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To Physics or to Engineer?

  1. Nov 9, 2014 #1
    Hello everyone!
    I'm a junior at the University of Michigan, currently on a path to double major in Physics and Astronomy, which would be followed by grad school for a Ph.d in astrophysics (if all goes well). My entire life I thought I wanted to be an astrophysicist, but I'm beginning to become more unsure by the day. The reason for this is that I've been involved in black hole research for the last year; while it's incredibly interesting, I don't see research as something I can be passionate about as a career. It seems to me that research is a LARGE part of astrophysics, not only in grad school, but as a career as well. Also, I'm not sure I can commit to how long grad school will take.
    What are other career options in astrophysics if any?
    I'm interested in telescopes. I find anything to do with light extremely interesting. So, who works on creating telescopes, all kinds? I feel that if I want to be able to design or create space related equipment, a degree in engineering would be helpful. Engineering would also not require a ph.d in the field in order to be employable.
    Any opinions over the matter would be helpful!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2014 #2
    Sounds like reality is knocking on your door!

    I don't think it is quite fair to say it is a LARGE part of astrophysics, but rather, I think you should say that is the whole thing, the entirety of astrophysics. What else do you see as part of astrophysics? Any products for sale? Any services to offer?

    I don't know who makes telescopes, but somebody does, and I can assure you that is an engineering effort. Many years ago, when I was a student, I knew another student who worked for UT-Austin on the design of a new telescope for their McDonald observatory, and that person was a mechanical engineering student at the time.

    I suggest that you make some inquiries, scout around for who makes optical equipment. What about folks who make the equipment in every ophthalmologist's office?
  4. Nov 9, 2014 #3
    Well, I know that astrophysicists can be professors as well, however, this also entails research, which is why I said "LARGE part of astrophysics." I think that astrophysicists may also have other side opportunities such as advocacy and such, I've just never seen it so I wondered...

    But yes, it seems like engineering will lead me to what I actually would like to do.
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