Question for Engineers

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by slugslinger2004, Feb 20, 2008.

  1. slugslinger2004

    slugslinger2004 TFW2005 Supporter

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    Any engineers here? I'm currently trying to get my undergrad in Mechanical Engineering and I'm finishing up my junior level classes (been here 4 years, but I decided to do a co-op/internship that pushed me behind a year.)

    I'm debating now whether I should apply for grad school or just get a job. To get my Masters would take another 2 years, since the University of Tennessee has a program to where I could obtain my MBA and MS. I'm just not sure if it's worth it now because of the amount of time I've spent in school so far, and wanting to pay off student loans I'll get during my 5th year. I plan on taking the FE exam next spring, but other than that I'm not sure what course of action to take.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated :) 
     
  2. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    Im a Materials Engineer at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, currently taking a Masters. So to answer your question, a few things to consider. There may be differences between our two school schools though, so definitely check.

    Mechanical Engineering is always in demand, and you probably wont have too much trouble getting a job, even if you have to wait a little while out of school. If you take grad studies, you can start right away. However, you'll make a LOT more money in industry. Grad studies will probably be only a slight step above the "starving student" in terms of income.

    Grad studies is a lot more relaxed than undergrad, and, in my experience (which is limited to only summer jobs in industry), than industry as well. Instead of 5-7 classes, you'll likely have no more than 1 class a semester, you may have to help teach another undergrad course on top of that, and the rest of time will be devoted to your thesis project. Depending on your outlook, you may find this really nice or boring.

    Taking a Masters, you will have to be a lot more self-motivated than in the other two aforementioned situations. You probably wont see your supervisor everyday, and you wont be in a situation where your prof will be giving you assignments every week like in undergrad or where your boss will be checking in on you every couple of days to check your progress. You've got a lot of temptation to slack off, and YOU, personally, have to keep yourself working hard. Its up to you whether or not this is a good situation to be in.

    Uh, that's pretty much all that comes to mind right now. Let me know if you have any other questions, either by posting here or PMing me.
     
  3. Keiichitron

    Keiichitron Not a physicist, dammit

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    Mechanical Engineer here. I went straight for my Master's. Believe me, it's the way to go. First, you can probably already get a job while doing the school work which will give you experience and a higher degree which equals much dinero when you're done. Second, you're better off doing it right away while you're still in school mode. Finishing my Engineering Master's was a breeze, but now that I'm 3 years removed from school, I have no urge to go back for my MBA (even though I already passed my GMAT). When I was taking my grad classes, the guys in my classes were all in their 50s (one guy's son was a freshman). I can't imagine being that late in life and realizing I'd have to go back to school to advance myself. Do it now.
     
  4. rework

    rework The Voice of Experience

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    Y'know, it really depends on what you want to do with your degree.

    I got my BSEE in the early 90's and with the weak market at that time, found myself in a technical sales role - Turned out to not be such a good job for me. Espcially in the up and down years of the inet bubble. Took me quite a few years to get myself out of sales and into an engineering role.

    In hindsight, I wish I had gone on to get my Masters. I had offers, but was tired of being poor. Would have opened a lot more doors and probably would have given me more employability in the down years.

    As far as MBA - Probably only really valuable if your goal is to get into the business side or management.
     
  5. Ops_was_a_truck

    Ops_was_a_truck JOOOLIE ANDREWWWWWS!!!!!!

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    In my opinion, if you're single, not tied down to any particular region and willing to take any job, I'd say heavily consider doing that combined MBA/MS degree. If you do it now, you'll graduate a few thousand dollars ahead of the BS degree folks and with degrees allowing you to slip into either a management, procurement, contracting or actual engineering role. Both an MBA and an MS sounds nice -that's a heck of a door-opener.

    However, if you're burnt out on school and you just want to make some cash tender, go find a company that'll pay for your MS in a few years. Go work for a while and then come back.
     
  6. $5HotRod

    $5HotRod Trailbreaker Fan

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    Damn. I wish my grad school was like that. I had to take 2 to 3 classes a semester on top of research and/or teaching. Grad school was utter hell for me but in the end, I got my Masters in Mechanical Engineering.

    My advice, get your Masters as soon as you get your Bachelors. I didn't do that and waited two years after graduation to go back. You'd be amazed how much shit you forget and it makes grad school that much harder. Do your Masters while all of that undergrad stuff is still fresh in your mind and do it full-time. Having a job and doing those courses as well as a thesis is just far too much for a person to do.
     
  7. slugslinger2004

    slugslinger2004 TFW2005 Supporter

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    Thanks for all the tips. Money is an issue, as I just had a baby (she's 2 months.) My fiance is a 3rd year electrical engineer so I would have to find a job where other engineering firms are located.

    On the other hand I could just get another internship during grad school and that would help take care of a few bills, and allow my fiance and me to move out of town together.
     
  8. Bryan

    Bryan ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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    No matter what you end up doing later, I think for now you should definitely keep your options open. There's nothing stopping you from applying for a Master's and looking for jobs at the same time.

    Hell, you're not really committed either way until the day you actually start classes (or pay a deposit, but for the right job offer, that might not be an issue). And sometimes the best way to make a decision is to force it.

    Also, I hate that damn "Rocky Top" song, but I love it when y'all beat UGA.
     
  9. OptimusPrime86

    OptimusPrime86 The Nooch

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    In May I'm graduating with a BS in Electrical Engineering. For the past few years I've been playing around with the idea of staying a 5th year, either for my masters in engineering or an MBA. I decided, however, to take my FE in the spring, get a job and then go back to school in a few years for my masters.

    It was a tough decision but it came down to three key factors (I'm not sure how well they translate to mechanical, though):

    1) Though a masters in something would be beneficial, I'd still have no practical work experience (aside from internships), so the masters would be worthless in a way. I'd rather work for a few years, learn and understand the business, further build upon that knowledge with a masters degree, and continue on.

    2) My options for electrical masters programs were as follows: MBA, power engineering, signals engineering and computer science/programming. Though my true interest is in power engineering, I have NO clue what kind of work I'll be doing 5-10 years from now. For instance, if I got my masters in power, and 10 years from now I'm doing signals, again, that masters degree (in a way but not entirely) is useless. I personally would want a masters geared more towards what I am doing.

    3) aaaaand, not to sound cheap or anything, but I'd rather let National Grid foot the bill for grad school. ;) 



    I've spoken to many people the past few years about "what to do." Everybody has a different opinion, and there is no right choice; All have their pros and cons. So what it comes down to is, what's best for YOU.

    Good Luck.
     
  10. Ops_was_a_truck

    Ops_was_a_truck JOOOLIE ANDREWWWWWS!!!!!!

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    I'm going to change my tune - if you've got a baby, I really suggest going out into the field and getting a job for a while. Start payin' the college bills fast, as baby is going to get expensive. Once you're with a (preferrably big) company for a long enough period of time (maybe 2-3 years) you can start talking with them about them covering your expenses for grad school.
     
  11. T-money

    T-money Cake is good

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    I agree with OptimusPrime 86, you have to weigh your options and do what's best for you.

    I graduated in 2000 from the University of Central Florida with a BSME and for some reason jumped into the civil field. I have my PE license (FL) and it's been a great career for me so far. I never considered getting a masters degree because after 6 years of school (2 Juco, 4 University) I was eager to gain real work experience and make some money. College was fun but I felt like I had to get out and make something of my education.

    That being said, you really can't go wrong going after a masters degree. Knowledge is power and the more you have the better off you are. It sounds like you'll have to look at your family and financial obligations and put that against the money you can gain with a masters degree. With 2 young kids and one on the way, I can appreciate that situation.

    Good luck with your decision.
     
  12. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    I wouldn't plan on it. You might be able to get a part time job, but as far as I know, grad studies are year round and I haven't heard of people taking time off for internships during them. If money is an issue, I think getting a job may be the best choice.
     
  13. Keiichitron

    Keiichitron Not a physicist, dammit

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    i'm inclined to agree with his point once you mentioned a baby. get into the field and start earning money. you can go back to school in a little while and most likely get the company to pay.
     
  14. Bryan

    Bryan ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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    I'm gonna disagree slightly with one point.

    Remember that student loans are pretty subsidized. In the long run, there's a good chance you'll be better off paying the minimum and putting the rest into savings plans that will accrue interest faster than your debt would.

    There's definitely a psychological benefit in having no debt, but in this case, it might not be sound financially to focus on paying off college bills faster than necessary.
     
  15. slugslinger2004

    slugslinger2004 TFW2005 Supporter

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    Thanks for all the input. Looking at all of my options now, it may be in my main interest to get a job first. I was fortunate enough to have scholarships pay for my first 4 years of school, but the 5th year is not covered. What money I had saved during my internships is now going towards my apartment and the baby, and it definately won't last much longer.

    I just looked into getting another internship for this summer, which unfortunately would push my graduation back to the summer of 2009. I won't be making as much money as I would if I returned to the last place I worked, but I'll be spending a lot less cash on gas and I won't have to be away from home for 4 months.

    Another question: When is the best time to apply for a job? I remember my freshman year my tutors said they applied a year or 2 before they expected to graduate and received offers their senior year. Since I'm expecting to graduate in May (maybe August) of next year, what would be the best timeframe?
     
  16. OptimusPrime86

    OptimusPrime86 The Nooch

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    As early as possible, in my opinion. I began applying back in October and had some really nice offers by January.
     
  17. Ops_was_a_truck

    Ops_was_a_truck JOOOLIE ANDREWWWWWS!!!!!!

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    I had completely forgotten about that; yeah, you're right - those loans do end up being pretty low-end re: total monthly/yearly expenses, and they pretty much stay that way.

    Either way, I think baby will need to be a big chunk of your financial planning, slugslinger - I still think the best thing to do is to get a job right now and go back to school later on.

    RE: Applying for a job - Start now and continue to apply through until you've got enough potential offers from folks that you can be picky. Remember that offers are usually time-sensitive, though, so you'll have to set your sights on what's a dream job, what's an acceptable job and what's a "NO NO NO" job.
     
  18. Vector Sigma

    Vector Sigma <b><i><font color=FFFF00>Crazy Colon Burner!!!!</b Veteran

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    Best of luck on the decision. I'm finishing up my final year of my Masters in Cybernetics which basically makes me a control systems engineer, and i'm still not entirly sure if i'm happy that i'm doing this final year or not...
     
  19. KA

    KA PENIS GOES WHERE?!!

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    from what ive gathered talking to peers, get the higher qualification while you can man. it will increase your earning potential exponentially. you can make demands/get good deals off the bat.

    if you hit big money the debt/loan repaying wont be a thang.
     
  20. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    The best time to apply for a job is RIGHT NOW. Companies make job postings year round, although the fall-early winter is where a lot of postings are made. Still, its better to start looking now. Worst case, you can decline job offers rather than not having one because you applied too late.
     

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