#1
I'm thinking of being a physics major next year in college. I really love calculus and physics and chemistry, and I see myself enjoying what I would be studying. I am signed up to be a chemical engineering student, but I am not sure I want to specialize just yet.

Anyone here have a comment related to either field, or just any advice? I would probably minor in the other one and go to grad school either way.
I'm not a Bible-thumper anymore. Realized I had a brain in '09.

I like guitars, running, and math.
#3
One thing is what you imagine it's going to be like, and what it really is going to be like, is another. The fact you like calculus, physics, chemisty etc. points you in a direction, doesn't necessarily mean physics is for you, or engineering is, or whatever. There are going to be plenty of things you're going to hate if you do study physics.
#4
You may want to see if you have an option of an engineering physics degree. At Ohio State, where I go to school, you can major in physics and minor in an engineering field and earn a degree in engineering physics; perhaps your school has a similar program.I've thought about doing this myself, but I decided I'm just going to stick with a chemical engineering major and possibly add a nuclear engineering minor later. Anyway, I would say only go for chemical engineering if you really like the chemistry. Both programs have a great deal of calculus, so it basically comes down to which one do you enjoy more? Physics or chemistry?
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I'm an
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I'm good with math.

a0/2 + ∑ an cos(nπx/L) + bn sin(nπx/L)

ĤΨ(x,t) = iħ ∂Ψ(x,t)/∂t
σx σp ≥ h/2
#5
if you do become an ace physicist, please invent a nuclear powered fuzz stomp-box... imagine the beauty !!!
#6
I'm currently coming to the end of my first year of uni studying for a BSc in physics and it hasn't been quite as full on as I would've expected. I still procrastinated like a bitch and now have to study like **** for the exam but...

Oh and I'm planning on changing my degree to mathematics, I've realised after this last year I cope with and enjoy pure mathematics more than physics.
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Last edited by Callum89 at May 23, 2010,
#7
if youre going to be an engineer, theres no better subject to have a knowledge of than physics, obviously things like astronomy and cosmology wont be used in your field of chemical engineering as much, but being good at mechanics is a must in any engineering work.
#8
ChemE here. i only had to take general calc based physics and magnetism and electricity. im not sure what your college's outline of a chemistry major is but here they take all of the maths i take, all or most of the physics there is to offer, and of course all of the chemistries. That seems (from what you like to study) to fit you the best. ChemE is super demanding and they try their best to make you fail. its not so much making materials you are actually making the processes or systems to make your targeted product. Lots of thermo, material balances, chemistry and calculus are absolutely included
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#9
I've got one exam left then I've finished my entire MSci in Astrophysics... Only do it if you like physics and maths! If not you might find it hard to motivate through some of the more boring courses... It's a challenge and over here in the UK the statistic is 55% of people who start a Physics degree don't finish... and I'm sad to say that, that's actually true for my year...

I dunno what it's like over in the states, but you can do multiple streams like, physics with astrophysics or physics with maths here...

Oh and ANY physics related degree has `core physics units' meaning every physics degree has to have certain courses in fundamental physics and maths whether it's astrophysics, medical physics, etc...
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Last edited by peckers at May 23, 2010,
#10
Thanks for the insight so far. I haven't taken a physics class in school due to scheduling issues, but I've worked through 1/3 of a physics textbook for scientists and engineers (basically the book is 3 semesters of stuff) on my own time and have really enjoyed it.

For those of you with experience, would you say it's possible and good to major in physics in undergrad and then do an engineering grad degree? There is no engineering physics degree at the uni I will be attending.
I'm not a Bible-thumper anymore. Realized I had a brain in '09.

I like guitars, running, and math.
#11
I lost it at general and special relativity, too ****ing weird.
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#12
Quote by Psalm 150:4
Thanks for the insight so far. I haven't taken a physics class in school due to scheduling issues, but I've worked through 1/3 of a physics textbook for scientists and engineers (basically the book is 3 semesters of stuff) on my own time and have really enjoyed it.

For those of you with experience, would you say it's possible and good to major in physics in undergrad and then do an engineering grad degree? There is no engineering physics degree at the uni I will be attending.

no i would stick with the physics grad degree because the engineering degree would limit your opportunities for a job. My ChemE thermo prof was actually a physicist at Exxon. if you want to go to a company as a physicist you most likely have to get your PhD.
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#13
Look for applied physics degree also. Its another name for engineering physics basically.

I'm currently in a computational, optics, and engineering physics program and love it. Anyway, I was electrical engineering before and I have friends who are in chem engineering. The main difference at the school I'm at is that the engineering kids have to take a lot more classes that are made hard, or taught fast just to weed them out. Physics majors have to take hard classes because the subject is difficult.

That being said, there isn't a huge difference. A lot of people do go engineering for 4 years then try their hand at physics grad school. One thing you should be told though is that finding a school that teachers physics at a masters degree level can be hard, since its generally assumed that if you're going to grad school for physics you'll be going for a doctorate. Most schools that I've seen only offer 4 year grad programs because of this.
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#14
I wouldn't mind getting a phD in physics. I just want to enjoy my profession, which I can see myself doing with physics. Engineering will probably be a fall back plan then, since I just don't have the passion for designing stuff; I'd rather know why it works than how. I'm definitely going to do undergrad research, so hopefully that will help me know what I want to specialize in.
I'm not a Bible-thumper anymore. Realized I had a brain in '09.

I like guitars, running, and math.
#16
I'm studying nat sci at the moment (physics + chem)
I originally applied for engineering because i though "wow that combines maths, physics AND chemistry" Which it does... but as an engineer you do things for a different reason - the science is just a means to an end, what happens is much less important than why. I realised this in time to change courses before starting at uni, but i know people who a couple of years in have realised and wish they had done nat sci from the start. Equally i know people who are the other way round - much prefer the practicality of engineering over the abstraction of quantum mech.

If you chose chem eng because it combines maths, phys and chem then think VERY VERY carefully about really what you enjoy in those subjects - you'll be doing it for 4 years.

Finally chem eng is quite hands off - it's a lot about learning about large scale reactions, how to build a reactor that can handle 500 atm for the haber process etc. It's still chemistry, but quite "industrial" and with less room for creativity (imo). In any of them be prepared to LEARN just recall facts from knowledge, but in chem eng you'll have to do much more number memory of temps etc.
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#17
This thread reinforces my feeling of being glad that I'm going into the arts.

I have nothing but utmost respect for science and math, but beyond basic trig and chemistry, the sciences completely blow my mind. I've got a friend who's really into theoretical physics, and he makes me feel like such a moron sometimes. He reads Stephen Hawking books all the time, and he's kind of arrogant about it.
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#18
Quote by doive
I'm studying nat sci at the moment (physics + chem)
I originally applied for engineering because i though "wow that combines maths, physics AND chemistry" Which it does... but as an engineer you do things for a different reason - the science is just a means to an end, what happens is much less important than why. I realised this in time to change courses before starting at uni, but i know people who a couple of years in have realised and wish they had done nat sci from the start. Equally i know people who are the other way round - much prefer the practicality of engineering over the abstraction of quantum mech.

If you chose chem eng because it combines maths, phys and chem then think VERY VERY carefully about really what you enjoy in those subjects - you'll be doing it for 4 years.

Finally chem eng is quite hands off - it's a lot about learning about large scale reactions, how to build a reactor that can handle 500 atm for the haber process etc. It's still chemistry, but quite "industrial" and with less room for creativity (imo). In any of them be prepared to LEARN just recall facts from knowledge, but in chem eng you'll have to do much more number memory of temps etc.

That's similar to what many people have told me about engineering. As much as I love physics and stuff I love seeing practical applications of science
#19
I'm in a physics major about to leave come next year. Main reason I'm leaving is that I'm not so much into the technical part of physics but I'm more of a curious student of theories. I found myself in 6 hour classes measuring times and distances and that's really not something I like. Don't know if this helps, but I guess what I'm saying is: be sure you like everything that comes with studying physics.