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Math Roles for Applied Math/Physics grads in Power Engineering?

  1. Jan 25, 2010 #1
    Hey all.

    I was just wondering: what roles (if any) are there at power plants (particularly nuclear) for ppl with just an undergrad in applied math/physics?

    I am asking, b/c, despite the fact that I often read that ppl with an undergrad in physical sciences can do engineering, I also read that you need a license to legally call yourself an engineer, and you need an undergrad in engineering to get the license. In other words, I am getting mixed messages.

    This question can be broadened to other forms of power engineering. Do applied math/physics grads get hired for engineering roles? If not, do they get hired at all? For which roles?

    Thnx for any responses.

    PS Where do people with degrees in Engineering Physics end up, anyway?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2010 #2


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    Normally, utilities (and suppliers) are looking for people with specific engineering skill sets, e.g., Mech Eng, Electrical Eng, Nuclear Eng., . . . .

    It might be possible if one has good computational skills. With an Applied Math or Physics undergrad, it would probably be necessary to obtain an MS in an engineering discipline in order to get an engineering job.

    Technically, to be a licensed engineer, one needs to otain a PE (professional engineering) license, which one gets by passing a test, usually after one achieves some (several years) experience while working under the supervision of other engineers, who would usually be licensed themselves.
  4. Jan 25, 2010 #3
    A PE license is necessary to do certain tasks in accordance with the ASME code. If you are doing engineering work unrelated to ASME code matters, you probably don't need a PE license. Having a license is 'a good thing' but many engineers spend their entire careers not noticing any ill effects from lacking the PE. I have found that the Architect Engineer firms are most likely to require a PE, the utilities that own/operate the plants 'like' their engineers to have a PE, and the reactor vendors don't really care much except for engineers doing very specific kinds of work. Holding a PE license may give you a certain 'status' in some people's minds (while other people may not base their opinion of you on your license or lack thereof). Some companies may pay you more if you are a PE.

    I think ASME has for many years promoted the concept of a PE license for all engineering work, similar to the way the AMA controls who holds an MD and is licensed to practice medicine. In reality though, the ASME doesn't control the world of engineering, and a tremendous amount of work gets done by 'the unlicensed.'

    All of the above is just my opinion based on what I have seen. Others may have very different views. And, if you're trying to get a job, all that matters is what the prospective employer thinks...
  5. Jan 25, 2010 #4
    Thnx for the replies. I hope to be transferred into ME (b/c I want to study thermodynamics and fluid mechanics) or EE (b/c I also have an interest in sensors/instrumentation and control) for next year. If my transfer request is denied for some reason, I would continue with applied math/physics. If math grads could fit into an engineering role seamlessly (apparently not), then it would be easier to stay where I am.

    Either way, I was planning on doing a master's in NE (Nuclear reactor physics looks interesting, but I don't know if I will have the nuclear physics bg with an ME or EE. Alternatively I would focus on thermalhydraulics, or I & C)--after a few years experience in the field.

    I'm a lot more focused now with my goals. Now comes the hard part...
  6. Jan 25, 2010 #5
    BTW: How do you get a signature line? I can't seem to find it anywhere in my PF options. Thnx.
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