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Researches in engineering and science

  1. Jul 22, 2005 #1
    Hi all!
    I am currently doing a mechanical engineering degree.
    I am considering to further my study after graduate and hopefully get a lecturership in university. It would be fantastically great for me to be a researcher in this field. But I am doubting my own ability and my inclination. I would see myself as a person being proficient at analyzing and understanding abstract concepts. So, it would seem more appropritate for me to go for math or physics. But for some reasons, I stayed with mechanical engineering.
    I would like to know in research level of engineering, are the method of research and the abilities required very different from that of physics? Can anyone kindly share your experience and comments on this?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 23, 2005 #2
    i am a bit like you. my first degree is aerospace engineering which is similar to mechanical engineering nature, and my master degree is in physics. i was about to do research in aerospace but withdrew.

    i found my maths is extremely crap, and a lot of physics stuff at graduate level need maths completely alien to engineeiring.

    i studied in UK, and did further maths and applied further maths and i got straight A. when i did my bachelor it seemed i gained no mathematical skills at all apart from vector calculus. and this is a disaster if you want to do physics. i learnt aerodynamics, structures, finite element analysis, cfd stuff and (lucky with cfd you learn a bit of tensor) this is useful, but not really the level of maths physicist need for their research. if you ever try to learn quantum mechanics or general relativity, then you know what i mean.

    o yah, about the nature/method of research, i feel it depends on the reasearch you do. Engineering research can be very conceptual physics, but most industrially relevant research are probably not. for example in aerospace, if we do aerodyanmic cfd research, then the physical concept only goes as far as navier stokes, and it will never dwelve into atomic level in treating the air molecules - if we do - the numerical method will be too expensive and industrially non-feasible. in physics on the other hand, you go the other way. this simplification implies error in numerical analysis, and your job (if you are engineer researcher) is to refine the method. unlikely for you to refine it to molecular level modelling or resort to particle physics .

    basically it is difficult invent new concept in mechaianical engineering.. or maybe my experience was too limited.

    later i post another reply and another story . sorry.
  4. Jul 30, 2005 #3


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    I must disagree with you here. I don't know how it is to study Aero in UK. Maybe your mathematical load is small during it. If one studies Aero or Mech Engineer in a good faculty, he/she will be taught about lots of maths and physics. Maybe our knowledge about those two matters are not as deep as the knowledge acquired by a physicist or a mathematician, but in concrete fields such as the two king subjects of engineering physics (Structural-Material Eng. and Fluid Mech) we are over any physicist/mathematician, because we know both application to interesting industrial problems and just the base/concept of the stuff.

    Do not diminish the physics/maths that are needed for understanding aerodynamics or combustion. Maybe in these subjects engineers are dealing with the most difficult sets of equations on earth, despites such researchers are not mathematicians nor physicists. Little is known about them, in spite of the large number of scientific articles published so far. Perhaps the results about a combustion research are not as spectacular as the discovery of a new atomic particle, but also they could have inmmediate and practical applications, as everything given birth by engineering. It is not difficult to invent a new concept in mechanical engineering, see all articles published by specialized publications (ASME, AAIA, Journal of Chemical eng, Journal of Fluid Mech, Combustion Science publications.....). Actual Aeronautics, Heat Engines and Propulsion advances are based in many of these articles, which by the way have a great and solid mathematical base.
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