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Engineering Physics vs Engineering any help would be greatly appreciated

  1. Mar 5, 2009 #1
    I was pretty confident about my decision in going into engineering, but after attending engineering lectures, I find I enjoy theory more than the whole application of things. I just look through some of the courses offered by each engineering program, and most of them don't appeal to me, but the curriculum for physics is a whole other story. If you asked me how a car works, I have not a clue. That said, I love problem solving, and doing calculations (stuff like probability, chemistry and just pure physics, I can do over and over again simply because I enjoy it) but when it comes down to hands on building circuits and making things work, I couldn't care less. A prof told me that engineers usually don't deal with all the hands on stuff, and that most engineers have minimal calculations in their line of profession. I was just wondering if the general curriculum for engineering is as hands on as it sounds. I am really debating on switching over to physics but the thing is, there is less job prospective with a physics degree and harder to succeed in the field. A lot of people say that electrical engineering is similar to physics and I actually did really well in electricity but I love learning the whole spectrum of topics: sound, optics, magnetism, and (my favourites) mechanics, dynamics, quantum physics, and special relativity. I'm one of those people who love learning about stuff...I can be very creative, but that said, I'm not the most innovative thinker. I couldn't survive English without getting ideas from others. But once I have the foundation for an idea, I elaborate on it, which is where the creative aspect comes in. I like biology too, I just don't like the memorization. I also love drawing and learning about nutrition, psychology and fashion. I actually really like chemistry too, but definitely not as much as physics. I've always been good at math, but I don't know if I really like math on its own. I find math redundant, and at times pointless. That said, applied math (as in physics and chemistry) are great, and I love statistics, probability, permutations, and just math that requires logical thinking (kind of like doing math puzzles). I'm just really confused right now, because until today, I was almost positive about my school choice/program. I narrowed my all interests and decided to pursue engineering, and now, it seems as though I'm back to square one. Any comments/suggestions would be greatly appreciated, thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 5, 2009 #2
    Have you thought about pursuing two degrees? The B.S. in physics provides a great foundation of knowledge, but it's useless if you want to find a job immediately after graduation.
  4. Mar 5, 2009 #3


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    The job prospects for physics graduates aren't as gloomy as some would have you believe. According to all the data I've seen physics majors on average do quite well. That being said, I think that if one does pursue physics, one should at least entertain the possibility of going on to do graduate work.

    Something else to keep in mind is that physics majors also spend a lot of time in labs - so pursuing physics doesn't necessarily get you out of the 'hands on' component. Granted it's likely less time in the lab than most engineering disciplines.

    One possibility might be engineering physics as a compromise between the two fields.
  5. Mar 5, 2009 #4
    It sounds like your a physicist to me. If you were engineering material you should be able to take apart an entire car or computer and reassembly it by now.

    That's quiet a bit of BS. Although it depends on how you define "engineer". Most people that get an engineering degree aren't actually engineers, they go on to become designers or technicians and such. When I was an entry level EM, the only thing I ever did was calculations and modeling.
  6. Mar 5, 2009 #5
    It is entirely possible to double major, particularly if you have advanced placement credit or stay an extra semester or two (maybe during the Summer?).

    Why not have your cake and eat it too?
  7. Mar 5, 2009 #6
    Hi Star,

    Seems to me you are pretty clear about the fact you are interested in Physics and
    have no interest in engineering. I suggest you answered your question. Pursue what
    you like. There are plenty of opportunities for engineers and for physicists. The two
    jobs can completely overlap or be totally different, depends on the application, the
    project, the institution. Follow what you enjoy and you will succeed.

    Good luck!

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2009
  8. Mar 14, 2009 #7
    well if your pursue a Phd and become a professor, you'll be spending far more time doing more "theoretical" engineering, which you will probably find more interesting. That being said, it really depends on what job you are searching for.
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