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Programs Trying to decide between three different fields of study

  1. May 17, 2016 #1
    I have made a similar post to this in the past, but it was a very long time ago, and my perspective on the issue has changed since then, so I felt this post could be helpful. I have just finished my second year of college; during those two years I've nearly completed my Associate's degree in Engineering at my local community college. I plan to take a few more classes (because they are so much cheaper) at CC, and then transfer to a four year university. Here's the problem: Although I have completed most of the necessary coursework for the first two years of an Engineering degree, I am not completely sure that I want to study Engineering. I find that I am genuinely more interested in the material presented to me in my physics and mathematics courses than I am in say a mechanics of materials course. You may be asking yourself, "So why not pursue a degree in physics or mathematics?" I am apprehensive to do so because I am unsure that I will be able to get a job researching/teaching either of those subjects, which is what I would want to do if I obtained degrees in them. With engineering, I am basically guaranteed a well paying job in the part of the country I live in, which is really, really hard to pass up. The question is would it be a job that I would enjoy? So that's my dilemma, do I pursue one of my passions, and possibly throw away a chance at a great job, or take the safer route and possibly end up in a career that I don't enjoy?
    P.S. I have read most of the pinned threads regarding this topic.

    TL;DR: I am unsure of what field of study to pursue: Engineering, Physics, or Mathematics. I have completed the first two years of my engineering education and would like advice on which subject to study when I transfer to a four year university.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 17, 2016 #2
    What were your favorite topics to learn about in your physics and mathematics courses? Did anything strike you as particularly interesting? What didn't you like about mechanics of materials?
  4. May 17, 2016 #3
    I've found most everything that I've learned in my physics courses interesting, but I think it's the subjects I haven't learned that interest me the most. Particle physics, special relativity, etc. As for math, I enjoyed calculus quite a bit, and am excited for differential equations (which I begin in a few weeks). Again, though its the subjects I haven't learned that are more interesting to me. Group theory, Chaos theory, etc. I think I didn't care for mechanics of materials because the physics isn't particularly interesting, and I didn't find that the strength/weakness of most materials is determined by the modulus of rigidity and the modulus of elasticity, and the type of load/stress they are put under. More simply put, it didn't excite me, nor did it make me want to pursue learning the subject any further, which is something I can't say about math or physics.
  5. May 17, 2016 #4
    You say you're excited by topics you didn't learn, but how do you know you like them? There are topics in engineering that you haven't learned, why aren't you as excited about them? Also, mechanics of materials is not representative of all engineering. I'm an electrical engineer--I despise mechanics of materials (though I do know that, at the research level, it is very mathematically complex!)

    The concepts you see in your first two physics courses you will see every year in any physics education. So, is there anything in particular that made you stop and think "this is an interesting topic"?
  6. May 18, 2016 #5
    That is the question, indeed. It's tough to answer because a career in engineering is very different from the academic coursework you've taken. Further, the tasks and duties carried out by engineers vary wildly from employer to employer. You really, really need to do an internship. Not only will this help answer your question, but it gets your foot in the door of a potential employer.
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