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Programs Personal: Engineering Physics vs Other Engineering Majors

  1. May 29, 2017 #1
    Hello All,

    I am 26 years old and am currently enrolled at a CC in NYC. I have had a long and obscure path through life so far which has led me to discover my calling back within the academic realm.

    A little about myself, I did poorly in high school because I invested all of my time with computers. I was too focused on exploring my interests with building PC's . I did sub par on my SATs scoring 500/460/500 in 2009 on the old grading system. I didn't take any AP classes and did not partake in any ECs. I attended a local CC after high school and withdrew after 30 something odd credits in liberal arts. I then spent the following year traveling around exploring my passions. A few years ago I was scouted by an agent and moved to NYC to meet more inspiring and creative people. As I have gotten older I have drawn more and more attraction to design through work, this led me to architecture. Two years ago I saved up enough money to do a summer intensive architecture program through PRATT. I gained a phenomenal mentor who is the Core 1 coordinator at Columbia's GSAPP (Grad school of architecture, preservation, and planning). He had so much faith in me that he tried to bypass typical admissions processes for me to get into schools like PRATT and Cooper Union regardless of academic requirements to further study undergraduate architecture, but I did not get in. I felt that my transcript was just too weak. I later realized architecture was too limiting of a program for what I want to achieve and that I need to study something more all encompassing to suit my most personal interests and desires. After a lot of research and discovery, I landed on nanotechnology and the future of biotech as my calling. I strive to be involved with materializing ideas of opportunity in this world such as what Elon is doing with Neural Lace.

    I have been at my CC for two semesters while working full-time. My GPA is an unweighted 3.95 and I have taken 5 classes including a remedial Trig, Pre-calc, Eng 101, Lit 201, and Chinese. Next semester I will be taking Chem 1 and Calc 1. I want to get into the absolute best school I can to advance towards my goal of positively and radically revolutionizing society on a global scale. My later ambition would be to get into a program like MIT's Nano/Micro lab for grad school, but realistically I know how competitive the top global universities are.

    I am seeking realistic and reach goal advice on schools parallel to my current standings, as well as any personal knowledge of professors or programs offered at respected schools in contrast to realistic schools that would suit my goals.

    I am currently working towards transferring to UCONN's engineering physics program as it would be in-state tuition and I would have living expenses covered. Is it worth looking into better universities and private schools for UG?

    Looking forward to everyone's insight!
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. May 29, 2017 #2
    You use a lot of popular buzz words about what you want to do, but you do not indicate that you have any real idea of what actual working people do, whether scientists or engineers. Most of our work is not flashy, not the sort of thing that people talk about at parties, etc. but just plain old dog work. I would not advise pursuing engineering at all until you talk with several real, employed engineers in areas that you think might be of interest to you. It is a long road ahead, with lots of hard work and no glory at all. Don't invest in it if you are unsure about staying the course.
  4. May 29, 2017 #3
    Thanks for the reply.

    I am not looking to have a flashy life that allows me to drop buzzwords at parties. I am looking to solve and truly understand the most critical of real issues for the future of civilization. This is my primary purpose in life and why I am turning to this field of research as a platform to build off of.

    Your post inclines me to believe that you have a negative perspective towards what engineering has led to for you and your peers and possibly fear that others may not be able to avoid a pitfall. I did not say I was unsure about "staying the course". I am looking for advice on the most applicable and beneficial major to study and where to do it purely as an UG degree. This is in order to work towards the more specific fields of research and applications through grad school and industry.

    I am pursuing this path in accordance with the research I have conducted over a lifetime. This is not a blind leap of faith.

    I came to this forum with the belief that there would be employed and knowledgeable engineers and physicists that would have substance to back up their advice. No offense, If you are an engineer, you could be contributing to this post as one of those engineers you speak of. What is your field of work?
  5. May 29, 2017 #4
    I am a retired Professor of Mechanical Engineering, 49 years since I finished a PhD and registered in two states. I have worked in both academia and industrial research. I also continue to do consulting work in machine design.
  6. May 29, 2017 #5
    I'm about to finish my MS in Engineering Physics (in Norway tho), and my advice to you is to stop studying part-time and just focus on finishing college asap with the best grades possible. Like it or not but you're 26 years old and you don't have much more time to lose. After this, I'd guess you need to transfer to the best available state school for your undergrad unless you can afford tuition to an Ivy (which I don't think you can considering you're in employment) asap and continue doing well in school. If you remain successful at that point, then you can start looking on grad school.

    Also, Dr.D is completely correct, you're just using buzzwords. The word nanotechnology doesn't really mean anything, and biotech is an insanely broad field. If you're dead-set on neurotechnology, I recommend you take the applied physics route (choose subjects in material physics, electrodynamics, biophysics, complex systems, computational physics) mixed with electrical engineering, computer science and programming. If you find you have some extra time, take biology and neuroscience subjects, but they're nowhere near as important as the aforementioned.

    And for God's sake, stop wasting time on literature and Chinese classes. This is stuff you can read up as a hobby.
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
  7. May 29, 2017 #6
    To my knowledge, Mech Engineering is one of the broadest fields of engineering and therefore does have value to me as an undergraduate degree. However, from what I have gathered from engineers in the industry, engineering physicists would have a better understanding of all different spectrums of engineering, therefore, make better leaders when it comes to working on a team with differently specialized engineers. Is this wrong? If so what is your belief?

    I've also heard that someone with engineering physics as an UG degree graduates with the ability to move into any specialized field of engineering better than the others and is, therefore, a better route than a specific (ex Mech, Biochem, Electro, Computer, etc) engineering UG when anticipating grad school.

    UCONN's engineering physics program allows you to take classes in the specific fields of engineering, such as the previously listed, as well while giving a better understanding of the concepts of engineering. Then I could graduate and study nanotechnology in grad school rather than take the few classes offered in the UG programs that graze the surface of the topic.

    This is all in consideration with my ambition towards contributing new technological concepts and methods to realizing engineering objectives. I do ofc understand that I will have to deal with the challenges of research and funding and have the will to find a way.
  8. May 29, 2017 #7
    Thank you for your post, this was very insightful and exactly what I was looking for.

    I don't have the funding to go to an Ivy and have currently set my eyes on the in-state UCONN path to make the best of what I can.

    I understand I am using broad terminology and that is why I am trying to further explore the depth of the field of study. Nanotechnology is simply the scale that I was introduced to as a means of advancement potential. I do believe neurotechnology to be far more fascinating than anything else going on in tech and science.

    What has engineering physics given you and what are your objectives within this field of study?

    Edit: I took Lit and Chinese because they were required as a liberal arts core for the AS in engineering science program I am enrolled in at my CC.
    Last edited: May 29, 2017
  9. May 29, 2017 #8
    Well, for what its worth, my undergraduate degree was in Engineering Science. The ME degrees were MS and PhD.

    There could be times when this is true, but I'd say that from what I have seen, it usually is not. The engineer with a degree specialized in the most relevant area is usually the most knowledgeable, but leadership depends on a whole lot more than simply background information. Some folks can lead with very little background, others will a ton of background simply cannot lead because of their personalities. I don't think Engr Physics is a bad choice, but neither do I think it is the only choice. I'd go with whatever suits the thinking of the individual. Life is what we make of it, not what we studied as undergraduates.
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