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Physics vs EE/Mechanical?

  1. Oct 6, 2013 #1
    I'm a freshman at university, studying for a BSc in Physics. I am quite certain that I will eventually want a career in research (academic or industry), but I'm also very interested in aircraft design/simulation(defense sector), The problem is I really can't understand which degree would have more relevance between Physics and an engineering discipline(EE or Mech).
    A background on my interest: Father did a BS in EE, PhD in CS, spent first 15 years of career in academia, next 10 years in defense and currently works in software. (I seem to find the work he did in defense most interesting). He's of the opinion that an engineering degree would offer that versatility and the ability to easily transition between fields...and that Physics would limit that. I need to pick soon, because I will need to transfer to my school of engineering soon if I go ahead with that.

    Sorry if this was unstructured...but I really need solid advice. Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 7, 2013 #2
    It really, really depends on what you want to work on. Research is much more specific than just "physics" or "engineering". I've always been under the impression that mechanical engineering was the most employable when it comes to aircraft research, especially in industry. Then again it all depends on what you are researching in relation to aircrafts. I had a professor in Electrical Engineering that spent his whole career at NASA working on developing non-linear models and simulations for aircraft.

    I would advise you to think more about what you really want to do, because mechanical and electrical engineering overlap in very few places in research.

    All 3 degrees can put you in aircraft research. When you mention the word 'design' I'm tempted to tell you to go with one of the engineering degrees. Electrical engineering fits very well in the aerospace industry, but you will very rarely catch them modeling/designing anything related to the plane actually flying. I would assume they spend more time working on some abstracted part of the aircraft, such as the antennas, power distribution, radar systems etc. The exception would be if you specialized control systems and tried to characterize or develop a control for the plane; however I would be inclined to think that mechanical engineering would be a better suited background for that.

    If you are going for the structural side of things, I would advise majoring in mechanical engineering. As you get along further in the degree you should have a better idea of what you are looking for. The next logical step after the ME would be an Aerospace Engineering phd.

    That's just my second hand opinion from people I have met in the field. I'm no expert.
  4. Oct 21, 2013 #3
    if you want to work in defense mechanical engineering is probably most relevant. You could try to work on a double major if you're still unsure. I found that after a few years in college I became much more clear where I actually wanted to spend time in.
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