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Pursuing A Engineering Masters Degree, is a thesis or non-thesis better?

S

sscam69

Guest
I know this might not be the right forum for this question but the reason I am asking it here is because I notice there are a lot of older experienced engineers in ths forum.

Onto the question. If you had two graduating engineers with masters degrees. One chose a non-thesis route and the other with a thesis. How are they viewed, assuming they both have the same experience, out in the professional world?

Lets say that after 10 years they still have a similar experience, how are they viewed then?

Will a thesis allow me to move up the "ladder" quicker and achieve a higher status etc.?

I have just started and have been asking myself this question. I have thought about going all the way and pursue a Ph.D but at this point in my life I just want to finish my masters and get industry experience. School is getting old really quick. If I should come back to shcool I think it would be better not going for a Ph.D and shoot for an MBA. I think this will allow me to be much more flexible. Any suggestions?

Thanx in advance

Frank
 
R

rpounds

Guest
Frank,

I'm sure some other engineers will pipe up here. First of all, I will congratulate you for taking that extra step of going for a master's.

Thesis or non-thesis? Depends on what you are planning to do with your degree. What specific engineering discipline? If you plan to go on to PHD, you probably would want to go thesis.

As far as the workaday world, I don't think that most prospective employers are going to ask what route to a master's you took. They are going to be a lot more interested in your work experience and success level.

Just my 2 cents worth . . . from a lowly bachelor's standpoint.
 

Nut

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Frank,

I agree with Ron's assessment. Hiring both Electrical and Mechanical Engineers I really couldn't care that much about the substance of your thesis. What I care about is what you know. We generally look each year for new grads that have a high class rank; and just plain interview well and did intern work of some type in their field of study. Many take the opportunity of working in a big company and pursue their Masters (at the company's expense). The Masters Degree with no experience will add some to your initial value, however, start working while doing Masters work and when you graduate you'll be worth a lot more because now you have practical experience. And you may find the direction of your thesis easier to decide.

Good Luck. You have to shoot me a resume.

Regards............. Nut
 
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I would also like to ask what engineering discipline you are pursuing. Are you wanting to be a designer, manager...etc?

I myself am STILL working on my bachelor's at 34, while working as an engineer for several years now (electronics).

I would have to agree with the thought that hiring managers aren't going to be too interested in the specifics, thesis...etc, but more in what you know, what's in your head and not what's on paper. What's on paper will get your foot in the door, what's in your head will be a big part of whether the door hits you in the bum on your way out or not.

If you're pursuing a management position, then the masters/MBA will definately help. If you want to be a "get your hands dirty" (so to speak) engineer, then you probably should try to get some good experience between the bachelors and masters stages, and probably go PHD (as opposed to MBA). Nut makes a very good point in getting some experience while earning your masters, that will help alot, as will the financial assistance that most companies will provide.

Anyway, my hat's off to you for pursuing higher education. I'm having a hard enough time just finishing up a bachelors degree.

Good luck!

Bill
 
R

rpounds

Guest
I have to check back in here Frank and applaud you for your efforts and for your desire to join our field of endeavour. There are far too few bright students choosing to persue the engineering disciplines these days, rather choosing the road to riches in law school. I have nothing against lawyers, so I hope nobody gets their hackles up by the statement (I have a life long friend who chose that path, not for the money but for a deep seated conviction that goes far beyond means).

Engineers are, for the most part, under appreciated, under paid and overly criticized by those that fail to understand the fascination of creativity. There are a gazillion (a truly technical term) different engineering disciplines . . . I am a Product Development Manager in the packaging industry, doing mechanical design work . . . but we all seem to have one thing in common . . . the love of finding out what makes things work. What makes it tick? How can I make it better?

The challenges ahead are to be met with anticipation and an avid desire to make things better. If you ever, ever have need of help, just shout . . . us Ing-in-eering types gotta stick together!!
 
S

sscam69

Guest
I have always enjoyed science, I just never knew what I was going to be. I figured that out my senior year in high school after watching a man describing the robots on the Disneylands "small world" ride. At the bottom it said "Mechanical Engineer". Thats when I knew thats what I wanted to be. I have always enjoyed taking things apart, but not always being able to put them back together :L

This discipline can be tough. I remember starting with 50 students and I think only a dozen of us were left at graduation. The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) had one of the highest minority graduating class last year at ~157 students compared to over 500 business majors. It can be REALLY tough sometimes not just in the work but on your psyche. I can remember a few times breaking down and crying because things weren't going so good in school. BUT I never gave up and pulled through.

What I want to do in industry I don't know for sure yet because I haven't been there BUT in the future I see myself in a project management position or as a troubleshooter, troubleshooting is one of the things I love to do. The management part comes from seing my dad and how he runs his own business. I think I am a natural leader because of the decision making skills I have learned from him and being the oldest of 7.

I am concentrating on the thermo-fluids of mechanical engineering but I am taking a few solid mechanics classes because I love that stuff to. I love all aspects of mechanical enginering actually everything from thermo-fluids, solid mechanics to control engineering.

overly criticized by those that fail to understand the fascination of creativity
and add to that lack of understanding period. Some politician said "if the automotive industry advanced in its technology as fast as the electronic industry, we would be driving flying vehicles" :SLAP :SLAP
The creativity is controlled by the bean counters :mad

The challenges ahead are to be met with anticipation and an avid desire to make things better. If you ever, ever have need of help, just shout . . . us Ing-in-eering types gotta stick together!!
I'll remember that!
 
S

sscam69

Guest
So you guys can also understand where this question is coming from, let me explain. I have hit a fork in the road of life and I am trying to figure out which is the best route.

Personaly I am ready to go out in the field and start working. I had to rush through school for financial reasons. I finished in 4 years what should of have taken me 5 to 5 1/2 and at the same time hold research positions at school and part time jobs to support myself. My parents don't have a lot of money let alone to pay for my education. Thank God I have made it through loans and work. Needless to say I am burned out at this point.

I will be getting married in August of next year, with another engineer :L . She will be graduating in May of 03 and I will have to stay behind to finish school, IF i go thesis.

There are a few problems though

1. I don't know if there is funding to work on the project required for my thesis. Its ,bare with me, "Design of an Optically Accessed Spark Ignition Direct Injection Engine" pphheeww!! It has been on the back burner since 97 or 98. I would be the one to head and finish the project.

2. The projected date for me to finish is December of 03 but by looking at how much is left to be done I think I won't finish by at least May of 03.

3. Me and my girlfriend have spent about half of our relationship of 3 years apart because of internships. Another 4-8 months after were married, I don't feel is necessary and I am finding out it isn't. Oh she already has a job as soon as she finishes school and I will be following her.

OR

1. I could go to Albuquerque this December and transfer the credits I have now and finish my non-thesis masters up there while working as an engineer.

2. 1. will allow me to save money for our wedding

3. I will only be 4 months apart from her at the most, then she moves up there to work of Sandia Nat. Labs.

I think that latter part will work out better in the long run. Thanks Ron, Nut and Geekinavette for your advice.

Nut do you mind of I shoot my resume over to you so that you can critique it. There will be a job fair here next week (sept 4) and people from Sandia Nat. Labs will be here. I am going to see if I can get a job with them. Any advice on that would be greatly appreciated. I'll shoot you one to Ron.

Nut any advice on interviewing skills, etc.. Any help I can get would be great!

Thanks again guys.
 

Nut

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Frank,

I sent you a Private Message with some details and email addr's. Disney World. In the early 70's I passed up what might have been the opportunity of a lifetime. I had an interview with a company that Disney used to develop their rides. Interview went great, paid the price I wanted but would not offer any relocation package. I passed. :hb So much for thinking that one out. :cry

Hang in there. There's a lot of ME jobs available right now.

........... Nut
 
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As an M.E. myself, with 37 years' experience in the OEM industry with GM and Chrysler, and having hired engineers for decades, I was always more concerned with enthusiasm, work experience, accomplishments, and practical knowledge than what route was taken to get the Master's; the primary benefit of an advanced degree (from a hiring manager's perspective) is that it teaches a disciplined approach to problem-solving, which is what Engineering is all about.

I personally chose Manufacturing Engineering as my career path (after 8 years in Product Engineering), as I enjoyed being able to see the results of my efforts in real time in assembly plants; I moved on into Management and moved back and forth between plant assignments and Central Office over the years, became Director of Manufacturing Engineering, and then spent my last six years before I retired last year as an Assembly Plant Manager.

The Master's is an important foundation credential these days for a successful career path, but work experience (IMO) carries more weight, as it demonstrates your capability in the real world.

From a long-term perspective, I think a Ph.D has benefits if you choose a research-oriented career path; an M.B.A., however, I think would offer you (and an employer) more flexibility, particularly if you find Management to your liking.

Whichever path you choose, congratulations on choosing Engineering as a career path and being willing to get your hands dirty in the real world where people solve real problems and "make stuff"; we already have more Finance types and liberal arts/social researchers getting in our way than we need :D
 
S

sscam69

Guest
we already have more Finance types and liberal arts/social researchers getting in our way than we need

LOL, you got that right!!

We have a ritual to initiate all the incoming engineers. On St Patricks day all the new engineers get painted green and have to go through a gauntlet of trials. Anything from bobbing for rotted fruit in a bathtub to singing all across campus making fools of themselves.

The best part is when we come to the liberal arts department. We get a toilet and put it in the front door and scream "PEEDOGGIES". Needless to say not everybody is happy about it but its fun!
 

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