Pondering Physics or Engineering?

In summary: On the one hand, some physicists do regret not studying engineering. On the other hand, some engineers regret not studying physics. However, in the end, it's up to the individual to make the decision which path to pursue.
  • #1
||spoon||
228
0
Any regrets??

hey all,

I'm having a hard time deciding wether I should do straight physics or do engineering...(and to a lesser extent straight math) Like a lot of other people it seems. I know it is ultimately my choice so you cannot give me a straight answer of "do this" so don't think I am expecting one ;).

What I wanted to know was if any physicists or physics majors regret not studying engineering? Or any engineers regret not studying straight physics?

I feel that either way I go I will regret not doing the other :(

Any honest feelings on the subject?

Thanks heaps,

-spoon
 
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  • #2
There is always time to change your mind later. It just gets much harder. :smile:

I originally went into computer engineering because that's what I was interested in then. Currently I'm studying physics because that's what I'm interested in now. While sometimes I *do* wish that I had gone into physics when I was younger so that my career path would be more "normal", I wouldn't go so far to say that I regret it. A lot of good things came out of my involvement with computers.
 
  • #3
Career-wise, I wished I went into engineering instead of physics. Physics isn't bad, I love the stuff in it but it doesn't seem to help sell yourself well enough in the job market.

Or maybe the job market is a piece of crap right now with a potential recession and millions losing their jobs since X-mas.
 
  • #4
fizziks said:
Career-wise, I wished I went into engineering instead of physics. Physics isn't bad, I love the stuff in it but it doesn't seem to help sell yourself well enough in the job market.

Or maybe the job market is a piece of crap right now with a potential recession and millions losing their jobs since X-mas.

If you want to make money drop out of primary school and go to American Idol. I never thought that physics might make money for you, and I don't think it will in any near future unless you combine it with something like engineering or some really popular research.
 
  • #5
Sometimes I womder if majoring in maths will ever get me a job, and in that respect I do think maybe I should have done engineering instead.
 
  • #6
I think it's a mistake to assume that what you major in will dictate the rest of your life. It's also a mistake to assume that you can stop learning new things once you get out of school.

I knew I wanted to be a scientist since forever, realized I liked physics in 12th grade- I wanted to do high energy particle physics. Senior year in college I took a lasers and optics class and decided instead to pursue optics in grad school. Then, I hooked up with my advisor who studied fluid mechanics, leading to a PhD with concentrations in fluids and optics. From there, I've worked for a military contractor, NASA, and now I'm faculty in a Medical School, Department of Physiology and Biophysics.

I've been fortunate in that I am able to earn a living doing what I love to do- research. But I never could have predicted I'd end up where I am now- I have always, and continue to be, open to new opportunities. For me, the question is always "Is this interesting work?"
 
  • #7
fizziks said:
Or maybe the job market is a piece of crap right now with a potential recession and millions losing their jobs since X-mas.

I'd say it's more due to government budget cuts that many physicists are losing their jobs. Wired had an article about a week ago on this seemingly US/UK-specific trend.

http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/02/particle_accelerator
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • #8
||spoon|| said:
What I wanted to know was if any physicists or physics majors regret not studying engineering? Or any engineers regret not studying straight physics?

I used to have some engineer envy. It's mostly worn off - I realized at some point that while engineers do have more job opportunities than physicists, most of those additional jobs are boring as hell. Or would be to me ;) I believe that as an engineer I'd have similar prospects for doing fun and interesting things for reasonable pay.

My biggest regret is just the slow pace I've progressed in my life. I actually believe that whether I chose engineer or physicist was far, far less important than simply making a choice and doing well in it. I often think back on my freshman year of college and wished I had just flipped a coin.
 
  • #9
Tachyonie said:
If you want to make money drop out of primary school and go to American Idol. I never thought that physics might make money for you, and I don't think it will in any near future unless you combine it with something like engineering or some really popular research.

This was a really pathetic response to what fizziks wrote. Most importantly, fizziks didn't mention compensation of any kind, making the retort off the subject. Also, this same old tired line about how physics doesn't make you money is neither true nor useful.
 
  • #10
Tachyonie said:
If you want to make money drop out of primary school and go to American Idol. I never thought that physics might make money for you, and I don't think it will in any near future unless you combine it with something like engineering or some really popular research.

Please read before you post. Otherwise, you just make yourself look like an idiot.

I didn't say anything about physics not making any money. Pay and demand are completely different. At the end, I rather have a high-demand job than a high-paying one. I wasn't after the pay as a physicists. I was more interested in the subject than the compen$ation$. In fact, physicists get pay rather well, but I'll say the demand for them isn't as high as engineers.
 
  • #11
Hey,

Yea, the choice is not an easy one for engineering vs physics.

Personally, in my second year of college as a physics and mathematics major, I've concluded that if I do not go directly to graduate school (on a full ride) it may be very difficult to find a well paying job with the physics and mathematics degrees. Consequently, I am currently exploring the possibility of a tri-major: Physics, (Pure) Mathematics, and Electrical or Mechanical Engineering. The idea is that incase I can not afford graduate school I can always work to save for graduate school working as an engineer.

Thanks,

-PFStudent
 
  • #12
PFStudent said:
-PFStudent

Love your username. :smile:
 
  • #13
Hey,

Tom Mattson said:
Love your username. :smile:

lol. Thanks. :smile:

-PFStudent
 
  • #14
||spoon|| said:
hey all,

I'm having a hard time deciding wether I should do straight physics or do engineering...(and to a lesser extent straight math) Like a lot of other people it seems. I know it is ultimately my choice so you cannot give me a straight answer of "do this" so don't think I am expecting one ;).

What I wanted to know was if any physicists or physics majors regret not studying engineering? Or any engineers regret not studying straight physics?

I feel that either way I go I will regret not doing the other :(

Any honest feelings on the subject?

Thanks heaps,

-spoon

I don't regret going into physics (I'm a first year grad student, if that helps you calibrate my response). Sure, I would have done a few things differently in terms of how I designed my course selection, but I'm definitely happy I went into physics. Mind you, I plan to be a scientist, not an industry engineer. If I were intent on going straight into industry rather than science, I probably would regret being a physics major!
 
  • #15
Only thing I don't like about my current physics degree (I'm in my 3rd year) is that it's very theory-based, and I assume most other places are the same.

I've only had 2 lab classes so far. I'll take 3 next year, but still, that's not as much "hands on" as an engineer would have, which is what I really like.

But I'm told (by professors, grad students, and post-docs) that if I go into experimentalism, I'll get to tinker with a lot of gadgets, basically like an engineer would.

But overall I don't regret going into physics, because of the broad topics and how deep we go into it. It's really interesting.
 

Related to Pondering Physics or Engineering?

1. What is the difference between physics and engineering?

Physics is a branch of science that studies the fundamental principles of nature, such as matter, energy, and motion. Engineering, on the other hand, applies these principles to design and build practical solutions to real-world problems.

2. Can someone with a physics degree work as an engineer?

Yes, someone with a physics degree can work as an engineer, but they may need to gain additional knowledge and skills through courses or on-the-job training to specialize in a specific field of engineering.

3. How does physics play a role in engineering?

Physics provides the foundation for understanding the principles and laws that govern the behavior of matter and energy. Engineers use this knowledge to design and develop technologies that solve complex problems in various fields such as aerospace, electronics, and materials science.

4. What are some potential career paths for someone with a background in physics or engineering?

Some potential career paths for someone with a background in physics or engineering include research and development, product design, consulting, teaching, and working in industries such as healthcare, energy, and technology.

5. Is studying physics or engineering a good choice for someone who wants to make a positive impact on society?

Absolutely! Both physics and engineering have the potential to contribute to society in significant ways. From developing renewable energy sources to designing medical devices, studying these fields can lead to meaningful and impactful career opportunities.

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