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Careers: Physics/about NASA


My name is Rahul Garg. i am from India. i am doing in civil branch.i am very interested in Physics.i am studying Physics at my home. i want to be a Physicist and go to NASA. what will i have to do...........

Hi rahul:

If you look at my previous answers you will find several relating to studying physics and working for NASA.  While working for NASA is an excellent goal, it should not be your sole purpose as it is quite difficult to ensure that you will, indeed, work there.

More practically, you should consider whether you have a passion for physics or if it is just the aerospace industry you are interested in.  If the latter, you can certainly get into the industry (and even NASA) as an engineer but aerospace or mechanical engineering are better for this than civil engineering.  

If you are truly passionate about physics, you should ask yourself why you are studying civil engineering instead of physics at this time.  It is a challenge to switch from engineering to physics but it is possible.  In order to do this you will probably have to take at least a Masters program in India in physics and make sure you learn the core material well enough to get into a graduate physics program somewhere.  This means Classical mechanics, Electrodynamics and Quantum mechanics.  

You can certainly study this on your own but that will not substitute for taking real, rigorous courses in those subjects.  I see many Masters students at Illinois Tech who struggle with graduate courses in those areas when their background is primarily engineering.

Once you have taken a Masters course in India, look into Ph.D programs in physics and apply.  With a strong Physics GRE and good letters of recommendation, you can enter a program which will take you 6 years on the average to complete.  After that you can look for a job in the aerospace industry.

Good luck!

Careers: Physics

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Carlo Segre


I can answer most questions about studying physics in college and graduate school; questions about condensed matter physics; x-ray physics; synchrotron radiation; and general and modern physics. I can also answer questions about careers in academia.


Professor of physics for 30 years at Illinois Institute of Technology. Academic adviser for undergraduates and graduate students. I have served on university promotion and tenure committees, search committees for Deans and Department Chairs. I have also been an Associate Department Chair and an Associate Dean. I have 34 years experience in materials science research and I have been responsible for building and now managing a User facility at the Advanced Photon Source.

American Physical Society
Sigma Xi
American Chemical Society
American Associate for the Advancement of Science
International Centre for Diffraction Data (Fellow)
International X-ray Absorption Society

Nature; Physical Review Letters; Physical Review; Applied Physics Letters; Journal of Physical Chemistry; Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials; Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics; Solid State Communications; Physics Letters; Journal of Low Temperature Physics; Journal of Crystal Growth and Design; Physics Letters; Journal of Applied Physics; Journal of Archaeological Science; Physica C; Corrosion Science; Electrochimica Acta; Journal of Nuclear Materials

Ph.D. Physics, 1981 - University of California, San Diego
M.S. Physics, 1977 - University of California, San Diego
B.S. Physics, 1976 - University of illinois, Champaign-Urbana
B.S. Chemistry 1976 - University of illinois, Champaign-Urbana

Awards and Honors
Duchossois Leadership Professor of Physics, IIT Fellow, International Center for Diffraction Data

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