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Economics with Physics or MechEng

  1. Jul 19, 2014 #1

    I'm a first year Economics student. I've just finished my first semester. I started Economics with the intention of understand how people make decisions and for what reasons. I would however like to start up another degree to get a deeper understanding of the world. I'm leaning toward starting my second degree in physics which is extremely exciting but I know I would one day have to pay my HECS off. So I'm torn as to which degree would be better. Do I go with what would interest me most (Physics) or go for MechEng which is a little less physics oriented but teaches me more applicable real world skills (Programming, Designing, etc)?

    I know that if anything goes wrong I'll have a good chance of landing some finance gig if I do either econ and physics or econ and mecheng but I just wanted to get some advice from people who have a little more life experience.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 19, 2014 #2


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    I believe the appropriate motivation to study a subject is to pursue a meaningful livelihood as well as to contribute to field.

    If one studies a subject simply to 'understand' the world, then one better have another means with which to subsist.

    Either Physics or Mechanical Engineering (or any engineering discipline) can be a means to a productive livelihood. Physics and even Mechanical Engineering are broad disciplines, and one can specialize in many areas.

    Engineering is effectively applied physics, and ideally, an engineer should have a reasonably good grounding in physics, which is why many science and engineering programs start with similar or same basic math and science (intro physics) courses.

    To be better informed, one should browse the websites of ASME, AIP and APS.


    There are sections on careers/jobs, and articles on current research as well as archives.
  4. Jul 21, 2014 #3
    Thanks for the detailed reply. I've checked them out and I've taken what you've said into account. It's just hard making a decision. I am interested in some aspects of mechanical engineering but I'm worried that if I go into a field that doesn't specifically involve engineering some of the skills picked up in the course would go unused. Whilst it seems that I'll always be able to use physics. Would I be correct in assuming this or am I missing something?
  5. Jul 21, 2014 #4
    Depends on your definition of "using physics". Knowing gravity points down is always useful. Finding eigenvalues, applying boundary conditions to differential equations and calculating time dilation for twins on spaceships are not part of many careers at all. But if your goal is like you state in the original post, "to get a deeper understanding of the world" then physics is a great choice. History would probably be a great choice too for a different aspect of deep understanding of the world. For a career, the answer is simple I think - engineering is far more useful. I already have two degrees in physics, Im back in school for engineering for a career.
  6. Jul 21, 2014 #5
    Thanks very much for the great response.
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