Is a B.S in applied math employable?

  • #26
esuna
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It's easier said than done to "just do engineering." There's a whole business/inventing/design/production/manufacturing/advertising side of engineering that makes it more than just simply an employable version of the math or physics degree. A lot of people aren't interested in that side of it.
 
  • #27
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It's easier said than done to "just do engineering." There's a whole business/inventing/design/production/manufacturing/advertising side of engineering that makes it more than just simply an employable version of the math or physics degree. A lot of people aren't interested in that side of it.
But the reality of the job market may give them no choice but to get interested in some of that stuff, whether they like it or not. Physics is sort of a lottery ticket in terms of actually being able to do physics, and math is a lottery ticket if you don't like teaching and want to do very high level math.
 
  • #28
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I'd tend to agree, of course, but in some cases, if they are not at all interested in it, they probably shouldn't do it.



Of course, it's good to be open-minded about what you could get interested in. I'm now interested in stuff like finance and actuarial science that I never thought I would be interested in at all.

I agree with you but she is already interested in physics and mathematics. She will see plenty as a mechanical engineer. Of course the courses aren't as theory intensive but they still offer interesting applications of the theory and you do get some theory and background.
 
  • #29
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I agree with you but she is already interested in physics and mathematics. She will see plenty as a mechanical engineer.
Probably, but only she can tell. Some people might be interested in math and physics, but still aren't really the engineering type.

Of course the courses aren't as theory intensive but they still offer interesting applications of the theory and you do get some theory and background.
Yeah, ME always seemed kind of cool to me (but everyone is different), even though I didn't go down that route. It was between EE and ME (and maybe CS) for me, and I randomly chose EE for a while and then meandered into math.
 
  • #30
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I started in ME and went to Nuclear. It gave me all the ME courses and allows me to do health physics and nuclear stuff
 
  • #31
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Probably, but only she can tell. Some people might be interested in math and physics, but still aren't really the engineering type.
I'm curious why some people could like math and physics but not engineering? isn't engineering just the application of these topics, and all engineering majors will take plenty of math and physics classes, no?
in general, what traits do engineering types have that math and physics types don't?
 
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  • #32
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I'm curious why some people could like math and physics but not engineering? isn't engineering just the application of these topics, and all engineering majors will take plenty of math and physics classes, no?
in general, what traits do engineering types have that math and physics types don't?
esuna basically answered this already in his last post.

Aside from that, some math people are kind of purists. Some of them say they are not good at physics. Some might like being a teacher more than working for a company.

Some physicists might be mainly curious about more fundamental stuff than applied.

A lot of physicists and mathematicians might get pretty bored of circuits if they had to major in EE. They might like some of the more mathematical parts of it, like signal processing.

But yes, to me, engineering isn't that different. I see it as being easier mathematically, but more difficult practically. Some people might see that as a bad thing.
 
  • #33
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oh thanks for explaining that to me :)

How about what ABILITIES engineers possess that physics and maths people don't? Is creativity essential in engineering?
 
  • #34
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esuna basically answered this already in his last post.

Aside from that, some math people are kind of purists. Some of them say they are not good at physics. Some might like being a teacher more than working for a company.

Some physicists might be mainly curious about more fundamental stuff than applied.

A lot of physicists and mathematicians might get pretty bored of circuits if they had to major in EE. They might like some of the more mathematical parts of it, like signal processing.

But yes, to me, engineering isn't that different. I see it as being easier mathematically, but more difficult practically. Some people might see that as a bad thing.

Physics students kill me with that. It's a kind of arrogance, especially at my school. They call engineering courses plug and play cookie cutter problem classes, yet they are struggling in the courses. These are the same physics students that are taking core engineering courses so they can go to graduate school for engineering.
 
  • #35
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oh thanks for explaining that to me :)

How about what ABILITIES engineers possess that physics and maths people don't? Is creativity essential in engineering?

Engineers will learn the fundamentals of physics and other sciences as well but the focus is on applications. For example in a physics mechanics course you will learn about newtons laws of motion, and forces in equilibrium. In an engineering course based on the same theories you will learn how to design structures, how to choose materials to withstand a given load, etc ( these courses are called statics an strength of materials). Physics fluid dynamics course will teach you about fluid flow but the engineering course teaches you about fluid flow and how we can use it. For example mass flow rate is very important in a nuclear reactor because if you aren't getting enough coolant to the core to remove heat from the reactor you have a loss of coolant accident or meltdown (Fukushima), it's dependent on the mass flow rate though. Or you learn how velocity boundary layers can be used in making cars more aerodynamic for better fuel mileage, that's what they are doing when they use wind tunnels. You just don't learn that stuff in a physics course, you get theory and then wonder how you would use it. Some good books will give some applications but for the most part you get a bunch of theory and mathematical derivations.
 
  • #36
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Physics students kill me with that. It's a kind of arrogance, especially at my school. They call engineering courses plug and play cookie cutter problem classes, yet they are struggling in the courses. These are the same physics students that are taking core engineering courses so they can go to graduate school for engineering.
I think in some cases, it can be a fair criticism, in my honest opinion (although it's too much of a generalization because occasionally engineering classes will cover a topic more intuitively and therefore with better insight than some formal math course or something). My first semester of electromagnetism was my favorite EE class because it was more conceptual. However, with the second semester, everyone else thought it was much easier, but I found it in poor taste and basically stopped following the class and tried to teach myself the subject on my own, with not so good results. I ended up dropping the class and the major. The more cookbook approach may have been great for everyone else, but I was punished for wanting to understand. I struggled, not because of genuine difficulty, but because it just wasn't my style, and I didn't want to compromise my way of learning. If you think I'm making excuses here, does it make sense that everyone else thought the first semester was the harder class?

This sort of thing is more common in engineering classes than in physics or math, but most of them aren't so bad. In most of my EE classes, I was able to learn with understanding pretty well. There were just a few of the classes that really got on my nerves that way. It causes us the more conceptual thinkers real suffering when are forced to sit through these ordeals. The fact is that it doesn't need to be taught that way. It's not the subject's fault. However, if you try to do it in what I think is the right way, most of the students will be upset, and it will be the few conceptual ones who are happy, and so that's the unfortunate situation in some of the engineering classes. In the less deep subjects where everything is more straight-forward, this isn't so much of an issue.

Of course, math and physics are not immune from this sort of thing, either, despite their facade of being "deeper". In my experience, mathematicians seem to be quite fond of pulling definitions and concepts from out of the blue with no motivation--and quite needlessly, too, in many cases. To me, that's the worst kind of cookbook teaching, just as bad or worse than what you'll come across in engineering. But overall, math is probably the place where people are the most conceptual in their thinking, at least in undergraduate classes. So, the reality is that someone who is more conceptual would probably be happiest as a math major, in all fairness. However, it still might not be the right choice because eventually, they are going to have to get a job, and maybe engineering would suit them better than being a math professor. I think applies to me. I actually liked the better part of EE, but I just had a particularly strong distaste for a few of the classes that I took, and was really intrigued by math, so I went for that, but it was probably a mistake in the long run. In hindsight, I think I should have just done a double major in math and EE and left it at that. My grades in engineering were a mixed bag, but in math, I had close to a 4.0 after I changed my major to it, so at the time, it seemed like it was a better choice because it seemed much more natural to me. I think it may be because I am very error-prone in calculations (as opposed to proofs), plus dealing with bad textbooks (textbook quality seems to go down as you go on in most fields) for the first time and that sort of thing. Another reason I think I did well in math was that when I studied EE, it taught me a lot about how to learn. I think if I went back to EE now, I'd do much better (I wasn't a bad EE student, by the way, just not as good as math). It's not even controversial that math major math is "harder" than engineering math. Most of the engineers will admit it, assuming they are in a position to judge.

Another thing to mention is that doing proof-based math is very different from engineering math, and some people will have a strong preference for one or the other. Unfortunately, the proof-based stuff has more limited practical use (you can do engineering math in a more proof-based style, but the particular subject matter studied by mathematicians these days is mostly not too practical).
 

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