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Physics and Mathematics involved in Engineering

  1. Mar 24, 2013 #1
    I decided to post a new thread for this. I saw the pinned thread about going into Engineering but my specific questions were not answered in that thread.

    I am going into Aerospace Engineering this summer. I am doing it because I love Physics, like Math, and am very interested in Spacecraft, defense, aircraft, etc.

    I have been told that Engineering is a lot of Physics and Math which is what I want to do. But it sometimes seems like they are just highly paid mechanics. I really hope this is not true. I don't mind doing hands-on work. I actually want to do some hands-on work but I want to mostly be dealing with problem solving using math and physics.

    I am just looking for someone to weigh in on this and clear up my confusion. Just tell me what it is all about (Aerospace specifically.)

    Basically, I would like some insight. Do you think I am going into Aerospace Engineering for the right reasons? Or is it not for me? I know that every individual job will be slightly different but I want to know what an average career is like.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 25, 2013 #2
    Engineers are not highly paid mechanics. I rarely go into the lab. The vast majority of my time is spent working on the computer or thinking.

    I'm guessing you are just starting your education. You don't know yet if engineering is for you or what branch you will enjoy most. Try it out, you have plenty of time.
  4. Mar 25, 2013 #3
    I'm only just finishing third-year electrical engineering, so take this with a grain of salt, but I find that there's a huge range in terms of how much math/physics engineering students use. Some people in my class don't like theoretical stuff, and just get through the bare minimum amount of theory so that they can work on the design problems they're interested in. Then there are people like me who like the engineering aspects, but who also enjoy learning the theory behind it, and so they go deeper into the math/physics side of things. What I think you'll find is that there's plenty of opportunity to use a lot of math and physics, but a lot of your peers will steer clear of it because that's not where their interests are.

    In short, I think you should definitely give it a try. If you're interested in theory, I'm sure there are a ton of interesting and challenging math/physics problems in aerospace engineering for you to pursue. If you find yourself still wanting more theory, you might even consider a minor in Applied Math or Physics to help supplement your background knowledge.
  5. Mar 26, 2013 #4
    I agree, a huge range exist. There are many ME's employed as research scientist at national labs for example. I was at Ames National lab last summer where my mentor, an ME, was a fluid dynamicist. Of course this is basically AE. Fluids/Thermal Sciences and Computational Mechanics as GRADUATE specializations in ME are as "scientific" as any other graduate science program. You could make the case that the math involved in those specializations is among the most intense in the natural/applied sciences. Lots of PDE's and tensors floating around. I would certainly not consider any engineer a mechanic, LoL... don't you already have a Phd anyway?
  6. Mar 28, 2013 #5
    Yeah I am really am interested in the theory side of it but also the engineering side. I am also minoring in astrophysics. But as you can tell, I'm a freshman so I'm extremely new to the field.
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