1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Physics or Civil/Enviromental Engineering

  1. Feb 12, 2008 #1
    I am currently looking at colleges either penn state university or drexel and I was wondering what you think would be a better major. Either Physics or Civil/Enviromental Engineering.
    Thanks ahead of time
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    To quote from the Yellow Pages: "Boring see Civil engineers"
    While engineering will pretty much guarantee you a job on the day you graduate it may limit you to a particular part of one field - physics generally gives you a lot of opportunites to work in different areas of engineering.
  4. Feb 12, 2008 #3


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Boring? me? i highly doubt it! :cool:
  5. Feb 12, 2008 #4
    i want to be a civil engineer also, but since that bridge collapsed in Minnesota, I've been having some doubts because I don't want to be responsible for deaths.
  6. Feb 12, 2008 #5


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I am a civil engineer and i have not been responsible for any deaths!
  7. Feb 12, 2008 #6
    Really? What kind of work have you've done? I plan on going into structural engineering
  8. Feb 12, 2008 #7


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Recently, I was the resident engineer in the construction of an 8 stories building in reinforced concrete. I was also a design engineer of hot mix asphalt pavements in an Asphalt Plant. So far, i've worked in the construction 2 buildings and 1 highway. Right now, i'm in the administrative section of the company working on budget analysis of other projects.
  9. Feb 12, 2008 #8
    that sounds interesting
  10. Feb 13, 2008 #9
    From recent threads I have read that it is really hard to get a decent job not teaching with a undergrad degree in physics. On the other hand I've heard that it is really easy to get a job with civil eng degree. This might swing my decision a lot. What do you guys think is better decision. How much physics is included in civil eng degree because I really love physics and I am hoping to make around 45,000 right out of college. How is my chances working with lockheed martin with a undergrad physics degree. Or should I do a dual enrollment and do a 5 year plan double major and get my physics and civil/enviromental and then go to grad school to get my masters in physics.

    P.S Is it true that the government or someone else will pay for your graduate schooling. Also will it be easy to get engineering jobs if I have a physics degree
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2008
  11. Feb 13, 2008 #10


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    There was a thread a while back (haven't found it yet) about the degree of Engineering Physics. You would be able to learn a little about several areas of engineering while still knowing the physics.
  12. Feb 16, 2008 #11
    From what I read about it, civil engineering is pretty much all physics. Despite the website's reputation, here's some more information of civil eng. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Engineering
  13. Feb 18, 2008 #12
    i am expecting more maths and physics(mechanics, fluids, Hydraulics) in this course

    what im worried about is how to be a creative designer of buildings...
  14. Feb 19, 2008 #13
    If you want to be creative, you should be an architect instead of an engineer
  15. Feb 19, 2008 #14


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    There's more creativity in engineering a building so that it can be built, will be safe and will stay up than there is in doing a few freehand sketches and claiming it will be 'a statement about light and space'.
  16. Feb 19, 2008 #15


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    Well Civil Engineering doesn't go beyong Newtonian Mechanics.

    Here is a list of all the physics i took in my undergraduate (well the ones i can remember):

    General Physics I
    General Physics II
    General Physics III
    Strength of Materials I
    Strength of Materials II
    Fluid Mechanics
    Structural Analysis I
    Structural Analysis II
    General Hydraulic
    Soil Mechanics

    i think that's it unless i am forgetting something else...
  17. Feb 20, 2008 #16
    It depends on the market and other factors. But it'll be much easier to get a job with an engineering degree than a physics degree.

    Lockheed is one of those companies that take physics people for engineering positions. But you have to a minimum GPA if I recalled (+3.0?) and at least take some engineering courses during your undergrad. But if you are applying for a EE/ME position, then it all comes down to yourself to get the position from those WITH EE/ME degrees.

    You can get a BA in physics, which allows more room to take a second major. In most, if not, all schools' programs have so many electives in their physics curriculum, one can usually take a second major while dual enrolling as a BS in physics.

    It is extremely competitive and difficult to get an engineering job with a physics degree these days. My two classmates whom are physics graduates work in the IT field now, which doesn't even need a college degree, maybe a few certs. I don't have a job that has anything to do with what I picked up in college (physics). Instead, I'm working part-time while going to graduate school. I have not used anything "physics" in my work or job yet. Unless you count problem solving skills.

    Maybe back 10-20 years ago, a physics grad can easily become an EE or ME, but now, employers want specialized knowledge. Not many employers want a physics grad unless your a Ph.D. BUT, you can pick up other jobs, like in the finance field and any other that requires a bit of math. But, it somehow destroys the point in studying physics. I studied physics because I want to solve problems and help design projects in an engineering-related environment, not show someone how much money they can save by switching to Geico.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2008
  18. Feb 20, 2008 #17
    Well thanks a lot for this info. I hope on getting my PhD in physics or EE (went to penn state engineering open house and decided that civil was not right for me, EE is) not sure of which one, but I will be going to school non stop until I get a PhD. Do you get paid for research working at a college
  19. Feb 20, 2008 #18

    So at least one chemistry class isn't required? How do you know which metal is appropriate? Or do you learn that in structural analysis?
  20. Feb 20, 2008 #19


    User Avatar

    Why would he include chemistry in a list of physics classes...
  21. Feb 20, 2008 #20
    I heard graduate research assistants get tuition fully paid at some schools.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Similar Discussions: Physics or Civil/Enviromental Engineering
  1. Enviromental Physics ? (Replies: 0)

  2. Civil engineering (Replies: 1)