Which Degree Should I Choose for a Career in Applied Science or Engineering?

In summary, the speaker is seeking advice on which degree to pursue in order to work in applied science or engineering. They are considering mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, materials science and engineering, and physics, and are unsure of which would be the best fit. The main concern is whether an engineering degree would provide enough understanding of the underlying physics, and whether a physics degree would be too general. They are also considering postgraduate degrees and looking for universities with good industry placement opportunities.
  • #1
AlexTheParticle
228
1
Hey guys :)
I'm back with another post, as I've done some more thinking and research since the previous one, and I am in need of more advice. I'd like to get my application in as early as possible, so I need to make a decision at some point ^^.
I'm pretty sure that I want to work in applied science/ engineering, not sure which field though, maybe things like aerospace, automotive, biomedical engineering, electronics, computing, robotics, nanotechnology or something to do with environmental/ water quality.

I'm currently taking classes in maths, physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and I love all of them, but I probably like my science classes more. What I don't particularly like in our engineering classes is the more "technical" things, like how to choose screws and stuff like that, but I really enjoy learning how things work.
My hobbies involve drawing, a bit of computer programming, playing video games, watching science lectures online and reading books (scientific and also fiction), if this is of any help ^^.

The degrees I'm considering are :

- Mechanical engineering : I like my mechanical engineering classes, though I find them a lot harder than physics, but that may have something to do with the way we're taught things (no explanation, just here's what you have to do, and you'll have to be able to do the same thing on the test). I really liked the class we did on cars, and how friction and air resistance affects the amount of fuel a car needs to run, especially since we were calculating forces and stuff, so it really felt like an applied physics class.

- Electrical engineering : I also like my electrical engineering classes, and I find them a bit less confusing than the ME classes, except when it comes to circuit analysis. I can handle small circuits, but I get lost when I'm given bigger circuits with more components, so that's something I need to work on. So far we've had more applied math than applied physics, whereas it's the opposite in ME. I could work in optical electronincs/ communications and semiconductors, which apply some areas of physics I enjoy.

- Materials science and engineering : this degree seems to have more science than the other engineering disciplines mentioned, and it also involves some chemistry, which I like. Materials science can be applied to any industry (which is part of what appeals to me), but are there a lot of companies that hire MSE graduates ? Also can someone give me any insight into what you do in a materials science degree (are there a lot of labs, how much physics is there ...) ?

- Physics : I love my physics classes, and I think I would enjoy studying the sujbect at university. But as I mentioned earlier, I want to work in applied science, so I would be getting a masters in something like engineering, material science, geophysics etc afterwards, and possibly a PhD. The advantage of this is that I would have more time to think about what exactly I want to do, as a physics degree is quite general and opens doors to many things at postgraduate level. Also, physics degrees are more flexible than engineering degrees (which are very rigid in structure in the UK), so I would be able to take more electives in other subjects, especially if I go to Scotland.
But I feel like I might be better of with an engineering degree given that I want to work in an applied field. Any advice on this? Do employers mind if my undergraduate degree is in physics, even though I will have a masters in something more relevant to the job ?

Basically, I want to work in applied science or engineering. An engineering degree seems to be the most straightforward way to get there (I'm leaning more towards mechanical engineering), but I think I might enjoy studying physics more. From various things I've been reading on UK forums and some of the replies to my previous post, it would seem that at least some universities don't really bother with the underlying physics in an engineering degree, and focus on teaching you how to design things. I want to learn the physics as well as be able to design things, which is making me reconsider a degree in engineering. If anyone has had a different experience at a UK university and disagrees with what I've said above (I may well be wrong), please enlighten me ^^.

Also, I could do a postgraduate degree in many different things after a Bsc in physics, so I wouldn't have to make a decision right now, and I will be able to take more electives than in an engineering degree. I feel like a degree in physics is more flexible and less "specialised" (I know engineering is very broad as a subject, this is just how I feel ^^).
BTW, I'm looking at universities that have a good record of getting placements in industry for physics students or even have a year in industry integrated into the degree, so I can get work experience in applied science before I graduate. My main worry with a physics degree + a masters in applied science/ engineering, is that employers would rather hire someone with a Beng instead.

Thanks in advance for any advice you can give me and have a nice day :)
 
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  • #2


Dear fellow scientist,

It's great to see your enthusiasm and interest in pursuing a career in applied science or engineering. Based on your post, it seems like you have a strong interest in both fields and are trying to figure out which degree would be the best fit for you. Here are some points to consider:

1. Explore your interests and strengths: It's great that you are taking a variety of classes and enjoying them. As you continue your studies, try to identify which subjects you excel in and which ones you enjoy the most. This can help you narrow down your options and choose a degree that aligns with your interests and strengths.

2. Consider the job market: While it's important to choose a degree that you enjoy, it's also important to consider the job market for that particular field. Look into the job prospects and demand for different engineering and science fields to see which ones are in high demand. This can help you make an informed decision.

3. Talk to professionals: Reach out to professionals who are working in the fields you are considering. They can provide valuable insights into their job roles, the skills and qualifications required, and the job market. This can help you make a more informed decision.

4. Keep your options open: It's great that you are considering multiple degrees and postgraduate options. This gives you flexibility and allows you to explore different areas before making a final decision. Keep in mind that your undergraduate degree does not necessarily determine your career path, and you can always pursue a postgraduate degree in a different field if you wish.

5. Look into the curriculum: When researching universities, make sure to look into the curriculum for each degree. This can give you an idea of the courses and subjects you will be studying and help you determine if it aligns with your interests and goals.

In terms of your concerns about employers preferring a degree in engineering over physics, it ultimately depends on the specific job and company. Some employers may prefer a degree in engineering, while others may value the critical thinking and problem-solving skills gained from a physics degree. It's always a good idea to have a mix of both theoretical knowledge and practical skills, so consider taking courses or participating in projects that involve hands-on experience.

Overall, my advice would be to continue exploring your interests, talking to professionals, and researching different degrees and universities. Keep in mind that there is no one "right" path, and you can always change your career direction in the future. Good luck with your
 

Related to Which Degree Should I Choose for a Career in Applied Science or Engineering?

What should I consider when choosing a degree?

When choosing a degree, there are several factors to consider. First, think about your interests and strengths. What subjects do you enjoy and excel in? Next, consider your career goals. What kind of job do you want after graduation? It's also important to research the job market and potential salary for your chosen degree. Additionally, think about the program's curriculum and if it aligns with your goals and interests.

What are the best degrees for job opportunities?

The best degrees for job opportunities can vary depending on the job market and current trends. However, some degrees that have consistently high demand and job prospects include computer science, nursing, engineering, finance, and marketing. It's important to research the job market and potential career paths for your chosen degree to ensure it aligns with your interests and goals.

Is it better to choose a specialized or general degree?

This depends on your career goals and interests. A specialized degree, such as a Bachelor's in Nursing or Computer Science, can provide more focused and in-depth knowledge in a specific field, making you a competitive candidate for certain jobs. On the other hand, a general degree, such as a Bachelor's in Liberal Arts or Business, can provide a broader range of skills and knowledge that can be applied to various industries and job roles. Consider your career goals and research the requirements for your desired job to determine which type of degree is best for you.

How can I ensure my chosen degree will lead to a successful career?

There is no guarantee that a specific degree will lead to a successful career. However, there are steps you can take to increase your chances. Research the job market and potential career paths for your chosen degree to ensure there is demand for your skills and knowledge. Consider internships, networking, and gaining relevant experience in your field while in school. It's also important to continuously develop and enhance your skills and knowledge even after graduation.

Is it okay to change my degree after starting college?

It's not uncommon for students to change their majors or degrees during their college career. It's important to carefully consider your reasons for wanting to change and how it will impact your academic progress and future career goals. Talk to your academic advisor and do thorough research on the requirements and job prospects for your new chosen degree to ensure it aligns with your interests and goals.

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