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Routes to Engineering

  1. Apr 13, 2008 #1
    I'm glad I found this site, it has helped me over the last week decided what I want to do. With thanks to Russ-watters and his thread, and wikipedia, I've decided to put my all into being an engineer.
    But I'm not sure what type of engineer I want to be, there are so many! I like the sound of designing structures and buildings and materials etc, but I may change my mind.

    What is a sound foundation for engineering? If I take an undergrad in physics, could that lead to an engineering job?


    PS ANY advice would be greatly appricieated
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 13, 2008 #2


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    If you are sure you want to go into engineering, but do not know what field, see if your school will allow you to enter into an "engineering-undecided" track or something of the like.

    While I have seen people get engineering jobs with physics degrees, they were smaller in number, and mostly took electrical engineering positions. Physics and engineering, while have many common points, are very different courses of study. The physics studied during most of an undergraduate physics curriculum is different than what you are used to from high school. It can get much more abstract and much less "engineering oriented" as you move along through the courses. For this reason, I suggest that you don't major in physics if you know that some form of engineering is what you want to do. It would be much more advantageous to get an engineering degree.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2008
  4. Apr 13, 2008 #3
    In the field of materials science/engineering there is a lot of overlap between physics and engineering. Materials science is mostly concerned with (surprise!) the properties of materials - and manipulating these properties to create iPods, cell phones, little blue LEDs, cheap superconducting magnets for MRI machines, etc, etc.

    Outside of materials science there is not very much overlap between physics and engineering. There are quite a few people with physics degrees who end up doing engineering-type jobs - but usually not in civil or mechanical engineering.

    However, I do have a friend who got hired at Boeing working on nasty fluid flow problems after doing a PhD on black holes in funky dimensions.

    Have you considered looking for "engineering physics" programs? An engineering course requires many more applied classes than a physics course. Engineering physics requires a lot of engineering courses (usually electrical engineering) along with some materials physics courses.
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2008
  5. Apr 13, 2008 #4
    If you want an engineering job, you should go to school for engineering not physics.

    There are a lot of engineering programs that have a general first year for all students to expose the students to the different branches of engineering. Then after the first year the students declare a discipline. I doubt all programs do this, but I know there are a good number of schools that do.
  6. Apr 13, 2008 #5


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    Perhaps the first step would be to decide what type of engineering one wishes to do, e.g. Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Chemical, Aerospace, Nuclear, Materials, . . . . Most universities have departments based on engineering specialty.

    One could major in physics or engineering physics as an undergrad, and then specialize.

    Or one could major in physics and a particular engineering discipline, but that would require tremendous effort and discipline.
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