Is going into Smart Grid with a Physics Degree a good move?

In summary, I think that having a bachelor's degree in EE or Power engineering would not be a disadvantage, but it is up to the individual job seeker to research the companies they are applying to. The skills that you will learn will be good for any job in data analytics.
  • #1
QuantumStateEU
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I have a master in Physics and I would have the opportunity to have a fixed term position in a Smart grid company. My question would be whether not having a bachelor in EE or Power engineering might be bad for future job prospect(what if I apply somewhere else) and whether or not the skills I will gain will be good for jobs in data analytics. I am quite good at coding with Python, however my knowledge in circuits is quite basic.
 
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  • #2
I think @anorlunda may be able to help with your questions. Have you read his Insights articles about the Smart Grid yet? :smile:
 
  • #3
The opportunities working for equipment manufacturers are very broad. I can't imagine that any technical degree or practical working experience could be disadvantageous if you switch fields later.

It can be very exciting working for a small startup, but the things they do are necessarily narrowly focused. On the other hand, working for a giant like Siemens or ABB gives you access to many technologies and products and even R&D, plus easy transfers if you want to move around.

Working for an engineering consultant firm also offers exposure to many problems and disciplines. You can even combine the two, because giants like Siemens and ABB also have internal consulting departments. That's how I got started, at an internal consulting department at G.E.

But I really hate the term Smart Grid. It has no defined meaning that more than two people can agree on.
 
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  • #4
Thanks for the reply.
When I talk about smart grid I mostly refer to software related jobs, like time series analysis, predictive manteinance and so on.

My point is that whenever I look for jobs in this sector the requirements are usually Power engineering or EE degree maybe with some additional license like PE. I am thus afraid that in the long run not having such degree will hurt me. I was also trying to see whether the skills that you gain are transferable to other data related jobs.
Is this the case? Or maybe I am looking into a too much narrow portion of jobs?

Also I'm not really interested in the manifacturing part.
 
  • #5
Is your question will you have opportunities for advancement or will you be held back by your degree? That's probably impossible to answer. It is true, however, that the longer your track record of accomplishments is, the less academics matter.
 
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  • #6
QuantumStateEU said:
Also I'm not really interested in the manifacturing part.
Don't dismiss that too fast. Manufacturers need application analysis and design, separate from the factory engineering.

For example, a manufacturer of intelligent switches may need analysis of the performance in a variety of power distribution situations, plus the software for the intelligence.

Almost any company that deals with technical problems and hires engineers will provide opportunities for challenging and rewarding projects to work on. The problem is that the nature of the projects may be so specialized that students never hear about them in advance. In other words, don't try to overthink your strategy. You don't have enough information to optimize your career plan.
 
  • #7
QuantumStateEU said:
I have a master in Physics and I would have the opportunity to have a fixed term position in a Smart grid company. My question would be whether not having a bachelor in EE or Power engineering might be bad for future job prospect(what if I apply somewhere else) and whether or not the skills I will gain will be good for jobs in data analytics. I am quite good at coding with Python, however my knowledge in circuits is quite basic.
QuantumStateEU said:
When I talk about smart grid I mostly refer to software related jobs, like time series analysis, predictive manteinance and so on.
Just because you have graduated, that doesn't mean you stop learning. Predictive maintenance analytics is a very useful and promising field, and I would think that adding more EE and DSP knowledge to your toolbox would help that.

Employment benefits at many of the larger technical employers often includes continuing education classes, so you might consider taking courses that help you and your employer going forward.
 
  • #8
Details depend on the exact position. I have worked in an engineering-oriented institute for applied research on energy systems. From my experience, physics graduates are well-suited for most tasks. The exceptions are very specialized topics like circuit design, which isn't a standard skill for engineers, either. Also, for programming-oriented or technical tasks, the physicists had a very good reputation (note the subtle difference between "are suited" and "are considered suited by the hiring managers"). In the politics/economics groups, physicists seem to be less well regarded.

Basic programming skills are a must for any engineer or physicist, in my opinion. So knowing Python is good. Many positions can require very specific programming knowledge, but well ... they will tell you in the job description. Generally, a job in the smart grids field does not prepare you for a job in data analytics. If that is what you ultimately want to do, apply there now and skip the counterproductive detour over engineering.
 
  • #9
Thanks a lot for all of your answers, I will think about all that you've said. Since I am just starting my career I am trying to understand the pros and cons of the different options.

From what you have told me it seems like data analytics and smart grid share some common requirements(programming) but go in different directions(business/consulting vs engineering). I guess I should therefore try to understand which path I want to take. My main fear is to take a path which is too narrow and which will limit me in the future. On the other hand I don't know whether I should be peaky with my first job. Any experience in this sense? Is it important to start directly in the field you want to pursue(maybe staying longer without a job)?
 
  • #10
QuantumStateEU said:
Is it important to start directly in the field you want to pursue(maybe staying longer without a job)?
That's personal. Only you can answer for yourself.

If it was me, I would say no. What you want to pursue is likely to change as you gain more exposure to real life challenges.

One of the best engineering software programmers I ever hired had a degree in anthropology. He, and I, were very happy with the arrangement.
 
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1. What is a smart grid and how does it relate to physics?

A smart grid is an advanced electrical system that utilizes modern technology and communication to optimize the distribution and consumption of energy. Physics plays a crucial role in understanding the principles and mechanisms behind the operation of a smart grid, such as electricity generation, transmission, and storage.

2. What skills from a physics degree are applicable to the smart grid industry?

A physics degree provides a strong foundation in mathematical and analytical thinking, which are crucial skills for understanding the complex systems and algorithms used in smart grids. Additionally, knowledge of thermodynamics, electromagnetism, and energy conversion can be applied to the design and development of smart grid technologies.

3. Is there a high demand for individuals with a physics degree in the smart grid industry?

Yes, there is a growing demand for individuals with a physics degree in the smart grid industry. With the increasing focus on renewable energy and sustainable practices, there is a need for experts who can apply their knowledge of physics to optimize the use of energy resources in smart grids.

4. Are there opportunities for career growth and advancement in the smart grid industry with a physics degree?

Absolutely. As the smart grid industry continues to evolve and expand, there will be ample opportunities for individuals with a physics degree to advance their careers. With the right skills and expertise, one can pursue roles in research and development, project management, and leadership positions in the smart grid industry.

5. What other fields can a physics degree be applied to within the smart grid industry?

Apart from the technical aspects of smart grids, a physics degree can also be applied to fields such as data analysis and management, energy policy and regulations, and sustainability consulting. These roles require a strong understanding of physics principles and their application in a real-world context.

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