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Should I major in Physics and Computational Neuroscience or Chem and CompNeuro?

sedsseisedssei Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
I want to make stuff for the brain. I'm not such a fan of the "give us the formula" approach with engineering and I've always been more of a thinker but I do love working with my hands and creating things. Ultimate goal is to come up with something that solves a neurological system issue and be well versed in materials enough to make it.

If I do chemical engineering will I be spending the rest of my life manufacturing other peoples ideas?
If i'm a physicist will I never get the chance to actually MAKE something?

I want to know materials so I am doing chemical engineering but it feels so systematic and uncreative? I'm not really enjoying it and at this point I don't feel like I could come up with some great idea I feel like I'll end up working at Ford motors or something.... I would just like some input please!

Physics or Engineering for a person who loves discovering new ways of doing things but also likes to DO it.

Replies to: Should I major in Physics and Computational Neuroscience or Chem and CompNeuro?

  • juilletjuillet Super Moderator Posts: 12,618 Super Moderator
    Most medical devices, especially anything for the brain, are not made by one person. They are generally made by teams of scientists and engineers with different specialties. Usually they involve first years of theoretical research, then years of applied research, then actual product manufacturing and clinical testing. Depending on how loosely you define the word "make," there are dozens (maybe even hundreds) of roles involved with the research, development, and production of "stuff for the brain." So it kind of depends on what area you want to be involved in.

    There's really no such thing as a person who both solves a neurological systems problem AND designs and manufacturers the solution all by themselves. First of all, there can be a time span of several decades between the time that we understand a specific neurological problem and the time that we can actually design a solution to it. Second of all, the level of expertise it takes to develop enough knowledge and research skills to uncover neurological systems issues takes many years to develop. So does the knowledge and research skills to be well versed enough in biomaterials science to develop one. I'm sure there are researchers who get PhDs and do research at the intersection between those areas, but they still generally work in teams with other neuroscientists and other materials scientists (and chemists, engineers, physicists, etc.)

    Any of the majors you listed would help you find a career in that area, since all of these areas are necessary for the development of medical/neurological devices.

    I think you also need to reconsider your idea of "coming up with great ideas." I think a lot of budding scientists think scientific discoveries are done by autonomous, solitary scientists in a lab by themselves (and the media certainly doesn't help), but that's far from the truth! Most groundbreaking modern scientific ideas - especially in the medical sciences - are 1) developed by teams of scientists with different specialties and 2) are really incremental discoveries that are based upon years of prior work.

    Another secret is that while they often do happen at universities and national labs, they can and do happen in private industry. For example, Ford Motors may not be ideal for someone who wants to do neurological/biomedical research, but what about working in the healthcare divisions of Siemens, GE, or Philips? Lots of the groundwork is done in universities, but often the last stretch of research and development is done at private companies.

    Also, if you don't feel like you can currently come up with a great idea...that's probably because you're an undergrad who is still learning the very basics of the field. Scientists who discover things spend YEARS - a full decade or more - learning everything about the basics of their field first before they begin doing independent research to discover new things. It can easily take 12-15 years from the time you begin college until the time you become an independent researcher, like a university professor or a researcher at a place like Siemens or Philip Healthcare.
  • Dancer14Dancer14 Registered User Posts: 157 Junior Member
    You could just do computational neuroscience. Why do you want to double major?
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