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Questions about becoming a scientist

LicksLicks Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
edited February 2008 in Engineering Majors
I have a few questions about becoming a scientist (working in a lab doing research).

1. Are there many jobs out there researching weapons/military equipment and technology. The best example of this that I can think of is from Batman Begins, the character played by Morgan Friedman who works on different technologies, does research, and provides Batman with his equipment. Dumb example but the best I can think of. What should I major in to do this and what companies hire these scientists?

2. What exactly is "research?" I hear this term used all the time but I have a real vague idea of what is actually is. Is it when you perform experiments or read textbooks?

3. What kind of pay should one expect as a scientist?

4. Is it better to major in one of the hard sciences or to major in engineering?

5. In high school is it a must that I take all 3 sciences (Chemisty, Biology, Physics) or can I get away with taking 1 or 2.

Sorry if I'm asking for a lot. Wasn't sure whether to post this here in the engineering forum or in the careers forum but I figured I would get a lot of responses here.

Thanks
Post edited by Licks on

Replies to: Questions about becoming a scientist

  • jessiehljessiehl Registered User Posts: 3,328 Senior Member
    1. Yes, absolutely. There are a lot of defense contractors out there, big and small, and a few FFDRCs, which tend to do the same sort of work. Any sort of natural science or engineering major can probably find a place in one of these companies. Some of the big names include Raytheon, MITRE, Lockheed Martin, Orbital, Northrop Grumman (I may have spelled that wrong), MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and Draper Laboratory. You can also be employed as a civilian scientist or engineer by the Department of Defense, or be a program manager for DARPA.

    2. Research is systematic inquiry into a subject to advance knowledge in that subject. So doing experiments is part of research. Reading scholarly papers (not so much textbooks) is necessary for research, because you need to know what has already been done in the area you are researching.

    3. It depends. If you are working as a lab tech in a university lab, very little. If you are a senior scientist at, say, a major biotech company, or defense contractor, a lot.

    4. That depends on what you want to do.

    5. If your school offers all three, take all three.
  • skatjskatj Registered User Posts: 837 Member
    I was wondering this myself.

    Is it possible for engineers to start off in a design/research team (obviously not as the lead engineer, but at least as a research assistant or something)? Or do they take an entry-level position which has a boring, daily regimen and work their way up?

    and how does having either a bachelor's or a master's degree affect the above answer?
  • jessiehljessiehl Registered User Posts: 3,328 Senior Member
    Is it possible for engineers to start off in a design/research team (obviously not as the lead engineer, but at least as a research assistant or something)? Or do they take an entry-level position which has a boring, daily regimen and work their way up?

    I'm in an entry-level position, and also on a design/research team. The entry-level positions in my company are in the various design/research teams. I get to do plenty of design work along with my implementation - I, with oversight from my boss, am responsible for my part of the system, and that includes the design/architecture of that part of the system - and I also get to work on background research and writing of grant proposals.
    and how does having either a bachelor's or a master's degree affect the above answer?

    Having a master's helps, but since I don't have one, it's clearly not mandatory.
  • LicksLicks Registered User Posts: 17 New Member
    Thanks for your help. DARPA sounds pretty awesome and similar to what I'm interested in. Would a degree in Chemical Engineering make sense for doing this kind of work?
  • skatjskatj Registered User Posts: 837 Member
    Yeah thanks jessiehl for your help =)

    If you don't mind me asking, what company do you work for, and what was your major?
  • jessiehljessiehl Registered User Posts: 3,328 Senior Member
    Would a degree in Chemical Engineering make sense for doing this kind of work?

    Depends on the project, but yes, there are such jobs that require chemical engineers.
    If you don't mind me asking, what company do you work for, and what was your major?

    My company is not one you've ever heard of, unless possibly you live in the Boston area, and even then I doubt it. :) I was a neuro & cognitive science major with a bunch of extra classes in math and computer science (and am currently a part-timer in a grad certificate program in computer science).
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