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Considering grad school

Considering grad school

Considering grad school

(OP)
For the people who have graduate degrees, I would like to know if you feel like it has helped you in your design work or was it a just a little boost in position/respect for you in your company?
For a working engineer, is it worth going for the phd or just sticking with masters?

RE: Considering grad school

You should have stopped at your Bachelor's degree. Respect from your office mates is surely not dependent on your credentials, but on your ability to design. And bosses don't like to pay higher salaries for masters, and or phd's with no experience. On a broad stroke of the structural industry, it seems graduate degrees are few and far between, and that you can learn more as an employee (try a large office first), than you can in a classroom. Plus the actually pay you to work there.

RE: Considering grad school

I do not agree with Zulak.  Do not stop at the Bachelor's degree.  GO TO GRADUATE SCHOOL!  The insite you will gain into structural analysis and design philosophy will enhance your skills and broaden your horizons.  You will become a better engineer for having done it.

RE: Considering grad school

I agree with eureka.  I would not have come back for a master's if I felt I learned enough the first time around.  As an undergrad, I was heavily involved with ASCE and disagreed strongly with their stance on a master's being the first professional degree recognized for licensure.  I have since changed my mind on the view.  There are so many classes not realated to engineering stuffed into the undergraduate engineering programs that most classes just skim the surface, doing master's work allows you to get a little deeper into what you didn't get a chance to see in undergraduate work.

I do not know where Zulak is located, but as far as employers not wanting to pay more for masters and pHD students, that may be the case where he's at.  In my experience, looking for a job in the structural field without a master's degree or any structural experience was pretty much pointless.

The only possible explanation (if it is even true) that graduate degrees may be few and far between in industry is that the people who are in positions of authority have been there so long that when they received their degree, the amount of coursework was greater than what is required now.  Also, the level of mentoring now is not what it used to be, therefore it did make more sense to forgo graduate school and just go to work.  Unfortuately, many employers now expect a fresh graduate to jump straight from school and know everything without any direction.

I'm sure someone out there will be happy to let me know that I'm wrong.  Go back to school, you won't regret it.

RE: Considering grad school

hi everybody,
do you guys know what's the optimum ratio draftspeople/engineer in the building industry?
thanks a lot

RE: Considering grad school

I agree with Zulak,Eureka and Gradstoodent; Get your masters if you can. I learned a great amount from my masters program and I have been a better engineer because of it. It also helped prepare me for the P.E. exams.  I took a job after my B.S. and the company paid for me to go back and get my M.S. Time well spent.

RE: Considering grad school

Also agree that Master's (or graduate) degree is very beneficial for Structural Engineering (not so for general Civil Engineering).  

Most BS degrees are in general Civil and you get some opportunity, but not much, in most curriculum layouts to get a little extra structural learning in.   Halfway through the graduate program I truly felt lots of light bulbs going off in my head.  I suddenly REALLY understood all the different analysis methods, concepts, etc.

You won't necessarily get a huge financial compensation for the degree but you will get many more opportunities.  I know a lot of engineering managers, myself included, that have preferred MS graduates.  I've hired some BS graduates, but only the best, and they work out great.  But I know that I would not be as well versed without my MS

RE: Considering grad school

Graduate school is well worth the trouble.  If you have worked prior to going back, you will be able to relate firsthand to what you are learning.  Try to admit that during your earlier years!  Whether you are pursuing a masters or doctorate you will be well rewarded in the satisfaction of understanding many things that you would not have otherwise considered had you not taken this important step.  This is exactly what JAE is writing about...I know - I experienced the same feelings!

Also, while some disparities exist amoung the public, consulting, and private sectors, you will be paid well and will be considerablly more marketable.

RE: Considering grad school

I have had the opportunity to see this question raised on many fronts over many years.  Fifteen to twenty years ago, I would have agreed with Zulak.  At that time, the BS curricula were rigorous enough to provide challenge and demanding enough to produce higher competence.

Both the curricula and the profession have been "watered down", not surprisingly for the same reasons, but from different perspectives.  In academia, there was a push to create and further the ASCE philosophy, as well as deal with budget constraints that limited the coursework at the BS level.  Further, there was a "dumbing down" of engineering coursework to comply with other University curricula norms (Why should engineering require more credit hours for a BS than an elementary teacher?...was the unknowing question asked by many administrators who controlled the budgets and thus the direction of many programs!  As practicing engineers, we all know the answer to that, but it was obvious that they did not!)

In "industry" the enhanced marketing of credentials has become so important to winning projects that having a Master's degree (surprisingly, in almost any subject, as long as you have the BS in the appropriate one)has become very important.  Insight is perhaps the most important product of graduate work.  The coursework is not tremendously more rigorous, just different in its focus and perspective.

In short, any knowledge gained is beneficial and completion of graduate coursework is, fortunately or unfortunately, the verification of this gained knowledge.

Go for it!

RE: Considering grad school

Graduate level courses focus a lot more on advanced theories.  They might not be absolutely necessary to becoming a practicing engineer, but they definitely deepen you understanding of the topics.  This is important if you ever want to do "cutting edge" work that isn't explicitly covered in building codes and manuals.  It's not as important if you just want to do "cookie cutter" work like selecting joist sizes from span tables.  As for the PhD, it's probably overkill unless you want to be a researcher, expert witness, or a very specialized niche engineer.  Whereas a MS degree more or less means that you have "mastered" the breadth of your subject, the PhD often means you have become an expert in a very narrow focus within the subject.

Ron,
I agree with everything you said except one thing.  Personally, I found the coursework in grad school to be MUCH more rigorous than undergrad.  Several times I walked out of lectures feeling like my brain had been melted.  Only after hours of studying on my own did I really understand what the prof was talking about.

RE: Considering grad school


Definitely pursue a Masters degree. Personally I don't feel a PhD is any more valuable than a Masters, but a Masters is definitely more valuable than just a Bachelors when pursuing employment. Also, some employers like to tell clients and potential clients their staff has "graduate" degrees.

RE: Considering grad school

Taro and Ron:  In regards to the "rigorous" level of MS coursework, I remember, as a second grader, walking past a 3rd grade classroom one day and looking in, saw their spelling workbooks and just about lost it.  It looked so hard.  After getting there it was more difficult, but not overwhelmingly so.

Same goes for graduate study, I guess, except that by the time you get to that level, the learning is more focused on (hopefully) what you love doing.  I studied harder, but didn't find the topics at the level of brain-melt that you refer to, Taro.  

One thing that I did notice, however, was a lot of burn-out with students who went directly from B.S. to graduate school.  I had left school and worked a couple of years so I was raring to go.

RE: Considering grad school

I think an MS would help you understand the "physics" behind material behavior and so fourth better than a BS would.  But I think that a BS with quality summer internships will produce a quality junior engineer.
One other thing - I feel that engineers out of college do not know enough about building codes and finding out wind and seismic loadings and such.  From what I understand, a masters degree would not help in this area one bit.

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