engineering graduate school question

Hello,
I know this isn't really a technical question, but I was wondering if anyone in here might be able to offer some insight on this. I
recently got my BSEE, and am considering going for a Masters, and my question is, is it worth it? Does anyone know what the major differences would be graduating with a BSEE or a MSEE, I don't know if it would be better to start working and trying to learn stuff in industry or continuing school, I'm 30 right now, which is a bit older to have just got a BSEE. The University I attend isn't a top 100 or top 200 in the country as far as EE goes either.
Thanks, Joshua
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The master's says
*you were a good enough student to make it into grad school *you can handle advanced material *and (for most schools) you can handle a large independent project, e.g. a thesis
I think you'll find from salary tables that the MS pays for itself, i.e. you make more in higher pay than you lose in the 18 to 24 months it takes to get the degree.
However, these days you shouldn't have to choose. Many schools have night time MS programs and you can probably get your employer to pay for it. Not really the same experience as being on campus, full time, with a research team but valuable none the less.
Good luck, Clark

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That sounds more like the "non-thesis project" option to me... My experience was that the "thesis" option was, "work on the professor's current pet projector that he's been working on for some years prior and will continue to work on after you leave." Nothing wrong with that, but I'd stress that it's *very important* to make sure the professor is working on something *you actually give a damn about!*

I suspect that it'd be very hard to find a school offering an off-campus/night-school MSEE in IC or RF design, as these typically require the use of large labs outfitted with lots of fancy equipment few people could realistically duplicate at home. For MSEEs that are more "computer science" oriented, I'm sure it works fine.
I was a little disappointed that there were various HP employees in some of the classes I took who were there only because HP required them to get a degree to advance in title and hence salary. From an employee's point of view... ok, fine, I can understand why they do it (no worse than going into EE in the first place primarily because the pay if good and you find the work "tolerable")... but from a corporate point of view, I'm amazed that HP condones such activities.
---Joel
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wrote:

In Addition to Joel:
If you feel that your purposed project or expected professor is doing something really extra then just go for that.
ali
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In [..] > However, these days you shouldn't have to choose. Many schools have night > time MS programs and you can probably get your employer to pay for it. Not > really the same experience as being on campus, full time, with a research > team but valuable none the less. I suspect that it'd be very hard to find a school offering an off-campus/night-school MSEE in IC or RF design, as these typically require the use of large labs outfitted with lots of fancy equipment few people could realistically duplicate at home. For MSEEs that are more "computer science" oriented, I'm sure it works fine."
I am aware of two broadly similar software engineering primary degrees from a faculty: one an evening and weekend version of the regular version. Almost everybody doing the evening and weekend version had a normal supposedly fulltime job in information technology while doing their degrees and the consequences of trying to do a degree and a job tended to be bad: inferior grades; a much higher failure rate; and many people would end up failing and repeating a year.
I myself am a Ph.D. candidate in electronic engineering and as such, attending lessons and trying to pass exams is not as major a component of the degree, but I still had to do some. Though all the lectures (and, if the assessment was based on a sat exam instead of project work after the course, the exams) were held during normal working hours, I would need to conduct my research during the remaining normal working hours so I would study for the exams during my supposedly spare time (e.g. when trying to eat dinner). This was technically doable and my grades were fairly okay but some of the grades could have been better and grades do not actually matter for this Ph.D.
Anyway, though I technically could cope for a few weeks with doing research (or a job) and attending lectures and exams and doing projects and homework for a subject without a sat exam, I realized that those people doing primary degrees while also working must have been suffering. Most people who have responded in this thread supporting working and studying seem to have tried it themselves, but I would recommend restricting activities to either chiefly working or chiefly doing a degree for any stint lasting more than a few months. I do not wish to suggest which of these options is a good one, just that mixing them together seems to be a bad idea to me. "I was a little disappointed that there were various HP employees in some of the classes I took who were there only because HP required them to get a degree to advance in title and hence salary. [..] from a corporate point of view, I'm amazed that HP condones such activities. ---Joel"
Many people attend things because they are forced to and because the people who force them to attend do not really realize how the privileges are unappreciated and misused. E.g. people who attend conferences but do nothing there except read a newspaper instead of paying attention to the presentations; people whose expenses to attend conferences actually end up being used to pay for their vacations as they do not bother to attend the presentations; and people whose employers pay them to attend C++ standardization meetings who play computer games during the meetings. I did not make up any of those examples.
Sincerely, Colin Paul Gloster
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I know someone who used to teach for the University of Phoenix on-line. She said there was a lot of pressure to dumb down the course, and she was having a hard time doing that and still making it particularly relevant. Apparently UoP did this enough that at some point they were threatened with having their accreditation yanked (for those getting degrees on-line -- I imagine their physical campus courses are fine) if they didn't stop!
In my own MSEE program, a significant number of students (including myself... <cough>) took jobs after finishing coursework and proceeded to take a looonnnggg time (two to three years... <COUGH!>) to get around to finishing their theses. Part of this is funding related -- none of us were given a funded quarter to *just* work on our theses, so for most people getting a job looked awfully attractive. In retrospect it probably would be better to just bite the bullet and spend three months doing nothing but thesis work and remove the albatross around one's neck, so to speak.
I'm sure I sound quite whiney, though -- my late grandfather, who obtained his BSEE in l930-something? worked full time while going to school. He commented once that he wished he had had more time to spend on his studies, that he literally was doing nothing but working, attending classes, studying, eating and sleeping at times. His grades were fine, but not straight A's, and he claimed that they could have been if he had had that extra time for studying. Times have changed a lot, of course, and realistically someone without financial support today will be taking out student loans. At least that does give them the option of spending more time studying... if they choose to do so.
---Joel
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Colin Paul Gloster wrote:

Oh Wait a minute! Larwe already said the above is "utter nonsense"!

And many times people are forced to attend things because the boss is a moron. One of my bosses somehow got the idea that my writing needed improvement, so I was ordered to attend an "effective writing" class. Ok, it was free and I was positive about it. You never really know when you might pick up a useful idea or two from ANYONE you talk with.
Well, hey, remember the "moron" thing? What the boss didn't know was that I was a published author who for a time had made a living writing articles for major magazines! So I started the class and pretty soon the woman who ran the class is looking at me funny. And finally (a la Billy Joel... I'm not kidding!) says to me, "What are YOU doing here?" Heh! So I explained how I was ordered to go to the class. :) Mostly she and I sat around telling writer war stories to each other while the rest of the class pondered the mysteries of the English language. Quite frankly it was one of the best times I ever had!
Benj
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The way it was originally stated, it is nonsense. It is the exception, not the rule - and a management-dependent thing.

I had a similar experience when, in an English class, the professor said "Your writing is very good; you should write a book" - to which I replied "I just finished my third and am starting on my fourth".
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Nice story. I think it's indicative that it wasn't the technical quality of your writing that your boss didn't like, it was probably the content!
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Joel Kolstad wrote:

Maybe, but one has to ask why. I was once assigned to write a technical manual for a laboratory fermentation controller that had over a dozen option cards. I was the new guy, ans everyone else was "busy". Nobody even had the time tell me what it was supposed to do. I spent two weeks exercising it in all its configurations and writing up the results, complete with illustrations of the various screen displays. The boss -- I had been hired over his objections -- pointed out several points on which my write-up differed from the spec. I told him that I hadn't seen the spec -- he had declined to give me one -- and that my write-up conformed to the machine as built. His reply was simple: "I know what I'm talking about. I designed it myself." I responded "I know what I'm talking about. I tested it myself. Show me different if you doubt it." He couldn't.
Jerry
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Jerry Avins wrote:

... snip ...

Now the critical point of the whole tale is 'How were your relations with that particular boss affected'. If they improved, kudos to all. If you had to go job-hunting, boo.
--
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CBFalconer wrote:

Neither, actually. He worried that I might take his job or try to, but I wouldn't have touched it. By the time he actually realized that, I had arranged to move on. I took a year off to be with my first wife in her last year. We traveled while she could, then we relaxed at home. After a breather with my sister in Texas, I got another research lab position with Siemens, from which I eventually retired for the third and last time.
Jerry
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wrote:

You hit the nail right on the head.
There is a situation that is even worse than working on some professor's pet poodle: having you own ideas and not being able to pursue them because every researcher in the field automatically insists that you work on their pet project. Utterly disgusting.
What is ironic is that, long ago, Ph.D.-like programs were typically confined to the domain of true thinkers - people who had their own, original ideas, and were unafraid to be left alone for 2 or 3 years in a (metaphorically speaking) empty room to come up with something brilliant.
Today, the Ph.D. program, for many students, is regarded as a program of entitlement - "If you do X, you can expect Y." You can test this assertion very easily. Go to any Ph.D. program in the country, good school, bad school, whatever...does not matter, and ask the aspiring Ph.D. candidates.."What is going to be your focus area?" Until they start in the program, most of them don't have a clue, and those that have already started the program are typically working on some professor's dog.
Now this is not to to say that this is immoral. Obviously, this program of entitlement has become institutionalized and is now consider a normal expectation of the academy.
What is criminal is when you have someone, who has truly original ideas, and that person is squeezed, unable to find a channel to explore, create, etc. Also, if I might continue my misanthropic rant, I do not believe this situation came about accidentally. I have learned that there is a constant struggle between the group and the individual. There is a TV commercial in the United States by the corporation GEICO that makes fun of this fact. But in truth, it is very sad. You have people who have zero creative ability, and rather than leave those alone who do, they pro-actively engage in behaviors to abate any distinction that might arise between their work and the work of others. I have seen this in the academy. I have seen this in industry. I think this is why there are so many other responsibilities that researchers might have, like teaching, etc - there are those who have enough ideas to last 100 generations, and there are those who could not think of anything original to save their lives. If both are in the same department with the same title, the former will attempt to promulgate any policy that allows him/her to do serious research, serious thinking, the kind that the great masters did. The latter will undermine any such policy. What's odd is that you can generally tell within one hour which category these two types of "researchers" fall in. The former will not be able to shut up about new ideas, possibly concocting original ideas in real-time as the discussion proceeds. The latter will be evasive of anything that might test his/her originality. They will be quick to steer the subject away from their work.
I think it is a travesty that these two types of people are typically mixed together in the same department. I wish someday the thought leaders of academia will learn that this is foolish, that it only delays the inevitable [true thinkers eventually find their path anyway, and charlatans die hard], and separate these people. One group will do pure research. The other group can do whatever the hell they want, so long it is not to interfere with the first group.

I've noticed over the last three years that there has been a bit of a backlash against the technorati. You might remember back in the 1970's that there were people who had vague, pseudo-technical titles, like "Business Analyst."
Let's look at this phrase for a moment to see what I am getting at. It has both the words "Business" and "Analyst". Most people who see the word "business" implicitly assume that the holder of the title has business-related skills, like sales, marketing, etc. Most people who see the word"analyst" implicitly assume that the title-holder has analytical ability, a trait typically possessed only by those with technical backgrounds or a proclivity to solve technical problems.
Now this title is extremely convenient. If you meet someone in the hallway, someone with this title earning $130,000US for essentially doing nothing butter uttering jibberish that s/he read in a "management" book at local bookstore, it becomes difficult to disprove that person's worth to the company. If you are a technical person, the charlatan can be excused of his/her technical incompetence because s/he can immediately claim, "I only know the business aspect of our processes." If you are a business person, the the charlatan can, again, worm his/her way out of accountability by claiming, "Hey, I'm just a techie who likes to communicate difficult technical concepts to executives to help them make informed decisions." Executives, many of them technically incompetent (not at all companies), like very much the idea of having a liason between them and the people who actually know what's going on.
So it's a perfect title.
I watched one company recently, in a shake-up, fire many of the contracting engineers, and start creating many "Business Analyst" positions in their place. There were open requisitions for engineers, but all the positions except technical positions were getting filled. I called the head-hunter for the technical positions to give her a heads-up on what was happening, which she later verified. This company has over $1,000,000,000,000US (trillion) under assets, and I had alway suspected that the management was full of caca, many of them grossly incompetent. They were part of an acquired company that had managed to squeeze every penny of profit out of the company and fatten their salaries with it. With 300 employees, there were 40 cases of nepotism, as could be determined from the last names on company intranet. Any how, the parent company got upset, trying to figure out what happened to all the profit, and called for a shake-up, and that's when all the engineers got fired and the "business analyst" positions were created.
This should have been obvious from parking garage. You can tell a lot about a group of people by how they drive in a parking garage (New York notwithstanding). There were one step away from the cut-throat, dog-eat-dog, save-my-own-ass first type of people who would cheat on algebra tests in high school just to get by with a passing grade.
-Le Chaud Lapin-
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Le Chaud Lapin wrote:

> [...]
It sounds like you are falling into a common trap - assuming the past must have been better than the present, because its just to awful to believe things have always been this bad. In practice very very little changes over time.
Steve
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I think you are right. As a matter of fact, now that I think about it, it might have been worse early on. Back then, if you had original ideas, the world might have never have known. Communication was slow, some letters taking months to reach colleagues. Today I can spam all 200 or so people on my private email list 1000 times in a single hour.
Also, the "social viscosity" was much higher, so if you were born poor, you were likely to remain so, same for being born rich, esteamed (pun intended), etc.
And of course, if I had said in public back then what I said earlier today, I might have been immediately ostracized, with real consequences, whereas now, I can say what I want under and alias that means "The Hot Rabbit".
-Le Chaud Lapin-
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Le Chaud Lapin wrote: <snip>

Why is it not 'Le Lapin Chaud'?
Regards,
Michael
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msg wrote:

Cos iff its got gud gramma and speling, it wouldnt luk lik an inginear wrowt it.
Steve
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On Thu, 21 Jun 2007 06:57:05 -0500, the renowned msg

Because he's not actually fluent in Franais?     
Best regards, Spehro Pefhany
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On Jun 21, 11:37 am, Spehro Pefhany

I can't help visualizing this name as part of a deleted scene from Watership Down, where Hazel and Clover romp in one burrow while Bigwig and Campion role-play Woundwort and Hyzenthlay in another.
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larwe wrote:

That's sick. Why doesn't hot bunnies make you think of Playboy, like any normal human being? :-)
Steve
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