markyw12
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Throughout Year 11/12 I have always enjoyed physics and sort of presumed that is what I would study at Uni. However as teachers are writing references I'm beginning to think that perhaps engineering would be very interesting. I'm really struggling to decide what to do now and its not helping my stress and anxiety. Any input would help. -Thanks
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LisaOB
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(Original post by markyw12)
Throughout Year 11/12 I have always enjoyed physics and sort of presumed that is what I would study at Uni. However as teachers are writing references I'm beginning to think that perhaps engineering would be very interesting. I'm really struggling to decide what to do now and its not helping my stress and anxiety. Any input would help. -Thanks
Hey, don't stress I've been here with 2 sons. First is studying Physics at Cambridge but now at end of year 2 is thinking about employment (engineering feels would open more doors, but missed chance of switching course - he does love physics though so I'm thinking he'll be fine). Youngest is taking A Levels now and also loves physics - but he's gone for Engineering (parents got wiser!) he's gone for general engineering where you specialise in 3/4th year. The course look very exciting, physics heavy and a world of opportunities. Can recommend Durham, Warwick for general courses. Hope this helps & best of luck in your future.
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AlkynesOfTruble
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Engineering!
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DEͥSTͣIͫNY
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Yeah, Engineering
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Smack
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(Original post by markyw12)
Throughout Year 11/12 I have always enjoyed physics and sort of presumed that is what I would study at Uni. However as teachers are writing references I'm beginning to think that perhaps engineering would be very interesting. I'm really struggling to decide what to do now and its not helping my stress and anxiety. Any input would help. -Thanks
What is it about engineering that you find interesting? Could you provide more details about what your interests are (both academically and whether you have any specific engineering interests) and what options you are considering career-wise? This information would be helpful in providing more specific advice.
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ihatePE
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when I was choosing what to do I was stuck between maths or engineering at uni. I chose engineering in the end because
1) didn't like doing full maths, would probably get a bit tiring and tedious. Engineering (at least in civil) the modules offer insight into the environment, geology, physics etc)

2) employment opportunities in engineering. I didnt know what maths could take me to as it was quite open and I didnt like that. and if I did want to go into engineering after taking maths, I'd have to do engineering course anyway.

3) I wanted something more ''hands on'' maths seemed like everything will be text books and sitting inside, not my kind of thing after 2 years of sixth form. With engineering, there are projects with real life developments and I just like applying what I know, would make me feel like ive accomplished something rather than it sitting inside my head.

so all in all I think you should choose based on where it could take you (that you want), and whether you enjoy application or theories, and pick one uni website you like, look through the modules and see if they're the range of things you want to do.
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markyw12
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(Original post by LisaOB)
Hey, don't stress I've been here with 2 sons. First is studying Physics at Cambridge but now at end of year 2 is thinking about employment (engineering feels would open more doors, but missed chance of switching course - he does love physics though so I'm thinking he'll be fine). Youngest is taking A Levels now and also loves physics - but he's gone for Engineering (parents got wiser!) he's gone for general engineering where you specialise in 3/4th year. The course look very exciting, physics heavy and a world of opportunities. Can recommend Durham, Warwick for general courses. Hope this helps & best of luck in your future.
Thanks so much for your response, it is really helpful.
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markyw12
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(Original post by ihatePE)
when I was choosing what to do I was stuck between maths or engineering at uni. I chose engineering in the end because
1) didn't like doing full maths, would probably get a bit tiring and tedious. Engineering (at least in civil) the modules offer insight into the environment, geology, physics etc)

2) employment opportunities in engineering. I didnt know what maths could take me to as it was quite open and I didnt like that. and if I did want to go into engineering after taking maths, I'd have to do engineering course anyway.

3) I wanted something more ''hands on'' maths seemed like everything will be text books and sitting inside, not my kind of thing after 2 years of sixth form. With engineering, there are projects with real life developments and I just like applying what I know, would make me feel like ive accomplished something rather than it sitting inside my head.

so all in all I think you should choose based on where it could take you (that you want), and whether you enjoy application or theories, and pick one uni website you like, look through the modules and see if they're the range of things you want to do.
All your points are really strong especially 1 & 3. I do enjoy maths but I am aware if how much maths is in Uni Physics and it seems just a bit too much. Thanks for your response.
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Jjsjhwjwb
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Pick physics. It's harder and will show your incredibly smart. Alternatively, you could study a real subject like media at uni
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markyw12
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(Original post by Smack)
What is it about engineering that you find interesting? Could you provide more details about what your interests are (both academically and whether you have any specific engineering interests) and what options you are considering career-wise? This information would be helpful in providing more specific advice.
I'm really enjoying mechanics in Maths and Further Maths, it is just so interesting to see the real life application of what I'm learning. Career wise I don't really have any idea I'm hoping I discover something I could see myself spending my whole life doing at Uni. Also I have always had a fascination for roller coasters (since I was 5/6) so structural engineering could be an option. Thanks for your response.
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black1blade
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Yeah it depends if you like learning physics for the sake of understanding how the universe works or if you want to do something practical with your knowledge.
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artful_lounger
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They're quite different subjects, really; outside of Materials and Electronic/Electrical Engineering, there is less overlap than you may think between them. Essentially, if you want to learn anything about quantum mechanics, you should be doing physics; you may cover some in a Materials course or less in an Electronic engineering course, but this is wholly physics. Equally if you have any interest in astrophysics (including, but not limited to, planetary sciences, stars and galaxies, cosmology, and black holes) that is entirely in the remit of physics.

Regarding the "overlapping" material, which varies depending on subject, there are stark differences in the manner they are taught; mechanics, perhaps the central unifying area, will in physics will focus on determining analytical (this is slightly poor phrasing as analytical dynamics is actually an area of mechanics where "analytical" means something quite specific; I am using the term in a more general manner) solutions to generalised and idealised problems (e.g. n particles moving in m dimensions), while in engineering it will focus on "applied" problems like "calculate the force on this particular member in a truss system made up of 30 members", "work out the torsion on this rod under this moment" and "how much does this beam bend under this static force? what if you cantilever it here?". This is fairly indicative of the difference in general.

In terms of the maths, there are differences as well; broadly, similar to the physical sciences components, engineering will focus more on building up a toolbox of techniques to solve various problems (i.e. to find particular numerical solutions) while physics will focus on developing some more of the "theory" to enable you to create your own mathematical models of physical phenomena and understand the general behaviour of the mathematical models that will be presented to you otherwise, by finding analytical solutions to to problems. In the higher end of theoretical physics, more formal abstract mathematics (i.e. maths as mathematicians use) is brought in, although with much less rigour than as presented to a student in a maths degree; some courses offer optional modules in these areas as a result. For engineering, mathematics is a means to an end; for physics, it is the lingua franca.

As such, engineering is really a lot like glorified stamp collecting; you're picking up all these techniques to solve problems and understand specific industrially relevant phenomena, but you don't need to (or necessarily are even taught) how to understand how these come about or why the solutions work. Physics explicitly does focus on this aspect though, in getting a deeper understanding of what is happening and why it is happening (and hence, how to solve problems involving whatever that phenomenon is).
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Doones
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(Original post by markyw12)
I'm really enjoying mechanics in Maths and Further Maths, it is just so interesting to see the real life application of what I'm learning. Career wise I don't really have any idea I'm hoping I discover something I could see myself spending my whole life doing at Uni. Also I have always had a fascination for roller coasters (since I was 5/6) so structural engineering could be an option. Thanks for your response.
A woman who was one of the lead structural engineers for The Shard did Physics for her undergrad and MSc Structural Engineering for postgrad. There's lots of routes into engineering...
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roma_Agrawal

Edit: and she's just been awarded an MBE in today's Queen's Birthday Honours :yy:

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markyw12
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
They're quite different subjects, really; outside of Materials and Electronic/Electrical Engineering, there is less overlap than you may think between them. Essentially, if you want to learn anything about quantum mechanics, you should be doing physics; you may cover some in a Materials course or less in an Electronic engineering course, but this is wholly physics. Equally if you have any interest in astrophysics (including, but not limited to, planetary sciences, stars and galaxies, cosmology, and black holes) that is entirely in the remit of physics.

Regarding the "overlapping" material, which varies depending on subject, there are stark differences in the manner they are taught; mechanics, perhaps the central unifying area, will in physics will focus on determining analytical (this is slightly poor phrasing as analytical dynamics is actually an area of mechanics where "analytical" means something quite specific; I am using the term in a more general manner) solutions to generalised and idealised problems (e.g. n particles moving in m dimensions), while in engineering it will focus on "applied" problems like "calculate the force on this particular member in a truss system made up of 30 members", "work out the torsion on this rod under this moment" and "how much does this beam bend under this static force? what if you cantilever it here?". This is fairly indicative of the difference in general.

In terms of the maths, there are differences as well; broadly, similar to the physical sciences components, engineering will focus more on building up a toolbox of techniques to solve various problems (i.e. to find particular numerical solutions) while physics will focus on developing some more of the "theory" to enable you to create your own mathematical models of physical phenomena and understand the general behaviour of the mathematical models that will be presented to you otherwise, by finding analytical solutions to to problems. In the higher end of theoretical physics, more formal abstract mathematics (i.e. maths as mathematicians use) is brought in, although with much less rigour than as presented to a student in a maths degree; some courses offer optional modules in these areas as a result. For engineering, mathematics is a means to an end; for physics, it is the lingua franca.

As such, engineering is really a lot like glorified stamp collecting; you're picking up all these techniques to solve problems and understand specific industrially relevant phenomena, but you don't need to (or necessarily are even taught) how to understand how these come about or why the solutions work. Physics explicitly does focus on this aspect though, in getting a deeper understanding of what is happening and why it is happening (and hence, how to solve problems involving whatever that phenomenon is).
This is so incredibly useful thank you so much!!! It’s looking more and more like engineering would be a better fit for me.
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Smack
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(Original post by markyw12)
I'm really enjoying mechanics in Maths and Further Maths, it is just so interesting to see the real life application of what I'm learning. Career wise I don't really have any idea I'm hoping I discover something I could see myself spending my whole life doing at Uni. Also I have always had a fascination for roller coasters (since I was 5/6) so structural engineering could be an option. Thanks for your response.
@artful_lounger has provided an excellent summary of the differences between studying the two at university. Being more interested in "real-life" application typically points more towards engineering, although that said, physics also has "real-life" application, too. Engineering applications are generally bit more towards industry/technology.
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