Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

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#1 StickyBun   User is offline

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Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 28 January 2017 - 10:09 AM

Seems like I'm reading more and more about recruiting and HR departments looking for Physics degrees for software development and engineering jobs. It appears to be almost a trend to differentiate yourself as the upside appears greater than a normal CS degree. Obviously, the Physics degree would have to come with a bunch of hobby coding and learning, especially in Python, but are you seeing this out there as much as I'm reading about it?
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#2 snoopy11   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 28 January 2017 - 10:16 AM

Well,

Physics degree's have always been in high demand in CS,

mostly for management or Team Leaders,

not necessarily for coding although Physicists do get training in coding so..

not necessarily python though, more Java or C++,

Also for Military encryption and decryption Maths degrees are in even higher demand than Physics degrees.
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#3 modi123_1   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 28 January 2017 - 10:20 AM

i have never heard of folks looking for substitute physics degrees in place of engineering or comp sci.
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#4 StickyBun   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 28 January 2017 - 10:21 AM

Good input, snoopy. I've seen Physics majors working with CERN who learn ROOT and PyRoot, which generally I believe is really on applicable to CERN and the LHC, correct? Maybe its just being talked about more in the software industry media than years prior. Their higher level math backgrounds and algorithmic thinking seem to be very in vogue for coding and programming now and it seems more sought out than in the past.

Really curious to get others input also and see if that's been something they are seeing trending.
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#5 snoopy11   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 28 January 2017 - 10:37 AM

Yeah my brother has a Docterate in Plasma Physics he is a Director in a TV Label making company which is worldwide, he flies the world auditing factories , been one for many a year,

ROOT is only really applicable to CERN, yes but as far as I know there are other projects which use ROOT not just the LHC.

As I said I went to Uni 28 years ago with someone who as soon as he got his Physics honours degree he got a gig as Team Leader for a software company in Glasgow so its nothing new in the UK.
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#6 tlhIn`toq   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 28 January 2017 - 10:56 AM

> Yeah my brother has a Docterate in Plasma Physics he is a Director in a TV Label making company which is worldwide, he flies the world auditing factories

I'm not diss-ing your brother. But how the heck do those two things go together? Do you mean to tell me the guy couldn't direct people making labels, or audit a factory without a Plasma Physics degree? I would think a degree in personnel management and/or accounting would do a lot more good.

A Physics Degree for game engines I would get - you need to understand gravity, force, friction, blah blah, if you are going to recreate those behaviors digitally and have the game behave correctly to the physical world. But you sure don't need it to make an app that let's people do on-line shopping, post a photo of their lunch to facebook, be the next best checkbook app, track their workout, or any of the other top 1,000 application genres out there. Even a digital dashboard for a speed boat doesn't require understanding the physics of the boat: Just the ability to communication with the engine's on-board computer to get the RPM, temp, oil pressure and other values.

But otherwise it just seems like college degrees are the new high-school diploma. HR won't consider you for the job without one, but it doesn't prove a darned thing about your ability to do the job. Let's be honest... Does anyone (experienced) here know a .CS degreed graduate that knew their arse from a keyboard? They all think they deserve $100k/yr but can't make a UI in XAML, don't know what TFS or GIT is, haven't a clue about OOP, inheritance, or design patterns. After 4+ years of university they are barely interns.
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#7 snoopy11   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 28 January 2017 - 01:42 PM

Ahh Plasma Physics Docterates are very obscure

he had an offer to go America and work there as at the time they were doing heavy research into fusion with lasers.

However he had just got married to a girl from London as he did his docterate at the Imperial College London

So she didnt want to go to America so he retrained and did another degree this time accountancy,

where he could easily get a job in London as an Accountant because of his Docterate he quickly became a Director of finance and he then was director of finance for the British Nuclear Authority for a while before moving back to Scotland where he got his current gig... apparently great money in TV labels who would have guessed.

This post has been edited by snoopy11: 30 January 2017 - 04:53 AM

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#8 macosxnerd101   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 28 January 2017 - 08:21 PM

Quote

A Physics Degree for game engines I would get - you need to understand gravity, force, friction, blah blah, if you are going to recreate those behaviors digitally and have the game behave correctly to the physical world. But you sure don't need it to make an app that let's people do on-line shopping, post a photo of their lunch to facebook, be the next best checkbook app, track their workout, or any of the other top 1,000 application genres out there. Even a digital dashboard for a speed boat doesn't require understanding the physics of the boat: Just the ability to communication with the engine's on-board computer to get the RPM, temp, oil pressure and other values.


A physics degree knocks out more requirements for the math major than a CS degree does. There is also a lot in physics that is applicable to computer science. One active area of research includes quantum walks. A fellow graduate student is pursuing dual PhDs in the CS and Physics department in this area, and a classmate in the math department has similar research interests. Quantum computing is another area of CS that overlaps with physics quite a bit. Beyond the obvious overlap, Physics is good for training students to think in a rigorous manner, much in the same way as Mathematics.


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Let's be honest... Does anyone (experienced) here know a .CS degreed graduate that knew their arse from a keyboard? They all think they deserve $100k/yr but can't make a UI in XAML, don't know what TFS or GIT is, haven't a clue about OOP, inheritance, or design patterns. After 4+ years of university they are barely interns.


While I agree that a CS (or college) degree shouldn't be a requirement for a job interview in software engineering, I disagree with this sweeping generalization. Several of my classmates have CS degrees that went on to be strong and successful software engineers immediately after graduation. The interview questions were also quite technical and involved, including timed coding portions, algorithm design questions, and software engineering questions. It's quite different than someone hardly passing a fizz buzz.

That said, there are many CS students with whom I've had the displeasure of teaching, and would never recommend them for a software engineering job. Not every CS program is created equal, and neither are the students.


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Their higher level math backgrounds and algorithmic thinking seem to be very in vogue for coding and programming now and it seems more sought out than in the past.


CS curricula tend to be less theoretical than they were 20-40 years ago. This change is quite apparent in the standard CS theory textbooks. The first edition of Jeff Ullman and John Hopcroft's classic text on Automata Theory was quite technical and targeted at developing future researchers. Nowadays, the third edition of their book removed much of the worthwhile material and replaced it with applications like parsing HTML. It's not appropriate for a senior level class. Additionally, fields like AI, Machine Learning, and Data Science are very hot in industry right now. These fields require a certain amount of mathematical maturity, which is at a different level than that required to build a mobile app.


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It appears to be almost a trend to differentiate yourself as the upside appears greater than a normal CS degree.


Not really. People who make it through Physics programs do so because they love Physics, not to get a job as a software engineer. The Physics classes are hard enough where they'll otherwise weed folks out. If you want to stand out, my suggestion is to find areas that interest you and develop some depth in them. Then demonstrate that depth in some way; and if possible, incorporate CS into it. Employers take notice of that, and you'll be a stronger candidate because you took the time to learn and make something.

This post has been edited by macosxnerd101: 28 January 2017 - 08:46 PM

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#9 Skydiver   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 29 January 2017 - 03:31 AM

Oops! Fat fingered the +1 button. I accidentally hit the -1 button. Sorry!
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#10 Skydiver   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 29 January 2017 - 03:39 AM

I wanted to hit the +1 because the last paragraph hit the nail on the head. My team normally does not take interns, much less interns whose current majors is not CS, IS, IT, or CE. We normally just pass on getting an intern if they don't look like very strong candidates who will require very little ramp up time. The other year though, we had a very successful internship with a Chemistry major whose CV showed those characteristics of deep dedication in their major as well as enough application of programming towards their field of study.
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#11 StickyBun   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 29 January 2017 - 06:22 AM

The more Physics degrees you see in the internal structure of a tech/software company, the more you'll see those same types of degrees being hired as interns and junior software developer/engineers. That's how it goes. Of course, at the core, is no matter what the degree, how much do they love coding? Are they doing it in their off time? Is their strong aptitude there?
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#12 Skydiver   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 29 January 2017 - 10:17 AM

One of my co-workers used to work for a company that pioneered 3D guided tomography. She said since the company was started up by Physics PhDs she first felt out of place being a CS/Math major. It all worked out well in the end because she brought in another perspective that strengthened their development and QA processes where as before they were only disciplined as a side effect of FDA requirements.
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#13 snoopy11   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 30 January 2017 - 01:09 AM

Hmm yes both maths and physics students

Have strong maths backgrounds

Which I personally see as a weakness in CS students on forums like dic
There are certainly coders who do know quite a lot of maths
Macosx for one but generally the level of maths on the degree I am currently doing is very low ie the students struggle with the math which is very easy actually.

Maths is not that important if you are building a mobile app no

But there are more technical applications that require an understanding of either engineering maths or physics.

Coming from an Engineering background the maths has been very easy.

I had to do 7th order wave equations and the like way back in my youth when I did my engineering degree.

The maths of my CIT degree is almost babyish.

The java they are teaching is just mind numbingly easy.

But a degree provides more than just technical ability
It proves you can learn,
And if you can learn you can learn anything.


As I said I have had many an OP Struggling on here simply because they don't get basic math
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#14 StickyBun   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 30 January 2017 - 06:13 AM

Interesting article here:

My link
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#15 andrewsw   User is offline

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Re: Physics Degrees and Software Engineering: The New Trend

Posted 30 January 2017 - 07:01 AM

That article posits that a Physics degree is becoming of more interest in the areas of machine learning and big data software. That makes sense. For the majority of Developer and Junior Developer roles, though, I doubt that Physics is mentioned significantly more than it has been in past.

What is your interest in this topic? Are you taking a Physics degree?
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