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Which one of my majors should i drop?

  1. Feb 28, 2009 #1
    i'm in my 4th year in college, double majoring in physics and applied math. i'm looking for applied math or mechanical engineering for grad school, probably computational fluid dynamics or heat transfer for ME

    i havent taken any ME classes, all the ME profs I asked to help research with either didnt want me or didnt respond to my emails, and i cant get an ME related internsship out of the 100's of applications i've submitted

    i want to take at least 1 ME class next semester (good idea?) to get some idea if its what i want to do for grad school. problem is, if i continue my double major with physics and applied math, if i take ME classses, i wont graduate until the end of my 5th year. if i drop one of my majors, i can graduate a quarter (we use trimester system) earlier and hopefully do a full-time job during spring of my 5th year instead of taking classes

    which major should i drop? i'm thinking physics, because if i dont drop it, i have to take one of the classes this spring which has a time conflict with numerical analysis. i heard from a applied math postdoc that its important to take numerical analysis to see if applied math is really what i want to do in grad school. but since i only need 4 more classes to complete the major, it seems like a waste to drop it. plus, i will feel proud to complete a B.S. in physics

    but if i drop applied math, it may be harder for me to find an internship, since its easier to find a job with it instead of phyiscs as i take applicable classes, like stats and numerical analysis. i've applied to 100's of positions for internships this summer for engineering companies, and the only one i got a phone interview for was for a math/stats intern position. plus, i also only need 4 more classes for the major
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2009 #2
    It is pretty unlikely that you will be able to get a significant job for just one term (that spring term of your 5th year) and if you start a good job and then walk off from it, that will cause you problems later when you have to explain why you did that. I would not put too much value in this idea.

    It seems curious that you are so sure that you want to go to ME for graduate school, whether for heat transfer or CFD, when they are both outside your current majors. How can you be so certain? Do you really have all the facts here?

    Looks to me like there is value to finishing the double major.
     
  4. Mar 1, 2009 #3
    im not for sure that i want to do heat transfer or CFD. thats why i want to take classes for them next semester

    is it really better to just complete the double major and not take ANY ME classes? i'm concerned about what kinds of jobs i can get with a MS in applied math
     
  5. Mar 1, 2009 #4
    You are in a bind with reality.

    The fact is, to take one or two upper level ME courses without the prerequisites, assuming that they are willing to waive the prerequisites for you which they might, is going to give you a biased sample. It will be biased, possible favorably, possibly unfavorably, but definitely biased.

    Let me tell you a story about something that happened my first semester in graduate school. I was taking a class called Engineering Analysis, somewhat of a hodge podge of analytical methods in engineering applications. I thought it was a great course as did most of my fellow students. We had on fellow in the class, a bit older than most of us, who was on leave from the Air Force to return to school for a MS. He had a BS in physics and had planned to come back for an MS in Engineering Mechanics. He was highly motivated and had been doing technical work -- accident investigation -- for the Air Force. He died in that class because of his lack of engineering background, and eventually went for a MS in Physics because it was "saft" and familiar.

    I think you run the risk of having the same thing happen. If you take an upper level ME class without the prereqs, you will find that some of the subect matter is very easy because of your math/physics background, and some of it will eat you alive because of your lack of engineering background. Is this going to be beneficial to you?

    If you want to do either heat transfer or CFD, you should expect to take several undergraduate course leading up to these classes before you can really get going on graduate work. This is just the reality of things.

    Now, it is up to you to decide if taking one or two ME classes at this time is really going to be beneficial, or would you be better off simply finishing your double major and then setting out on the long road to start what you think you want?
     
  6. Mar 2, 2009 #5

    i have all the prereqs for fluid mechanics but not for the heat transfer class. if i dont take classes in them, how else can i know if doing ME is the right thing for me? i've read descriptions of them from online, wikipedia, professors research pages. i've even looked at the textbooks
    no ME profs want me to help them with research. i may not get an internship this summer. what else can i do?

    i would just go to applied math for grad school, but i'm concerned about job opportunities with an applied math MS, especially if i want to work for engineering companies
     
  7. Mar 2, 2009 #6
    If you want to be an ME... why are you in Physics/Math Undergrad? :confused:
     
  8. Mar 3, 2009 #7
    i dont know for sure if ME is what i want to do. throughout college, i knew i wanted to do math/physics but i just recently considered ME also
     
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