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Courses Double major in physics and MechE.. Help/Guidance?

  1. Jun 6, 2016 #1
    Hello PhysicsForums members, I'm a new member here (yet that's a different story) and in a bit of a dilemma. I recently finished my junior year of high school and will be a senior come August, quickly putting me in the stressful position of all that revolves around college applications and admittance decisions. As most likely quite obvious by the title, I am currently thinking of pursuing a graduation "track" at the university I plan on applying to soon, entailing a double major in both physics and MechE. I have a great passion for both subject areas, but can't necessarily decide on one over the other. Realistically speaking, I would love to eventually see myself working a secure job on the research side of a more specialized "branch" in the many areas of physics (Mainly particle physics, nuclear physics, astrophysics, or possibly nuclear astrophysics), yet from nearly everyone I have heard from, it seems as if a steady career, or even any job directly related to theoretical/applied physics is very scarce and hard to come by, even if proactive in the realm of job finding: which makes me a bit scared to major in physics itself. I also realize that even a B.S. in MechE would help to gain me a good job, if I am proactive in the situation of finding one (I would possibly like to end up in the aerospace field), while a M.S. would be even better. Technically speaking, I guess my actual questions are: Is it worth it to get a double major in physics and MechE, while hoping to eventually get a M.S. in physics, and eventually work in both fields? Are there realistically any jobs for M.S. Physics holders in the various fields I discussed? Would a double major in the two subjects make an average company look down on me, or would careers/internships in both areas make me more "appreciated" and "valuable" to future employers?
    -Any insight/advice/personal experiences and input are greatly appreciated.
    -(No hate/"you're only a high schooler, you can't possibly know what you want to do in life" comments please, if possible)
    Please be brutally honest, I need a quick, good dose of reality

    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 8, 2016 #2
    You tell us. Does your choice school allow you to do this without tacking on more than a year of extra schooling? What parts of mechanical engineering interest you? What about physics?
  4. Jun 8, 2016 #3
    Well, mechanical and both chemical engineering have roots in my family (multiple ancestors/grandparents worked with Exxon/Sun/other southwest oil companies), so there is clearly a bit of pressure directed towards me by family members. I love physics and would love to see myself doing research as an actual career, but I have been discouraged mainly by the fact that from what I've heard, it seems as if there aren't many jobs solely physics related. Realistically, my parents want me to study mechanical engineering, as do I (from what I have learned/practice in my engineering classes at school), yet it simply comes down to the fact that I don't want to necessarily disappoint any family members. As said earlier, physics would be my dream job and money is not necessarily a concern (as long as I could live off of the pay, even at a mediocre level), yet I just want to be sure there are a decent number of jobs in the field before I commit to anything.
  5. Jun 8, 2016 #4
    You haven't mentioned which parts of mechanical engineering and physics are most interesting to you.
  6. Jun 8, 2016 #5
    I get a thrill when doing physics, I enjoy doing mathematics and applying math to actual, solvable problems as possible in physics, as well as trying to determine factors still unknown to myself and others about the universe. In mechanical engineering, I enjoy the designing and multiple stages of testing involved, yet it seems to become a bit repetitive after a bit, and there isn't too much actual "research" involved about unknown variables: it's more of trial and error (from my experiences at least).
  7. Jun 8, 2016 #6
    This can be said for both fields.

    Do you know this for a fact?

    What about specifics? What particular topics in each field are interesting to you?
  8. Jun 8, 2016 #7
    (all from personal experience, yes I know my experiences are limited, being that I've only been exposed to introductory college courses and upper level high school courses) I don't know for a fact that not much research is involved in mechanical engineering, but my class and I combined to build/work on small/medium scale rockets In engineering this year, and mainly went off what we had learned from the teacher himself, and we did not necessarily have to go out of our own ways to fix problems with irrelevant research. In MechE, rocket propulsion and similar aspects of more specifically, aerospace related topics interest me. In physics so far, I enjoy more specialized fields such as high energy/particle physics and astrophysics.
  9. Jun 8, 2016 #8
    Are there any topics you've covered already that you find particularly interesting? By "covered," I mean that you've learned formally in school, preferably with at least some math behind it.
  10. Jun 8, 2016 #9
    A decent bit about the aerospace industry, a brief bit about planetary rotation, relativity, etc., and an even briefer bit relative to atomic and low energy physics
  11. Jun 9, 2016 #10
    I think double majoring would be pointless. It would take you an extra year or two, and you wouldn't really gain any more marketability than someone who just went with engineering.

    Engineering and Physics will almost be exactly the same the first two years so you have time to pick which one.
  12. Jun 9, 2016 #11
    Thanks for the input man, realistically I would want to study physics by itself but I was looking into a double major just in case I could not find a job in physics, then I could fall back on MechE: I wouldn't necessarily be using the double major as a vantage point for marketability.
  13. Jun 10, 2016 #12
    You'll find a job with a degree in physics. Unless you can get a 4.0 in both, and get them done in 4 years I don't see the point. I don't think the amount of debt you'll go into just to get an extra degree is really worth it. Just go with whichever one you think you'll enjoy the most.
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