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 Engineering?

  1. Aug 21, 2011 #1

    I first started a thread about being interested in aerospace engineering.

    Err.. now when I think about it, I think I like pure theoretical physics as well. I was looking at one of the colleges course load for the physics major, and I really wanted to take those classes.

    Eventually I want to end up working in the aerospace industry, in either research, design or engineering.

    Maybe I'm brainstorming right now, but what are the job possibilities in the aerospace industry with a physics major? Mechanical engineering major? ...Just asking.

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 21, 2011 #2

    If you want to end up working in the aerospace industry, then theres really no need to major in physics. They are pretty different degrees, despite some math and physical application overlap. A lot of students at my school do a double major in aerospace and mechanical engineering. There is a *lot* of overlap between those degrees, unlike physics and aerospace.
  4. Aug 21, 2011 #3
    If you like pure theoretical physics but want to work in the aerospace industry, then become an aerospace or mechanical engineer. I personally am interested in pure mathematics despite being an aerospace engineering major. But I'll leave pure mathematics to be a hobby of mine. I'll buy advanced math books and bug the hell out of PF when I get stuck once I'm done with my engineering degree. I recommend a similar path for you.
  5. Aug 21, 2011 #4
    Yeah, one thing I learned while working with engineering grad students this summer is that engineering really doesn't exclude theoretical aspects as much as I thought it did. It is true that the majority of engineers don't deal with very much theory, and it's easy to interpret that as "if I become an engineer, I can't do theoretical things." But it turns out that that doesn't mean that you can't do a lot of theory as an engineer, it's just that most people just don't.
  6. Aug 21, 2011 #5
    Well one of the reasons I asked is because I'm looking into 2 colleges. One offers both aerospace and mechanical eng majors, and the other only offers mechanical eng. Both colleges offer physics.

    So there are no jobs in the engineering field with a physics major?

    What kind of jobs can you get with a physics major?
  7. Aug 21, 2011 #6
    Hmm ok.. I guess I can seek pure theoretical physics as a hobby and pursue engineering. Makes sense.
  8. Aug 21, 2011 #7
    I'm sure a physics graduate could land a job in engineering...but not easier than an engineer could.

    There's plenty of threads on this forum about what jobs you can get as a physics major. I wouldn't recommend getting a physics degree if you are planning on not going further than undergraduate though, because you aren't going to get a job remotely related to physics easier than an engineer is(probably)
  9. Aug 21, 2011 #8


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I work for a manufacturing company that designs technologically advanced machinery. My company has both a research department and an engineering department. We work very closely. The engineers curse the researchers for having no practical sense, and the researchers curse the engineers for not putting absurd theory into immediate practice.

    Yes, there are. The type I mentioned above. You will not be engineering anything, you will be assisting engineers. The education of an engineer covers some very specific points that are of little interest to a physicist.

    A physics major can always become a physics teacher. This seems to be the perpetual cycle.

    Remember, physics is simply applied mathematics, and engineering is simply applied physics.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook