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Physical engineering


Physical engineering comprises all modern technologies including microtechnology and nanotechnology, semiconductor technology, electronics, surface engineering, thin-layer technology, optical and laser technology, medical technology, sensor technology, metrology, and engineering analysis.

Physical engineers transpose results of fundamental physical research to practical applications and/or technical models. The goal is to turn findings from physical research into technical innovations and utile, environmentally-compatible and sustainable products and procedures.

Study program and requirements

Studies in physical engineering are offered mainly by universities of applied sciences. The programs offer a wide range of courses including basic physics as well as courses covering the competencies necessary to deal with technical issues across disciplines. Areas of learning include topical subjects relating to mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, electronics and other engineering sciences.

Due to the large bandwidth of the field and the variety of focuses, some areas of study in physical engineering have separate names, for example, microtechnology and nanotechnology, laser technology, and optics.

Employment opportunities

Graduates of physical engineering programs (physical engineers) can work in any field related to developments in natural sciences and/or technology. Depending on the graduate’s technical focus and interests, employment opportunities can be found at research institutions, in corporate development departments, in production, planning, sales, and servicing in the automotive or aviation industries, in machine and systems construction, the semiconductor industry, communications technology, the optical industry, and in the fields of laser or medical technology. Germany ranks at the top in many of these industries, thus offering good career opportunities and interesting work.

Physical engineers are tasked with researching and developing new procedures, equipment and/or products, managing projects, designing and planning systems and processes, and optimizing manufacturing processes and flows. Physical engineers also find employment in quality management, marketing, technical sales, business consultation services, systems analysis, technology management, and education. In addition, physical engineers can work wherever technical problems can be solved creatively and in a cross-disciplinary manner based on their sound knowledge of natural sciences.

Studies at universities and universities of applied sciences

Practical work

Most academic institutions do not require students to complete internships before taking up their studies. Over the course of their studies, students must sign up for diverse practical courses of varying duration at the institution (physics lab) or in industrial companies.


Students in the bachelor program take courses that allow them to acquire a general knowledge of mathematics, physics, information technology and engineering sciences. Depending on the institution’s focus, more in-depth fundamentals are conveyed in lectures and other modules on materials sciences, rheology and thermodynamics, solid-state physics, electronics, automation technology, technical optics, laser physics, technical mechanics, information technology, and construction.

Application-related modules offer more insight into technicalities and methods, for example, in metrology, control engineering, cybernetics, vacuum technology and cryotechnology, technical optics, nanostructures, medical physics, laser technology, spectroscopy, technical acoustics, and solar technology.

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