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Geophysics and Optoelectronics majors

  1. Aug 29, 2012 #1
    I'm wondering if I can get a bit of advice -

    The University I'm applying to (for undergraduate study) offers two majors which I'm curious about - Optoelectronics and Geophysics.

    I sort of understand what each is about, but I'm just wondering if anyone can offer any thoughts as to how different my experience would be if I took either of these other than taking a straight up Physics major, and how they might differ in terms of employment opportunities?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    EDIT: In addition, I am mildly curious as to whether the Geophysics major might be applicable to the study of other planets, or if I'd be better off just taking Geology or Meteorology or some other major if that was my goal.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2012
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2012 #2
    Is there something wrong with how I've worded my question? If anyone can offer advice about these two specialisations I'd appreciate it. Thanks for your time.
  4. Sep 15, 2012 #3
    I have never heard of an optoelectronics undergraduate major. Are you sure it's not just a specialization of EE or physics? If it really is its own major, I would say that that is WAY to specialized for an undergrad. I do know of quite a few geophysics undergrad programs but they tend to be in geology departments. From what I've heard, it is much better to do physics as an undergrad and then go to geophysics for grad school than the other way around. It's much easier for a physics major to pick up geology in grad than for geology to pick up physics and math. I'd say go for physics because it will keep your options open for both. Just take some EE classes if you're leaning optoelectronics and geology/geophysics if you're thinking geophysics.

    I am also interested in geophysics and optoelectronics which is strange because they are not very closely related. At this point, I'm definitely leaning more towards geophysics because I would like to do field work in my research. Optoelectronics research is interesting but geophysics seems more enjoyable in my opinion.
  5. Sep 15, 2012 #4
    Thanks, that's really helpful. Definitely sounds like a better idea to just keep my options open.
  6. Sep 15, 2012 #5
    Well, the description on the website refers to them as 'specialisations' but they are also included in the list of majors. Meaning if I wanted I could select one of those specialisations as my major from the outset.

    This makes me curious as to why these particular specialisations are offered... should I assume that there is some demand for these skill-sets in industry? Or is it just the university trying to diversify in order to attract students?
  7. Sep 16, 2012 #6
    I know for a fact that geophysics masters & PhD students are having no trouble finding jobs in the oil and gas industry, and from what I've heard optoelectronics is a good route to go as well. I would say just try classes from both and see which you might see yourself doing in 10 years.

    Also, you may want to consider that grad school is usually a must for physics. Are you planning on grad school? If not, I would suggest looking into engineering.
  8. Sep 16, 2012 #7
    Check the curricula. They should be clear if you understand the module names and recognize the topics listed under them (or you can google their meaning).

    Depends on what you want to do. Which is..?
  9. Sep 16, 2012 #8
    Yes as the situation stands currently I do plan to continue with grad study following completion of BSc. I've been doing as much research as possible into career pathways and similar fields (i.e. engineering) so as to be as prepared as possible before diving in headlong.

    I want a career working in physics research. I want to be able to contribute. I am trying to be somewhat practical about it though, hence looking into specialisations like these ones and considering what my career options would be if my master-plan doesn't work out. And how I can structure my degree so as to have a few viable career options.

    I gave some clues as to my background in other threads, but basically I am a 28 year old female New Zealander, working in Graphic Design but looking at a career (life) change.

    I dropped out of high school but not due to any lack of ability. I would put it down to your typical low socio-economic upbringing. I.e. not having any role models in my life with higher education, hence education not being made a huge priority by my family, and having no ambition about my future at that stage. I didn't even really understand how the university system worked, what it was possible to study, what it could do for my life.

    I took physics in high school but my teacher was actually terrible. He would provide us with a formula and ask us to complete problems. The first time I asked "why does this formula work?" he came over to me with his book that had all the answers to the problems, pointed at the answer to the problem we were working on and said "because it says in here that this is the answer". I didn't ask any more questions after that. Or do any more problems.

    After I dropped out, I missed math so much that I would get out my old high school textbook and do algebra problems, until my flatmates teased me enough that I stopped. I developed a really healthy interest in physics through pop-sci books and documentaries but I also now have a growing collection of college textbooks that I'm reading.

    I'm now at a point where I finally think I am mature, settled and future-focussed enough to dedicate a significant portion of my life to studying something as intensive as Physics. It's going to be a long road – first I have to spend a year doing a Tertiary Foundation Certificate (which will give me a university entrance qualification). It will also give me the opportunity to see how I fare with full-time study.

    Physics Forum has been an invaluable source of information and insight while planning this new chapter of my life, so I'd personally like to thank every one of you frequent posters here. Sorry for the novel-length post :-)
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