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Thread: want to be a physicist

  1. #1

    want to be a physicist

    Hi guys,
    i am really looking for friends here who have a passion for physics,cosmology and related engineerings(involving physics) such as aerospace...i am a quad c6,really want to pursue physics as my career.isnt it difficult for a quad to study a kind of subjects which involves lots of practical(laboratory)work?

    would it be good if i do an online undergraduate degree course in it?

    also tell me what types of engineering courses dont require chemistry in prerequisite examinations?

    any input would be greatly appreciated
    Last edited by fahad283; 10-27-2010 at 05:53 AM.

  2. #2
    What do you actually want to do? Being a physicist is quite different from being an aerospace engineer, but for both, you are going to need at least a masters degree, and a physicist will normally also need a PhD and usually post-doctoral work as well. I don't know of legitimate on-line courses that would meet the requirements for this. You are going to need to go to a university in person to get this type of education.

    Also, at least in this country, all science oriented degrees require at least an introductory inorganic chemistry course at the undergraduate level. If you don't have that, you need to take it, and if you are worried that you cannot pass that type of course, then physics or engineering is not for you.

    Using computers, many engineers do drafting and other tasks using CAD. For lab science courses, an accommodation of having a lab partner who can do many of the manual tasks under your direction would be an easy reasonable accommodation.

    (KLD)

  3. #3
    start by setting up a meeting with this guy: http://www.uok.edu.pk/faculties/physics/index.php

    also, networking will help you tremendously. get on linkedin.com and find people who do what you want to do. email them. ask questions. get some direction.

  4. #4
    Senior Member mr_coffee's Avatar
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    I'm not a physics major but rather a computer science/engineering major. Being purely physics isn't that pratical. My roommate was a physics and computer science major. He enjoyed physics but couldn't get a job with a pure physics major.

    I had another friend who went pure physics and he has to get a PhD to get a job (he wants to teach.). Not saying all physics majors have a hard time finding a job but I would recommend going an engineering route. You take a ton of physics but can apply it to get a job right out of college. In the end you have to decide what will get you a job when you graduate, what you enjoy, and what you can physically do. You must put all these into consideration when picking a major I think.

    I also imagine you are very good at calculus/physics in highschool correct?
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by mr_coffee View Post
    I'm not a physics major but rather a computer science/engineering major. Being purely physics isn't that pratical. My roommate was a physics and computer science major. He enjoyed physics but couldn't get a job with a pure physics major.

    I had another friend who went pure physics and he has to get a PhD to get a job (he wants to teach.). Not saying all physics majors have a hard time finding a job but I would recommend going an engineering route. You take a ton of physics but can apply it to get a job right out of college. In the end you have to decide what will get you a job when you graduate, what you enjoy, and what you can physically do. You must put all these into consideration when picking a major I think.

    I also imagine you are very good at calculus/physics in highschool correct?
    If you are willing to go to the dark side you can get very well paying jobs at quantitative hedge funds or investment banks with a degree in physics. The other non obvious place that recruited physics majors was the CIA.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mr_coffee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by t8burst View Post
    If you are willing to go to the dark side you can get very well paying jobs at quantitative hedge funds or investment banks with a degree in physics. The other non obvious place that recruited physics majors was the CIA.
    interesting to know!
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  7. #7
    You'll definitely want to avoid the online degree route for any of the majors/specialties mentioned here (comp sci, math, engineering, sciences, quant fin, ...).

    I would recommend that you load up on challenging math and science courses in your first few years. Most of these degrees will require it. If you don't do well in these courses then you can make a change into another less demanding field. If you do succeed in these courses then you have a great foundation from which to make a choice in the future about a specific major. You'll know that you're doing well because professors will usually recruit you for the next level.

    Keep in mind that these majors are pretty competitive. If you can hang with the top tier (top third of the class) early on then that is a good indicator that you will probably do okay further down the road. If you are just average in these foundational courses then I'd move on to something else. The good thing is that you don't have to know everything now. Many curriculums allow enough flexibility for you to make changes before you get too locked into a specific degree program. Just be honest with yourself along the way and that will help.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Patton57; 10-26-2010 at 12:24 PM.

  8. #8
    Hi,Fahad

    A physics major with just a B.S. or a masters will not find a job in physics per se. If you want to stay in pure physics - that is, teach - a PhD in a necessity.

    Maybe my journey can help give you some ideas -

    I started in physics. You need to take a lot of math, in particular, as an undergrad. I never liked chemistry, either, but it's generally a requirement for your undergraduate work - and a pretty good idea, I must admit - the amount depends on your school.
    My graduate thesis work, after the requisite classes (classical and quantum electrodynamics, thermodynamics, etc.) was in astrophysics, specifically, experimental x-ray astronomy.

    After getting the PhD: My best friend went to work for a financial company (Aon), and was a vice president before he was killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11. Another went to work for Bell Labs (no longer in existence, more's the pity: they were the exception, where one could do physics as a real job); he's now a university professor. Another joined the air force, and another got a job as an assistant professor at a different university.

    I was a post-doc in the same field for a number of years. I found that there are few jobs in that or related fields outside academia. Subsequently, I was offered a job working on the Hubble space telescope, but didn't want to work for a company that might switch me over to making weapons. Wanting better financial security, and having a decent electronics background, I applied for several jobs in my favorite locality as an electronics engineer, and got lucky. For the last 28 years, I've been working on the design of implantable cardiac pacemakers, which has been a very satisfying occupation.

    My take is that a good background in physics will prepare you for a multitude of interesting occupations that take a logical mind that likes to deal with challenging problems. For example, one of the people I work with was investigating Hall effect sensors. To him it was just a black box, the resistance of which changed with the magnetic field. But I could explain the basis of its operation, and using that understanding, could figure out how we could implement such a device into the custom integrated circuits that we use. Another example is one obtains a reasonably solid understanding of probability statistics, which has been invaluable. The software experience I gained doing data analysis also has been useful.

    I could have also gotten where I am by following the path of electrical engineering, but I would then have had a slightly different set of expertise. The physics background sets me a little apart from the rest of them.

    OK, practical things - I'm AB (my wife is SCI). Some of the experimental work I did would not have been possible for a SCI'd person (climbing rocket launch towers, say). Theoretical physics would not require those kind of things, but to be successful in that you need to be in the top 1% of all your classes. I wouldn't expect that any of the undergrad work would be impossible for you, given reasonable accommodation and a little effort to get to know your professors ahead of time. I would be able to do the work that I do now if I had a SCI. Admittedly, it would be more difficult, but you have to face it, just about everything would be.

    One hint - good for everybody - always sit at the front of the class. It really does makes a huge difference. Don't let them keep you in the back because the wheelchair is inconvenient for anyone. Given some perseverance, there will be a way to make it work. However, I do not recommend an on-line degree. It will not be looked on by prospective employers as having nearly the same value as a "real" degree.

    If later on it turns out that a physics PhD seems like an impractical task for you, another route that I have known to be successful is to go for an EE degree after getting a physics degree. By the way, I know several EE PhDs; that's also a very viable route to take.

    Best wishes to you
    - Richard

    p.s. - Oh yeah, another guy that works with me here is also a physicist; he used to teach astronomy and cosmology. He's mostly working on things that use his knowledge of probabilities and logic; including things like working on RF telemetry protocols and path loss calculations and experiments.

  9. #9
    Thanks all of u for the input
    Actually,i can consider to pursue any field which has tons of physics involved in it if i do not find demand in pure physics major.Do NASA or other research firms employ physics graduates?

    can u people plz tell me what r the highly paid fields related with physics in US?what about astronomers?r engineers highly paid?if yes which discipline?

    if a person wants to be a high school physics teacher .will he still be required a Phd degree?

    right now i am doing A levels and will soon be appearing for camb ext exams. i will be having physics and maths papers only,without chemistry so as to save myself from organic one and to jump quickly to the under grad level as i am already over aged and keen to join profession early .it doesnt mean that i dislike inorganic chemistry or will not be able pass it at under grad level

    which engineering under grad degrees dont require chemistry in pre requisite A level exams to get addmission in?

    plz reply
    Last edited by fahad283; 10-27-2010 at 04:02 PM.

  10. #10
    My speculations only, without doing any research -
    If high pay is the goal, you'd probably want to end up in the financial industry using your knowledge of statistics, etc.
    Astronomers: there are virtually no jobs in astronomy per se outside academia, which is not particularly highly paid. You gotta do it for the love, not the money. That goes for pure physics as well.
    Engineering: A double physics/engineering major would set you up for a moderately well paying job as an engineer. Electrical and computer science are probably the fields most in demand.
    Teaching: University level teaching almost universally requires a PhD; but for tenure you must also do research, and you must be an expert at getting grants for money to do research (actually, most profs spend most of their time managing and applying for grants, little time doing research, which is left to the post-docs they direct). For high school, a masters is useful; perhaps required for the better schools. You probably also need a degree in education for high school teaching. You also need to have a real love of teaching kids, or else it would be a nightmare.

    NASA does little research itself - they mostly support academic research, thus employ a lot of engineers - mechanical, chemical, electrical, computers, you name it, as well as a lot of people like project managers (project management is a whole field in itself - a solid background in the discipline that's being managed is pretty much a necessity in order to do a good job at it). That doesn't mean they don't hire people with degrees in physics & astronomy, but that those people might find themselves managing projects rather than doing science themselves. Not necessarily a bad thing, and it can also be rewarding, but it's different.

    Some of the large aerospace companies like Lockheed (look up careers under Lockheed Martin on the internet) hire scientists of all types. One disadvantage of that route is the dependence on the politics of the time - the weapons game comes and goes, and so do the projects like planetary exploration. I'd guess that there's more money in weapons, but I would find that kind of work distasteful over the years, although I'm sure it can be very interesting.

    If I were doing it all over again, with the knowledge I have now, I'd probably aim for a job not very different from what I'm doing now - medical engineering, but I'd get a better engineering background on top of my physics education, and I'd also take formal courses in physiology.

    In general, the higher the degree, the higher the pay. Tack on a masters in business administration, and you'd be in even better shape as a manager (if you like that sort of thing).

    Since we don't have the A level exams in the US it's difficult for me to comment on that question. Perhaps Adrian can, if he sees this thread.

    I assume that you were delayed by several years because of your injury. But now you have the maturity to apply yourself better than others at your educational level. Take advantage of that, and you'll do well.

    Additionally - things will change - your interests, the job market, etc. So be flexible; don't be afraid to change your direction as well, and don't get too set on a single goal. I changed considerably - from wanting to do medicine (when I was in high school) to high energy physics (when I was an undergrad) to astronomy (post-grad) to medical-related electronics engineering (as a career after being a post-doc).

    - Richard

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