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Programs Some questions about program(s) I want to take

  1. Apr 2, 2016 #1
    Good day everyone,

    I have some questions I would like to ask you, I think there will be somebody who will be knowledgeable about things I am interested in.
    So my intentions are as follow:
    I want to finish MEng degree at my university (which I am yet to take on). And after that I want to undergo specialization in Nuclear Physics/Engineering (Energy), it is not necessarily required to be Phd program (well I would prefer it not to be, because it usually takes quite a time to complete it (I am obsessed with time conservation)). I want to be involved into "real" nuclear studies (by that I mean, whole "behind the scenes" workings in nuclei and understanding how it works). As for my own personal reasons I want university to be "prestigious" (please, don't judge me, there are circumstances for this) like: "Cambridge", "Oxford" (well it is not best for technical sciences, but it serves as example), "MIT", "Caltech" and so on (well it is not must, but I would really prefer it). As for my grades, they are top notch in all subjects and I have additional knowledge in all physics/chemistry related subjects ("getting in" and high marks are not a problem).

    So far I am considering studying Nuclear Energy in Cambridge university to pursue MPhil title, but I am wavering because I am not sure if these studies will provide as in depth outlook into the subject as I want, though what is good - that MPhil studies takes only 11 months (I know, load may be quite big, but it does not concern me). Later on, you may continue for Phd if you wish.

    As next option I am considering Nuclear Physics course for Phd title in Edinburgh university. Probably the biggest drawback is 3 years of studies/research (I know many others take way longer, but that's why I am barely considering them). And I have a question for this case: As nuclear physicist with Phd, will I be on par with nuclear engineer (considering knowledge application in technology) ? Plus I don't know if I consider Edinburgh university as "prestigious"...

    And what's the difference between Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Engineering(or Nuclear Physics (I know main difference between Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Engineering studies though (or I think I do))) studies ?

    I know this post of mine may seem offending in some ways. But please do not disregard it.
    Thank you for your time. Waiting for offers/answers.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 3, 2016 #2


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    It sounds like you have some confusion on what you really want to do.

    First, it might help to articulate a little more about the specific problems you have an interest in with respect to nuclear physics. "Behind the scenes workings in nuclei" is pretty vague.

    Second, you seem overly concerned with prestige - to the point where this appears to be a more significant concern than the quality or even topic of your education. I can understand pressures from family etc. to go to a big name school of course. But it's very easy to fall into a trap of aiming for something that sounds like it's going to impress others, but get yourself into a commitment doing work you have no real interest in. Instead, it's important to spend time researching the field you're actually interested in and the specific problems that are being worked on in it. The point is that rather than optimizing a problem based on someone else's criteria, you optimize the problem based on the criteria that are unique to you. This will help you to choose a PhD project that you can really dig into and learn the most from, and it will make you a more productive student.

    Third, it sounds like you're in a major hurry to get finished. Unfortunately with a PhD, it's a considerable time investment. The UK system seems to be shorter, but I think that's because in their system you do advanced coursework (graduate coursework in the US system) as an undergrad or master's student and with the PhD you dive right into a research project, where as in the US, you more typically do the coursework, comprehensive exam, and then get into the research project. And the point isn't to get through as fast as possible. The point is to become the best scientist you can become.

    With respect to the fields themselves (nuclear engineering vs physics), I think there's a fair amount of overlap. On the physics side, you're probably more focussed on problems directly related to the fission or fusion processes themselves, whereas as an engineer, you're a little more tangential - looking at the processes that support, confine or extract energy from the reactions.
  4. Apr 3, 2016 #3
    I am really glad that you posted this post as I would suspect most of the people would assume same as you did.

    Okay, so for the starters I would like to say a word about research project and specification on the "inner workings of nuclei".
    I really do enjoy physics, fission, fusion or even quantum, I love them all, I won't be studying(or doing research on) something I don't like, obviously.

    Well you were right about family pressure, but lets not dig into that. And talking about time investment, of course I am aware that you shouldn't be wanting "short" programs to take on, but I am (very) confident that I could manage to fit in short period of (extreme) intense course to gain deeper outlook in subject (I was thinking about fission related study, even though most of people are screaming FUSION all the way for the future). So I want to gain same knowledge during shorter period of time (if that makes sense) as I am planning to take on for additional course after finishing nuclear one (that would even further support my competence in that field).

    So my point was: does someone know any course/program that would satisfy my needs ?

    Oh and I'll take it a bit off topic. I wrote in the thread that I know how Nuclear Engineering/Physics differs (well, you cleared that up anyway, so thank you), but I am more interested to know where does Nuclear Energy studies stand (talking about Cambridge course choice here), from what I read, I understand that they are much like Nuclear Engineering course, not sure though. And from what you did write I assume nuclear physicist won't be as competent (looking trough technological prism here) as nuclear engineer in jobs market.

    Sorry for all that vague writing, not yet comfortable to lay down everything for anyone who passes by, trying to keep it as general as possible.
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