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Thinking About Changing my Major | End of my Junior year

ChieflejiChiefleji 8 replies1 threads New Member
edited May 2017 in College Life
I currently just finished my Junior year and I'm really considering changing majors. I'm currently a Mechanical Engineering Major and I can honestly say I don't like it; I cant even see myself being an engineer. I've kinda knew this for a while I've just been forcing myself to do it because I don't want to seem like I'm quitting but I can also see the my attitude towards the subject is affecting my grades and GPA. It's not that the material is hard it just doesn't appeal to me. I was excited to take courses like thermodynamics but after taking the class it really wasn't what I thought it was gonna be. i have no interest in heat pumps, otto cycles, heat engines, etc; I really just like exploring the general ideas and scientific principles that govern them, I like to look at the big picture.

I can also say that going into college I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life I knew liked science (physics specifically) and I took a shot in the dark. Over the years I've learned that I have an interest in renewable energy specifically photovoltaics / solar cells. the only thing keeping me in mechanical engineering is that my school has an Energy Engineering minor that allows me to take some courses that revolve around solar energy. If I change major I'll be majoring in physics and losing the ability to take those classes. Regardless of what I do in my undergraduate I'm going to grad school for material science both majors can get me there.

I also worry that a physics B.S has less available opportunities than an engineering degree in the event I have to rely on my Bachelors for job opportunities during graduate school or something. I'm not really sure what I'm asking any advice would be great I'm just scared. I've invested a lot of time in this major and starting over just fills me with anxiety but I honestly believe that I can't do well in this major having zero to no interest in it. The good thing is that if I do change my major there is not a lot of courses I'll have to make up for. I'll probably just be a year or semester behind, If I take summer classes.
edited May 2017
20 replies
Post edited by juillet on
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Replies to: Thinking About Changing my Major | End of my Junior year

  • bodanglesbodangles 8628 replies557 threads Senior Member
    Mechanical is among the most broadly applicable of the engineering degrees. I'd stick with that and the minor. Have you tried applying for solar-related internships?
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  • ChieflejiChiefleji 8 replies1 threads New Member
    edited May 2017
    Yeah that's why I chose it but I guess it isn't broad enough for me. Pretty much I enjoy theory over application and as broad as ME is its still all application. Furthermore classes like solids and Engineering design; classes that had to deal with rigid structures and loads...I hate em. I haven't had any solar-related internships but I'm taking certification courses online in that field.
    edited May 2017
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  • bodanglesbodangles 8628 replies557 threads Senior Member
    I missed that you want to go to grad school either way and that either major could get you there. You have one year left. Power through.
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  • ChieflejiChiefleji 8 replies1 threads New Member
    Yeah my first inclination is to power through. I just really dislike engineering lol and like I said I feel like it effects my performance. It's hard to do well in classes (especially major classes) that you have no interest in. I'm coming off a bad semester as well that's really why I reconsidering just changing majors again. Can't get into grad school with a crappy GPA.
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  • bodanglesbodangles 8628 replies557 threads Senior Member
    What's your GPA right now? I'm also finishing up my junior year and my grades are barely affected anymore since I have so many credits already. All A's would only bring me up 0.01 at this point. Whatever your GPA is, unless you get like C's and D's in everything, it's probably not going to change all that much.
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  • ChieflejiChiefleji 8 replies1 threads New Member
    Right now I'm at a 2.18. I have some semesters with 3.7 Gpa (post gen ed credits) and some with 1.84. Granted I have had trouble semesters in terms of personal life, but overall I notice that semester when i take certain Engineering classes I do poorly. I've been struggling with this for a while I just didn't decide to up and change majors honestly I should've done it 2-3 semesters ago but I wanted to power through and not quit.
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  • bodanglesbodangles 8628 replies557 threads Senior Member
    Okay I think you have another issue beyond the major thing...possibly not getting into grad school. At a rough estimate, I do not know if good grades in another two years of physics classes would even increase it past a 3.0.

    I will page @boneh3ad for their more knowledgeable advice on that.
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  • ChieflejiChiefleji 8 replies1 threads New Member
    edited May 2017
    Yeah I know it wouldn't increase my overall GPA much but my thought is that at least my major GPA would be good and I can emphasis when applying for Grad School. Moreover, at my school research is embedded with the physics program so with a decent research proposal and outcome (Centering around my field of interest for grad school) as well as my certification courses I'm taking can help me out. Of course I'll probably not end up at a tier 1 school though.
    edited May 2017
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  • boneh3adboneh3ad 7484 replies132 threadsForum Champion Engineering Forum Champion
    That really depends on how "good" your major GPA is. A 2.19 is a major red flag and is going to keep you out of most if not all engineering graduate programs. Do you have any research experience? If not, you need to get that pronto.
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  • ChieflejiChiefleji 8 replies1 threads New Member
    Well If I were to change my major to Physics with a concentration in research. My GPA will be about a 2.7-3.0 within that major based on the classes I have taken that have overlap in the engineering and Physics curriculum. Yeah I working on trying to get research experience but on my campus there isn't a lot of research done in the areas I wan't to focus on (material science, solar energy, renewable energy) there is graduate research in these area's but not undergraduate at least for engineers.
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  • boneh3adboneh3ad 7484 replies132 threadsForum Champion Engineering Forum Champion
    2.7 to 3.0 is still really low for most graduate programs. Physics won't be as easy for admissions as an engineering background either (though certainly not a showstopper).
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  • juilletjuillet 12715 replies162 threads Super Moderator
    Can you and your family afford the extra one or two semesters it'll take you to finish your degree?
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  • ChieflejiChiefleji 8 replies1 threads New Member
    @boneh3ad yeah I understand. At the end of the day even if I do complete my engineering degree I simply don't want to be an engineer and I really don't want to force myself to do something I don't have interest in (like I've been doing thus far). Given my circumstances what do you recommend I do.

    @juillet My family doesn't have a lot of money at all, but I've been fortunate to receive a lot of grants and of course federal loans (the grants I receive out weigh the federal loans I take on). See I don't go to a high ranked school or anything; their programs are respected however.
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  • boneh3adboneh3ad 7484 replies132 threadsForum Champion Engineering Forum Champion
    You do realize that most materials science programs are heavily engineering-oriented as well, don't you? They're typically part of the college of engineering at most schools that I know. The reason I ask is that it sounds like either path you've laid out ends up in engineering (assuming you get into grad school in the first place). The jobs for most physics majors ends up being substantially similar to engineering as well unless you go to graduate school, which, again, is far from certain here.

    I'm not really sure what to tell you, to be honest. What is it you want to actually do for a career after earning a degree?
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  • ChieflejiChiefleji 8 replies1 threads New Member
    Yes I'm aware. I want a Masters of Science not a Masters of Engineering in Material Science. For the programs I've researched there is a difference in what the programs focus on and the context the information is applied to. So if I am in the M.S program yes it's still under the Material Science and Engineering department but it is not engineering. This is the case at UMD for instance.

    I'm interested in solar cells and photovoltaics not in any engineering field. So if I get into grad school and graduate my job description would be a material scientist not an engineer and I would concern myself with research and development in nano-materials and semiconductors as they apply to photovoltaics.
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  • boneh3adboneh3ad 7484 replies132 threadsForum Champion Engineering Forum Champion
    edited May 2017
    The difference between MS and MEng is a non-distinction here. In most schools, you get an MS, period, whether it's engineering or not. In most schools that offer both, the difference is whether the degree is course-based or thesis/research-based. Sometimes there is an additional distinction that the MEng is "project-based" and meant as a professional degree. UMD appears to be that final case. An MS in materials science is still effectively engineering.

    Everything you've cited as interests are commonly found in engineering departments and are fairly common engineering topics. I think maybe you misunderstand what engineering actually is. It's a lot broader than you seem to think, and includes some really heavily theoretical topics as well as some really applied ones. Engineering degrees certainly lead to a lot of jobs with the title "scientist" that are still grounded in engineering. The line between science and engineering is very blurry.

    Whether science or engineering, the "scientist" jobs are probably going to require a PhD. If that's you ultimate goal, you have to raise that GPA and get research experience. At this point your only option may be going to work first and getting experience and then going to graduate school when the GPA doesn't matter so much.
    edited May 2017
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  • ChieflejiChiefleji 8 replies1 threads New Member
    Thank you for your reply this really helped. I guess my view on the possibilities of engineering was very narrow; I just base everything on what I am learning in my classes.and the interest of my classmates. Thank you once again I'll take all this into consideration going forward.
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  • boneh3adboneh3ad 7484 replies132 threadsForum Champion Engineering Forum Champion
    So, just as an example in mechanical engineering, research topics are quite varied. You might have very applied topics such as machine component design and optimization techniques or working on the detatils of new additive manufacturing techniques (which certainly would involve some theory to start out). On the other end, you can have very fundamental studies of materials and metamaterials and their properties or of turbulence or transition to turbulence in fluid flows. Of course, there are many, many other topics out there, but these are just a few on opposite ends of the spectrum only within a mechanical engineering department.

    I also know that even within some mechanical engineering departments, there is photovoltaic work going on, particularly in mechanical engineering departments with a large materials science presence. At the research/PhD level, the lines between engineering departments and between engineering and physics and chemistry can get awfully blurry.

    That said, you still have to be able to not hate the material enough to get yourself to that point.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79798 replies715 threads Senior Member
    Some questions you need to ask yourself, which can involve looking up things at your school:

    1. For your new major, in how many semesters can you complete it?
    2. If it would take more semesters than completing your current major, can you afford the cost?
    3. If it would take more semesters than completing your current major, would your college allow that (some public schools do not want students taking too many extra semesters)?
    4. How difficult administratively is changing to your new major?
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  • bopperbopper 14212 replies100 threadsForum Champion CWRU Forum Champion
    Also, just because you have a Mechanical Eng degree doesn't mean you have to be an Mech Eng...you can go into many careers that require a technical background.

    Or you can get a Masters in something more specific.
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