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What are the most suitable majors for transitioning from engineering?

Suppose a person has completed the physics I-III sequence, the calculus I-III sequence, differential equations, probability and statistics, linear algebra, along with several engineering-specific credits. Which majors should they consider transitioning to where they have already met many of the required courses? Unfortunately, transitioning to one of the business majors is less feasible due to the amount of required courses & lack of overlap, and their IQ probably isn't high enough for a mathematics or physics major.

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Karin’s Answer

Hi Nadia,

Analyse what you are good at, what you are not good at, what you enjoy doing and where your passion and interests are.

How far along are you in your current major? Can you pinpoint why you want to pivot from engineering?

If you did well in math and physics, math or physics or a double major would be feasible. Computer science or data science would be suitable. How about materials science or another interdisciplinary major? What does your school offer?

If you are already half way through your engineering program, it might also make sense to just buckle down and finish this degree. Once you have your bachelors, you can decide on a different direction for your masters and specialize. You don't have to do the same thing all your life just because you have the degree.

Just some thoughts..... Good luck!

KP
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Melody’s Answer

Hello Nadia,

Given the topics you've mentioned, you might want to contemplate shifting towards a data-oriented discipline like actuarial science or statistics. It's also crucial at this juncture to reflect on what you desire from a career or job.

1. Explore different engineering fields
You might be experiencing fatigue in your current engineering field, but another one could pique your interest. Moving between fields could also be a strategic way to enhance your engineering skills. For example, a mechanical engineer might discover a newfound interest in software engineering and chase relevant opportunities.

2. Pinpoint your passions
If you're considering a complete departure from engineering, it's important to pinpoint your passions and understand how your current major isn't meeting them. You should also recognize what you appreciate about your current major to ensure it's included in any new major you consider. For instance, a software engineer might love the coding part of their job but wish to reduce their project management responsibilities. Similarly, someone studying mechanical engineering might enjoy interacting with people but find working with machinery less appealing.

Before you leap to a different major, it's vital to mull over these aspects, beyond just the transferable courses. I understand the desire to avoid prolonging your studies, but it's equally important not to rush into a degree that you might later regret. Wishing you all the best in your exploration and decision-making process.
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bill’s Answer

For a bright individual like you, who has pursued challenging courses that demand a significant amount of intellectual prowess, my advice is to discover a subject that captivates you. Use that brilliant mind of yours to delve into something that truly resonates with you. If engineering doesn't spark your interest, perhaps a science-related field might. Astrophysics requires mathematical acumen, while anthropology, archaeology or a profession in the medical field all call for a sharp mind. Many find these paths intimidating and challenging to navigate, but it seems like you're ready to embrace a challenge. Any of these fields will undoubtedly test your intellect and provide a worthy outlet for your remarkable brain.
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bill’s Answer

I'm having a bit of trouble understanding your query. Are you saying that you're not interested in pursuing engineering?
Thank you comment icon Yes, I'd like to switch from an engineering major to something else, preferably something that has overlap with the course requirements so I don't have to spend 2 more years in school. Nadia
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Avirup’s Answer

Those classes align perfectly with a computer science major! As a computer science student myself I had to take most of the courses you mentioned as prerequisites. If you aren't keen on CS however, you could look into pure mathematics or one of the sciences like physics in your case.
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Patrick’s Answer

Nadia, shifting from engineering to a different field can open up many exciting opportunities. This is especially true for those who have a solid understanding of math, physics, and problem-solving. The extensive studies undertaken in physics, calculus, differential equations, probability and statistics, and linear algebra can pave the way to several suitable majors.

Computer Science or Software Engineering could be a great choice. With an engineering background and a knack for math and problem-solving, the transition into these fields can be smooth. Key engineering skills like programming, algorithm design, and data analysis are directly useful in computer science and software engineering. Plus, there's a growing demand for professionals in these fields, offering plenty of chances for career growth and specialization.

Data Science or Data Analytics is another promising option. Engineering graduates usually have strong quantitative and analytical skills, making them a perfect fit for roles in data science and analytics. Studies in probability and statistics, coupled with programming knowledge in languages like Python or R, equip them to handle large datasets, perform data analysis, and draw useful insights. With more and more organizations relying on data for decision-making, the need for data scientists and analysts is on the rise, making this field a lucrative career option.

Engineering Management or Project Management could also be a good fit for those who want to use their engineering knowledge in leadership or management roles. These programs often include topics like project management, organizational behavior, and strategic planning, enabling individuals to effectively manage engineering projects and teams. With their problem-solving abilities and engineering know-how, they can excel in managing complex projects and driving success within organizations.

Interdisciplinary fields like Environmental Engineering or Sustainable Development might attract those interested in using engineering principles to tackle environmental issues and promote sustainability. Studies in physics and engineering-specific subjects can lead to further exploration in areas like renewable energy, environmental policy, or sustainable design, contributing to solutions for urgent global problems.

In short, shifting from an engineering background offers a broad spectrum of majors to consider, all of which can benefit from strong quantitative skills, analytical thinking, and problem-solving prowess. Whether it's computer science, data science, engineering management, or interdisciplinary fields, individuals can use their existing knowledge and skills to build meaningful and impactful careers in various sectors. By understanding their interests, goals, and strengths, they can make well-informed decisions about the best majors for their transition from engineering.
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Andrea’s Answer

Your courses sound similar to the ones someone in Computer Science, Actuarial Science/Math, or Discrete Mathematics would also take. My degree is in Discrete Mathematics and I took all those courses except for Physics in college. A degree in math provides the foundation on how to approach problems in many industries in a logical and methodical way. My degree program offered a choice between specializing in Computer Science, Industrial Engineering, or Actuarial Science. I chose to specialize in computer science, which means my degree is in math but I have a deep understanding of how math is the foundation of how computers operate and how to develop mathematical theories as computer algorithms. To do so, I took a selection of courses from the computer science program, like programming, to complement my degree. Newer programs around Data Science or Analysis may also be good choices.

Your physics and math background combined could also be perhaps a good stepping stone into astrophysics or other space sciences.
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Joseph’s Answer

A background knowledge from these courses will be helpful in a range of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. I'd say a bigger question than which other majors are the *most* compatible would be why they wanted to transition from Engineering in the first place - the reason may also apply within many of the other similar fields, or may give insight into which of the other fields are a better choice to align with that goal. It might even be that simply a different branch of engineering is more suitable.

From experience of my classmates in a physics degree, however, I will say that of the number that changed programmes I know of, the most common destinations were either to Engineering, Computer Science fields or Finance and economics fields.
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