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Having trouble deciding between CFD and physics

  1. Aug 27, 2009 #1
    i may apply to grad schools this fall or wait until next fall to apply. i've been looking into condensed matter because i heard it uses stat mech alot, which is my favorite area of physics as i didnt enjoy E&M or quantum as much. i dont know too much about it as i havent taken any electives, such as Solid State physics. Based on my undergrad research experiences, i'm certain that i want to avoid experimental work and work on computational simulations of physical systems. I am certain that I want to do modeling/simulation research for my career, whether it be in academia or industry. one of my projects was materials modeling, which was pretty interesting. i also want to do something more on the applied side, such as working on CMP or lasers or whatever, not something too theoretical like string theory.

    however, i've also been looking into computational fluid dynamics, which based on my research, is only conducted in applied math and engineering departments, not physics. i havent taken any fluid mech classes, but CFD looks interesting since it involves mostly computations, not lab work. also, i like its applications to rockets, missiles, and jets. but nothing else in ME really interests me

    hence, i've been thinking of just applying to physics grad schools since there's more research areas to choose from, whereas in ME, if i dont like CFD, i'll be stuck in it.

    any ideas?
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 27, 2009 #2
    Just a quick note but there are certainly CFD techniques employed in areas of physics such as astrophysics. An example of this would be employing methods along the lines of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoothed-particle_hydrodynamics" [Broken]. They use SPH in galaxy simulations, stellar astrophysics etc. So there are overlaps between areas of CFD and physics but you may have to look around a bit to dig up some of this stuff.

    I have a bit more of an astro background so I just have more familiarity with these areas. I'm sure there are others who do work in similar areas who can provide some more details.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Aug 27, 2009 #3
    i forgot to mention that job opportunities affects the research field i want to go into. since i dont have a passion for any particular subject, but rather have an interest in lots of different subjects, i figure i may as well choose the one with decent career opportunities
  5. Sep 6, 2009 #4
    CFD is a nexus of many areas - math, engineering, and physics. It is ok that you like computational stuff, but you also need an application area. If what you are looking for is in physics (formation of stars, geophysical fluid dynamics, etc.), then apply to a physics department. If you want to do engineering, then apply to an engineering department.
  6. Sep 6, 2009 #5
    I'm certain that I would rather do physics than engineering since CFD appealed to me since it involved computations and simulations. Also, its applications to rockets and missiles seems interesting, but thats about the only thing about engineering I have an interest in
  7. Sep 6, 2009 #6
    Everything is interesting. You only have so much time - stick to one and do it well.
  8. Nov 21, 2009 #7
    I'm still having trouble deciding what area of interest suits me the most. But now I'm deciding between CFD and EE/materials science. I havent taken classes in fluid mechanics, solid-state physics, or any engineering classes, and I graduate at the end of this year. What would help me better decide which area interests me the most? I suppose I could audit a class in fluid mechanics. Should I also try to work with a prof doing research in CFD?
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