engineering graduate school question



This is a good point and has been used to show that ivy league schools are not worth the money. The alumni make more money but they would make more money anyway because they are in the top few percent of all students.
So I can agree in one respect that grad school may just be another gate keeper statistic like number of years of experience. It may or may not have relevance to a particular job.
I guess one could say that one should strive to get into grad school but once accepted it may not matter whether they go? I have some problems with this. First, it's like saying as long as you have good grades through your junior year you may or may not finish your senior year. You can extend this logic back to going to school at all, right? Certainly if a bachelor's degree has value then a master's degree has value.
The second problem I have is that, as a person who has been in continuing education since my master's degree, I know that the corporate training and education are totally different. In corporate you go for a couple days, learn one tool or management practice, you're never tested and you may or may not retain the information for more than a week. In school I have to learn topics/material that I might never encounter in my direct job but still teach me useful engineering principles and forces me to be current on the latest tools.
In all, I think every engineer should be in continuing education. You don't know what you don't know. I think a lot of the folks who claim to know it all based on their work history would be quite surprised to enroll in a modern graduate class on a topic even in their own field.
-Clark
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Which school did you go to? My experienece is that there's a large variation in whether any given department has new or old equipment and software. Where I went to school, the PCs were quite shiney (and there we LOTS of them spread around campus), we had 20" flat panel monitors, the PC software was generally up-to-date, etc. However, the UNIX boxes -- that were still used for many graduate-level engineering courses -- were pretty long in the tooth and ran quite out-of-date versions of HSPICE and Cadence's IC design tools. Some labs had quite new equipment, whereas others still had "boat anchor" oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, etc. that had *tubes* in them (this last bit probably says more about the departmental professors and their ability to obtain funding than the school itself, though).

I agree 100% (although note that some engineers are able to pull this off without formal instruction).
---Joel
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cpope wrote:

Yeah sure ;) I am an alumnus of a certain Ivy League school whose founder is quoted BY STUDENTS as saying "I *would* found an _INSTITUTION_."
I must be an alumnus. The Alumni Association kept trying to get money from me. "Alumnus" denotes attendance NOT graduation.     Give my regards to Davy, remember me to Tee Fee Crane.     Tell all the pikers on the hill that I'll be back again.
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The alumni association of the Unversity of Vermont has created a membership class for those born in the veteran's trailer park (actually in the hospital up the hill) on campus during the years following WWII. The park was located in a parking lot for the baseball stadium.
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Richard Henry wrote:

Interesting. A friend was born in Vt, was a nurse in VA hospital on VT/NH border and now at a VA hospital in Florida.
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says...

I've found it's usually not the case. If one wants to do a true financial justification, the years of earning potential have to be amortized over a lifetime.

For a MS? I started my MS, while working, and quite because it was such a joke. I was learning far more on-the-job than I could ever get out of class.

BillyG is a little "different". ;-)

Exactly.
Yep. The degree is often the entrance fee for these jobs in industry though.

Depends on the company. The difference, except at the corporate executive level, can be small.

If you want to show how smart you are, go into politics. ;-)
--
Keith

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krw wrote:

The salary tables show that "usually" which is to say on average it IS the case. It's pretty hard to somehow discount all those future years at a salary higher than the average person without the degree and say that somehow a higher salary for all those years "amortized" over a lifetime will be less!
However, we are talking about PEOPLE and LIFE here! What happens on average may not be what happens to you! So "maybe so, maybe no" has validity. And more important than that is how one FEELS about various things. If you hate classwork and school life, trying to force yourself to do more is probably not going to be very successful for you.

I don't think getting an MS has ANYTHING to do with job-related knowledge! Contrary to some misconceptions among freshman, they do NOT teach you how to solder or design stereo amplifiers at college. It has to do with credentials and a demonstration of energy and self- discipline (which obviously you didn't have) Maybe doing a thesis would have helped you learn to spell "quit". Same thing goes for an MBA. I doubt you'll find anything there that will really make you a business whiz. But in the corporate bureaucracy it's a badge and a key to a number of things. It's symbolic in many ways, but sometimes symbols are important. (especially in politics).

True. But every little bit helps.

(who had rich and influential parents!)

You mean if your goals are financial, go into politics. But generally speaking, this is not an option for most engineers who have any engineering skills at all. Politics and the law are usually best left for those who have the social and speaking (lying) skills. Engineers usually have the social skills of a paperweight.
Engineer joke. Girl is at party. Meets this good-looking guy. Tries to strike up a conversation with him. Nothing! Can't seem to get more than a grunt or a single word out of him. She gives up and continues circulating. Pretty soon she comes back to where the guy is standing by the punch bowl and takes him by the hand. "Follow me!" she says, And leads him outside to where another good looking guy is sitting on the edge of the fountain. "You two guys should get to know one another!" she says, and stomps off. The two of them sit there saying absolutely nothing for maybe 20 minutes. Finally one of them says to the other: " So, what motherboard are you using?" :)
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snipped-for-privacy@iwaynet.net says...

Take that $150-$200K, plus interest, for the two years in school, add in any loans required to pay for school, and run the real numbers. IME, a shiny MS pays about the same as a BS with two years experience, or less. IMO, a MS is worthless by itself. As a stepping-stone to a PhD, fine.

Of course. Plumbing is a fine career too.

I didn't say that you learn how to solder better in MS school! <sheesh>
<snip>

No I didn't mean that, or I would have said it. Since we're obviously ignoring ethics; if you want to make real money become a lawyer and buy a politician.

;-)
--
Keith

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If you're paying for the Master's, you're doing something wrong.
--
Scott
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On 27 Jun 2007 23:34:41 GMT, Scott Seidman

Well, crap. I paid for mine. :(
Eric Jacobsen Minister of Algorithms Abineau Communications http://www.ericjacobsen.org
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snipped-for-privacy@mindspring.com says...

Tain't nothing free.
--
Keith

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Scott Seidman wrote:

I paid for mine, too, but it didn't cost anywhere near 150K. Maybe 20K, counting living expenses and everything, but I went to a state school - UCSB!
Charlie
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I doubt anyone is reading this thread anymore, but I can't let the posts that are marginalizing formal education stand. Maybe it's cognitive dissonance that I don't want to admit I've wasted time/money in school, but I think it's more some of these comments smack of the "I don't need no schoolin'" attitude you hear from 16 year old dilinquents. Growing up in the American school system there was always a bunch of chuckle heads deriding and teasing the students who studied. I'll guarantee that our Indian and Chinese competitors/friends aren't debating the value of graduate school!
During my continuing education over the last several years I've 1. coded an e-commece site based on an open source CMS but heavily customized with PHP scripting 2. designed a microwave filter using coax sections and plotted the response on a Smith chart 3. coded a 3-d rendering engine in verilog and simulated with synplicity 4. performed bch ecc syndrome and error correction by hand 5. wrote an algorithm in matlab to find the shortest path through a graph
and a lot more, all of which I've been able to incorporate to varying degrees in my day job. We use vhdl at work, now I know some verilog. I set up a web site on the intranet for engineering to communicate. And so on.
I don't know that the piece of paper matters in the big picture but certainly the knowledge and experience does. If someone can show me a job where the products are so eclectic as to require all these different fields please send me an application.
-Clark
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snipped-for-privacy@nc.rr.com says...

Don't get all hyperbolic on us, now.

Different economics at work.

This is somehow relevant to the economics of a masters degree?

This is somehow...

Show me how much money you made doing all these wunnerful things.
--
Keith

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I didn't say $150K (perhaps $200K) was the cost of the education, rather the opportunity cost. One could have spent that two years in industry making real $$.
--
Keith

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Yes, but he did drop out of Harvard, which says something a little different than just dropping out of your local no-name community college. Another thing to keep in mind is that, while Bill Gates is clearly a savvy guy, the *technical* knowledge he required to start Microsoft was pretty limited. This is the start of my rant on how it was rather silly to think that someone who wants to do general-purpose computer programming or web design or similar needed a four-year degree... but what's happened in the past handful of decades has been that the four-year degree has been dumbed down instead (although I'm not suggesting it's been to the point of where two-year degrees used to be).

Have you read about these guys? --> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogdanov_Affair
Somewhere in there it mentions that at least one guy kind of defends them by saying (very much paraphrased here), "Well, you know, they've been little better than slave labor for a number for years now, we sort of owe them their PhDs even if it is a bunch of hooey."
---Joel
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Experience counts too. So, if you were not in the EE workforce before or during your BSEE years, you might hold off on the Masters program, at least for now. Here's why:
Time was, a Double-E degree was a guarantee of life-long employment. Perhaps with a Fortune-500 Company, great benefits, retirement....
Nowadays, a lot of EE's (newly minted and otherwise) find themselves scrambling for contract work. (Not all, but a lot.) Times ain't what they used to be. You are at the perfect crossroads, in a sense. Take some time, and find out.
If you find yourself leaning towards more education simply because job prospects appear bleak (be honest!), I personally would face that situation square in it's own reality. Jobs are hemmoraging from the US in general, (and on the whole, they are being replaced by lower- pay, lower-skill, and much lower-satisfaction jobs IMO.) Or they are off-shored. If that is an underlying reality in your part of the world, or in your particular field of interest, make sure you bring it to the surface before making a decision.
Also, I don't personally think 30 is too young to get your BSEE.
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what abt at age 49 as I am?
I'm thinking of getting an BSEE at 49
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mpm wrote:

Yeah, so how old were you when you received yours? Just to clear the air i was over 40, it opened some doors previously closed to me. An MSEE will open other doors, as will a PhD.
--
JosephKK
Gegen dummheit kampfen die Gotter Selbst, vergebens.  
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i
They close as many doors as they open.
"Over Qualified" candidates will quickly leave when the economy turns (and it always does.)
Unless you want to TEACH or are really, really into a specialty that you can only learn in grad school, the PhD doesn't buy you much.
If you want education solely for increasing your earnings potential, the get it while you are young. The effort engaged in getting even BS degrees later in life can only be justified if you want a specific job (like teaching.) Otherwise, just take specific courses that apply to your work situation and make an effort to PUBLISH.
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