engineering graduate school question



I'm ashamed(?) to say I've never read one. But I do clearly remember seeing Watership Down at the Dendy Cinema in Melbourne, Australia in the late 1970s. It's now a Christian revival cinema, or was eight years ago.
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wrote:

Don't be ashamed. They aren't for reading anyway.
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msg wrote:

The first is alive, and very much so. (Doing what rabbits like to do.) The second is dinner.
Jeroen Belleman
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Le Chaud Lapin wrote:
<snip truly fine rant>

Actually it's a bit worse than this. A PhD candidate is supposed to be required to contribute to the world's knowledge to obtain the title. The unfortunate aspect of this is that schools are usually highly centered upon class work. Practical skills (such as original research) aren't even mentioned, let alone taught. Class work tends to involve lots of memory and agreeing with the professor (even when he/she is dead wrong).
I knew this one guy, who was the ace student of the EE department. The guy never got a grade below an A in his entire life. But then suddenly classwork was over! He had not the SLIGHTEST clue where to begin doing research. And let me emphasize that this was not some clown who had no practical knowledge. He very much knew which end of the soldering iron to grab. But he had no idea where to start research. The poor guy literally freaked out! He couldn't handle it. He dropped out and I don't know if he ever got his degree.
Happily MSEE candidates aren't expected to do anything significant in the way of original work. Most any kind of bogus study will do. But I don't want to imply that the whole exercise is a waste of time. A masters candidate gets a good up front immersion in the whys and whatfors of productive work even though the final product may end up of questionable value. The Thesis is not the point. It is this practical experience in real life questions that actually makes the MSEE so much more valuable to an employer than say the BSEE who actually doesn't have any idea which end of the soldering iron to grab.
Benj
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In posted: "[..] [..] A PhD candidate is supposed to be required to contribute to the world's knowledge to obtain the title. The unfortunate aspect of this is that schools are usually highly centered upon class work."
Really?
"[..] Class work tends to involve lots of memory and agreeing with the professor (even when he/she is dead wrong). I knew this one guy, who was the ace student of the EE department. The guy never got a grade below an A in his entire life. But then suddenly classwork was over! He had not the SLIGHTEST clue where to begin doing research. [..]
[..]"
Unfortunately supposed research at the level of a Ph.D. can entail agreeing with a professor who is mistaken. If the professor can be mistaken on established fields in classes, the outlook for comprehending the research issues are not necessarily better.
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Colin Paul Gloster wrote:

So how many of us has not figured out that this is just part of the standing residue of witch doctors and thug rulers. Damn few should remain unedified after this.
--
JosephKK
Gegen dummheit kampfen die Gotter Selbst, vergebens.  
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[snip]

[snip]
One can go back 100 years and say pretty much the same thing about undergraduate education in the US, too. It used to be that admission to the top schools is gained simply by saying so. Of course, such choice is limited only to those coming from the appropriate social standing. Universities were supposed to produce fine thinkers (at the undergraduate level! Imagine!), the nation's leaders, etc.
Unfortunately to this gentlemanly arrangement, more and more people want to go to college, and thus a standardization effort began. In order to rank the candidates, grades have to be given. Of course, the new breed of candidates focus more and more on acing the standardized tests, and only the standardized tests.
I'm not saying that this system is ideal, but how can education at all levels be more democratized -- even at the international level -- without using some sort of standard measure of potential? I will come clean that without such opportunities, yours truly will not be where he is today. So perhaps instead of focusing on the negative, we should examine the positive: now there is an ever wider pool of talent who could possibly get a shot at higher education, regardless of where he/she comes from.
What standards are appropriate, and what are the costs of implementing such standards? One can speak of "non- academic, extracurricular achievements," but to a large extent such accomplishments nowadays fall into the standard for evaluation (read: resume-padding).
It is also instructive to compare countries such as the United States, France, China, and India -- where there are nation-wide standardized testing for admissions and students are likely to travel far from their hometown to go to school -- to countries where they do not have such a system, such as Italy, Germany (if I understood the system correctly). In the first group of countries, I have found that it is more common for people to ask where you went to school when just getting acquainted. Maybe this is because if you're from the second group of countries it is easy to guess where you went to school based on your hometown, but my impression is that in the first group of countries, people put more stock on what name shows up on your diploma, or what diplomas you have.
So as a result, I think it is not surprising that there is a lowering of expectation from the graduates, and there's ever more push to prove oneself by doing yet more schooling and getting more degrees. Maybe it is fair that the expectation is lowered, who knows.
Your mileage may and probably will vary. Julius
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Heck, these days many high-schools require "volunteering" for various community service jobs for a certain number of hours in order to graduate.

I think there is an expectation, at least in the U.S. today, that everyone should go to college even though I don't think the skills truly required by industry are significantly more difficult (on average) than they were historically. Yes, today your generic average office worker needs to be able to use a word processor, spreadhseet, surf the web, etc., but is that really any more difficult than some factory worker who years ago needed to know how to assemble and maintain a handful of machines, type up reports, file, etc.? In many way I think it's actually simpler...
---Joel
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wrote:

Joel, this is perhaps the result of over-politicization of education in the United States? I agree that college is not for everybody, but no public figure will dare say it in those terms.
In many other (usually more socialist) countries, there are vocational schools for those who are less interested in the pursuit of higher-education at the level of college. And in most of these countries, students are already split up into different tracks even at the middle and high school levels. I think this is a great idea, I don't see anything wrong with being a very good machinist, or woodworker, or anything else that is more suitably taught in vocational school.
In many systems, students have to choose their "major track" in high school: the choices are along the lines of "math and physical science", "life sciences", "social studies", etc.
The argument is then, at what point in one's life should one commit to one of these many choices? And that is another big topic that is hard to answer.
Julius
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com says...

Did you (do you) work there? Sounds like you witnessed this first hand. Are you sure it was nepotism if more than one person has the same last name? Why were all the engineers fired?
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fg
Such eloquent words!
Sounds like an awful place to work. Did you try to explain to them the error of their ways? The folly of firing all the engineers and replacing them with business analysts? You should have told them, explained to them that the world _needs_ electrical engineers. Tell them, make them see that 1 engineer is worth a dozen--no, 100-- business analysts. We would still be living in the Middle Ages if it weren't for the electrical engineer, who harnessed the power of electricity for the comfort and convenience of man. Out of all 300 of those managers, surely there were some who would see the light! You should find one or two competent managers, and make a case for keeping those engineering jobs.
bg
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bg snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

And they will laugh at you - as you know full well. If a company is making something for 100GBP and selling it for 95GBP - it's being run by an engineer. Engineers invent something brilliant which sells in their millions - but 99.9% of the sales go to a cheap Chinese rip-off.
Give an engineer an engineering problem and he's as happy as Larry. Give him a financial and marketing one and he rolls over and falls asleep.
Engineers can go home happy that their ethics are respected. Financial and sales people know that their ethics are a luxury that they can't put on their expense sheet.
Even sewerage engineers don't live in the sewer and have to play footsie with the rats every day..unlike their management team..
As an engineer you can wear what you like, drive what you like, live where you like, eat what you like, befrieind who you like... but your salary is only there because of those in the scunge works..
--
Sue

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If sales is run by engineering everything will work but nothing will be shipped.
If sales is run by marketing everything will ship but nothing will work.
Jim
--
"Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today."
--James Dean
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That may be, but presumably a savvy salesman is well aware that he needs to be selling a decent product if he expects any *repeat* business... and I think that's really where the money is, in most industries (well, that and maintenance fees).

I don't think there's anything immoral about changing the model number of your product if you think it'll make it sell better. Sure, "10,000" might somehow imply that the unit is better than the "7,000" model, but I don't have much sympathy for anyone who would buy a product based on the name alone and doesn't look at the specs.

In most cases I think it's more a matter of they just don't care. :-) Many engineers are perfectly happy to be given puzzles to solve and proceeding to solve them -- what the marketing department does with those results is of little concern to them, as long as they get to keep solving new and interesting puzzles. Be glad you don't work at Initech!
Peter Gibbons: The thing is, Bob, it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care. Bob Porter: Don't... don't care? Peter Gibbons: It's a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don't see another dime; so where's the motivation? And here's something else, Bob: I have eight different bosses right now. Bob Slydell: I beg your pardon? Peter Gibbons: Eight bosses. Bob Slydell: Eight? Peter Gibbons: Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That's my only real motivation is not to be hassled; that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.
---Joel
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fg
According to Le Chaud Lapin, the company he was describing has $1 trillion under assets. Companies don't get that big if they are selling a dollar for 95 cents. The question to Le Chaud is, did this company get this big because of their engineering? Probably not. He said "$1 trillion under assets" as opposed to "$1 trillion in revenues" -- leading me to believe that he is describing a financial institution, say, a bank or investment firm. Those aren't engineering firms, like say, Boeing. In fact I'm not sure what a bank would need electrical engineers for, but Le Chaud didn't say they were electrical engineers, so I'll assume he's talking about MIS engineers. At best, those people play a support role. They are a cost center, not a profit center.
Again, I don't know what the relationship is between engineers and that company's profits, but if it is a bank or investment fund, then engineers are not that important. In all likelihood, they will only be needed until the current project is done. I can see the purpose of a "business analyst" in financial institutions -- they will find new markets and new ways to make money. Le Chaud sounds like he's grossy oversimplifying when he portrays the engineer as the true creative ones, and the business analysts as the idiots. I know plenty of sharp, intelligent "business analysts." and I've met plenty of idiots who are engineers. They usually get weeded out, once they show that they never produce anything but stupid ideas, like reinventing the wheel, only...rounder.

Engineers also roll over a fall asleep when you serve them warm milk and read them the bedtime story "The Little Circuit Board That Could."

Engineers can go home happy if at the end of the day, their jobs haven't been sent overseas...
+ fisted stopped.
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bg snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

The middle ages were long over before electricity was anything more than a drawing-room curiosity. The credit you wish to bestow probably belongs to millwrights.
Jerry
--
Engineering is the art of making what you want from things you can get.
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
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The invention of the printing press is also probably high on the list of developments that fostered the exit of the middle ages.
--
% Randy Yates % "...the answer lies within your soul
%% Fuquay-Varina, NC % 'cause no one knows which side
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Randy Yates wrote:

The development of printing was certainly important. The press itself had been in use for a long time as an artist's tool. Printing as we know it was made possible by the development of movable type, which in turn depended on the metallurgy of type metal. That alloy of lead, antimony, and tin was made possible by an extensive mining and transportation infrastructure. Its special properties include expanding upon cooling so as to make sharp castings in metal molds, being hard enough to make many impressions, and being soft enough to be planed with steel tools to uniform height. Although the press itself came to symbolize the process, Gutenberg's invention was the details of a type foundry. It seems probable that someone else invented the actual metal composition.
Jerry
--
Engineering is the art of making what you want from things you can get.
¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
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I would caution the OP that, from what I've seen, employer-supported (in either tuition pay and/or time away from work to attend class) masters degrees are on the downswing. This was the reason I left my previous employer, even though they advertised support in obtaining an advanced degree.
If you're accepting a job based on an employer's promise to pay for a masters, get it in writing.
--
% Randy Yates % "She's sweet on Wagner-I think she'd die for
Beethoven.
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you
get
Maybe so; maybe no.
Obviously, many engineers aren't smart enough to even start in grad school. Others are smart enough to get in but don't have the energy and self-discipline to get the degree(s).
But, but ... Folks with smarts and with energy and self-discipline tend to do well regardless of credentials.
Note that the richest man in the world (Bill Gate$ is a college dropout.)
Advanced degrees are useful if:
1) You want an academic career (the original meaning of "doctor" was teacher).
2) There is some truly leading edge technology you can master more quickly in school than on the job. Note than in engineering, innovation as often as not comes from industry rather than the university.
3) You get a "management" degree like a MBA from a GOOD school. This "signals" your intent to join the ranks of management. In case you didn't know, managers make more money than engineers.
If you want to just show how smart you are, find some journal that you might get yourself published in. If you can get yourself published at a young age it's possible to quickly get an advanced degree. A solid record of publications is more impressive than a MS or even a Ph.D. and a grad school might rush you through the system just so they can take "partial credit" for your future publications.
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