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Sick of brainwashing myself into liking computer science

  1. Nov 25, 2012 #1

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    So it seems like the most popular career choice for physics major is software development, perhaps because of its gigantic industry, but I hate computer programming. I am taking the easiest computer science course at my university, and although I am getting good marks, I hate every bit of weekly assignments. I do understand that many jobs require little bit of programming and that is tolerable or even enjoyable, but if I spend most of my time at work on programming, I will hate my job.

    Hence I am looking forward to getting engineering jobs. I mean, I LOVE LABS!!! I plan on taking almost every single lab courses offered at my university - electronics, optics, nuclear physics, solid state physics etc., amounting to 11 semeter courses.

    But then I am like, why don't I just do engineering? Well, at my university, engineering don't get to take many arts electives because of schedule conflict. Plus I have to repeat my entire first year, wasting about $7000.

    So my question is, how likely is it for a BSc in Physics (or possibly PhD) with substantial lab experiences to get a job in industry in which I can apply my lab experinces? Is the job prospect as good as that of CS majors or engineering grads?

    Thanks a lot in advance! :)
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 25, 2012 #2
    Short answer: NOT as good as an engineering graduate. You have to get past the Human Resources people and they're not very smart about understanding what you actually did in college, because in essence, they're really not doing anything different from when we used to call them personnel clerks.

    I suggest joining some professional societies such as IEEE, ISA, AiChE, etc. This can help get your foot in the door and get some networking to happen. You'll need it to bypass the HR trolls.
     
  4. Nov 26, 2012 #3

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    Thanks for the comment JakeBrodskyPE.

    Hmm, so I would have to decide between

    A) finish BSc in physics then go to a graduate school in engineering
    B) repeat first year as an engineering undergraduate
    C) get another undergrad degree in engineering

    I leaning towards option A, but then I am not sure how P.Eng qualification matters in industry. I talked to my advisor and he told me that, if I don't graduate with an engineering degree, then I need to go back to school to take several required undergrad engineering courses. So basically I will have to spend 3+ years.

    I am so torned :S
     
  5. Nov 26, 2012 #4

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    Or I can compliment physics studies with statistics. I know that a physics major who took some prorgramming courses or even self-taught can easily get a job in software development. But I am not sure if a physics major who self-teaches a lot of statistics will be able to get a job in data mining. (Statsguy2000 help!!!)
     
  6. Nov 26, 2012 #5
    You could do VERY well going for a graduate degree in Engineering. Another route is a Bachelor's degree in engineering. I know someone from my class who did just that.
     
  7. Nov 26, 2012 #6
    This is totally a function of what branch of engineering you are talking about. It ranges from critical (civil) to unimportant (computer).

    It never hurts though.
     
  8. Nov 26, 2012 #7
    I wouldn't say it quite that way. Anything you stamp as a registered professional engineer you are personally liable for. Too many people see this stamp as a mark of competence. I wish that were true. It merely means you have been exposed to the issues and that you are supposed to know what the responsibilities are.

    If you screw up, you're on the hook to fix it and you could potentially be liable for any injuries or deaths that result.

    So, yes, getting that stamp can hurt if you use it. If you get it, you would be wise to either never use it, or to get professional liability insurance.
     
  9. Nov 26, 2012 #8

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    OMG thanks everyone!!!

    so if I am almost certain that I want to land on an (mechanical) engineering job, I'd rather get an engineering degree then might shoot for graduate school? that's whay my advisor told me. I am interested in particle physics, but then I am not sure if I need to take thermal physics or E&M, other than obvious prerequsites like statistical mechanics or differential equations
     
  10. Nov 27, 2012 #9
    @set Software Development may have hot jobs right now, but it's not like you have to choose your career in that path just because of that. Work in the area you're interested in.
     
  11. Nov 27, 2012 #10

    StatGuy2000

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    Hi there. Many jobs that are out there with respect to data mining often don't always strictly require a degree in statistics -- those with a math, applied math, physics, engineering, or a computer science background can often do land a job in this field, so long as they demonstrate an understanding of statistics and have at least some understanding of data mining (e.g. discriminant analysis, cluster analysis, logistic regression, time series analysis, etc.), and is reasonably comfortable doing some programming.

    Certainly self-teaching yourself statistics or taking courses in statistics (to the equivalent of a minor or even a double major, if you so choose) can help you. Another option (similar to your engineering plan) is to a pursue a graduate degree in statistics after finishing your undergrad in physics.

    At any rate, the key thing in landing a data mining job (as in any job) is in networking and marketing yourself and your skills. Go to career fairs, talk to people, or set up a LinkedIn account and join discussion groups in statistics or data mining. All these should help you put your foot in the door, so to speak.
     
  12. Nov 27, 2012 #11
    I meant that it can't hurt you in terms of getting a job, it can only be a benefit.

    Once you *have* a job though... :smile:
     
  13. Dec 7, 2012 #12

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    Would you recommend to concentrate on one aspect of data mining (like time series analysis) or should I possess a broad knowledge, if I can't afford time to do both?

    I really appreciate all the resourceful information you have provided.
     
  14. Dec 7, 2012 #13

    StatGuy2000

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    I would suggest for you to acquire a broad understanding in data mining instead of focusing on just one aspect, as most data mining jobs that are out there will involve multiple methods (you could be doing cluster analysis one moment, logistic regression the next, time series at another on another project).

    Now if you decide you want to pursue a PhD in statistics, then obviously you can focus on a specific research area for your dissertation, but during the course of your study you should still be able to acquire a broad knowledge in the field.
     
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