1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Choosing a major: Chemistry or Engineering

  1. Mar 29, 2009 #1
    Sup guys,

    Next school year I need to have a major chosen, but I am unable to decide. My initial pick was physics, but it is just to much mathematics for me. I enjoy math and do well in it; However, I just can't seem to get straight A's in it, and can only seem to manage a b+/a-.

    I really like chemistry a lot. Its interests me as much as physics does. I like the idea that it still involves mathematics but has more science than the mathematical framework of physics. If I chose this as my major I would really like to purse a phd after graduating.
    I have looked into chemical engineering and it just seems dull and boring. I have really decided against it.

    Now when it comes to engineering, I immediately took interest in electrical engineering. I like the idea of being able to open up say a phone or ipod and know exactly how its working. I like the idea of building alternative ways to meet our energy needs. However, the part I don't like is the programming and massive use of a computer. I have read that electrical engineering requires a lot of computer work and not as much hands on work in building things. I am asking for some insight on what exactly electrical engineers do, not just from some website, but from actual people.

    These are really the only two majors I am really interested in. Please give me some feedback. This way I can make a wise decision.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 29, 2009 #2
    If you really enjoy math and physics, then don't worry about getting A-'s and B+'s. There is nothing wrong with A-'s and B+'s and they are still decent grades. I am not an electrical engineer, but have taken some electrical engineering courses. Most of them involve lots of math. Probably just as much as physics courses.
  4. Mar 30, 2009 #3
    I would first decide whats most important to you. You don't need a degree in electrical engineering to figure out how an Ipod works (not that complicated) but if you want to work in alternative energy a degree in EE will probably get you no where.

    My bias advice is to go into chemistry. The world has more than enough EE's but not enough chemists. When it comes to alternative energy, just about all the road blocks are materials/chemistry related and the chemists will be the ones to solve most of those problems.
  5. Mar 30, 2009 #4
    Thanks for your responses.

    Bubbles: Well I enjoy all three (chemistry, physics and mathematics). I actually seem to struggle a lot to get even b+/a- in math. Which is why physics seems to be not for me. Granted I have only taken calculus one and two.

    Topher925: Chemistry is what I was leaning towards when I created the thread. You said that the world could use more chemists, but how difficult is to find a job with say a b.s, m.s or phd in chemistry? I am also interested in which fields of chemistry when specializing during graduate school become the most employable?
  6. Mar 30, 2009 #5
    I have two friends that are Chemists. One works in the pharmaceutical industry testing drugs. The other works for a fluids analysis company, which he says is pretty interesting work. They both have B.S.'s in Chemistry.
  7. Mar 30, 2009 #6
    Two friends is an awfully low sample size. I know of a few pharmaceutical chemists who have been or will be layed off. Other than that I have no idea.
  8. Mar 31, 2009 #7
    Well, sorry, I don't know everyone that's in the Chemistry field... Just trying to help him with a specific question. I guess I'll try to make more friends in Chemistry so I can lend more assistance. -_-
  9. Apr 1, 2009 #8
    I'm an electrical engineer. I don't think you'd like my job though. I design computer algorithms to enhance images, then I design custom computer hardware to make them run fast.

    EE does have a lot of programming, pretty much every field. I'd say that EE is MORE hands on than other fields, since we can play around with chips/circuits easily. A civil engineer can't really just build a small building and play around with it, its all done by technicians and labourers.

    The Subversive Guide to Engineering
    Latest Post: Grades vs. Effort: The Engineering S-Curve
  10. Apr 1, 2009 #9
    Just a thought: if you like Chemistry and Engineering, why not try Chemical Engineering? You certainly would be able to build stuff, and work in the energy field.
  11. Apr 9, 2009 #10
    I guess its because I don't know that much about it.

    After researching chemical engineering for a while, it just seems less interesting than pure chemistry.


    This thread also has me questioning whether or not chemical engineering would be a good choice.

    Could somebody please tell me a little bit more about it? Like for instance, what is there other than being a process engineer with a chemical engineering degree? What other industries let you use your innovation and creativity to come up with new things?
  12. Apr 12, 2009 #11
    I recommend doing a search on the site. There should be tons of threads about this.
  13. Apr 12, 2009 #12
    Chemical engineers care mostly about designing gigantic vats to mix chemicals in. It's chemistry related, but not as much as you might think.
  14. Apr 12, 2009 #13
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook