Having trouble deciding between CFD and physics

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In summary, the individual is considering applying to grad schools either this fall or next fall and is interested in condensed matter physics due to its use of statistical mechanics. They do not want to do experimental work and prefer computational simulations. They are also considering computational fluid dynamics and are unsure whether to apply to physics or engineering departments. They are interested in CFD's applications to rockets and missiles, but not in other areas of engineering. They are having trouble deciding between CFD and EE/materials science and are considering auditing a fluid mechanics class and working with a professor in CFD to help make a decision.
  • #1
creepypasta13
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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 don't know too much about it as i haven't 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 haven't 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 don't like CFD, i'll be stuck in it.

any ideas?
 
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  • #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" . 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.
 
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  • #3
i forgot to mention that job opportunities affects the research field i want to go into. since i don't 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
 
  • #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.
 
  • #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 that's about the only thing about engineering I have an interest in
 
  • #6
Everything is interesting. You only have so much time - stick to one and do it well.
 
  • #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 haven't 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?
 

Related to Having trouble deciding between CFD and physics

1. What is the main difference between CFD and physics?

The main difference between CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) and physics is that CFD is a branch of fluid mechanics that uses numerical methods and algorithms to solve and analyze problems involving fluid flow and heat transfer. Physics, on the other hand, is a broad field that studies the fundamental principles and laws governing the natural world, including the behavior of matter and energy.

2. Which field offers better job opportunities, CFD or physics?

Both CFD and physics offer great job opportunities, but it ultimately depends on your interests and skills. CFD is a rapidly growing field with high demand for professionals in industries such as aerospace, automotive, and energy. Physics, on the other hand, offers a diverse range of career paths, including research, teaching, and applications in various industries.

3. Which field requires more advanced mathematical skills?

Both CFD and physics require a strong foundation in mathematics, but CFD may require slightly more advanced mathematical skills. CFD involves the use of complex numerical methods and algorithms to solve fluid dynamics problems, which require a solid understanding of differential equations, linear algebra, and numerical analysis.

4. Can I switch between CFD and physics later in my career?

Yes, it is possible to switch between CFD and physics later in your career. However, it may require additional education and training to transition between these fields. It is important to carefully consider your interests, skills, and career goals before making a decision.

5. Which field offers better opportunities for research and innovation?

Both CFD and physics offer great opportunities for research and innovation. CFD allows for the simulation and analysis of complex fluid dynamics problems, while physics offers a broad range of research areas, including astrophysics, biophysics, and quantum mechanics. Ultimately, the field that offers better opportunities for research and innovation will depend on your specific interests and career goals.

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