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Physics vs Mechanical Engineering

topoftheworld123topoftheworld123 Posts: 102Registered User Junior Member
edited September 2012 in Science Majors
So i really don't know what i want to major in, but two of the many that I'm thinking about are physics and mech. engineering. to be honest, i'm pretty sure i like the material of a physics major better than a mechanical engineer. however, i am very apprehensive of my career options, because while i like physics as something to study i'm not sure i would want to get a phd. part of me tells me i should go with what i like best, but then part of me tells me engineering will be more practical and will get me a job after i graduate.

any advice on where to go? also, are there other options for physics majors besides phd/teaching? i also don't want to be stuck with a mediocre job because i chose to major in physics vs a good job by choosing to major in mech engineering. as a side note, i go to a school with good departments in both, if that matters at all.


on a completely unrelated note, how easy/hard is it to get a decent programming job if i'm a CS minor and not a CS major (assuming my major is something very quantitative)
Post edited by topoftheworld123 on

Replies to: Physics vs Mechanical Engineering

  • ManOfFaithManOfFaith Posts: 363Registered User Member
    Just keep in mind that physics is probably the hardest major around.
  • RoboDocRoboDoc Posts: 9Registered User New Member
    Have you decided on the major yet? Being a high school student in search for a major is not an easy task these days. Physics, though tough is extremely interesting. I have a Physics degree but am now in engineering using the physics principles and theories. There is also a subject called Engineering Physics which is a part of Physics but applies them to engineering problems with a systems approach. here is an URL for a descriptive brochure Engineering Physics at Kettering University. Many engineered products stem from physics principles. E.g designing a concert hall will need high powered accoustics and then you will need to know how to design and engineer in the acoustics features, tiles, effects of different materials, and so on.

    You do not necessarily have to be in mechanical engineering, but the design aspect is extremely useful in whatever engineering you would like to do for your future.

    You do not need to be a Ph.D. in physics to get a job in physics. It would be hepful. You can work in the National Labs, in the energy fields, alternative energy fields also. Where did solar cell principles come from? Physics. Then someone engineered it for public use.

    Ask more questions if you'd like.
  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor Posts: 1,770Registered User Senior Member
    Getting a CS job with a minor - or with no formal training at all - is possible, provided that you can convince someone somehow of your abilities. However, ceteris paribus, the more formal training you have the more attractive you will look.

    I'm actually double majoring in CS and Physics, for the same reason you gave... apprehension about just doing physics. This way I have been able to study two subjects I love and have all (well, nearly all) of the opportunities of both. This may be a viable option where you go to school... you could even do MechE/Physics, or get a minor in physics if you wanted to. Most physics curricula I've seen don't have a lot of difference between the minor and major req.'s, except for some lab work. Something to consider...
  • MSORSAMSORSA Posts: 69Registered User Junior Member
    I went through the same dilemma when I was in school. I wanted to study mechanical engineering but really loved Physics. So I went to Physics and I will tell you it was a big mistake. While I love it, and I have a BS in Theoretical Physics with all my electives in Mech Eng, it was a utterly waste of time. There are almost no jobs out there for a BS in Physics, while there are tons of jobs for mechanical engineers. If you want to land a job upon graduation and enjoy the marvels of physics go ino Mech Eng and take your electives in Physics, it will be a very rewarding college experience and will get you a job in no time.
  • StephenWarnerStephenWarner Posts: 1Registered User New Member
    i think mechanical engineer is best because of the need ,people need their car to be fixed it is needed wold wide because of the population of vehicle, it is needed in every state country and every community. If you work hard and get your degree, many opportunities will present themselves and you will make a good living. In the "real world," you will likely find yourself being "retread" to do physics or Mechanical. Mechanical engineer need physics too and technical drawing.
    You will almost certainly find yourself gainfully employed and will never stop learning and u will get employed faster. Good Luck!
  • aGGieENGiNeeRaGGieENGiNeeR Posts: 912Registered User Member
    I would say you need to evaluate just how much more you like physics as opposed to engineering. How many physics courses have you taken? Have you talked to people about research interests in the field? What material has peaked your interests? These are all questions that must be answered before anyone here can give you much advice. It is ok to go into physics with some doubts about the short term, but I think it would be fairly dangerous to go into it without a solid end goal in mind (as in whether you want to get a graduate degree or not). If you do want to get at least a masters, then physics undergrad opens a whole lot of doors that can lead into a masters/phd in physics, engineering, geophysics, etc. If you are only interested in a 4 year degree, I would just strongly not recommend physics as your path of choice because you will have closed yourself off from most of the possibilities available. MechE also has a lot of different material, and the chances are that you will find that some of the material in physics that interested you before is actually present in research/courses in an undergraduate MechE degree. At least this is my point of view as a current Physics major who has not regretted the decision one bit even though it is the path less traveled.
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