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Engineering Engineering or Physics? Education and career advice wanted.

  • Thread starter JosesFalco
  • Start date
Hello all, I am currently finishing my AA and getting ready to transfer to a better school to pursue an education in either Engineering or Physics. I am pretty torn between the two and would like some advice from people in the field on which would be a better choice for me. I have worked in the construction industry as a pipefitter/welder on power plants (gas, coal and nuclear) and am interested in getting into the design side of that industry. I am very interested in alternative power research and am unsure which of these fields would be more suited to that sort of work.
My dad is an electrical engineer for Raytheon, and when talking to him about it he made it sound like they did very little research and development, mostly just troubleshooting the logistics of the sytems that already exist. Up to this point I have been leaning towards Mechanical Engineering but have recently started looking more and more into Physics. So for fear of rambling even more than I already am I'll wrap this up, does anyone have any advice on the best path to get into this sort of career?
Thank You,


Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
One could do both, or Engineering Physics.

R&D is more likely if one has an advanced degree, MS or PhD. There are many Engineering PhDs who develop products, systems or processes, just as there are many Physics PhDs who do R&D.


Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
How far do you intend to go with your education? If you plan on stopping at a bachelor's, I strongly advise you to go into engineering. Much, much more marketable. That may not mean much to you now, but when you're having a hard time finding work, it's critical.

With a more advanced degree in physics, your options are a bit better. But - my opinion here - you'd still be a lot better positioned to find work if your education is in engineering, especially if you're constrained geographically due to marriage or other ties.
I have an engineering degree and I work with a company that helps customers developed their products. Some of my coworkers have physics degrees and the same job description as me. They were able to get their jobs by learning to do things that are useful to engineers. Most handle the heavy analysis, mostly stress, fatigue and creep, thermo, heat transfer, materials, metallurgy, and fluid flow. They seem to handle that better than many engineers, so they get those jobs.
You might be more specific as to was sort of development work you want to do and design your own education around that. Maybe you want to develop better thermal barrier coatings for turbine blades. That would make you very employable. You could do that with either a physics or an engineering degree.

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