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Need advice for the summer

  1. Jul 5, 2011 #1
    I have a 3 month holiday which I want to put to good use, after finishing my first year in the UK. But, I'm not entirely sure what I should do.

    I study physics at uni and I think I want to go into either research or engineering.

    Aside from programming, and finding out what I want to do as a career, what would be useful to do over the summer?

    For programming I was thinking of learning Java. Would this be better to learn instead of C++?
    I was also thinking of studying a bit of electronics, like using the Arduino to make things. Is this useful?

    Is learning a language, ie french, a good use of my time?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2011 #2


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    I think the real trick is to find something constructive that you enjoy and work on that.

    If you find you hate programming in Java, but you're doing it because it might be useful in the future, you're not likely to be too successful in it. On the other hand, if you're doing it because you have a neat idea for a program and find fun in the challenge of putting it together, it will be time well spent.

    All of the things you've listed could be helpful and a good use of your summer vacation.
  4. Jul 5, 2011 #3
    C++ and Arduino would make a good couple. Keep in mind that to program a Arduino, you will need to know C or C++.
  5. Jul 5, 2011 #4


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    Well, my car is not going to wash itself...
  6. Jul 6, 2011 #5
    I hear many people use C++ for numerical computations. Java is a lot nicer than C++ I hear (I only have experience with Java) but you shouldn't sweat which one you learn right now. Java is built on C, so once you learn one it won't be to hard to learn the other.

    If you want to do research or engineering, electronics is definitely beneficial. Every branch of engineering uses them nowadays and many experimentalists often make their own electronics.

    Knowing another language is always beneficial no matter what you do.

    I suggest reading. About anything your interested in. Best way to figure out what you want to do with your life, aside from actual experience. Read biographies to see what their lives were like. Read more informative books to see what interests you most. You could maybe talk to some older friends who have been through what you're interested in doing as well.
  7. Jul 6, 2011 #6
    I've had an introduction into programming in C++ in labs and I enjoyed that quite a bit. The 2 main reasons why I want to learn Java is because I've been advised that it's easier to learn than C++ (so it'd make learning C++ easier later on), and I'd like to design an android app.

    I won't be learning Java just for the careers sake. I must enjoy it too. I chose to study physics at uni because that's what I enjoy most. If enjoyment wasn't my top priority, then I should've chosen finance or engineering.

    Damn, the Arduino needs C++... I'll have to decide which one to learn now then.

    I don't live in Canada so I can't really come over to wash your car. Dunk it in a lake or something. ;)

    You have a fair point. I'll try and do that aswell. Is it possible to do a masters in Aero engineering after doing a UK degree in physics? In the UK you learn physics from the start. There is no general education in the first couple of years.

    Could you guys recommend any good books for C++ or Java? I've heard that "Big Java" by Cay Horstmann is a good starting point.

    My main concern is that will these things look good on my CV? I hope to get an intership soon, and I'd like to stand out from all the other applicants. Also, am I doing too much?

  8. Jul 6, 2011 #7


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    If you want my advice, get yourself a summer job to earn some cash and then enjoy your summer holiday. There aren't many times in your life when you'll get three months off for the summer. It also helps to relax so you don't wear yourself out before the end of your degree.
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