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Should I be a Nuclear engineer or physicist?

  1. Dec 26, 2014 #1
    Hey anyone,
    I am not all that good at academics and so I'm in a bind. I want to be an engineer, but no way I can transfer into Purdue's main campus, just can't get my gpa up there. I can stay at the calumet branch and get a physics degree, but my love is nuclear energy. I come here because i dont know if i should just keep at it and blow the money i dont have trying to get into the engineer program, or go the other route. Now me not being good in a classroom is what is holding me back, but i can get Bs in physics up through modern physics. But I just retook calc 2 and got D. i know enough multi-variable, diff eq's, and liner, to do a lot of the quantum mechanics and such in the modern physics course, and I'm confident I can get a decent grade in calc three which i havn't taken, because iv done all the homework for the class. So i know the physics degree is within my reach because I'm already in the school. So im looking for advice, because my dream is to be a nuclear engineer, but it looks because of money and time it may be out of my reach. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks everyone.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 27, 2014 #2
    If you did all the homework for Calc 3 why don't you just take it and breeze through it? Or is there some kind of CLEP exam you can take?
     
  4. Dec 27, 2014 #3
    Becoming a nuclear engineer is much more straight-forward than becoming a physicist. If becoming a NE isn't within your reach, then neither is becoming a physicist. Get the engineering degree and minor in physics to your taste. Physicists can't get that 'PE' that is oh so important.
     
  5. Dec 27, 2014 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    Considering that 80% of engineering graduates don't have a PE, it can't be too important. Useful, certainly. Necessary? Most engineers clearly think not. (This agrees with personal observation: out of the dozen or so engineers I work with, two have a PE. Has it helped them? Yes. Are we about to fire the other ten for not having it? No.)
     
  6. Dec 27, 2014 #5
    Are you in the US? My experience has been no PE no job (Canada).
     
  7. Dec 27, 2014 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    I am in the US, as is the OP.
     
  8. Dec 27, 2014 #7
    I'll keep in mind the situation is different in that country for the future. Thanks.
     
  9. Dec 27, 2014 #8

    Astronuc

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    I've encountered similar experience. A PE is required for certain functions, e.g., signing off on drawings and specifications, and usually, construction plans and so on, so it is beneficial.
     
  10. Dec 27, 2014 #9
    I intend on taking calc three anyway, but i dont have the prereq. needed, so i'm talking about getting a temporary override so i can take the course. as to the comment on if i cant get the engineering degree no way i can get the physics, the only thing stopping me from getting the engi, is that my school doesn't offer it and i am not able to transfer into the school that does, but my school does offer a nuclear physics focus that i know i could get with at least Cs and Bs.
     
  11. Dec 28, 2014 #10

    Astronuc

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    I would be concerned about Calc 2 and Calc 3. Upper level physics and engineering classes are usually heavy on calculus, especially the physics. Hopefully, one would strive for something more than Cs and Bs. Is one serious about nuclear engineering? What particular area in nuclear engineering? Nuclear engineering student generally have a core course load that includes nuclear reactor physics, which is really neutron transport physics. Effects of radiation on materials is another aspect. Outside of that much of an NE course is Mech. Eng. and/or Electrical Eng.
     
  12. Dec 28, 2014 #11
    Of course I'll shoot for better grades. But I know my classroom is a bit lacking and I dont know how to really do better. But I know the math load. I have already read almost the entire modern physics book and some of the quantum mechanics class book. Do I know alot of math I dont have class credit for because I havnt taken the classes. But my issue is I can never seem to get better grades than Cs and Bs in classes. But I am definitely driven to learn the material. Also a blanket question. If I get a mechanical degree and a physics with a nuclear focus. Could that open me up to get jobs in the nuclear fields like a NE? Also my dream is working on a fusion project. I don't know if a NE is the right degree for that.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 28, 2014
  13. Dec 28, 2014 #12

    Astronuc

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    Yes - a mechanical engineering degree (with focus on materials and power conversion) with a physics degree (with focus on nuclear) would be a good background in nuclear energy and fusion in lieu of a nuclear engineering degree. Fusion research can focus on two main areas - the plasma (plasma physics and diagnostics) and the rest of the plant from magnetic confinement systems through first wall and the power conversion systems. Those involved in the plasma physics would likely have a physics degree, perhaps with some specialization on plasma and/or nuclear physics, or a nuclear engineering degree.
     
  14. Dec 28, 2014 #13
     
  15. Dec 28, 2014 #14
    Ok thankyou vary much. A combo of money and time is always a limiter, so this has really helped me figure out how to achieve my goals here.
     
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