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What to do with my life?

  1. Apr 28, 2014 #1
    I am 17 year old student currently doing the first year of my IB diploma in Africa. in the entirety of my life all my subjects were one's that will orient me towards a future in a scientific field which I often argued with my father about. I am highly interested in mathematics and physics and am insanely fond about the coming singularity and the new technology that will emerge and forever change our world. Throughout most of my life my aim was to become a theoretical physicist as I thoroughly enjoyed ideas of novel futuristic devices that I often saw in Sci-fi movies believing that physicists were the originators of most of the technology we see in the world today this notion backed up by the fact that I would frequently watch numerous interviews of Dr. Michio Kaku's and notice how he portrayed physicists such as himself in such a great light. But then, my father had a really enlightening talk with me about how physicists are no longer as required as before and he'd prefer that I choose a more lucrative field like medicine as 'physics is running down the drain'.The thing is I am looking for a field in science which is very promising and that would surely thrust the earth closer towards the alleged singularity, but that as well pays and in itself is highly interesting. I hope I am not asking for too much and it would be really ecstatic if someone gave me some good options.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 28, 2014 #2

    Pythagorean

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    Neuroscience ^_^
     
  4. Apr 28, 2014 #3

    StatGuy2000

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    To the OP:

    Since you stated that you are interested in mathematics and physics, along with an interest in technology, have you thought about possibly studying engineering (e.g. electrical or mechanical engineering, chemical engineering)? All engineering disciplines require a decent background in math and physics, and they are quite lucrative as well.
     
  5. Apr 28, 2014 #4
    But I was thinking along the lines of nanotechnology or artificial intelligence, I just don't know how interesting those fields really are.
     
  6. Apr 28, 2014 #5

    psparky

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    Money makes the world go round. My daddy told me that when I was 5 years old.

    I have seen nothing since then to tell me he was wrong.

    Go for the fields in high demand like elec and mech engineering. These field pay and jobs are a plenty.

    It's ok to dream at age 17......but again, money matters!!!!

    Before I got my elec engineering degree, I used to burn, blow up or smoke anything I tried to wire.
    Now, with my education, I now wire some of the biggest factories in the world. (only 2 are currently on fire...lol....kidding)
     
  7. Apr 28, 2014 #6
    Where do you get that idea from? Electrical engineering shed 10% of existing jobs last year and is expected to grow slower than average over the next ten years (per the bureau of labor statistics). I go to an engineering fair every quarter along with some young electrical engineering students and there are not many people looking for EE, there are some, but not many.

    I would agree that those job and career prospects are better than pure science and research prospects, but I would not call them high demand.
     
  8. Apr 28, 2014 #7

    psparky

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    Workin in Northern Ohio over past 5 years, there are plenty of jobs in this area. My company wishes they could find more good people. I don't pay much attention to statistics, just reality.
     
  9. Apr 28, 2014 #8

    Meir Achuz

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    If you are really good in math, do physics. There are enough jobs to do what you love.
    If you don't, you will look back in future years with regret. You only have one life, live it.
    Beware of practical advice. I am a physicist, and my only regret is that I spent four years in EE before
    physics grad school.
     
  10. Apr 28, 2014 #9

    psparky

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    Wow! Amazing how opinions vary!!!

    That typically brings the age old question...."what would YOU do?"
     
  11. Apr 28, 2014 #10

    MathematicalPhysicist

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    Do it all... :tongue::cool::zzz:
     
  12. Apr 29, 2014 #11

    StatGuy2000

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    First of all, where are you located? And at the engineering fair you attend, what are the most high-demand fields, besides petroleum?

    I am located in Canada and electrical engineers are in high demand (I see many job postings for electrical engineers, both entry-level and experienced).
     
  13. Apr 29, 2014 #12

    Pythagorean

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    My impressions is that, compared to most physics disciplines, most engineering disciplines are a job gold mine. EE may have lost 10% job market, but has it come close to the bleakness of the physics job market?
     
  14. Apr 29, 2014 #13

    jim hardy

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    perhaps the world is getting saturated with electronic computer gizmos and consumer toys

    but power is alive and well

    and you can't offshore the electric grid.

    Well, i dont know where in Africa you live or how developed it is there.
    When i was a freshman way back in (19)64
    i sat in math class next to a young fellow from Saudi Arabia.
    He told me he had a genuine desire to go back and help his country build its electric grid infrastructure. He said much of the country was very poor ... remember this was 50 years ago.....

    I thought he was a pretty noble fellow.

    Progress toward "singularity" happens when people are freed from the toils of everyday existence so have time to devote to it. To that end, anyone who contributes toward bettering his country's living standards is making a contribution, however humble it may be.
     
  15. Apr 29, 2014 #14
    Petroleum? Im in the pacific north west. The demand seemed the greatest for software developers, IT and maybe civil engineering.

    Let me just reiterate I did see some demand for EE (and a little more for ME) and I do think there are more career options with it than with any pure science degree (of which there was no demand, not surprisingly, at an engineering fair). But I do not get the impression, from the fair, the two EE teachers I've had, job postings and labor statistics, that it is in "high" demand. The caveat is always "skilled" or "good" engineers needed which in my experience translates into non-entry level with years of experience or cream of the crop graduate.
     
  16. Apr 29, 2014 #15

    psparky

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    You are correct sir. It is always tough starting out......commencement means "the beginning". Some guys get hired right out of school....some do not.
    The guys that seemlessly enter the work force ussually have an internship going.

    I remember walking thru one of those job fairs senior year. It was tough, like I was invisible....so I feel ya there.

    Personally, because of my background and job market back in 2004, I took a job as a construction superintendent for 5 years because I couldn't get a job as engineer. Didn't love it at the time, but it turned out to be a good thing. Job market shifted and needed newer engineers....bada bing, bada boom, now I'm an experienced engineer with commercial construction background and all is good.

    We all gotta pay our dues one way or another.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2014
  17. Apr 29, 2014 #16

    Choppy

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    Hi genius01,

    You're in some pretty good company. This kind of question comes up often and tends to spark a lot of debate. On one hand you have an interest in physics in popular media, but on the other you have your parents arguing for practicality.

    The first thing to point out is that if you decide to study physics, what you are doing is furthering your education in a specific academic field and this is not necessarily training for a specific vocation. Fields like engineering and medicine have professions associated with them and therefore studies in those fields translate more directly into careers on graduation.

    Physics *can* lead to a career in academia, but the probability is low and the majority of people who start out studying physics end up doing other things. The statistics suggest that they end up doing reasonably well financially compared to all other majors (look up the AIP data for example).

    All of that said, there are a lot of options for someone with interests in nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. On the nanotech side of things you could look at programs in material science, physical chemistry, engineering physics or even specialized "nanotechnology" programs. On the artificial intelligence side there is computer science, computer engineering or neuroscience.

    If you're not sure what to do, one option is to aim to simply enter a general science or engineering program for your first year of university. Then take the courses that interest you and make your decision once you've had the opportunity to learn a little more about each field.
     
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