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Old 12-11-2012, 11:45 PM   #1
SPQR ROMAN SPQR
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Advice to Mech Engineer Grad school or no Grad School?

Hey fanatics,

I know a couple people on here are engineers and was wondering if you could help me out. Do any of you notice in industry (particular aero related if possible) that having a MS degree in engineering has truly really helped you in your career/seen it help others? In your opinion is it worth it?

What would you do in my situation.....

A. B.S. degree in ME with potential job starting salary 60-65k

B. Stomach 2 more semesters (full year) of graduate studies and do research that completely disinterests you (full ride btw no tuition and 20k living stipend) and further is completely irrelevant to anything you would like to do in terms of a career just for the sake of getting the MS in Mech Engineering.

From what I can gather having a MS means you can start as a level 2 or i.e. one step above entry so you make prob 5-7k more when you get out of school but who is to say that with a BS you wouldnt have a salary increase in that 1 to 1.5 years that puts you on the same level. Plus you made 60k that year.

I guess what I am asking is i see very little short term benefit from obtaining the degree and wondering if truly the MS will help later on down the road and regret not getting one.


Thanks fanatics
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:09 AM   #2
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My experience has been that for a majority of employers, having actual work experience outweighs a higher degree. However, higher profile jobs will benefit from a higher level of formal education - particularly those jobs in R&D.

It's up to you really, where you plan on going with your career. After 5 years of undergrad, I couldn't take any more school and felt like I wasn't benefiting from school anymore. In my first year on the job I learned more about people, engineering, and myself than in probably 2-3 years at school.

Considering you have a full ride with expenses paid, I would probably recommend you do it since not many get that opportunity. You have to follow through though.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:11 AM   #3
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From what I've been told you can get something like 15-20% pay increase with a BS starting in ME.

However the advice I recieved from a friend when I was considering the same thing for ME:

He said that he didn't go for the masters because he was basically done with school. He's been working for 2 years now, which in general is how long a regular masters program takes. What he concluded was that he felt that working was much more beneficial than going through another year or 2 of school. In addition, he has been making that 60k or whatever his salary he has for 2 years instead of paying for school and then getting a 5-7k Pay raise for the next several years.

From what I've seen talking to some graduates and people in the engineering work force is that the education we receive in school is great and it gives us a nice solid base for building on in our careers. However, when you actually step into the workforce, chances are a good portion of what you learned in school isn't necessarily going to be applied to your job.

The way I see it, getting away from the education system and into the workforce is the best way to gain real world knowledge and experience and from there you could always go back if you feel it beneficial, at the very least take the FE (if you don't have to already) and in a few years definitely get your PE. I would rather work, make money and learn how engineering actually applies outside of college than stick around and fill my head with more school work

hope that helps some
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:26 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SPQR ROMAN SPQR View Post
Hey fanatics,

I know a couple people on here are engineers and was wondering if you could help me out. Do any of you notice in industry (particular aero related if possible) that having a MS degree in engineering has truly really helped you in your career/seen it help others? In your opinion is it worth it?

What would you do in my situation.....

A. B.S. degree in ME with potential job starting salary 60-65k

B. Stomach 2 more semesters (full year) of graduate studies and do research that completely disinterests you (full ride btw no tuition and 20k living stipend) and further is completely irrelevant to anything you would like to do in terms of a career just for the sake of getting the MS in Mech Engineering.

From what I can gather having a MS means you can start as a level 2 or i.e. one step above entry so you make prob 5-7k more when you get out of school but who is to say that with a BS you wouldnt have a salary increase in that 1 to 1.5 years that puts you on the same level. Plus you made 60k that year.

I guess what I am asking is i see very little short term benefit from obtaining the degree and wondering if truly the MS will help later on down the road and regret not getting one.


Thanks fanatics

that vs anything else loses..... no debt and money to live? you have nothing to lose and everything to gain....take the year of extra school.....long term it can only help
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Old 12-12-2012, 01:39 AM   #5
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Anybody have thoughts of pursuing an MBA after a BS in ME?

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Old 12-12-2012, 02:18 AM   #6
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Nothing compares to experience in the industry.

My neighbor who's a partner in a engineering firm, explained how he gets these interns out of high rank schools with high GPAs and how these people, despite their education and scores, don't know the first thing about applying what they know to real situations. The best and most well paid engineers come from real hands on tech universities with application programs. He mentioned the most sought after engineers right now are actually ex Air Force DEs. He hires work experience over, high grades almost every time.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:52 AM   #7
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in a bad economy, employers may be reluctant to hire someone with more education than necessary
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:50 AM   #8
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Anybody have thoughts of pursuing an MBA after a BS in ME?
Myself although I'm not ME but I'm working as an engineer.

OP when I was at the crossroads of continuing on to a masters degree or going industry, I was highly advised by both faculty and previous employers that I interned with to gain industry experience first and then go back if you really want. The economy is in the shitter and it's more valuable to scoop a job now if you can.

I've seen people come out with MS degrees and not really make much more than their counterparts with BS degrees.

For me I've decided to go the MBA route and have my company pay for it. It made more sense since I will most likely be working in the industry for awhile and seeking management positions within companies.

Of course it depends on what you want your career to be. Engineering management? Research? Academia?

Edit: Just saw you can get an assistantship. If that's the case, you don't have much to lose. But back to not being able to be promoted within 1.5-2 years soley depends on the person. I am excelling with my job and because such, I will most likely move to a level 2 engineer here soon and I've been in my current level 1 position for only 7 months. Also, salary increases usually yearly depending on your position and objectives.
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:10 AM   #9
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that vs anything else loses..... no debt and money to live? you have nothing to lose and everything to gain....take the year of extra school.....long term it can only help
this. You have an option for a free ride for a graduate degree plus stipend? No question, take the offer. That master's degree will most likely end up being worth more than the 60k you might make in your first year.

You'll tell yourself at some point that you want to go back to school, but it's so much easier if you just continue through with it.
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:20 AM   #10
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that vs anything else loses..... no debt and money to live? you have nothing to lose and everything to gain....take the year of extra school.....long term it can only help
Agreed, do not rush to the real world. Take advantage of this opportunity, it will pay off and put you ahead of other candidates for higher level positions.
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Old 12-12-2012, 07:54 AM   #11
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You will eventually get the experience, so think longer term than your first job offer.

In 10 years, who will look better; 9 years experience with a masters, or 10 years experience with a bachelors?

I say get the extra education.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:37 AM   #12
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I think with ME it's okay to jump right into work after a BS. I think you should consider MS because for one the money is there, no debt (in your situation). If you can be enthusiastic about it, it will be a great learning process. A bonus will be that you will get one year knocked off your wait for the PE exam, so you'll only need 3 yr exp.

However i know some Mech folks and i dont think any of them have a graduate degree and they are doing just fine.

I'm a structural engineer and in my industry its quite the opposite, a masters degree is almost become the unofficial standard, simply because how complex the material is. My understanding level of engineering improved drastically when i compare my knowledge before and after my MS.
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:19 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by SPQR ROMAN SPQR View Post
B. Stomach 2 more semesters (full year) of graduate studies and do research that completely disinterests you (full ride btw no tuition and 20k living stipend) and further is completely irrelevant to anything you would like to do in terms of a career just for the sake of getting the MS in Mech Engineering.

...

I guess what I am asking is i see very little short term benefit from obtaining the degree and wondering if truly the MS will help later on down the road and regret not getting one.
Based on the first thing I quoted, don't even bother. If you are not interested in the material you are going to study, it's for sure not worth your time, money, and effort. If you find something you are truely interested in and would like to learn more about it, then by all means go ahead and get your masters. This is especially true because you are getting a full ride.

To the second part, it depends on what you want to do. Do you want to do general R&D? Do you want to work in manufacturing? Do you want to work in quality engineering? If you answered yes to any of the above, it's probably not worth an MS. If you want to work in specific and dedicated R&D then yes absolutely get a masters. You can't learn enough about a specific topic in your undergrad to become any kind of an expert in a specific field. This does, of course, develop over time but this way we are talking 1-2 years of school vs 5-10 years of experience.

The flip side to all of this is that employers don't really want to pay very many experts to work for them anymore and will instead either contract that out or develop their own from within.

My experience is that I started my MS and went for one semester before starting work. I did this because I didn't have a full ride so my company paid for the rest of it for me. The downside to this is that I very rarely use any of my masters work at my job but I'm there when it's needed.

As far as promotions go, I was promoted to Engineer 2 before I completed my MS. It took me 7 months to get there.

Good luck and feel free to PM if you have any questions.

Edit to add: I have no intention whatsoever of getting my PE license. Unless you want to work for the DOT (civil/structural/architectural engineer) or any other public job, it's not worth it.

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Old 12-12-2012, 09:21 AM   #14
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Waste of time. unless you feel like you need a classroom more.
Get to work, start investing, and do your own thing. I make more money in investments, stocks, owning businesses, real estate than my day job at 60k now. and i have only been at it for 1.5 yrs. the last thing that crosses my mind is enrolling in courses. ME at cal poly was enough. haha. School just develops furthur herd mentality imo, which is exactly what i want to avoid.
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:24 AM   #15
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Get a job, get experience, then go back for Masters after you know more about what you are doing, like and dislike, and save some money.
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Old 12-12-2012, 09:48 AM   #16
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Anybody have thoughts of pursuing an MBA after a BS in ME?
I have my degree in ME and work in the aerospace industry. It depends on what you want to do. I would put an MBA just about equal with the master's degree if you want to get into any sort of team leadership position. The MBA will be much more beneficial if you want to get into project management.

It really will depend much on the organization you go to. If you sign on with a big company like GE, Siemens, Rolls-Royce, etc, then you might have a better shot at being chosen for certain career path opportunities from within the company if you have things like a masters degree or an MBA, but its not a 100% requirement. You certainly won't be a red-headed stepchild with only an ME.

At this point, I've been told I should get my MBA as I would be a good candidate for project management, but I don't see myself shelling out the cash out of my own pocket for it. If you work for an employer that will pay for your MBA, I would recommend it.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:41 AM   #17
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I have my degree in ME and work in the aerospace industry. It depends on what you want to do. I would put an MBA just about equal with the master's degree if you want to get into any sort of team leadership position. The MBA will be much more beneficial if you want to get into project management.

It really will depend much on the organization you go to. If you sign on with a big company like GE, Siemens, Rolls-Royce, etc, then you might have a better shot at being chosen for certain career path opportunities from within the company if you have things like a masters degree or an MBA, but its not a 100% requirement. You certainly won't be a red-headed stepchild with only an ME.

At this point, I've been told I should get my MBA as I would be a good candidate for project management, but I don't see myself shelling out the cash out of my own pocket for it. If you work for an employer that will pay for your MBA, I would recommend it.
Yes, I concur. I worked in the aerospace industry for 12 years. Technical Undergrad and then an MBA which suited me well. Would recommend that path for anyone that has an inkling that they may want to progress into leadership of technical functions.
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:55 AM   #18
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My experience has been that for a majority of employers, having actual work experience outweighs a higher degree. However, higher profile jobs will benefit from a higher level of formal education - particularly those jobs in R&D.

It's up to you really, where you plan on going with your career. After 5 years of undergrad, I couldn't take any more school and felt like I wasn't benefiting from school anymore. In my first year on the job I learned more about people, engineering, and myself than in probably 2-3 years at school.

Considering you have a full ride with expenses paid, I would probably recommend you do it since not many get that opportunity. You have to follow through though.

/thread.

I have an inner desire to finish up my BSEE and go after my MSEE but ONLY because that program is where they hide all the really cool stuff I want to learn.

I'm already a Sr. Engineer so I don't need the degree for professional reasons, just a want.

My advice - get out and get in industry as fast as you can. College gets you your first job interview, after that, its all based on work experience. I wouldn't ever get my MBA, but then again, if I wanted to get professionally kicked in the nuts (project management) I would go be a soccer player. GF is in grad school getting her MBA as she is a consultant and wants to PM projects - I love being in Sales Engineering, Technical PM work, or Development. No operations or drone work will ever keep me happy, along with those damn gantt charts.

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Old 12-12-2012, 11:19 AM   #19
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Starting pay for an ME with an MS is still in the 60-65k range. I know because that's what I pay. You don't need one to get an offer. We'd rather see a BS with hands on experience.
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Old 12-12-2012, 11:24 AM   #20
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Starting pay for an ME with an MS is still in the 60-65k range. I know because that's what I pay. You don't need one to get an offer. We'd rather see a BS with hands on experience.
And my statement still stands true...thanks for that.
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