What kind of engineering jobs could I get with a physics major?

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I'm not majoring in engineering, so do not suggest it. I know it is possible to get an engineering job with a physics major. Here are a few minors (not exhaustive) I am considering: Mechanical Engineering, Architecture, Construction Management Technology

I know it might be a little "bass-ackwards," but I think the job I would want to do most right out of college is some kind of engineering, unless I could find another technical job that is more appealing and so forth. Houston is the energy capital of the world, and NASA is just right down the street.

Here a few engineering jobs I'd consider (again, not exhaustive): Civil, Materials Science, Mechanical

Basically, I know what I want academically, I just want a little bit of direction professionally.
 

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  • #2
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I honestly dont know if a civil firm would hire you with only a civil minor. The ones I talked to did not really want to hire any mechanical majors.

You could probably find a job doing mechanical work on HVAC systems.
 
  • #3
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I honestly dont know if a civil firm would hire you with only a civil minor. The ones I talked to did not really want to hire any mechanical majors.

You could probably find a job doing mechanical work on HVAC systems.
The only engineering minor UH has is Mechanical Engineering.

Working on HVAC systems doesn't sound too appealing. Heh.
 
  • #4
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Working on HVAC systems doesn't sound too appealing. Heh.
:rofl: Yeah, but without a full mechanical engineering degree I dont know how far a minor would get you. You could take the FE exam and pass it. That would look good to a company. But I honestly dont know what skills you would have as a physics major in the ME world.

Do you do any of the following? Heat transfer (w/ME applications), Thermodynamics (not-statistical thermo (not necessary), controls, circuit theory, FEA analysis, CAD/ProE/Solid Works/Fluent/Gambit, mechanical vibrations, fluid mechanics, materials.

If you are doing things like particle physics, astro-physics, and things of the like, you will not be very marketable to an engineering firm.
 
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  • #5
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:rofl: Yeah, but without a full mechanical engineering degree I dont know how far a minor would get you. You could take the FE exam and pass it. That would look good to a company. But I honestly dont know what skills you would have as a physics major in the ME world.

Do you do any of the following? Heat transfer (w/ME applications), Thermodynamics (not-statistical thermo (not necessary), controls, circuit theory, FEA analysis, CAD/ProE/Solid Works/Fluent/Gambit, mechanical vibrations, fluid mechanics, materials.

If you are doing things like particle physics, astro-physics, and things of the like, you will not be very marketable to an engineering firm.
Well, I'm still in college, obviously, but the courses in my physics major are not applied courses. If I did the ME minor, it would have a thermo class, fluid mechanics, mechanics, etc. - a good 18 hours of ME courses. I understand engineering is applied physics, but there has to be something I could do with the physics major that I could learn on the job, having conceptually passed the engineering courses.
 
  • #6
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Get a degree in Applied Physics and a minor in engineering.
 
  • #7
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Get a degree in Applied Physics and a minor in engineering.
UH doesn't offer that. I'm a bit limited in my choices.
 
  • #8
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Damn....Id really say applied physics if you want to be marketable.
 
  • #9
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Closest engineering I can get is an EE job. My school's physics curriculum includes quite a bit of physics-electronics courses. is. advanced physics lab (circuits lab), electrodynamics, digital/analog electronics, solid states
 
  • #10
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I majored in applied physics a long time ago and have been working as an engineer for, hmmm, lets just say a long time. A strong background in physics, math, computer science, and mechanical engineering courses have more than helped me get by.

In addition to your minor, you will have some choices in your junior/senior year physics classes. As most engineering is applied classical mechanics, upper level classical mechanics classes will be much more beneficial than advanced quantum mechanics classes (unless you plan on going into EE, that is). Hands-on work, e.g., tough advanced physics lab courses, will help too.

A lot of engineers have to program computers nowadays. Truth be told, as a group, mechanical engineers are incredibly lousy programmers. Some computer science classes, particularly those that deal with data structures, algorithms, and numerical analysis will be very beneficial. A good software engineering class (UHCL has quite a few, I don't know about UH main campus) will also help.

As a physics major you will have to take a lot of math classes. Physicists need to know about Green's Theorem and such. Green is just a color to most engineers. Take numerical analysis classes instead if you have a choice

Nowadays a masters degree is an essential to getting a good job. You can use your undergraduate physics degree as a stepping stone for an engineering masters degree or PhD, if you want to go that far.
 
  • #11
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I majored in applied physics a long time ago and have been working as an engineer for, hmmm, lets just say a long time. A strong background in physics, math, computer science, and mechanical engineering courses have more than helped me get by.

In addition to your minor, you will have some choices in your junior/senior year physics classes. As most engineering is applied classical mechanics, upper level classical mechanics classes will be much more beneficial than advanced quantum mechanics classes (unless you plan on going into EE, that is). Hands-on work, e.g., tough advanced physics lab courses, will help too.

A lot of engineers have to program computers nowadays. Truth be told, as a group, mechanical engineers are incredibly lousy programmers. Some computer science classes, particularly those that deal with data structures, algorithms, and numerical analysis will be very beneficial. A good software engineering class (UHCL has quite a few, I don't know about UH main campus) will also help.

As a physics major you will have to take a lot of math classes. Physicists need to know about Green's Theorem and such. Green is just a color to most engineers. Take numerical analysis classes instead if you have a choice

Nowadays a masters degree is an essential to getting a good job. You can use your undergraduate physics degree as a stepping stone for an engineering masters degree or PhD, if you want to go that far.
Yes, I know this. I think I might need to change my electives up a bit by adding a computer science/programming course. If you're curious, here are the math and physics courses in my degree plan:

MATH 1431. Calculus I
MATH 1432. Calculus II
PHYS 1321. University Physics I
PHYS 1121. Physics Laboratory I
MATH 2431. Linear Algebra
MATH 2433. Calculus III
PHYS 1322 and 1122. University Physics II and Physics Laboratory II
MATH 3331. Differential Equations
PHYS 3315. Modern Physics I
MATH 3335. Vector Analysis
PHYS 3110. Advanced Laboratory Analysis
PHYS 3113. Advanced Laboratory I
PHYS 3316. Modern Physics II
PHYS 3309. Intermediate Mechanics
MATH 3363. Introduction to Partial Differential Equations
PHYS 3114. Advanced Laboratory II
PHYS 3327. Thermal Physics
MATH 3364. Introduction to Complex Analysis. Free Elective, Minor Course
PHYS 4321. Intermediate Electromagnetic Theory
PHYS 3312 and PHYS 3112. Modern Optics and Modern Optics Laboratory.
PHYS 4356. Introduction to Particle Physics.PHYS 2340. Science of Sound.
PHYS 1305. Introductory Astronomy – The Solar System.
PHYS 4322. Intermediate Electromagnetic Theory
PHYS 4337. Introduction to Solid State Physics.
PHYS 1306. Introduction to Astronomy – Stellar and Galactic Systems.
PHYS 3305. Introduction to Astrophysics.
 
  • #12
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A lot of engineers have to program computers nowadays. Truth be told, as a group, mechanical engineers are incredibly lousy programmers. Some computer science classes, particularly those that deal with data structures, algorithms, and numerical analysis will be very beneficial. A good software engineering class (UHCL has quite a few, I don't know about UH main campus) will also help.

As a physics major you will have to take a lot of math classes. Physicists need to know about Green's Theorem and such. Green is just a color to most engineers. Take numerical analysis classes instead if you have a choice
I don't know about your time, but nowadays, my university does offer programming in C++ for engineering students as an essential module, and I've seen textbooks for some courses titled "C+ for Engineering" or something like that. And the mechanical aspects of Green's theorem (how to use it and when) is taught as a first-year, first-sem course for engineering majors. I know this because I took the clas.
 
  • #13
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Well, guys, I just looked over my degree plan and everything. Of course, I only have a limited number of free electives and there are physics courses I definitely want to take as electives, so I might as well minor in math. I'll have 25 hours with only the required courses - 28 with the Intro. to Complex Analysis course.
 
  • #14
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This question has been answered before, look at different posts. The engineering degree exists for a reason (to train people to do engineering). There are too many engineering graduates for you to compete with as a physics grad. Double major, or do engineering with a minor in physics if you want a job.
 
  • #15
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This question has been answered before, look at different posts. The engineering degree exists for a reason (to train people to do engineering). There are too many engineering graduates for you to compete with as a physics grad. Double major, or do engineering with a minor in physics if you want a job.
That is not my experience unless you want to do something that requires a license.

I work at an aerospace company in the US.

1) The Quality Engineer on our project has a physics degree (BS).

2) One of our hardware engineers has a physics degree (BS).

3) One of our algorthm engineers has a physics degree (BS).

4) One of our control engineers has a physics degree (MS).

In other words, in my company there is lots of opportunity for physics majors if you are a US citizen.
 
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  • #16
Dr Transport
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My physics degrees have done me well in the aerospace industry.
 
  • #17
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Aerospace industry?

Hey Dr. Transport,

i'm wondering, what kind of skills can you bring to the aerospace industyr w/ ur degree? I'm really interested in space exploration, but could my physics degree allow me to go into soethign liek that?
 
  • #18
Dr Transport
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Hey Dr. Transport,

i'm wondering, what kind of skills can you bring to the aerospace industyr w/ ur degree? I'm really interested in space exploration, but could my physics degree allow me to go into soethign liek that?
My background is in electrical and oprical prpoerties of semiconductors. I work with our optical labs in th edevelopment of better measurement techniques.

If you wan tto do space exploration, I cannot see any reason why not, engineers do have the only inroad to NASA.
 

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