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College Major Question

  1. Feb 8, 2009 #1
    Hello everyone, this is my first time here on this forum and I was just wondering something for a very very long time.

    I was accepted into Virginia Military Institute and will be attending this fall '09.

    I intend to upon graduation, enter the U.S. Air Force and become a pilot.

    However, the main question is the major I should take at VMI. I don't know whether to major in Mechanical Engineering, Physics, or Mathematics.

    The pros of majoring in physics at VMI is that there are maybe 4 to 6 people in the entire school majoring in Physics in a class. So I will definitely receive a lot of attention.

    However I've been hearing more and more that ME is the major to go since I should know the workings of the airplanes and what not.

    Currently I receive easy A's and A+s in my physics and calc bc class.

    If anyone can give me some advise that'd be great. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 9, 2009 #2


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    Congrats getting into VMI, and welcome to PF!

    The good news is you don't have to decide right away. In the first 1 to 2 years, there's not a lot of difference between the curricula. The paths are similar enough that you can wait a while before deciding.

    In the meantime, talk to professors in those departments to get a better idea of what's involved. Or join clubs in those departments. Then you'll have a better idea of what suits you.
  4. Feb 10, 2009 #3
    Thanks for the reply.

    I was wondering, what is mechanical engineering like as a college major?
  5. Feb 11, 2009 #4


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    I'm just curious, but isn't VMI an Army feeder school? Wouldn't the Air Force Academy be the way to go, or can you change your branch commitment?

    I have an friend from undergrad (Engineering Physics) who joined the Air Command (the Air Force in Canada) to become a pilot. He mentioned that it's not enough to just have the desire to be a pilot, you also had to have great grades (preferably in a technical degree), perfect (uncorrected) vision, be in good to excellent physical condition, have the right reflexes and instincts, and be not too short, nor too tall.
  6. Feb 11, 2009 #5
    VMI has all 4 ROTCs. (That's what the military system works partly off of)

    Yes I am already familiar with certain requirements for being a pilot. I already do have perfect vision and I guess I am already in shape for the physical tests.

    So this is why I was curious; is Mechanical Engineering a generally a very difficult major?
  7. Feb 11, 2009 #6
    Just to emphasize a point, perfect vision might go away during studying for all those midterms and finals. I know you're thinking "it won't happen to me", but keep that in mind. With that said, pick a degree that will have a fallback option in today's economy in case something doesn't work out.

    Mechanical engineering isn't very difficult, but it certainly is a lot of work. I suggest you take some general engineering courses and see if you like them at all. Often just having As and A+s in high school physics and math isn't enough to enjoy engineering or even keep up those grades in university.

    But good luck.
  8. Feb 11, 2009 #7
    Hello, While I'm personally doing my degree in physics most of the people I know are in mechanical engineering. Both disciplens are difficult and quite time comsuming and it will be an adjustment from highschool. Mainly because in high school the material is easy to grasp and work given in small amounts, but in physics/mechanical engineering their is a large amount of work to do which ranges from challenging to difficult. However if you can just manage your time effectivly and devote alot of hours(30-40 hours per week) to doing homework/studying you'll be fine.
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