In this post we’ll discover the journey of how physicists can switch to mechanical engineering, giving you some shortcuts and things to consider before making this decision.
Can I be a mechanical engineer with a physics degree?
It is possible to be a mechanical engineer with a Physics degree. There are many options that allow that. The most famous option a lot of students take is getting a bachelor’s in Physics degree and then applying for a master’s in mechanical engineering.
But you have to understand this step is not totally ideal. As a physicist who is used to working a lot in theory, and solving theoretical physics problems, you will have to take applied physics topics like engineering, design, and hand on skills like dealing with machines and fixing stuff.
So in this case you have to take some undergrad programs or courses like CAD design, and Study more about Hydraulics and pneumatics systems. In addition to discovering the world of bearing, motors, drivers, and gears. The perfect thing to do is to take some internships and self-study these topics.
If your master’s in mechanical engineering includes these topics we mentioned, it would be better, if not. You have to work on yourself and study these subjects. because employers will be reluctant to hire physicists, especially those who can’t design or use machines.
On the other hand, you still have the chance with a Physics degree to work with some companies in the mechanical engineering research Department Especially research Helping engineers to develop new mechanical engineering systems.
For instance, your job would be to focus on structural mechanics of Material Science using your physics knowledge to improve the strength and flexibility of materials.
So as a physics major, you would have a lot of doors opened. To become a mechanical engineer, you just have to be interested and ready to learn applied Physics techniques like design and working with machines.
How to switch from physics to mechanical engineering
1 – drop physics degree
If you are in the first year of your physics major like the first semester or second semester that is not a problem you could drop your physics major and take mechanical engineering.
You will still benefit if you have succeeded in some math courses like calculus courses Calculus 1 and calculus 2. when you join the mechanical engineering major you will not have to study them again.
Dropping is not a good option but it is better to do it, especially when you are at the beginning because dropping in the first is way better than being stuck in the middle causing a lot of damage and indecisiveness.
2 – study engineering physics
One of the best choices that you can follow is to study engineering physics, so what is engineering physics?
If you are enrolled in Bachelor’s science or physics, most schools have a second parallel program which is engineering physics or Applied Physics; they almost all have the same. The principle of is engineering physics program is you can get a double degree in physics and the engineering field you choose.
In the first two years of this program, all the content you study involves 80% to 90% of physics topics like thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, and relativity physics.
In mechanical engineering, major students also study Physics topics like thermodynamics so you will benefit from studying this topic.
After finishing these courses in the third year you would have a right to choose which engineering specialization to take. they have multiple engineering Majors to choose between like:
So in this case you would have the opportunity to choose mechanical engineering and finally get a double major in physics and mechanical engineering. However, you have to consider that this program is more difficult than mechanical engineering or traditional Physics courses but it’s still worth it if you love physics and want to double your chances of getting a job with an engineering degree.
If you are interested to know more about engineering physics you could read this complete article.
3 – master in mechanical engineering
The third step to switching from physics to mechanical engineering is to finish your Bachelor of Physics and then apply for master’s programs in mechanical engineering. There are many schools that accept physics graduates to enroll in mechanical engineering Master’s programs.
You have to consider that mechanical engineering master programs are more specialized, so you must have studied some basics of undergrad mechanical engineering programs like design in CAD, Dynamics, hydraulics, and pneumatics.
There are many specializations that you can choose from in the mechanical engineering master’s program like the following one below:
- MS specializing in advanced manufacturing
- MS specializing in energy and sustainability
- MS specializing in simulation-driven engineering (SDE)
- MS specializing in robotics and control
- MS specializing in nanotechnology
- MS specializing in biology and bio-inspired engineering
Before applying to a certain program you have to make sure of their perquisites Because it differs between each school.
4 – you can work with mechanical engineering companies with a physics degree
you still have many chances to work with mechanical engineering companies only with a physics degree, especially in Labs doing research and development for new products.
You have to understand there are many problems that traditional mechanical engineers can’t solve, so they need to use the experience of physicists, which will be the case for you.
For instance, as a physics graduate, you can work in lab research developing new types of optic sensors, or developing a new solid material Using your experience in solid mechanics as a physics major.