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Transfer for Engineering?

  1. Oct 14, 2008 #1


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    I'm a sophomore at William & Mary studying physics and I have realized over the last year or so that what I really want to do is Engineering, namely Civil Engineering.

    Problem is, W & M doesn't have engineering. There is a 4:2 engineering plan with three schools (Columbia, RPI, and WashU St. Louis), but I don't know if that would be my best plan.

    I have a GPA of 3.6, which I think is pretty good for W & M. I have taken up through Multivariable Calc for math and I am currently taking Modern Physics (after taking Physics 1 & 2 last year).

    Question is, would it be advisable for me to transfer into an engineering school for next year and get an undergraduate degree as soon as I can, or to wait and get an engineering degree in grad school (which I know would involve some catch-up)?

    Also, I am currently looking at NC State (at which I would pay a low in-state tuition) Georgia Tech, and Virginia Tech to transfer to.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated...
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 15, 2008 #2


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    I would suggest transferring to an engineering program if you desire to be an engineer. An "engineer" with a physics degree may not have enough applied skills.

    NC State is a good choice.

  4. Oct 15, 2008 #3
    Most engineering programs don't involve engineering courses until the third year. A lot of the courses overlap so right now would be a good time to transfer. I wouldn't wait until you have your BS in physics to transfer as you would have to probably spend a year to so to catch up.
  5. Oct 17, 2008 #4
    At my school (UMass) you begin your engineering courses in your sophomore year, but only two a semester. Take Civil/Environmental sophomore year for example...

    Multivariate Calculus
    Physics II w/Calculus (w/Lab)
    Engineering Economics & Systems Analysis
    General Education Course

    Differential Equations
    Engineering Statistics
    Strength of Materials
    General Education Course
    General Education Course

    So Statics, Eng. Economics, Eng. Statistics, Thermo, and Strengths are all sophomore engineering courses that are pre-requisites for junior level courses in the Civil program. Similar examples exist for the other areas of engineering.
  6. Oct 17, 2008 #5


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    Thanks everyone, but I have a few questions:

    -What is the general difficulty level of freshmen and sophomore engineering courses, compared to, say, physics or multivariable calc? Would I be transferring into a tough academic situation after starting a physics degree here at W&M?

    -Would I be too far behind the rest of engineering students to graduate in 4 years if i transferred for junior year (without doing summer school)? Would my GPA suffer at all being thrown into the engineering course path junior year?

    -Are there many disadvantages of going to a school like NC State, which has lower rankings than places like Va Tech or Georgia Tech in terms of civil engineering? Would it be easier to get a better GPA at NCSU, or does it just have a lower ranking?

    -Does transferring into an engineering program junior year have any significant affect in terms of jobs after earning a degree?

    Again, thanks for the comments!
  7. Oct 17, 2008 #6
    You take the same Calculus sequence for Engineering that you do for Physics. You take Physics I & II w/Calculus as an Engineering student, but the approach is much more applied. If you're doing well in your Calculus and Physics classes, I'm sure you would have no problem with the Engineering work; both require drive, critical thinking, and dedication.

    With engineering you will have the added dynamics of economics, ethics, and more chemistry/biology depending on which field of engineering you choose.

    But like others have said, I think it's wise to choose the field you plan to work in from the start. If you want to be an Engineer, do Engineering. If it means extending your schooling by a year due to "back-stepping", then thats what you should do. Don't try to force your way through without the proper foundation. And what is one more year in the grand scheme of things if you'll be doing something you want to do vs something you don't.

    Good luck.
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