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Physics to engineering

  1. Jul 21, 2011 #1
    Hi folks

    I came back to school for engineering (already have BA in music) so that I'd learn math, science, and practical skills. 2 years in at a City College and I need to make some moves for transferring. I have a friend who has tons of practical experience working as a mechanic, electrician, construction guy, etc, and he is my age and just transferred to a state school to study physics. He says that he already feels like he can do the "engineering" part of the job, and it's the tough math and theory that he wants to master so that he can later decide to become a career engineer or physicist. This sounds great to me, as I am more interested in math and physics than I expected and found myself a little bored by my statics and circuit analysis classes (they were cool but I got scared thinking that I'd hate to do that stuff all day for a living). I love building things and tinkering but feel that I could do this on my own and also take engineering classes as electives.

    I've also heard from a physicist friend that going into engineering after physics undergrad is quite impractical as you won't be eligible to become a PE due to lack of classes. I am considering an undergrad in physics and a masters in engineering, though this would take me 3-4 years (yikes). Is it reasonable to think that I could do undergrad in physics, 1-2 year masters in engineering, and then be employable as an engineer?

    BTW I'm 27 and my gf says I need to grow the ***** up and get a masters in a degree that will earn me some cash. I feel the pressure of career and success vs. risk and a possibly extraordinary life.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2011 #2
    You mentioned you were a "little bored by my statics and circuit analysis classes."

    But these courses come from basic physics. What areas of physics are you interested in?
  4. Jul 21, 2011 #3
    I feel like I'm interested in all areas of physics, though I may be saying this because I know so little. I loved my first 2 semesters, mechanics and electromagnetism. I know that statics and circuit analysis are based on these classes specifically, and that's the rub for me: I keep wondering how much else is out there. Statics, though it did take some time, was relatively easy to other classes because I was just applying what I knew of trigonometry, a little calculus, and mechanics to lots and lots of problems. I did learn some awesome new stuff like moments and trusses (I DID like solving the problems), it's just that I feel that at this point I'd be "cashing out" early if I went for Civil. Circuits was tougher, I got a B and needed more practice with non-linear circuits with capacitors and inductors. I know that any engineering, especially EE, is tough, but if most engineers are just applying physics to real problems, then ideally shouldn't those that have the drive to learn as much as possible just do physics and then do a Masters in what really intrigues them?

    It's like with environmental engineering - some say it's the softest of the fields, but what if you focused on chemistry and physics and THEN applied yourself to that field? Maybe at least then you wouldn't be stuck pushing paper or enforcing code on condo developments. BTW I may go that route since I love nature and the outdoors and want to preserve it.
  5. Jul 21, 2011 #4
    Oh, so I guess I'm interested in all the physics I've heard about. I think that quantum mechanics will hep explain a lot of chemical phenomena, and optics and thermodynamics will help with...other stuff! Beyond that, I have no idea
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