In Summary - Computational Physicist
Computational Physicists typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Computational Physicist
Computational physicists focus a large portion of their time doing research in fundamental mathematics, and developing computer models of physical processes or phenomena in order to find scientific solutions to incredibly complex problems.
As a Computational Physicist, your work revolves around physics, computer science, mathematics and theories about how systems in each of those areas might behave. The work of a computational physicist directly contributes to real-life, relevant applications such as environmental modeling, groundwater transport, medical imaging, and energy management.
This occupation requires you to be an expert not only on computers and science, but also on how computer algorithms and the simulations that connect the two fields.
A computational physicist’s work involves developing and implementing algorithms for massively-parallel computer architectures.
Generally employment in this field can be found within the energy and aerospace sectors, chemical and pharmaceutical companies, and the field of environmental management.
Tasks and Activities
- Develop algorithms and physics models to advance the state of the art in multi-physics simulation for a variety of physics process in 2D and 3D.
- Develop, release, and maintain models and algorithms using advanced physics simulation tools to support the physics capabilities based on requirements from a diverse user community.
- Developing and supporting multi-dimensional numerical simulation.
- Converting theory into models or algorithms appropriate for numerical simulation.
- Provide technical support, informal training, and guidance to code users in the application of simulation tools developed.
- Conduct research for the development of simulation tools as part of a multi-disciplinary team.
- Present and disseminate research results at to colleagues and possibly in a lecturing capacity.
Analysing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analysing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions. Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events —
Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Perform complex calculations as part of the analysis and evaluation of data, using computers.
- Describe and express observations and conclusions in mathematical terms.
- Analyze data from research conducted to detect and measure physical phenomena.
- Report experimental results by writing papers for scientific journals or by presenting information at scientific conferences.
- Design computer simulations to model physical data so that it can be better understood.
- Collaborate with other scientists in the design, development, and testing of experimental, industrial, or medical equipment, instrumentation, and procedures.
- Direct testing and monitoring of contamination of radioactive equipment, and recording of personnel and plant area radiation exposure data.
- Observe the structure and properties of matter, and the transformation and propagation of energy, using equipment such as masers, lasers, and telescopes to explore and identify the basic principles governing these phenomena.
- Develop theories and laws on the basis of observation and experiments, and apply these theories and laws to problems in areas such as nuclear energy, optics, and aerospace technology.
- Teach physics to students.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
Interests - Computational Physicist
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
A crucial attribute for a computational physicist is self-motivation and initiative in addressing challenging problems.
Analytical skills, conceptual skills and creativity are significant qualities to ensure thinking outside the box when developing models that will maximise productivity.
Patience is a vital quality when attempting to find scientific solutions to incredibly complex problems.
Verbal communication, written communication and presentation skills are important to author technical and scientific reports, publications and to deliver scientific presentations.
It is essential for a computational physicist to have the ability to working independently and in a multi-disciplinary team-research environment.
Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Entry Requirements - Computational Physicist
A background in the STEM subjects are essential to pursuing a career as a computational physicist.
Predominant disciplines include computer science, physics, maths and engineering. Relevant degrees degree programmes are available from a range of universities and IoTs.
Postgraduate study in the applicable specialities may be necessary to progress as a computational physicist. A Ph.D. focusing on computational physics would be required in order to reach a high level position in this field such as lecturing.
Last Updated: November, 2014