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Courses Questions about CS coursework/grad school

  1. May 31, 2012 #1
    I have a few questions that I would like answered from people who have either taught themselves CS subjects or who were physics majors for UG and then went on to grad school in engineering. For reference, I am a rising sophomore physics major in the US, with plans to go to grad school in engineering.

    My questions are:
    - I will be required to take at least 2 introductory CS courses as part of my major. Beyond that, would self-studying additional programming languages and taking on small projects through work/internships/volunteering suffice to demonstrate my knowledge beyond those two courses to grad schools or employers?
    - As a more specific question, the courses taught at my school will be taught in Java and Fortran, but I'd like to teach myself basic programming concepts in C++ over this summer. Would it be alright to write something like "self-taught C++" on my resume, particularly when applying for REUs and the like next summer when I am a rising junior?
    - Will I have to take a lot of catch-up courses when transitioning from UG physics to graduate engineering, and will it hinder me from receiving my graduate degree on time?
    - When pursuing a graduate degree in engineering, is there a difference between pursuing a degree for professional engineering certification and a degree more geared towards academic-style research? If so, is it difficult to switch between the two?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2012 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    Graduate school builds on the undergraduate program in the same field - so engineering graduate school presumes an engineering undergraduate degree or the equivalent. If you want to go to engineering grad school, since you are still a freshman, the best thing to do is to change your major to engineering.
  4. May 31, 2012 #3


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    Work through school or in an internship is a possibility. My company has hired students during the summer, though they are usually from the local area and major in math, physics or engineering. CS is a plus - particularly knowledge of C++ and/or Fortran.
    Sure. One would probably have to demonstrate one's proficiency at C++.
    That depends. What engineering discipline is of interest. While it is possible that a physics undergrad can migrate into engineering, e.g., nuclear engineering, one might have to take several remedial courses (senior level or equivalent) depending on the engineering discipline.

    If one is interested in graduate engineering, then I'd recommend taking some basic engineering courses in the particular discipline of interest.

    Computer programming is more or less indispensible in science and engineering these days. In my nuclear engineering program, we were required to take a class in programming (Fortran then, and probably C++, or both, now). Several courses in reactor physics, plant design and simulation, and thermal-hydraulics required developing and using computer programs to solve problems. These days, simulation, particularly multiphysics simulation is becoming everso important/critical to one's engineering function. My colleagues and I do a lot of programming for simulations and data analysis. My company does R&D, applications and analysis.
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