Thinking of switching from engineering to physics

In summary, the person feels let down by their choice of undergraduate major and is considering switching to a Math and Physics double honours.
  • #1
Convuler
4
0
Hi all,

Lately I've been feeling pretty let down by my choice of undergrad. I had always planned on ending up in physics, but I chose to go to Engineering Science (Engineering Physics essentially) at U of Toronto with the idea that I could end up in physics anyway (you specialize in your third year and can pick physics).

It turns out with taking so many courses (6 a semester) and especially some being things I'm just not interested in (structures, several communication courses, economic analysis in later years, etc) that I'm finding it hard to stay motivated (though my marks are fine about ~3.6 gpa). There are certain courses like my Calculus I & II or Classical Mechanics where I just love to study and could work on problems all night, but then the others as I said not so much.

People that go through the program traditionally go into grad school afterwards which is what I want, but I'm not sure any more if it really has any advantage over a regular physics path. As well I can't help but feel that my gpa could be higher if I were to go into pure physics.

There will be a lot more physics-related courses in my second year, but along with it several courses again that I would probably not choose to take had I just done pure physics. I kind of feel like this might be a "the grass is always greener on the other side" kind of situation. Also transferring to Physics would likely mean having to take summer courses or an extra year or something as we don't have a Physics II course (waves, qm, ...) until the second year.

I guess I'm looking for input from people that have been through similar situations, general advice, whatever you think!
 
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  • #2
I'm going to go ahead and ask you what I am sure you will be asked shortly, have you thought about how competitive the job market is for a Physics major compared to an Engineering major?
 
  • #3
I guess I'm not familiar with the Canadian education system, but to me it seems like if you prefer physics, then you should've switched long ago. If you really did enjoy mechanics and calculus as opposed to the other engineering-only courses, then switch.
 
  • #4
I had similar thoughts and started as an engineering major. After taking the calc/physics sequence and a few intro engineering courses I knew I would not be happy in engineering. The first day of my sophomore year I changed my major and haven't looked back. I believe physics was the right choice for me...
 
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  • #5
Hey guys thanks for the replies. I think I am going to switch to a Math and Physics double honours. Truthfully as to employment I don't really consider that a deciding factor any more. I would rather enjoy what I do, and having half of my courses be in engineering is not in line with that - hence my decision.

Thanks again!
 

Related to Thinking of switching from engineering to physics

1. What is the main difference between engineering and physics?

The main difference between engineering and physics is that engineering focuses on the practical application of scientific principles to design and create useful products, while physics focuses on understanding the fundamental laws and principles that govern the natural world. In other words, engineering is more focused on the "how" while physics is more focused on the "why".

2. What skills do I need to have to switch from engineering to physics?

To switch from engineering to physics, you will need to have a strong foundation in mathematics, critical thinking, and problem-solving. You will also need to have a strong interest in understanding the fundamental laws and principles of the natural world, as well as the ability to think abstractly and creatively.

3. Will my engineering background be helpful in studying physics?

Yes, your engineering background will be helpful in studying physics. Many concepts and principles in physics, such as mechanics and thermodynamics, are also applicable in engineering. Your problem-solving and critical thinking skills developed in engineering will also be useful in understanding and solving complex physics problems.

4. Are there any specific career paths for someone with a background in both engineering and physics?

Yes, there are many potential career paths for someone with a background in both engineering and physics. Some examples include working in research and development for technology or energy companies, pursuing a career in academia, or working in government agencies such as NASA or the Department of Energy.

5. Is it common for engineers to switch to physics?

While it may not be as common as other career transitions, it is not uncommon for engineers to switch to physics. Many engineers find that they have a strong interest in understanding the fundamental principles behind the technologies they work with, which leads them to pursue a career in physics. Additionally, the skills and knowledge gained in engineering can be applied to various fields within physics.

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