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Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME
6

Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

(OP)
First off, thanks to those who posted on the following topics - you helped me answer a lot of questions.
Rather than threadjacking any of the below, it seems prudent to create a new post.
 
http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=252093
http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=259394
http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=249064
http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=217019

My situation:
I'm thinking of changing professions from marketing/communications to engineering. I would want to pursue a master's program, probably in mechanical engineering. As my BS is in an unrelated background, I have a lot of prerequisites to make up, which I would take at a community college. This would give me a chance to see whether I have a head for engineering in general, while not costing a lot, and letting me continue to work all the while. In the future, I hope to combine my business skills and experience, with something more useful to myself and the planet, engineering.

Looking at different Master's programs at UW, where I would like to end up, there seems to be a choice between the MSME and the MSE. The MSME is designed for those who have a BSME already, and the MSE is for those who don't. Seeing as I know very little about the professional side of engineering, I'm not sure how to even approach the question of how they differ. I am fine working towards long-term goals, so if a MSE is a joke and a BSME+MSME is the real deal, that wouldn't be a game-breaker.

My question:
Does anyone have any experience or advice on the differences between a MSME and a MSE, both on the quality of education and the "street cred" / desirability?

UW's summary of the programs and prerequisites:
http://www.me.washington.edu/academic/admissions/applications_summary.php

Thanks for your help!
Sasha

RE: Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

3
In general, I'd say go for the BSME then MSME if that's what you want. Skipping the BS could affect your ability to be licensed later. Also, with the prereqs you have to take in engr (statics, materials, mech mat,dynamics), it looks like the prereqs+MSE courses will take about the same time as a BSME. You won't be able to say you have a Masters, but you might be spending your career explaining what your degree actully is with an MSE.

I had a nontrad friend during undergrad who had a business bachelors. She took calc, physics I, and statics at the CC then finished the BSME in 2 yrs at the Univ. It seemed like a good path.

RE: Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

I did a MSEE after a physics degree.  I say it is an applied physics masters, but I have always worked as an 'engineer'.  It's not the route for a design engineer though, or a PE of any sort.  I took every electronics (circuits I&II, digital logic, electronics I&II, analog design, digital design, field theory, solid state, VLSI...) undergrad course on my way to a device physics graduate degree, but that leaves out a ton of EE undergrad topics.  I worked in the physics lab that I did my MS thesis at, so I had access to the equipment that EE students did not.  

That said, I have been relegated to fringe engineering topics in my career, as opposed to design work.  I actually work as an ME now doing pressure vessel API type analysis.  I like the challenge of learning new things, so it has been very fulfilling for me.  I say do the technical undergrad, whether a science or an engineering, and go from there.

RE: Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

2
mechmama has a really good suggestion.  I say that for two reasons: (1) an MS of any sort is actually a hindrance to getting a first Engineering job (it can be a benefit to someone with more than 3 years Engineering experience, but for a new hire it hurts); and (2) if you ever want a PE, many boards will only look at your undergrad degree and if it is not an Engineering degree from an ABET approved program you will have a very hard time convincing them to let you sit for the P.E. exam.  

I have an undergrad degree with an odd name (the word "Engineering" does not appear) and it has hurt my ability to get an interview.  Once past the initial interview what I know and what I've done carries the day, but if you can't get in the door it really doesn't matter how much of a star you might be.  My MSME helps with that, but it only added value after 12 years of relevant experience.  Many companies assign the initial screening process to HR and those dweebs are only looking for key words.  They throw away a LOT of resumes that an Engineering Manager would look at, so you really don't want to start out with a handicap.

I'd go for the second undergrad degree.

David

RE: Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

(OP)
Thank you for your responses and for confirming my suspicions; it seems the world of engineering is very different from the world of business. It is very hard for me to internalize the fact that stand-alone undergraduate degree in engineering would be more valued than a stand-alone graduate degree in engineering, as this is exactly the opposite in most other fields.

As you said, mechmama, I wouldn't be able to say I had a master's, but I would have something that others understood and trusted. Then if in the future I felt held back by not having a master's, I would be in the right position to get the right master's degree.

Thanks again for your help!
Sasha

RE: Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

To reinforce this advice, search the forums for masters degrees.  It comes up pretty often when folks with a BS in Engineering are approaching having to go into the cold cruel world and "decide" to go to grad school instead.  They get no support at all.

David

RE: Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

A masters degree in mechanical engineering is not a standalone degree (unlike a masters in business admistration). You will not learn enough in 13 classes of masters degree work to be a compontent engineer!

Cedar Bluff Engineering
http://cedarbluffengineering.webs.com

RE: Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

Most M.Sc. Eng. programs have only 5 classes.
Actually, you learn much much more by "doing" the research.  

peace
Fe

RE: Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

Yes, here in Canada M.Sc. Eng. usually requires 5 courses and then 12-36 months of novel research.
The M.Eng. although requires 13-18 courses, but no research.

The M.Sc. Eng. is considered more rigorous. (And is, I can tell you from experience)

peace
Fe

RE: Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

(OP)
Alright, y'all have convinced me to go the undergraduate route. But I'm left wondering: why would UW even offer a MSE program?

Sasha

RE: Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

Why not?
The majority here urge in a direction based on their own biased (keep that in mind). This includes everyone.  

peace
Fe

RE: Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

The MSE program at UW is an interdisciplinary degree that allows students to take EE, civil, ME, and indudstrial engineering courses and receive a degree. Normally you have to specialize in either ME, EE, or whatever. But the UW program allows you to take classes across a variety of disciplines and receive a degree for it.

(By the way, I am a current grad student at UW in MSME right now.)

Cedar Bluff Engineering
http://cedarbluffengineering.webs.com

RE: Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

Nice, my MSE is not so broad. It's in control engineering.

What will you peruse after? If yours is research based, I suggest a doctorate.  

peace
Fe

RE: Master's Degree Choices - MSE vs MSME

lamoix,
To address your latest question directly, a Masters degree (or a Doctorate for that matter) can be useful after an Engineer has "enough" Relevant Engineering Experience.  If you've worked as an Engineer long enough to demonstrate that you are aware that there really are things you do not know and are not terrified by that idea, then you have reached a point where additional education or certificates (like the P.E. in the U.S.) can distinguish you from the herd.  Before that point I find graduate degrees to be a detriment because they make it a bit harder to say "I don't know, but I'll try to find out" instead of making up an answer.  An unsupervised Engineer that thinks they know everything is a really dangerous thing.

David

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