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Fuel Cell Engineering

  1. May 20, 2008 #1
    I have just finished my sophomore year at Columbia University with a major in physics. I chose Columbia College instead of the engineering school due to the better reputation/ranking and I was not sure whether to go into physics or engineering. However, after two years of courses, I am very much convinced that I want to do engineering, with a specific application in fuel cell technology.

    Now I am at a loss, because with a major in physics, I will be unable to find any jobs that are for engineers, and the fuel cell engineering jobs that I have seen all require an engineering degree. I am also considering getting a M.S. after undergrad, but again, I am not sure of my chances of getting into graduate school for mechanical/electrical engineering with a major in physics. Does anyone have any advice as to anything I can do and which path (grad school or job) I should take? Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2008 #2
    Materials science and engineering is a field in which a lot of fuel cell research is done. There are also a lot of physics students who go to materials for grad school, so the transition is smooth

    You might want to try chemical too
  4. May 21, 2008 #3
    I should ask the student advisor about change:ing the major just about now. To be an engineer is acquiring a knack for technology, it's a whole other ball park than physics. In physics you search for truths and patterns, in technology you solve real world problems, you don't always need to know why things work, just that they will work.

    You should get a material science major. It's imperative for your plans.
  5. May 21, 2008 #4
    he could easily pick up a mat sci minor too
  6. May 21, 2008 #5
    Everyone should have a mathminor in my opinion ^^
  7. May 21, 2008 #6
    Well, I can't easily switch to engineering because the school of engineering and Columbia College are considered two separate colleges, and I would have to apply for a transfer. What are the chances of me getting into engineering for a masters degree with a physics undergrad? I plan on taking as many engineering courses as I can in the next two years (which would be around 6-7 courses, if not more). I know that ekrim said that there are lots of phys students who go to mat sci eng for grad school, so can anyone offer me some more details as to how this could be done? Thanks.
  8. May 21, 2008 #7
    It's hard to speak to your specific case since it depends on a lot of factors (recommendation letters, GPA, GRE, competition for institution and program of choice, et cetera). But I can easily say this much: people do it all the bloody time. It also depends on things like the field you want to do an M.S. in, for example chemical engineering relies on preparation that most physics majors don't have so the amount of material to make up could be as large or larger than the requirements for the M.S. program. Look up or ask for what the expected preparation is for the fields you're interested in, and try to make up those competencies with electives.
  9. May 21, 2008 #8
    Materials science is not a common undergrad major, and not every university has it. Materials science grad students come from a diverse background (physics, chemistry, mechanical, chemical, engineering physics) so a lot of departments try to assimilate them all as smoothly as possible. I know some universities give an intensive overview of materials science to all first year grad students. Contact a prospective department (of whatever engineering you're interested in, many of them take physics majors) and ask if they'd be able to accommodate you.

    It may be tough for you to major in engineering, but a minor in it, or even a few engineering electives wouldn't hurt.
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