Should engineering PhDs be scientists?

Should engineering PhDs be scientists?
I was interested in engineering since I was a kid. Hoping to build
something cool in future, I started to make toys by my hands. Noticed
that good education is required for involving in "cool projects," I
entered graduate school. Now I'm working toward my PhD, and figuring
out that the best PhD students in the engineering schools are
mathematicians. They spent all their time on theories and they are
planning to publish "cool theories" to save the world. I need to
add "touch or publish" to the famous slogan "publish or
perish," meaning that the more hardware you touch, the less
publication you will have. Though the big guys do publish papers with
experiments and project backgrounds, I bid the job were done mainly by
the lowly first year graduates or undergraduates. When working on the
"cheap" hands-on tasks, I figured out those theory guys are
actually far away from making the things work. They, however, can make
things "work" theoretically.
After pursuing the engineering dream for a long time, I'm really lost.
Should engineering PhDs be scientists? Why there are PhD degrees in
engineering schools? Is it better for PhD programs in engineering
schools accept only students with science background, so that people
like me do not puzzle on the aim of our lives. Is there a way to count
projects into contributions in the same way as papers, so that the
engineers can compete the scientists in engineering schools? Why the
society judge engineers base on their publications? Will Einstein be a
better engineer compared to Edison, if he want?
I really want to hear some comments. Thanks.
Reply to
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There is no sharp line between science and engineering. Engineering is applied science. In practice, there is a continuous spectrum from the guy who is an experimental constructor/mechanic to the guy who just does mathematics. All are engineers, and all can benefit from a Ph.D. However, not all need a Ph.D.
I have a Ph.D. in Engineering Science from UCSD. Personally, I have always been near the middle of the spectrum. I like designing stuff, and I like mathematical analysis also. I have especially liked combining them, i.e., using math to optimize a design, or make decisions about it.
My advice to you is to treat grad school as a learning opportunity, and learn all you can. Then try to get a job doing what you like to do. Keep changing jobs until you find your "right work".
Reply to
I. Myself
Working in an establishment that is into High Energy Physics I am an engineer rubbing shoulders with physicists and mathematicians on a daily basis. We all have the same goals in mind and will share our respective knowledge quite freely. This is even to the point of teaching the physicists some of the engineering skills and they, in turn teaching us some of the underlying physics of what we are doing (important to understand so that we can improve the instrumntation and control of the experiment).
I would say treat every day as a learning oopportunity and be selective about the work you take to maximise your fun of doing the work.
Reply to
Paul E. Bennett
"bigc" wrote in news:1111871565.968465.232790
You're touching on a very important question, with some big ramifications.
Here's how I think about it. Pre-doctoral engineers are trained to do things. Doctoral engineers are trained to make contributions to their field. Of course, engineers without Ph.D.'s can be wonderfully smart and creative people, and many do contribute to the fields of engineering. Vice versa, many engineering Ph.D.'s don't make contributions to their field (except, of course, for their dissertations. These are, by definition, contributions to the field).
As engineers without Ph.D.'s can make perfectly good livings, sometimes its tough to encourage engineers to enter grad programs-- and this can be troublesome. Who would teach engineering if not for academically oriented engineers? In fact, many contributions that Ph.D. holders make are academic in nature.
That said, every time one of my advisees asks me for a grad school recommendation, I call them into the office, sit them down, and ask them why they think they need a Ph.D.-- there are much more pleasant ways to spend five or six years than in grad school. Those years could be spent in more valuable ways toward career development. I'm not trying to talk them out of pursuing a degree--I just want them thinking about why they're doing it before, and not after, they enter grad school. Frankly, as the job market tanks, I think more of our students pursue grad school just to put things off a few years.
Bottom line-- you need to think about your career goals, and before you get too deep into the Ph.D., you need to decide why you're doing it.
Reply to
Scott Seidman my company (fibre composites) there are several mech and civil PhD's who do 'hands on' combined with analysis...mathematical analysis has to be validated you design 'em and load 'em and break 'em amd all becomes clear!
i am a lowly 'just scraped through' mechatronics, and deal in industrial automation...which is hands on applied science, boss says 'make machine for task', u build lack of math skills (basic reason for BEng rather than PhD) is made up for by 20 yrs experience in cobbled together mech/elec/control systems
the 'theory guys' are needed to provide a basis for next years practice...often a theory is developed which has no immediate use, the use follows from a need...he say, 'ahh, u need this, u program um controller like so, it work'...i do, it work, yaay! not work, he get new theory!
one of my friends has PhD in psychology...he is a scientist and good at advanced data analysis/correlation etc...i say, 'i have um things to control, related somehow' , he say, 'yes, i see, look here, they do this along 'fgd' axis'
i cannot do the math, he cannot implement hardware...thus nature balances itself!!
so we need pure research to drive pure practice...if theory is implemented and works, u get theory
if not work...'ahh crap', next theory
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