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Switching from Physics to Engineering

  1. Jun 14, 2008 #1
    I am a rising Junior Applied Physics Major and I am thinking of changing my major to some type of engineering (this would require me to stay 5 years). Given that I want to make a well thought through decision about what to do next year, I want to utilize my time that I have this summer to make that decision. I am looking for some advice on what would be a good way to use my time to help me decide whether I want to go to engineering. I have thought about taking some engineering books out of the library (some MechE books and EE books--though I lean toward EE since from freshman year I was debating between physics and EE) and looking through them, but I am not sure this is the best way to go about it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2008 #2
    What is your reason for the switch? Do you mean you would have to stay an extra 5 yrs as opposed to maybe 2 more? If you're looking for good employability with a BS only, then maybe the switch to engineering would be good. If you're good at physics you will be good at engineering.

    If you think you would have to stay an extra 5 yrs, then instead why not tough it out and stay in physics then do a 2 yr MS in engineering after that?

    Check out this thread: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=240235
  4. Jun 15, 2008 #3
    By saying I would need to stay 5 years I mean 5 years total (i.e. I would need to stay 1 extra year).
    I have done well in physics, but I am not sure I enjoy it.
    One of the reasons I am considering switching is that I am not really enjoying physics all that much. I originally came to physics after being inspired by reading books like Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" or Brian Green's "The Elegant Universe" as well as hearing of the attractive strangeness of Quantum Theory and Relativity. (Oddly enough, I didnt like physics in High school but majored in it anyway--my favorite high school subjects were actually Computer Science and Chemistry and I am currently beginning research in computational chemistry/biophysics and enjoying it but I don't think I would like to do it as a career since I would be at a desk all day...which I don't really want to do). I initially came wanting to be a pure theorist; however I have not been satisfied with physics (the only thing that is satisfactory to me from a theoretical standpoint is Mathematics--which is really my favorite academic subject, but I don't want to major only in math essentially because, though I love math, I don't want to work behind a desk all day...I would much rather be doing something hands on...such as building something, which is what I love doing and is what I do in my free time...and choosing math as a carrier would really eliminate that). If I did get my BS in Physics, I am pretty sure I wouldn't want to go to grad school in physics. I like building things and I really liked the electronics class I took this last year, I have always built things (from a half-pipe, to an computer controlled etch-a-sketch --actually I have a website with a few of my projects and maybe it is the best way to explain some of my interests: http://programsandprojects.tripod.com/) and enjoyed it. So, I find there are two things I like: 1)pure abstract theory, such as pure mathematics and 2) hands on work, where I am unconcerned with understanding every detail and, though I want some level of understanding about the theory (how the thing is working), I am more focused on getting something to work. For me, the problem with physics is that it is stuck somewhere in between. It is not as "pure" (theory-wise) a subject as mathematics, and it is not as practical as Engineering. And I think this is part of the reason I don't enjoy physics much: it doesn't hit on either of the things I really like. If I stay an extra year, I may actually double major in math and Engineering (I am currently pretty much right on schedule with a math major). Thanks for the link to the thread, I'll take a look.
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