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I really need some advice

  1. Dec 24, 2012 #1
    OK, so here's the situation: I'm studying Chemical Engineering (1st year), but I really like physics. With chemistry, it's lately gone from dislike to like and again to dislike etc. like in a carousel. Right now I'm content with Chemistry, since during the exam period I managed to consolidate all the knowledge.

    However, I feel like I'm more of a maths-physics type of guy, so I'm thinking to switch into engineering-physics. I think I like physics more than chemistry, but I'm worried that I might get unhappy with physics too, and then switch back to Chem.E. In addition, I've always thought it would be fun to work in the energy sector.

    Can anyone give some advice? Should I stick around with Chem.E. for another semester to see if I will like it, or should I switch to Engineering-physics? Does somebody here have any experience with one of these two?

    And yes, I know this isn't the worst type of problems, but I have no idea what I should do.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 24, 2012 #2


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    I have moved this from "Engineering" questions to "Academic Guidance" where I think it will get better responses.
  4. Dec 24, 2012 #3
    What do you like about chemistry so far? You may have gone from like to dislike to like, etc because areas of chemistry differ so much. There are many interdisciplinary fields, maybe we could suggest one that fits more with more knowledge.
  5. Dec 25, 2012 #4
    I duno. I kind of liked electrochemistry for some reason, and I also liked biochemistry from high-school. I am neutral with equilibrium calculations (due to the challenge some of the problems posed), and I dislike thermodynamics.

    However, I only have fond memories of when I was doing physics in high-school. I duno if it's just nostalgia, though.
  6. Dec 27, 2012 #5
    another thing is that when I read about chemistry stuff like oil refining, explosives, gas extraction etc. I think it sounds pretty cool. When I read about physics stuff like CERN I just think "meh" on the other hand.
  7. Dec 27, 2012 #6
    There's nothing wrong with disliking a specific field of chemistry. I like math myself but I really don't care for number theory or discrete math. This just means that you need to specialize in something you like. In a way it is good that you know what you like already.

    It is dangerous to rely on high-school experiences to determine your major. Many people find physics in university to not resemble high school at all. Did you take some physics courses in university already? This might give you a more accurate impression.

    Also, that you disliked something because it was challenging is not a particularly good thing. In science, things tend to become very challenging as you progress. There will be times that you will hit a wall and can't go further. A true scientist reacts to this by putting in a lot of effort and time. After a while, he breaks the wall and he sees things more clearly. And they usually love it!
    If you dislike things now because they are difficult, then that's a bad sign. Grad school will be filled with things that are difficult.
  8. Dec 27, 2012 #7
    A "layman" point of view is always inaccurate. Of course explosives and building airplanes sound cool. My point is that this might not always correspond with how the science really works. Things that sound cool might turn out to be really boring. And things that are boring might turn out to be more fun than you expected.

    My advice to you is to read up on some things that you find cool, such as electrochemistry, biochemistry, oil refining, explosives, gas extraction, ... And I mean: get some actual textbooks and work through the first few chapters. This will give you a more accurate impression. Also, try to find some research papers and work through those as well.
  9. Dec 27, 2012 #8
    Sorry, I formulated myself unclearly.

    Equilibrium calculations are amongst the most dry stuff you can do in chemistry (according to almost everyone I know). It's kinda like doing multiplications by hand or writing out taylor series in math. The reason I pointed out I was neutral with it instead of hating it, was because there can be some very challenging problems with elegant solutions if the math and chemistry is well-understood. I like challenge, and I LOVE the feeling I get when I can create order.

    Great idea ;-)! I'll check out the university library for texts and books about that. thanks

    Is it more math-intensive? if so, I got no problem with it as I get along fine with calculus. If it is different in another way, please explain.

    thanks for the help, anyway :)
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2012
  10. Dec 27, 2012 #9
    In addition to what was said above, take thermodynamics. See if you like it. It's essential in chemE.

  11. Jan 3, 2013 #10
    In my country this is pretty much impossible,as every1 has to do 4 compulsory classes each semester.

    By the way, can I work in pretty much anything if I graduate with a MSc (I'm in a 5 year program) in Engineering Physics with good grades? It seems like a very "jack-of-all-trades" type of degree,, just like ChemE.
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