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Physics with a detour in Engineering?

  1. Apr 22, 2012 #1
    Hello,

    I’m currently a freshman in college. I’m attending my local community college as part of the New Jersey Stars Program. For those of you who don’t know what that is, if you graduate in the top portion of your high school class, you can attend community college with your tuition paid for by the state. Then, following graduation with your associates, the state will pick up a certain amount of your tuition when you transfer to a four-year state university. I took advantage of this program knowing that I will be going for graduate school, so I would be reducing the amount of money I have to pay for my bachelors.

    Originally I was a physics major, being that I love all aspects of physics, and would love to do research as a career. I realized that I would definitely have to go for my PhD in physics if I wanted to do research and find a good stable job. After considering the limited job opportunities that physics offers without a PhD, I decided that I might be better off majoring in engineering, which I also enjoy. However, looking at some recent trends in the economy, it isn’t all that perfect for engineers either.

    This has led me to a predicament. At first I was planning on getting my bachelors in engineering, then going to graduate school for physics if I didn’t get a job right away. However, after taking my first engineering class, Engineering Analysis, I’ve come to learn that I don’t exactly like programming much (This course teaches FORTRAN, yeah…). I’m not familiar with programming languages such as C++ or Java, so although I know they are different, I don’t know whether I would enjoy them. If Engineering is going to mainly consist of programming, then perhaps it’s not the best option for me to take.

    Right now, I’m contemplating on just getting my associates in Engineering, and then when I transfer to a four year university, I’ll just continue with physics. As I’ve said, I’m interested in all aspects of physics, including Quantum Mechanics and Astrophysics. The University I’m planning on transferring to has a pretty good astrophysics program and offers research opportunities, which is as I know vital to anybody who wants to get ahead.

    I’m sort of locked into getting my associates in Engineering, but changing is always an option. Switching from Associates Engineering to Bachelors Physics may cost me some time and extra semesters, but that’s something that I’ll just have to go with it. No matter what I do, my ultimate goal is to go to graduate school for physics. Would majoring in Engineering severely change my chances of getting into graduate school for Physics? Also, as I’ve been told by my physics professor who have a PhD in Astronomy, that you necessarily need to have a degree in engineering to do an engineer’s job. As a degree in physics will prepare you for the majority of the tasks an engineer does.

    So can anybody offer me any advice on which career path will lead to the better employment opportunities? I prefer to study Physics, and that is what I love. I'm always told that if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life. Meanwhile, I think that Engineering will make me more well-rounded, but I don’t know if I would enjoy it as much, nor if it is really necessary since I'm planning on going to graduate school for physics.

    Thank you very much.
     
  2. jcsd
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