering". The department called all of their lower level majors in and recommended that they change majors! The U.S. had just completed the Apollo program and was cutting back a lot on their space program. I don't know how that job market is doing now.

    If you want to "explore space" then you are probably better off in a physics program than an engineering program. Most colleges don't require that you declare a major until the end of the sophomore (second) year so go ahead and take some introductory courses before you decide.
  4. Nov 9, 2004 #3
    Oh, wow, I haven't checked this thread in a while. Luckily, I managed to catch it in my email inbox.

    Anyhow, thanks for replying. Seriously -- that helped me out a lot! But, sorry to be a hassel, as I have one more question.. Is it possible then to get an undergraduate degree in a "regular" university and then move onto a "top school" for like masters or a phd? (I know I'm thinking WAY ahead than I should be)

    Last edited: Nov 9, 2004
  5. Nov 10, 2004 #4
    Oh never mind.. You already answered.. (Kinda read it wrong the first time) It'll be harder, thanks again.
  6. Nov 14, 2004 #5
    I am also considering careers and I am only a sophomore in highschool.
    I know this sounds ridiculous but my parents don't know a whole lot about careers in science. Can anyone advise me regarding government careers (NASA and the like)? What sort of thing are they looking for and is there a demand for jobs in the fields of astrophyics/aerospace engineering?
    Do you receive a lot of special government benefits such as health care?
    I am considering AFROTC in college. And for college, a small liberal arts place in the east such as Swarthmore or BArd.
    My physics teacher seems to think the airforce would let me out of my service to receive a Ph.D in astrophyics because it would "benefit them."
    I am interested in the field of space (like Xasuke mentioned) in general. I did not want to make a new thread about the topic because this one seemed similar. Any response is appreciated. :smile:
  7. Nov 14, 2004 #6
    Xasuke, I think you might have misinterprited what HallsofIvy was saying. He was more referring to the known difficulty regarding transferring during your undergrad years I believe. Many if not most undergrads go to a different school for grad school then where they got their BA/BS degrees and it's not unusual to do so at all.
    And don't worry about thinking ahead, I'm an astronomy/physics undergrad right now and knowing what you want to do beyond getting your degree is certainly regarded as a plus!
  8. Nov 14, 2004 #7
    Don't feel bad, my parents are the same way.

    Yes. I can't speak for NASA, but the USAF is in dire need of officers with technical (Eng/Physics) degrees. Companies like Lockheed Martin are always looking as well, and will direct-hire you if you have military experience. As for benefits, if you are in the USAF, you receive free health care and reduced prices on just about everything else. It's a pretty good deal. Scientists/Engineers usually don't deploy to far-off places, so it's good for family life. AFROTC is a good deal. Forget about the four-year program if you don't need the money and do the one or two-year program instead. You will be and officer regardless.

    They won't "let you out." Instead, they will pay your salary and allow to go to school for free (at AFIT or another civilian institution), with a follow-on job at a lab waiting for you when you complete your degree. This is a fantastic deal.

    The USAF will let you fly satellites right out of college. As an officer you will be trusted with billions of dollars of equipment and extremely sensitive information. Which brings me to an important point. If you want to play with the cool toys, you'll need to be eligible for a Top Secret security clearance. If you've done lots of drugs, or have a shady past, it probably doesn't matter how smart you are, they aren't going to let you in "the circle of trust." I know my ramblings sound like a recruiter, which I am not, but I've worked with/for the military, and the stuff above is knowledge gained from personal experience.

    Let's Review:

    1. Do well in HS/keep your nose clean
    2. Join AFROTC in college (preferably a 2 or 1 year program)
    3. Graduate and commission as a 2Lt
    4. Apply to AFIT or ask for a space ops assignment
    5. Have fun with your career until you get out (4-20 yrs)
    6. Work for a defense contractor
    7. Profit!!!
  9. Aug 1, 2006 #8
    I thought I'd reply to this since I re-stumbled upon this forum after two years! Thanks so much for the advice..and now I am a highschool senior and I've noticed my goals have sort of shifted....
    I want to be a pilot in the AF which is an even greater stretch. I'd like to get a scholarship so that means I'd have to do the 4-yr program. However I am still interested in a degree in physics and aerospace engineering. But piloting stuff aside, which would be better in terms of a job (providing I dont take the ROTC route) for a job? I could do undergrad with a degree in physics from a small university (liberal arts) and masters in AE elsewhere? Or undergrad AE and masters in physics? I don't know which would be better if any...
  10. Aug 2, 2006 #9


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    Undergrad (BA/BS) in Physics followed by an MS in AE is more likely than Undergrad in AE and MS in Physics. However, in the former case, one would need a certain level of proficiency in the various disciplines (subjects) within AE.

    Master's Programs are more specialized than Baccalaureate programs, which cover a broader field of topics. In AE, one can specialize in structures, materials, power systems, propulsion systems, avionics/electronics/communication, guidance and control systems, . . . and combinations thereof.

    A physics degree would likely offer more versatility in the current global market place, but that also depends on other variables such as particular courses and electives.

    The aerospace industry has contracted over the years and is very competitive. There are a limited number of 'big' programs, and organizations like NASA have restrictive budgets. At the moment, we have to get past the termination of the Shuttle program and the introduction of the next generation Launch Vehicles.
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