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Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?
12

Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

(OP)
Hi everybody,

I've been wondering if anybody has any experience on how much tougher a masters in Mechanical engineering would be compared to a bachelors? I will be graduating this semester with a rather low GPA of 2.6/2.7. Due to my initial study habits the first couple years. I improved a lot my last year with an average GPA of about 2.9/3.0. With that being said I want to further my knowledge of Mechanical engineering with a masters but the idea of a challenging thesis and some of the courses especially Radiation(heat transfer) Sounds pretty challenging and not sure if I know what ill be getting myself into is the main worry i have. I've applied to about 20 different jobs in the LA area and have gotten no call back and its only 2 months left till i graduate so I dont know what to do honestly.

My two reasons as to why I want to go to grad school immmediately after graduating this May are
1. I cant find any jobs in the LA area that are mechanical engineering related (dont want to build expertise in an industry that cant help me get into a more desirable industry later for example.)
2. Further my knowledge in the mechanical engineering field to have better opportunities and personal satisfaction of attaining a masters in ME.

One thing i wanted to add is I am 26 now and will be 28/29 when I graduate with my masters if I go that route. I have only a summers worth of internship experience and that is just contract work for civil engineering projects. (may not be relevant) With that being said will having no professional experience but having a masters hinder my chances of getting a job going into my 30s?


Thanks again and I really appreciate any feedback

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

MSME is not too tough; the change in study habits needed to earn the BSME is a more difficult problem then the effort needed for earning a MSME. The problem with the MSME is the loss in earnings for the 1-2 yrs needed to earn the MSME; if you can afford the additional education it is worth it, as long as you are interested in the subject matter and focus on courses that will improve you employment opportunities.

Radiation ( or radiative) heat transfer is tough and is a specialized field whose jobs are normally populated by PhD's and not MSME's. Be prepared for a low grade. A more profitable route for a MSME is to study finite elements and related structural and metallurgical areas.

"Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

When I was in a hiring position, an MSME with no experience did not get an interview. I've found them to generally have unrealistic expectations and actually added less value than a new BSME.

Now, an MSME with 5 years of relevant experience is a totally different conversation. With experience I can put you right to work, without experience I have to un-teach you the bits of college that are simple nonsense (no Virginia, there are no "safe zones" in the workplace to protect your delicate feelings, and Yes, if the work requires you to be on location Saturday afternoon your kegger doesn't trump that need and I expect you to be there).

In general I have rarely found my MSME to be directly useful in my work, but I've often found it provided some very useful insights to help understand the underlying problems. I'm glad that I did the MSME (12 years out of undergraduate), but it has never had a direct impact on my salary or rate of advancement or my ability (as a consultant) to get jobs. If you are considering it simply to put off entry into the job market, you are messing up. It is way too much work to be an effective work-avoidance strategy.

You BS grades are what they are, and they only matter for the first job. LA is a big job market, but it isn't the world or even the country. If I were you I'd expand my search outside the LA basin (and even, gasp, outside of California). Maybe even to a flyover state like Colorado or Texas or Alabama.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

(OP)
Im surprised a person with an MSME did not get an interview? wow. IN todays economy there are so many people that have bachelors I dont see why an MSME would drive employers away? To be honest I am graduating from an ABET accredited small school: the university of Alaska Anchorage. Due to the oil decline Alaska is most dependent on oil revenue and because of that decline there are very few jobs here. I am originally from LA so I really would want a job out there. It just seems tough coming out of a smaller school and on top of that applying out of state. So thats why I am pushing towards grad school since I can afford it but I will be nearing 30 years of age with no professional experience.

Is it a risk taking ANY job that is engineering related in hopes I could work in a more desirable field later? I was warned that if you get a job in one industry you build expertise in that field that may not transfer over to another one.

thanks and i appreciate your time. the advice really helps!

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

I live in the LA area and I don't find it difficult finding a mechanical engineering job. And why don't you just focus on doing things differently. We all know that it is not easy to find a job right after college. I had to apply to 500 jobs before I got my first job. When applying for jobs, read the tasks carefully and then ask yourself why should they hire you. What can you do for them? Would you hire yourself if you were the boss of that company? Be honest to yourself and to others.

In regards to getting your master, I would say keep applying for jobs and don't get your masters degree just yet. You want to go in the field, work and get some experience on how Engineering actually works. So, my advice is to keep looking for jobs and find one in the engineering field even if they are paying low. You need experience now, which will turn into gold after some years.


RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

Graduate school is all about arithmetic. You spend a bunch of time working of esoteric methods to solve differential equations and you really don't see many closed-form equations through the whole program. I have not seen many working engineers who ever have to solve any differential equations, mostly as a working engineer you are looking for closed-form equations to represent the things you are trying to evaluate/build/post-appraise.

A person who goes through the pain of mastering these techniques feels that they have done a lot of work (and they have) so employers should see that work as valuable (they don't). I want someone who can design a gas gathering system that can be pigged and as appropriate material, much more on-the-job-training kind of stuff than something anyone learns in undergraduate or graduate education. I hire a new engineer and then put him with an experienced person to guide the new person through the rocks and shoals. Same process for a BSME as an MSME. Three years later I have either fired the person or they have become useful and self-motivated. With a BSME I can usually count on them sticking around for another year or two. The MSME's I've seen have to go through the same 3-year OJT process, but at the end of it too many of them then wonder "why haven't I been promoted to an Executive Position, I've finished my 3 year internship?" and start circulating their resume. They are more trouble than they could ever be worth.

I've changed careers 5 times since I learned a trade in the Navy. You only get locked into an industry or a specialty if you allow yourself to be. In Oil & Gas I've seen good engineers who went to automotive, consumer products, and the U.S. Army out of their undergraduate program. All of them were hired as "experienced" and all quickly came up to speed on our regulations and terminology. You are only as trapped as you want to be.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

A resume landing on my desk from someone who goes into a coursework Masters immediately after a non coop Bachelors, particularly with lousy Bachelors grades, would elicit a groan and their resume would be tossed.

A research Masters with a thesis, somewhat relevant to what we do? That would be treated as equivalent to perhaps a year of somewhat relevant on the job experience, and compensated accordingly, without being tossed directly into the deleted folder or shredder bin.

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

The last MSME I hired before I started tossing their CV's was exactly the guy that moltenmetal described. He had mediocre undergraduate grades, 3 years to get an MS with passing grades (still nothing to shout about), but with a thesis that was right in line with what I needed done. What a train wreck. His understanding of his thesis topic was only slightly more shallow than it was narrow. His thesis committee was as worthless as mine had been and several glaring errors were obvious when I finally got around to reading it (I just read the topic and abstract prior to hiring him, when it was clear that he didn't know much I got a copy). Luckily he quit when I suggested that he really should be in the intern program so that he could at least learn how write a procedure that didn't need a disclaimer at the end that would have said (if we had been honest) "everyone still alive at this point in the procedure should go have a beer".

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

(OP)
Wow didn't think a masters was looked down upon in the workforce. Sounds like its mainly because graduate students feel they deserve more. Since my grades are mediocre and I am applying for jobs from out of state(only in the LA area), what should I do? Just keep applying until somebody gives me a shot? Its been bothering me because I keep hearing its really tough for engineering majors with a sub 3.0 gpa to get hired in general.

Realistically what can I expect having a summers worth of internship experience and a 2.6 GPA at best? I want to get a good understanding of the jobs that may be out there so I am not disappointed because I understand students with 3.0 plus GPA will be much more attractive.If i do a masters it will definitely be thesis/research based.

I can I'm honestly stuck with only 2.5 months left till graduation. my only definite plan for now is to take the EIT exam immediately after I graduate. I will definitely keep applying but I am also being picky on the jobs that are available because i want to make sure I can bring a lot to the table.

Thanks again for the honest feedback.

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

It'll also be tough to get into a MS program with your low GPA.

xnuke
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RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

(OP)
I've already checked and to get into the masters program at Cal state LA you gpa cant be lower than a 2.5.

With the study habits and priorities getting straightened out I wish I could go back and redo my bachelors because I could have easily gotten 3.0 plus, I cant rewind time now so I have to look forward.

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

"I will definitely keep applying but I am also being picky on the jobs that are available because i want to make sure I can bring a lot to the table. "

Sorry, but that sounds a bit much. As a new grad, the only thing you're expected to bring is math skills, ability and desire to learn. Unless you have a perfect GPA and/or work experience/patents, there's not a lot that you can bring to the table that someone else can't. A year of turning down offers because you're picky will change your outlook.

TTFN
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RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

(OP)
True, I need to just get any job at this point then.

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

Doing the work of designing experiments, building apparatus, making measurements, collecting data and analyzing results, is absolutely worth something to our organization. It teaches you something useful.

Merely piling on another eight courses, means a lot less, especially if you've demonstrated that you didn't master the material in the rest of the courses you took- the important fundamental ones in your undergrad degree.

Lots of people attempt to glue a Masters in engineering over an undergrad science degree, and then wonder why they aren't treated as if they were engineers. It's not a lot different to glue a coursework Masters over a poorly done undergrad degree.

My suggestion: get some work experience, so people start caring about what you can do in practical terms and care less about how you did in school. If, after doing so for a number of years, you have a strong penchant for additional specialist learning, you can consider doing a part-time Masters, or taking the even harder step of going back to school to do a more valuable research masters.

Your situation is tough, and I wish you the best of luck. But some solutions are just a waste of time, and life is short- there isn't much time to waste.

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

Sometimes seems like the only thing our new phd hires want to do is "designing experiments, building apparatus, making measurements, collecting data and analyzing results," but not really get anything into a form or following business processes such that it can be reliably and economically manufactured and hence sold.

I personally would value experience more for the type of work I do, a serious design project would be next and a more research oriented project or thesis would be lower down on my list.

However, clearly my bosses that have the final say in hiring have other priorities as they prefer phd's whose thesis was in a field vaguely related to what we do rather than people with experience but from different fields.

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RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

In general, more education = better job prospects and higher pay. The Engineering Income and Salary Survey published by ASME and ASCE (easily googled) backs me up.

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

2
If you can't get an engineering job right after graduation don't be too discouraged, you aren't alone in this situation.

Consider looking at jobs that aren't engineering but are directly related to the type of work you want to do. After graduation I worked in sheet metal fabrication for a year while looking for an engineering position. This was directly applicable to the design work I would end up doing and was viewed as good relevant experience. It wasn't the best paying job ever but it sure beat paying for the additional years of schooling!

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

I agree with hendersdc. What to you want to design? Find a job building it. That's the best experience you can get at this point, and your degree will probably be seen as an asset, despite your grades.

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

(OP)
I hear what you guys are saying, Experience over education. During my internship I realized you barely use any of the concepts you leanred in College, so having an advanced degree can backfire. How about when applying for the major companies wouldnt they take a masters degree as a a positive?

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

Many employers will officially equate a masters to 1 year of experience or similar - what individual hiring managers will do is all over the shop.

Some industries/sectors may rate it more highly than others.

I'd go a bit careful on the barely using any of the concepts you use in College, while there is some truth to that there have also been time when I wish I could remember how to do stuff I learned in college as it might come in handy!

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RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

I think I was in a similar position to you, and the thing that worked for me was opening up the geographical area that I was willing to live to virtually anywhere in the US. I ended up changing fields and locations many times since then, so I wouldn't say you are stuck in an industry, as long as you like to learn and can think your way through problems. My current company recently transferred me into the chemical industry after 15 years in other areas.

For what it's worth, I agree with the other comments on the masters degree. A masters degree doesn't add anything to what I need in an engineer, so I certainly wouldn't pay more for it, but generally people who have one are looking for more money/benefits from it.

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

Varun,

I was sort of in the same boat. During my undergrad, I had bad study habits and kind of burned my self out trying to cram two degrees before switching to electrical engineering. My MS degree, I did much better than during my BS but by then I knew sort of what I wanted to do and didn't have to slog through any courses that I had no interest in. My undergrad ,with the exception of a few classes, felt like I was just taking classes to fit my schedule and meet requirements. Graduate school to me was a hundred times more interesting than my undergrad and I have a hard time giving maximum effort in classes that won't use or have no interest. If you specialize in something that is in demand with your MS, I sort of think all or almost all is forgiven. Just get your foot in the door somewhere and after your first job, no one will even bother asking about your undergrad.

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

As always when talking about career choices "your mileage may vary". An experienced engineer with an MS is generally perceived as having extra expertise beyond another applicant without one. Not a slam dunk, but a general perception. Drop the word "experienced" and many in industry see the MS as an indicator that the applicant is going to want more money for a job he/she is just as unqualified for as the applicant with a BS, and who has a slightly greater potential to leave about 15 minutes after he/she begins to be productive. Many of us see that potential as an adequate reason to toss a resume with an MS and no relevant experience. Others don't see it that way.

I found grad school to be fascinating, and I really enjoyed the learning. That in and of itself is an adequate reason to spend the time, money, and energy on it. If you think you'll find it to be a tedious chore, then not being able to find a job in LA in the first 3 months of looking is a crappy reason to attend grad school.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

Great advice David.

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

The MSME will open the door to more interesting work if you like the technical aspect. In my view it is worth it
just to have that option. Additionally it will give you the tools to understand the how and why of the way things work a bit better than a bs alone.

RE: Difficulty of MSME vs BSME?

Varun,

Don't worry too much about not having a position immediately after graduation. It took me a little over 6 months to find my first position after graduating with a GPA of 2.6 or 2.8; I really can't remember which GPA it was. Don't be afraid to take a part time or full time job with someone who knows you will be moving on to a position that allows you to use your degree. I worked a handful of odd jobs that had nothing to do with engineering and all manual labor under a hot west Texas sun, and my employer knew from day 1 I would be leaving for something else in the near future. When I finally gave up on staying in the areas I really wanted to work in and just started applying for engineering positions of interest everywhere. I found a great company that relocated me on their dime, and built me up as an engineer that fits their needs.

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