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Please give me some advice about my minor

  1. Jul 1, 2011 #1
    Please give me some advice about my minor :)

    Hello PF,

    I am an undergrad in Physics (second year), I love it so far. I don't know if I am going to graduate school or not. Right now, I want to pick up a Computer Science minor so I can learn languages like Java/C++/Python...the list goes on. I don't want to change my major to CS so thats not an option for me but I DO want to be marketable after I get my bachelors. Will a CS minor help?

    Could I put on an application for a software/IT position that I have a CS minor and have experience with the following languages, etc. ?

    Thank for reading! Any advice would be appreciated :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 1, 2011 #2


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    Re: Please give me some advice about my minor :)

    It probably won't help simply because saying you know language X, Y, and Z is far more applicable than whats written on your transcript as a minor.
  4. Jul 1, 2011 #3
    Re: Please give me some advice about my minor :)

    I understand. I may have phrased it weirdly... So knowing those languages well is the important/marketable part. I suppose picking that minor enhances the learning experience of those languages.
  5. Jul 1, 2011 #4


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    Re: Please give me some advice about my minor :)

    Possibly. Or you could have a god awful CS department like our university that can't teach worth a damn.
  6. Jul 1, 2011 #5
    Re: Please give me some advice about my minor :)

    Haha. I see a lot of programming positions don't mind having a Physics/Math major working for them but I wonder as to how I'm going to learn those languages while wanting to major in Physics.
  7. Jul 1, 2011 #6
    Re: Please give me some advice about my minor :)

    The university I want to go to has compulsory programming modules in their Physics course. Their students are to be taught Python. There also elective modules that can be taken, so one could choose to learn the programming languages from there. It doesn't necessarily result in a minor but you get the chance to have a formal education in computer programming. Yes, so check if your Physics program does not actually involve any programming courses. From what I hear, if you can get any one programming language down, you can get the rest on your own. With books and such.

    Don't take my word for it as I don't know any programming (yet).
  8. Jul 2, 2011 #7
    Re: Please give me some advice about my minor :)

    Stay in Physics! I graduated in MKTG, that was about as beneficial as becoming a witch.

    Physics of petroleum, wind, military technologies, NFL, the heat being generated by your computer. After 100 years, we still run the exact same internal combustion, compression ignition engines and tesla-turbines today. And now, literally in an instant, the GLOBAL SHIPPING industry is spending BILLIONS on R&D efforts to reduce VOCs. There are some INCREDIBLE technologies being released and the value of young scientific minds which can identify cost efficient, novel concepts and ease compliance (regulatory) requirements - are the backbone to their future success.

    check out http://www.125.bosch.com/
  9. Jul 2, 2011 #8


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    Re: Please give me some advice about my minor :)

    If you know your stuff, it won't matter too much how you became experienced with regards to entry level programming.

    Having said this, it takes a bit of time for things to click into place (this is my experience and others could well be different).

    There's enough resources on the internet, in bookshops, in forums and so on that you can use to build up experience.

    My advice is to pick a domain that you like or want to learn and then get an open source project in that domain, fiddle with it, write your own code, modify code, and build your own modifications.

    The reason I say this is because like many other fields, programming is largely domain dependent. Database and business intelligence apps share very little (if anything) to modern game engines and design.

    I know what I have said isn't really that structured, but here's my argument.

    First off if you get a large open source project, chances are it will be well designed and if it has been around long enough, the design will get better as most things do with time. Also if you're concerned that it isn't, for most large projects people will voice their opinion (this is the internet after all).

    Second thing is that if the above requirement is satisfied (to your expectation), then not only do you get to learn quickly, but you get to actually do your own thing quickly. The most important thing is that you interact with the repository, make mistakes, learn from them, and to rack up experience not only in general programming, but in a domain specific context.

    If you combine that with other learning, I guarantee with enough effort, you will slowly become an expert.

    One other thing I should mention: there is no one solution for everything. You learn what you need to learn to get stuff done. If your immerse yourself in the domain that you want to learn, you'll come across this at least once and it will just be a means to an end for your learning.

    In saying the above I don't think you need a CS minor: personally I don't think it will make a difference, and IMO it would be better spent learning in the way I mentioned above for reasons either out of curiosity (like anything), or out of necessity (like for example an honors, masters, or PhD project). Both offer ways of building experience and also for generating evidence (both literally through your own work [ie the code itself] and consciously through the experience gained from doing so).
  10. Jul 2, 2011 #9
    Re: Please give me some advice about my minor :)

    Thanks for the response! As far as my programming goes, I only know Java. I took a class and worked a lot with basic java. Did some graphics but nothing too big. I understand that you don't really *need* the classes/minor but they do present Machine Problems that are quite challenging and it builds experience, more challenging than what I can come up with on my own..

    I want to know C++/Java really well before I graduate...not sure what other languages..

    Also yeah, there are many open resources such as books or tutorials online. I am interested in programming, its something I want to do as a profession, but I am stubborn to stick to my interest in Physics. Also, I just dont see the need for a computer science degree.
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