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Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!
10

Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

(OP)
I know similar threads have been posted; I just read through a couple dozen or so but none of them quite fit what I'm looking for. Perhaps some of the "tribal elders" here can offer me some advice.

I just graduated with a BSME from Cal Poly Pomona. I currently work for the Naval Surface Warfare Center and while I enjoy the work we hardly do any design work. I became an engineer to get into design and that's where I would like to end up.

I was planning on continuing full time work, taking night courses, and getting my MSME and PE two years from now. I would then seek employment at likely an aerospace company nearby. I would like to get the MSME because I enjoy the schoolwork (for the most part) and because I believe it would help me land in more interesting design groups. The PE is just frosting on the cake - I don't think it will be hard for me to attain, so why not?

I know a lot of engineers on these forums seem to think a MSME is a waste of time, and to focus on real experience first. However, I think a combination of the two seems like a good idea. For the MSME Cal Poly offers two specializations: thermal/fluids and mechanics. I've really enjoyed heat transfer and fluids but I suppose mechanics would be more relevant if I desire a design path in life.

I hope that some of you can give me a little insight into this, and provide your life experience for me to base my decision off of.

Thanks in advance.

Wise men learn more from fools, than fools do from the wise.

RE: Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

(OP)
I see the question was worded funny: I would like to start my MSME this coming fall, so that I will have my MSME and PE complete by 2-3 years.

Wise men learn more from fools, than fools do from the wise.

RE: Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

An MSME is NOT a waste of time. Period.
Lets leave it at that.

peace
Fe

RE: Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

If you want to be a design engineer, get a job where you design things.  You're not going to "end up" with that kind of job, you need to go get it.

MSME is good, but is not "the ticket".  It can even work against you.  Even a BSME can overqualify one for many hands-on design positions.  It can be tough to stay in design when most company structures shunt degreed engineers into project-pusher roles.

If you do not actively direct the course of your career, it is likely you will not get to design much of anything.

RE: Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

For what its worth, we have similar beginings.  I had my BSME, went to work for a Navy Department and went to school at nights to get my MSME.  It was free except for the time, but time well spent learning more.  It went by very fast.  Addition of a PE is a bonus as well.  Now, 25 years later, got to do a lot of design work, own several Patents, and am VP of Engineering for a fairly large corporation.

Was an MSME worth the time and effort.  Absolutely because it is what opened the door for the start of my career after the Navy.

So my advice is do it.  Learn everything you can at school and on the job.  Do the work and learn firsthand, strive to understand why existing designs are the way they are and make yourself a good practical Engineer.  Once you get your degree, start your career search and the rest will be smooth sailing.  Note that your desire for doing design work can change as your career develops.  It is a long time until retirement.  Been there, done that, time for a new challenge syndrome.  Having the extra credentials will serve you well as your career develops and you pursue opportunities.

RE: Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

(OP)
A lot of great advice here, thank you all very much.

I understand that I must work to get into the job I desire; I do not expect to simply meander my way into a nice position. I work hard now, and will continue to do so in order to achieve my goals.

I'm glad I posted here; I am feeling better about attending grad school. It's free for me, so why not right?

Once again, thanks for the advice.

-Nick
 

Wise men learn more from fools, than fools do from the wise.

RE: Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

I had to keep moving to smaller and smaller companies to find the design responsibility that I wanted.  Oh, and the Master's degree never hurt me.

RE: Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

The only time I think the MSME could hurt you would be if a prospective employer thought you were over-qualified for a job. Other employers may see it as someone with a potential for growth.

If you like the coursework then how could getting the degree be a bad thing? If you are up for it then I say, go for it. Realize though that initially you may not get the full value out of the degree that you put into it.

You state that you want to get into design. Can you be more specific? Product design?

RE: Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

nsgoldberg:
I think you are on the right track. The MSME is a useful advantage- the add'l studies will likely help you understand some failure modes of equipment and help determine useful design fixes while most others without the add'l background would need to resort to brute force methods of solving  the problem.

Also, it is now a standard industrial method of solving  design problems to use finite element models ( both structural and heat transfer ) and dynamic process simulation computer programs, and it seems to be a pre-requisite to have some graduate courses in those areas to achieve any level of competence in running such models.

It is also useful to have hands-on experience in the technolgy you are addressing- the combination of hands-on field experience plus additonal analytical studies would make you competitive in thelabor market- the only thing more effective would be to marry the bosses daughter.  

RE: Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

I am in the same position.  I work for a Navy Dept. where we don't do any design work.  This is my first full time job and I had 3 internships in college.  So far I have not seen an engineering job where any kind of real design work was being done.  Getting into design was my goal in college and so far I have seen none.  Disappointed.

RE: Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

I don't know what they pay is like for the role you're doing... but you can probably move to the midwest and find a dozen contract positions doing the CAD part of design for about $25/hr.  
 

RE: Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

I don't know anything about your specific field, but a couple thoughts:

-A Master's while working full time does take some temporary sacrifices in your personal life.  Be sure to include your significant other in the discussion (if such a person exists).

-In my experience, doing your Master's while working is an excellent way to combine academic and work experience.  Hopefully your coursework and workload will overlap enough that both are useful in understanding the other.  That has been my experience.  

RE: Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

(OP)
Well, I wanted to thank everyone for their great input.

I've applied to (and will be accepted) grad school for this fall, MSME with an emphasis in mechanics and design. Even if it does nothing for my career, it is a personal goal I'd like to meet.

I also registered for the FE in April, so I should get my PE about the same time as I graduate with my MSME.

Your comment amused me Bruno, I am very fortunate to have a fiance (soon to be wife) who supports and encourages my pursuit of higher education. I don't see my coursework and work overlapping any, though I wish it would.

I appreciate all the input everyone has given. I've come to the conclusion that more education is better - there may be some circumstances where that is not the case, but in general it is greatly beneficial.

Wise men learn more from fools, than fools do from the wise.

RE: Pursuing an MSME, becoming a design engineer - advice please!

It used to be that if you wanted to write, you wrote with a pen and once you were finished you gave it to a typist to type.

If you wanted to design you used to make sketches and once you were finished you gave it to a draftperson to draft.

Now, if you want to write - you learn Word or a similar word processor and you do it all yourself ... the typist is history.

If you want to design, you need to learn the appropriate software.  Autocad is drafting - not design.  Modern solid modelling softwares are engineering design tools - it's were the engineer does his/her design.

So, work out what you would like to design.  Find out which company designs it.  Find out what solids modelling package they use (avoid Autocad).  Then learn that software and get the job.

Be careful, some companies do not appreciate that solid modelling software used properly is an engineering tool as much as it is a drafting tool.  It is very frustrating working for companies that do not appreciate the power of modern solid modelling packages and do not properly organize their product development around the functionality of these softwares - because then it winds up just being a glorified drafting tool again.

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