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Nuclear engineering, physics, or other. does it matter?

  1. Mar 19, 2012 #1
    I've read some other threads and some other information on this, but I'm still not entirely clear on the answer. I've been accepted into UT Austin into the school of natural sciences as a physics major, but of course I have the option to change majors later. The problem is is that I'm just not sure what I'm most interested in yet. I love theoretical physics, and I love the idea of research, but I also like engineering. I also love the idea of working with studying nuclear fusion, and working in nuclear engineering and/or research.

    I'm hoping what exactly I want to do will become more clear in the mean time. So my first and simplest question is: Does it become easier to tell what you're most interested in as you begin and progress in your studies?

    Also my next question is, by the time I can tell what I'm most interested in and want to do, will it be too late? From what I've read majoring in physics seems to give you quite a few options, perhaps in moving on to a graduate program to do something more engineering based, or research based whatever I'm interested in come graduation time. Is this accurate? If I'm this unsure about what I want to do would a physics major be my best option?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated, thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2012 #2
    I'm not an expert but one of my profs got a bachelors in physical chemistry (chemical physics) then got an MS and PhD in nuclear engineering. He spent a good 20 years in industry so this is not just some academic.
  4. Mar 19, 2012 #3
    That seems to be what I've heard is that people with physics majors can turn around and become engineers, but not so much the other way around.
  5. Mar 22, 2012 #4
    I talked with the head of admissions for graduate Nuclear Engineering at TAMU and she told me roughly half of the students that they take in are from a physics background and not Engineering. She also said that they do very well, they only struggle with the first class since they might not have/ be used to some engineering fundamentals, but again they do very well. It is a good training and I've been told that NE is mostly about thermal physics/thermodynamics which is big engineering, but a physics perspective is definitely a must... Its all about the physics
  6. Mar 23, 2012 #5
    Well that makes it sound like physics major is definitely for me thanks!
  7. Mar 23, 2012 #6
    Maybe! I think you should talk to people in both departments (professors etc.) and see if one or the other would be your cup of tea, I am a physics major, but I am not really an authority over NE, I just spoke to someone deeply in that area. They do have there differences, and you might be better cut out as an engineer in the end or a physicist. If I were you I would take as many classes in both areas as I could to help me figure it out.
  8. Mar 24, 2012 #7
    Yeah I plan on taking some classes in nuclear engineering (The option I'm choosing for my major is radiation physics) But i'll definitely talk to some people from both departments. Thanks for the help!
  9. Mar 24, 2012 #8
    Good, sounds like you'll do well. Best of luck
  10. Mar 24, 2012 #9
  11. Apr 6, 2012 #10
    Interesting feed back !

    I will be studying "Engineering Physics" !
    I love physics and have excelled knowledge about physics and read everything about it.

    However, I first wanted to go for Mechanical engineering, but the more I search on internet, it seems everyone wants physics.

    My question is: Is engineering Physics good ? Do companies (Industry) like Engineering Physics graduates ?

    I plan to do masters in (Nanotechnology, mechanical, nuclear, aeronautical ..etc). Is this possible after engineering physics ?
  12. Apr 10, 2012 #11
    Hmm, first, what region do you live in, some regions are more physics friendly than others. In the US, mostly academia and national labs like physics graduates. But if you want to work in an area with physics, you have to have a Ph.D. However, Engineering Physics is a really good degree to have, I had a professor that studied engineering physics a long time ago and actually did a PhD in physics, so he is an experimental physicist now.

    But, I don't know if you know this but Mechanical engineering can be heavily research oriented as well. I highly recommend it as an awesome all around degree because there are lots of areas of application (i.e. jobs and money), lots of research opportunities (work and excitement), and it is a broad area that often leads you into many other positions.

    But to really answer your question, there are not that many engineering physics programs so I don't know too much about it, but if you love physics it would be an excellent degree and I really recommend it. Also, try double majoring in physics and that.
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