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Second degree in Engineering w/ BSc Physics

  1. Nov 4, 2006 #1
    Hi all. Great forum, lots of good advice. Here's my question...

    I have a BSc in Physics and have work experience mostly at a technologist level in various industries. I find that most of the "good" jobs out there that interest me require an Engineering degree if not PEng credential.

    I have been looking into entering into an Engineering program to get my career a boost. On paper it looks like I can get credit for most of first year Engineering at the local university and go right into second year. Of course I'd have to make up the few firsst year applied science courses.

    Does anybody have experience with this type of transition into Engineering?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 5, 2006 #2
    depending on your background, you may wish to consider getting a masters degree (MSc?) instead of a second bachelors' degree.

    Typical entrance requirements (in the US, at least) for a master's degree in engineering are a bachelors degree in engineering, math, physics (or other physical sciences), or another closely related field. They accept more than just bachelor's in engineering.

    So while you may be required to take prerequisite courses in excess of the degree requirements, it may be possible to finish faster and with a more valuable degree.
  4. Nov 5, 2006 #3
    You would find BS level work in engineering to be boring. As I have said elsewhere, engineering is just watered down physics. I would go with the master's program.
  5. Nov 5, 2006 #4
    Yes, you have said that elsewhere, and I think you should be banned for such a stupid opinion. If you think truly think that, then you are very ignorant and have no basis to be giving anyone advise.
  6. Nov 5, 2006 #5
    While in some sense I agree with his statement, he says it like it's an insult to engineering in general. While engineering contains less theory than physics, that doesn't mean it is easier or less respectable. The concepts are easier in engineering than in physics, true, but in engineering you are analyzing much more complicated systems so the simplification is a necessity to be able to do the analysis and design.

    I always say, engineering is about solving very complicated problems in a very simple way. Physics is about solving very simple problems in a very complicated way. Both approaches to solving problem are necessary, but both disciplines just have very different goals in mind. The complicated approach to solving a problem provides physical insight, but the simplified approach provides higher productivity and allows you to do analysis of much more complicated systems.

    For example, a circuit that is dog dumb simple to an electrical engineer would make the typical physicist's head explode. However, I can't deny that a physicist has more physical insight of a simple circuit, for instance, than the typical engineer.

    And yes, typically, jobs you get with a BS in engineering are very very boring. That's not to say ALL engineering jobs at the BS level are boring, but the majority are. The masters is a better option, but you will likely need to take several undergrad courses first.

    Keep in mind that I am not biased at all, since I am a double major in electrical engineering and physics. Also, I do not think I showed any partiality towards either discipline as I understand that both disciplines are necessary.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2006
  7. Nov 6, 2006 #6
    After some more information gathering, I have found out that one cannot get registered as a Professional Engineer in my province (BC) without a Bachelor degree in engineering. So a Masters wouldn't really help me anyways (my goal being to get PE some day).
  8. Nov 6, 2006 #7
    I would investigate further as that seems to be a strange restriction, that you could be qualified with a bachelor's degree but not a master's. Perhaps there is some appeal procedure to get the master's program recognized as sufficient education.

    I am not even sure that this is true. Engineering, especially electrical, can be even more heavily mathematical and theoretical than physics in some cases. But of course, it's not that way a lot of the time.

    Speaking of BS...
  9. Nov 6, 2006 #8
    I would agree that sometimes engineering can be quite theoretical, but overall engineering is more practical application than theory.
  10. Nov 6, 2006 #9
    There is an examination process that allows non-Canadian university engineering degree holders to prove qualification. But it basically involves re-studying a lot of the math, physics, and relevant engineering material to pass the exam. I don't know if that process applies to master's holders w/o bachelor in engineering. I guess it's worth looking into.
  11. Nov 6, 2006 #10
    In SOME areas. Communication or control theory can be just as theoretical as physics. Regardless, this type of discussion is amateur. No one should go into a field because of how difficult or theoretical it is. You go into a field because you find the material and work interesting, and if it includes more theory, that's what you deal with.

    Also, with regard to your other post, there are a lot of elements that make engineering very difficult. One of the major elements is REAL LIFE. Nature is not kind, and theoretical models are often clumsy in practice. I've learned this first hand this year. This is often forgotten in these "physics vs engineering" topics, but very relevant. It's one thing to construct theoretical models, but circular bridges and lossless lines don't exist in real life.
  12. Nov 6, 2006 #11
    While I don't disagree with this assertion, I'd say that BS level work in physics is just as boring. The fact is, to do novel work in many fields, you need a graduate degree.
  13. Nov 6, 2006 #12
    yes, as I said in my original post engineers attempt to simplify their techniques for solving problems BECAUSE systems get very complicated to deal with!

    I DIDN'T say that physics was harder than engineering! Reread my post more carefully.
  14. Nov 6, 2006 #13
    I didn't say you said physics was harder than engineering. I said the discussion was essentially moot, and added a dimension that I felt was sometimes left out.
  15. Nov 6, 2006 #14
    Yeah, well I didn't say that you said that he said that physics was harder than engineering.
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