Not Sure What To Specialize In, Or Where To Go For My Program Of Study

In summary, the author is an undergraduate who is interested in advanced propulsion research, including topics such as the Alcubeirre/Natario/Alcubierre-Froning/Lambda warp drive and worm holes, but is also interested in computational biology. He has decided to pursue a masters degree in mechanical engineering after completing his undergraduate degree in physics and has an issue with finding a suitable graduate program in which to pursue his research.
  • #1
cgreeleybsu
29
1
Hello,

Currently I am an undergrad about 1 year or 3/2 year(s) away from graduating with a double major in computer science (which I am a lot stronger in) and physics. I have always been interested in advanced propulsion. I would really like to do research on the Alcubeirre/Natario/Alcubierre-Froning/Lambda/whatever warp drive & worm holes (please try not to roll your eyes too hard), although I am interested in launch systems, subluminal potentially interstellar engines, as well as superluminal drives.

My plan originally was to be a a computer science & mechanical engineering major, I thought we would learn all of physics including General Relativity (or I could weasel my way into it) as a mechanical engineering major.

A while ago I transferred schools and became a music major for a while, then switched back to CS & Physics (no engineering at this school). One of main the driving reasons I wanted to do physics is I didn't see too many practical ways to help people with programming. I decided I would just go for a masters in mechanical engineering after I got the physics degree.

So here is the next problem that showed up. I thought surely as one of the pillars of physics we would learn General Relativity in undergrad. Sadly I found out this wasen't really the case, although I am in a general relativity class now and we have covered a lot of the EFE in great detail as well as a lot of cosmology and the professor has said he may let me work with him on his GR research as well (which is great, its computationally based and I am really good with that, and in my favorite language, C++ :) )

To study GR, I found out, I would need to go to grad school (or do it on my own). That kind of puts a damper on the whole mechanical engineering thing.Then a second issue came up. I started thinking about computational biology. I finally thought I may have found a way to help people more directly not only with programming but in a STEMy sort of way. I thought I was a little late into my studies to become a CS & Bio major, however there is a professor who does biophysics at my school, and he is very good. I don't know if I can get into his lab, but he may let me do a side project that fits into one of his larger projects for a semester (or two, but then I wouldn't get to do GR with the other professor) as he usually likes to have students for about a year or two.

There is also another research project I came up with on my own that one professor said he would love to and was honored that I thought of him but can't right now (or probably during my renaming time there) and would love to be a reader on if I finish it, he said he thought it was a very good theory, let's call it a quantum communications project, though I am not sure where to take that, or if I should try to do it on my own (a little outside the scope of this question and I may make another post about it, but does he mean I should try this outside academia/an institution then get it peer reviewed? Can you do that?)

So now I really am unsure what to do. I am unsure what lab to try to get into, (and I kinda want it possibly to be relevant to grad school, until recently I was unaware that you could work in labs with professors without a grant).

I am unsure what to do for grad school, my plan of getting a ME degree seems kind of out the window now. But I want to take these advanced physics concepts and apply (I am an applied concentration) them to engineering problems as well as theorize (like the alcubierre drive, and my ladder idea), I am told I pretty much will not be taken seriously at all in research about the alcubierre drive etc. without a PhD. I don't really want to get one though. I will have started my bachelor degree almost/7 years ago by the time I graduate (I took some time off).

Then of course there is the idea of trying to do computational biology or biophysics for a grad degree, and maybe getting a masters. Biology isent exactly what I *want* to study, but it does help people and I always feel that I need to have meaning behind what I do, and that may be the better trade in the long run. The idea is relatively new to me though and I don't know what to think.

I also have a minor interest in Quantum Computing (can solve a lot of comp. biology problems) & Quantum Communications.

My grades are all over the place as well...In summery:

I am unsure what lab to try to go for (GR, Biophys, My Own Quantum Communications Thing?).
I am unsure what to do for a grad program and I am in 2 maybe 3 totally different directions (at least on the non-physics front)
 
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  • #2
Not to burst your bubble, but don't waste your career working on "warp drive". There is no real reason to believe that such a thing will ever be possible.
 
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Likes berkeman and Vanadium 50
  • #3
phyzguy said:
Not to burst your bubble, but don't waste your career working on "warp drive". There is no real reason to believe that such a thing will ever be possible.
Im aware it may be a fruitless effort. Iv never seen a negative object before.
 
  • #4
cgreeleybsu said:
One of main the driving reasons I wanted to do physics is I didn't see too many practical ways to help people with programming.
There are opportunities to help people with programming, if you look for them. I know several people who work for Google who are very excited about their projects, for example. Innovation is key to those kinds of projects.
cgreeleybsu said:
Then of course there is the idea of trying to do computational biology or biophysics for a grad degree, and maybe getting a masters. Biology isent exactly what I *want* to study, but it does help people and I always feel that I need to have meaning behind what I do, and that may be the better trade in the long run. The idea is relatively new to me though and I don't know what to think.
Biology and similar majors can take a *lot* of memorization. How are your memorizing skills? The amount of memorization compared to Physics or Engineering is quite a bit more in my experience. Are you comfortable with that? How much reading have you done in Biology to see if you may be interested?

Also, do the current stay-at-home restrictions (and the likely slow recovery from them) affect your choice of which path to pursue? For example, some of those paths involve more lab work that is difficult to simulate in a distance learning environment -- do you know what the plans are for such labs in the near future at your university?

Also, I'm assuming that you are under some sort of lock-down orders at the moment. Are you still living near enough to campus that you can go in for research work with your professors? Are you able to get permission for doing that research on-campus now?
 
  • #5
berkeman said:
There are opportunities to help people with programming, if you look for them. I know several people who work for Google who are very excited about their projects, for example. Innovation is key to those kinds of projects.

I know, but it all seems very... indirect.

berkeman said:
Biology and similar majors can take a *lot* of memorization. How are your memorizing skills? The amount of memorization compared to Physics or Engineering is quite a bit more in my experience. Are you comfortable with that? How much reading have you done in Biology to see if you may be interested?

Im good at memorizing, but I like to think through things more.
Really, I have scaresley been interested in biology but I did like the class in high school (10 years ago [time flies 0.0]), put a mesh network protein unfolding program on my computer here, looked into CRISPR+CAS9 there, etc.

I think I could get some satisfaction out of the programming side of it, some of the science and the fact that I am helping people even if its not 100% my favorite subject. If I actually tried it I might like it, partly why I am thinking of working in this professors lab.

berkeman said:
Also, do the current stay-at-home restrictions (and the likely slow recovery from them) affect your choice of which path to pursue?
I came up with this idea before the corona virus came here.

berkeman said:
For example, some of those paths involve more lab work that is difficult to simulate in a distance learning environment -- do you know what the plans are for such labs in the near future at your university?

Also, I'm assuming that you are under some sort of lock-down orders at the moment. Are you still living near enough to campus that you can go in for research work with your professors? Are you able to get permission for doing that research on-campus now?
This research would take place next year or over the summer, and I do live close enough too my school to work on it.
 

Related to Not Sure What To Specialize In, Or Where To Go For My Program Of Study

1. What factors should I consider when deciding on a specialization?

When deciding on a specialization, it is important to consider your interests, skills, and career goals. You should also research the job market and demand for different specializations, as well as the potential salary and opportunities for growth.

2. How can I determine which program of study is right for me?

To determine which program of study is right for you, you should reflect on your strengths, weaknesses, and interests. You can also speak with academic advisors, professionals in your field of interest, and alumni to gain insights and advice.

3. Should I choose a broad or specific specialization?

This depends on your personal preferences and career goals. A broad specialization may provide a wider range of job opportunities, while a specific specialization may lead to more specialized and potentially higher paying roles. Consider your strengths and interests when making this decision.

4. What resources are available to help me choose a specialization?

There are many resources available to help you choose a specialization, such as career counseling services, online career assessments, and informational interviews with professionals in your field of interest. You can also attend career fairs and research job market trends.

5. Can I change my specialization or program of study later on?

Yes, it is possible to change your specialization or program of study later on. However, it is important to consider the potential consequences, such as additional time and cost, before making a decision. It is best to carefully research and reflect on your options before committing to a specific specialization or program of study.

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