Question: Hi, My name is Erica. I'm a senior in highschool and am still unsure of what degree I want to go into. I am good in math and am partly interested in nanotechnology. What field would nanotechnology be placed in in engineering? Does every field in engineering involve math? Were you ever unsure of what you enjoyed so as to pick your major? If you have any advice for me I'd love to hear it! :) Thanks so much, Erica
on March 28, 2012
Nanotechnology is an interesting field because it so often involves collaborations between investigators from different backgrounds. That said, I think that most nanotechnology programs are centered in Materials Science/Engineering. To start your studies, you will need to take math, physics and chemistry. When you take these basic courses, I think that you'll find your interests will become more clear -- you may want to emphasize one discipline over the others. If the connections between the courses, and their potential applications get you going, then Materials Engineering might be just the right thing for you. Don't be worried about not knowing exactly what you want to do yet, but consider attending a college where you don't have to choose your major very early on. But do keep going in math -- it is important to all science and engineering disciplines!
Nanotechnology is a interdisciplinary field. Scientists and Engineers in physics, chemistry, material science, mechanical, electrical, chemical, and biomedical engineering are working together in this field. Some schools, such as UCSD are starting NanoEngineering majors. In other places, going into any of the above majors can lead to a potential career in nanotechnology. Engineering math is taught in any of these engineering majors and is a useful tool. A profound understanding of physics and chemistry will be important too. Physics, mechanical, and electrical engineering may emphasize more on physics, where as chemistry, chemical, and biomedical engineering will give you more training on chemistry. Material science is probably a little of both. Based on your other interests, you can choose any of these majors.
Every field of engineering does involve math although some fields may use it more such as civil engineering when doing structural analysis.
The field of nanotechnology has come about long after I studied engineering. If you are interested in that field, you may want to check with the college you plan to attend to determine which department of engineering offers nanotechnology studies. The good news is that most engineering curriculums require engineering students to take the basics the first year such that you still have your freshman year to choose which you would prefer to major in. If your college offers sessions for learning about the different engineering fields (I know Texas A the decision can be even more difficult. Any field of engineering will be a challenge you will enjoy. Just take your time and research what is available at the college you choose to attend.
Good luck! -Sheila