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Question: Is physics the most important part of engineering
Asked by anon-73855 to Lizzie on 23 Apr 2020.
answered on 23 Apr 2020:
I’m actually quite unique in that I didn’t study Physics and Maths at A-Level but I managed to teach it to myself during my degree. This is very rare and it was definitely easier if you take Physics and Maths A-Levels.
Callum commented on 24 Apr 2020:
Whilst physics is definitely an important part of understanding the theory behind a lot of engineering. I’d say that working as engineer there are a great deal of skills I rely on day-to-day; communication and team-working, are two principal ones.
This definitely doesn’t diminish the fact that enjoying (or at least tolerating) physics will definitely help you if you study engineering at university. But don’t worry if you’re not amazing at Physics, I certainly never was.
Steve commented on 24 Apr 2020:
While Physics and Mathematics can be very important skills for an engineer, equally important is an enquiring mind and a tenacity to find a solution to a problem. Physics and Maths will help to work out why there is a problem maybe and then to prove that a solution will solve a problem but without a desire to want to solve problems and to understand the mechanisms involved the academic skills aren’t useful. You can learn the Physics and the maths right, the enthusiasm must be already n you.
Conor commented on 24 Apr 2020:
Depending on specifically what a person’s job role is, all kinds of subjects could be more important than physics.
I suspect physics is overall the most important subject for most engineering roles, and physics is probably the best place to start for anyone looking to become an engineer, especially if they’re not sure what kind of engineer they want to be. I don’t think there’s an engineering discipline out there that doesn’t rely on physics at least to some degree.
However, in a person’s day-to-day role, they may not really think about physics very much at all.
Some roles may involve writing technical reports in a way that can be understood by a layman, and in that case English may be the most important subject for them. Another person may evaluate the performance of a design and may care more about costs, failure rates, life-spans, etc. Statistics and other areas of maths could be more important than physics.
Emily commented on 27 Apr 2020:
I would say it’s one of the foundations for engineering so to have an interest in physics will give you a good base into engineering. Engineering is like applying physics to the real world. It certainly helps to have basic physics to study engineering, but once you’re in the real world, experience and understanding how to apply the concepts usually far outweigh needing to be good at physics. There are so many other things that make you a good engineer, with most important I would say being the ability to problem solve logically, and if you aren’t strong in physics that certainly doesn’t mean you aren’t a candidate to be an engineer.
Rob H commented on 27 Apr 2020:
I would say Physics and Maths would be the foundation for engineering but only a basic understanding is required depending on the specialism. The most important part of engineering is problem solving, which is often how employers recruit engineers. This skill is very important and if you enjoy solving problems, engineering is definitely a career you can consider
Amber commented on 27 Apr 2020:
I didn’t take Physics at A level and I failed A level Maths, but it’s okay I did A level Electronics. At uni I found that real world applications of maths made it easier for me to understand rather than just equations without being explained why they are used. I now tour the world as an expert in finding single points of failure in data centers and analysing data center designs (both power and cooling). The most critical thing for engineering by far is to have an analytical mind and not give up if things don’t work out the first time or a little difficult. Solving problems and wanting to make the world a better place are always common with great engineers.
Kate commented on 27 Apr 2020:
It depends hugely on the engineering subject you want to study; from a purely educational view point if you are looking to take engineering (particularly mechanical engineering) as a degree subject, having a Physics A level will mean that the transition is a lot easier as it will assume some knowledge. However, I did it the other way around – I took a Physics degree and ended up an engineer!
Frances commented on 28 Apr 2020:
Its such an interesting topic!! I think its good to remember;
1. All universities have different entry requirements. If you are set on going to a ‘Russell group’ university then I think either physics/maths ‘A’ level is required.
2. Russell group/ red brick universities aren’t always the way to go!! I lived in Coventry during my first engineering role. Coventry university is not red brick/ Russell group but is exceptional for automotive engineering. Don’t just think about the degree, think about the prospects afterwards.
For example: Coventry university is ideally placed next to Jaguar Land Rover, Polestar and multiple first tier suppliers to the car makers. The chance of getting a graduate role is therefore very good.
3. Apprenticeships are still alive and kicking. Don’t think university is your only option into engineering. There are plenty of businesses looking to recruit apprentices and train them up to a degree level. It takes longer to get the degree but you have 3-4 years experience before you even do it. This will put you in a great place in an industry that values over everything else – experience.
In summary – look at all your options and be smart. I would google companies you are interested in working for and see what universities they collaborate with. Make sure you find the statistics for your course of how many students get a graduate role within 2 years of graduating. Check out alternative routes too!
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