Author Topic: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?  (Read 2275 times)

Lorundir

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Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« on: November 07, 2017, 06:11:54 AM »
I must admit, I am very blessed. I will have no debts when I graduate with my undergrad degree next December. None. No school loans, no car loans, nothing. But I will still have a degree in Materials Science and Engineering from a good state school in the Midwest (Definitely the best in the region). I also have the some of the most supportive parents on the face of the planet, financially and otherwise.

However, I'm at a crossroads. My health is declining and I feel like getting out with just an undergrad degree is the way to go for me. A lot of other people think that the industry out there won't fit me, and graduate school and its opportunities would be a better fit. Problem is, that's not really in line with what I want to do with my time. A couple of reasons why I think that grad school isn't a good decision:

1.) I lose out on a couple of years of earning potential. This is my biggest problem--I believe that I can hit FI within 10 years. I just don't think that a grad degree is worth shooting for if I'm planning to be there that long, besides, I'm not earning for a couple of years, so I would be set back.

2.) My health is declining and I would rather not spend another two years studying and not paying attention to my health and other matters in my life.

I believe that I can achieve FI with just a bachelor's in engineering. But I'm not convinced that a graduate degree is actually worth it financially for me. Do more opportunities open up with an MS in engineering or mathematics? What has been your experience?

me1

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2017, 06:29:38 AM »
Why are you considering  grad school? And I am assuming you mean a masters here not a phd? Just to have the degree? To make more money? Because you like to learn and are curious? To delay entering the real world?
I think the answer to whether you should do it would depend on why you want to do it in the first place.

Keep in mind that you may be able to get a job that pays for you to do a masters degree while you work. that way you keep working and earning the same, and then get the bump when you finish....

Dee18

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2017, 07:21:00 AM »
I'm wondering who the "a lot of other people" are.  If they are your professors or employers or friends employed in your line of work, ask them why they think that.  If they are friends and family, just smile and say thanks for your thoughts...and ignore it.  Also, what different opportunities would be available with a masters?  You say you would rather not spend another two years "studying and not paying attention to my health."  Why are you linking those two?  College is usually a much more flexible schedule than a first job, and with supportive parents I'm guessing you have health insurance.  Plus good state schools often have excellent health care right there. Begin taking care of your health now.  Working a few years before grad school, if you choose it, may help you better know exactly what would be good to study in grad school.

mrigney

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2017, 07:34:30 AM »
Physicist here. B.S. in physics, M.S. in atmospheric science (and applied physics field), currently working as a physicist I work amongst a bunch of engineers. About 1/3 of us have master's degrees. From an earnings potential standpoint, the M.S. does give me a tiebreaker when we have internal promotions and probably added about $10-15k to my salary when i started this job over what I would've otherwise gotten. Generally, though, I think in engineering that you'll do fine with a B.S. most of the time unless there's a specific reason to get a M.S.

I think, though, from your post, that your question goes a lot deeper than numbers. If I were you, I would be asking what you enjoy doing. Even if you only plan on working 10 years, that's a long time to do something you don't enjoy. I don't get the impression that you're particularly passionate about Materials Science or the option of a Master's Degree. You say you would get a M.S. in engineering or math/applied math. What do you mean by applied math? Something like computational applied mathematics? I would say that a math/applied math degree in general is a pretty different field from materials science (e.g. in my office I would hire a good candidate with a degree in computational applied mathematics in a heartbeat but would never even look at someone with a materials science degree, regardless of quality).

So I think you need to
1) Figure out the reasons you would get a M.S. Do you want to change your career trajectory into something more focused on math/physics/non-materials science engineering?
2) What drives you? What motivates you to get up every morning? What sorts of problems interest you? Does materials science scratch that itch?
3) You wrote several times about "declining health". Not meaning to pry by any means, but I think this needs to be fleshed out a little if you want any advice related to this aspect of your post. Do you have actual health issues (e.g. Chrons, diabetes, some sort of chronic condition) or do you just mean a general "letting go" of your body and your health? If the latter, I'm not sure finishing school and starting a job will be any better for your health than going to grad school. I make the time to workout/exercise/eat right now, but I found it much easier to take care of myself in grad school solely b/c the scope of my responsibilities was much narrower.

Happy to answer any questions.

dot

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2017, 10:06:53 AM »
I have an MS in Ceramic and Materials Engineering from a good state school in the northeast. I only have the Master's because there weren't many jobs when I got the BS, and I was offered a TA position with stipend (possibly to boost the post-graduation employment rate of the dept).  I wouldn't have considered an MS if the opportunity hadn't been handed to me. But I can definitely say that I have had more opportunities with the graduate degree than my classmates without. If you want to do any kind of research, you need more than a BS.

Looking at my classmates (about 12 in the graduating class), half eventually ended up with an advanced degree, whether it was MS/PhD immediately after undergrad, or going back for an MBA or MS while out in industry.

Grad school is a whole different beast from undergrad, and a miserable place to be if you're not into it (and sometimes a miserable place even when you are), so if you decide to go, you can't go in half-heartedly.

ysette9

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2017, 10:46:19 AM »
I think there is no reason to rush into this decision now. Graduate, find a job, work for 6-12 months, get your life in order, and then reassess. As others have mentioned, you may very well find an employer who will pay for some or all of a master's degree if you so choose. I also think that having a little work experience under your belt may help you focus or get more out of a master's than going straight into it from undergrad.

Conversely, engineering is a great degree for having a successful career with only a BS. If you really are committed to FIRE and think you can get out in 10 years, then I think your reasoning that a master's is not worth the opportunity cost is valid. The way around this is to work full time while going to school for that master's part-time. I did that and it is tough, but I didn't end up with loss of earnings or a career break. Then again, my husband did quit work for his master's and today we have the same cumulative work experience, are at similar levels within our companies, and earn very similar salaries. I don't think there is a "right" answer except for what works best for you.

mm1970

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2017, 04:34:57 PM »
I think there is no reason to rush into this decision now. Graduate, find a job, work for 6-12 months, get your life in order, and then reassess. As others have mentioned, you may very well find an employer who will pay for some or all of a master's degree if you so choose. I also think that having a little work experience under your belt may help you focus or get more out of a master's than going straight into it from undergrad.

Conversely, engineering is a great degree for having a successful career with only a BS. If you really are committed to FIRE and think you can get out in 10 years, then I think your reasoning that a master's is not worth the opportunity cost is valid. The way around this is to work full time while going to school for that master's part-time. I did that and it is tough, but I didn't end up with loss of earnings or a career break. Then again, my husband did quit work for his master's and today we have the same cumulative work experience, are at similar levels within our companies, and earn very similar salaries. I don't think there is a "right" answer except for what works best for you.

This.  I got a job (military), got my master's part time at night (because I didn't know what I wanted to do when I got out of the military).

It's pretty common to have a job for awhile and then make the decision to go back or not, once you've got some real engineering experience and decide what you want to do.

I toyed with getting a PhD for awhile (I work with a bunch of them).  But by then, I was 40-ish, and I did the math and realized it would take at least 15 years to make it cost effective.  And...I still get to do fun engineering stuff without the PhD.  Nothing stops me from learning device physics at work, for example.

Gondolin

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2017, 07:18:59 PM »
Sounds like you're at Urbana-Champaign, yes?

Lots of good points raised by other posters already. However, I can offer a little perspective as someone who graduated relatively recently with a Bachelor's in Materials Science and Engineering. As in, there's a very good chance that you've had a TA who was a member of my MSE undergrad class.

The job market for bachelor's in MsE is thin compared to other engineering majors. There are opportunities in silicon (IBM, Global Foundries), in the analysis departments of major corps (Duracell, Siemens, etc.) and in niche materials firms (Corning, etc.). Most of these slots end up being niche roles and you get specialized very quickly which can really limit your employment options and potential locations down the line. It's definitely not like being an EE or MechE who can easily move from big company to big company. Obviously, the pay is still good and if you are just looking to grind out 10 years in a small niche it may be the right choice.

Alternatively, about a third of my undergrad cohort ended up going outside the direct engineering field - consulting, oil field work, and finance were all quite popular.

That said, DO NOT get a Master's in MsE. It is a useless degree that will not expand your job opportunities. The job market is completely bifurcated between the opportunities listed above where the company is looking for entry level people they can train up on the job and PhDs who have highly specialized backgrounds in a specific materials field. Ya know, the kind of specialization you only get by doing four years of research on the kinetics of CdS nucleation on CuInGaSe2 substrates. If you want to get a Master's (now or later), get it in a different field that will diversify your knowledge within engineering. ChemE, EE, MechE, Systems, take your pick.

PM me if you want more details.

EfficientEngineer

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2017, 07:52:03 PM »
I'm a ME in college too.  I'll be done next spring and I am totally set on getting out of school.  So much of the fluff doesn't have applications and the stuff that does often times you only learn of the applications later on - talk about little reason to learn other than a grade.  Plus most engineers will be brought up to speed at whichever company they're working for.

As a ME I've had past employers tell me that a MS is not necessary and can even have them question why you didn't get right out and get some experience, and are they too book-y? 

Also if I ever need or desire a MS I'm thinking my company would likely help out with costs.

AlienRobotAnthropologist

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2017, 10:52:37 PM »
If you want to learn, just buy books off Amazon and read them after work or find interesting journal articles. Working 40hr/week isn't that different from TAing or doing grunt work 20-40hrs/week as a grad student in this regard.

If you want to optimize finances, get your employer to pay for a masters through an online program while still working full-time. If all you care about is money, leave engineering for finance, consulting, sales, management, etc.

If you need a masters in one field or another to do the work you want to do, the employer funded masters is probably the way to go. Only reason to go full-time is if you want to get to what you believe will be fun ASAP and are willing to take a financial hit for it. If you haven't worked in industry, your expectations probably won't match how things actually work though.

I'm a mechanical engineer and I wanted to do a masters but passed due to the cost. Since then I've had a chance to explore a lot of topics on my own that I didn't have a chance to satisfactorily look at in school and have changed my perspective a bit since working in industry. I think if I were to (but I won't) go back full-time for a masters, I'd benefit from it a lot more now. I also think that material science seems pretty pointless compared to the alternatives unless you want to get a PhD. And a masters in applied math seems completely useless unless it's more of a computational science or data science type degree. Real mathematicians need PhDs.

COEE

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2017, 06:21:42 AM »
EE here.  I can't give advice on your field; however, I'm shocked that engineers even think about masters degrees.  For a few reasons...
  • It might get you to a higher salary 1 or 2 years quicker, but salary will end up being about the same after 10 years of experience.  Go look at the data!
  • It can be a lot more debt without a lot more salary.
  • Masters work can be very niche - potentially pigeon holing you
  • There just doesn't seem to be a whole lot in it for the engineer.
  • It benefits the company much more than the engineer.

The only way I'd consider my MS is if my company paid 100% of the cost, it was a job requirement, AND they let me spend AT LEAST 20 hours of 'job time' a week working on my coursework.  Doing a thesis that was associated with my job would certainly help put the two in balance, although there's usually IP and stuff wrapped into your work that makes this difficult for most companies.

I just looked to get a masters degree at the engineering school closest to me.  It would cost me between $6000 and $7500 per semester - depending on the number of credits I took (this cost is for 6-8 hours - typical of a graduate student)... and that doesn't include course and program fees, books, housing, etc.  That's just the tuition and fees!  That's up to $40k that really, might get you into a cooler job, but probably won't get you much more pay over your short mustachian career!

I mean, why even consider this?

MayDay

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2017, 06:40:40 AM »
I'm going to throw out a guess that you go to UMN.

Run away from grad school.

The end.

Lol, seriously though, professors think being a professor is awesome. People with advanced engineering degrees who aren't professors generally think it's either a mistake or neutral. I started grad school at UMN in chemE and quit because it was shockingly obvious that to succeed as a professor (and even a grad student) I'd be working 60+ hour weeks. Hard pass. I work in R&D with a bachelor's in chemE and I work 40 hours a week and make great money.

MayDay

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2017, 06:46:15 AM »
And to the PP who said you need an advanced degree to do research: what are you smoking?

The best part about engineering is you don't need an advanced degree to do.... well... almost anything!

brute

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2017, 07:51:15 AM »
Ok, so my real question is what is wrong with your health? Is this some sort of degenerative disease, or are you just not taking care of yourself? Or is it stress related? If it's stress, no grad school for you. If it's illness, I can't really comment on what is right. If it's just not taking care of yourself, get it together.

I earned my Master's in computer science from the university of illinois urbana champaign back in 2014. It boosted my earning potential from ~$75k per year to ~130k per year. The kind of work I am now able to do is infinitely more interesting, the respect I get at the organizations I work with is far better, and my actual knowledge has been greatly elevated past what I would have been able to do on my own in 10 years or less.

I will say this however. The people who think you can do actual research without a grad degree are totally mad. A few people out there can, but without the exposure to the academic community, the peer review process, the stats necessary to evaluate even the smallest claims, etc., it is nearly impossible to do research without some guidance. If you're lucky, you'll have someone at your workplace who can help you along. If you aren't, you'll have a heap of a lot of trouble.

My suggestion is a masters in computer science. Programmers who can program are a dime a dozen. Other engineers who can code and develop algorithms are in high demand.

gatortator

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2017, 07:59:10 AM »
Before I give a bigger answer.  (discloser,  I have a PhD in MSE.  I am not and have never wanted to be a professor.)

what made you choose MSE in the first place?  what was the spark that got you interested?

What is your specialty for your junior/senior classes- metals, polymers, ceramic, semiconductor, biomaterials,  other?

What internships/co-ops have you done?
What was the favorite part of your internships? least favorite?

What industry is your (not other people's) ultimate goal industry?    manufacturing (production/process), consulting, design, research, etc...  large company, small company, government, academia, etc...
« Last Edit: November 08, 2017, 08:10:44 AM by gatortator »

COEE

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2017, 09:47:28 AM »
It boosted my earning potential from ~$75k per year to ~130k per year.
Really?  I'm surprised by this.  Can you share some more - did you automatically make $55k more?  How much time do you have in industry?  What industry are you in?  How much do you expect to make after about 10 years?  Honestly, I'd do a MS for a 75% increase it in a heartbeat, but I doubt it would be that lucrative.

Sounds like we make about the same amount and I don't have a MS.  Granted, it's taken me about 10 years to get there, but I'm there.  I do consider myself one of the best electrical engineers on the market - and the work I've done and the places I've worked at proves it - to me at least.  I always demand a high price for high performance, and I've gotten it wherever I've worked.  I turned down a job offer 2 weeks ago - $125k base, up to 10% 401k match, and up to 8% bonus because I didn't think it paid enough and it required a move.  My mom thought I was insane to turn down that job - and with the opportunity, she may have been right.  I wasn't going to move without an increase in salary though.

I also literally laughed out loud when someone else offered me $77k with an "unheard of" (their words, not mine) 3% 401k match.  I was making that the day I graduated college.

The kind of work I am now able to do is infinitely more interesting, the respect I get at the organizations I work with is far better, and my actual knowledge has been greatly elevated past what I would have been able to do on my own in 10 years or less.
Sorry, I'm calling BS on this one.  I've done some very interesting work with no masters degree.  Example: I literally designed a brand new 22 layer mixed signal lithium ion battery charge controller card that is scheduled to be sitting on the surface of Mars this time next year.  I'm one of just a handful of people (3 that I'm aware of, but probably closer to 10) in the world that can say that truthfully.  Do you think that is interesting work?  I sure do!  You don't think I get some respect when I walk into a room?  I know I do!

It's all about drive in my mind.  I've worked with many, many, many engineers that just thank their employer for their paycheck and worsening benefits every year, they coast along, enjoying a comfy corporate life - and it is comfy, but they don't have any passion for their occupation or drive to make more money.  I suspect I make 20-30% more than my coworkers that have just coasted along.

There has been been elements of luck, but much of it has been my skill and drive that has got me where I am today.  I'm also very thankful to mentors and peers that have seen my potential and have helped along the way.

Programmers who can program are a dime a dozen. Other engineers who can code and develop algorithms are in high demand.
110% agree with this point.

It's all about seeking out the best work and applying yourself to your work when you DO get that dream job.  You will be successful if you're the best!  And honestly, I don't think it's that hard to be the best.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2017, 10:18:30 AM by COEE »

brute

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2017, 10:00:29 AM »
It boosted my earning potential from ~$75k per year to ~130k per year.
Really?  I'm surprised by this.  Can you share some more - did you automatically make $55k more?  How much time do you have in industry?  What industry are you in?  How much do you expect to make after about 10 years?  Honestly, I'd do a MS for a 50% increase it in a heartbeat, but I doubt it would be that lucrative.

Sounds like we make about the same amount and I don't have a MS.  Granted, it's taken me about 10 years to get there, but I'm there.  I do consider myself one of the best electrical engineers on the market - and the work I've done and the places I've worked at proves it - to me at least.  I always demand a high price for high performance, and I've gotten it wherever I've worked.  I turned down a job offer 2 weeks ago - $125k base, up to 10% 401k match, and up to 8% bonus because I didn't think it paid enough and it required a move.  My mom thought I was insane to turn down that job - and with the opportunity, she may have been right.  I wasn't going to move without an increase in salary though.

I also literally laughed out loud when someone else offered me $77k with an "unheard of" (their words, not mine) 3% 401k match.  I was making that the day I graduated college.

The kind of work I am now able to do is infinitely more interesting, the respect I get at the organizations I work with is far better, and my actual knowledge has been greatly elevated past what I would have been able to do on my own in 10 years or less.
Sorry, I'm calling BS on this one.  I've done some very interesting work with no masters degree.  Example: I literally designed a brand new 22 layer mixed signal lithium ion battery charge controller card that is scheduled to be sitting on the surface of Mars this time next year.  I'm one of just a handful of people (3 that I'm aware of, but probably closer to 10) in the world that can say that truthfully.  Do you think that is interesting work?  I sure do!  You don't think I get some respect when I walk into a room?  I know I do!

It's all about drive in my mind.  I've worked with many, many, many engineers that just thank their employer for their paycheck and worsening benefits every year, they coast along, enjoying a comfy corporate life - and it is comfy, but they don't have any passion for their occupation or drive to make more money.  I suspect I make 20-30% more than my coworkers that have just coasted along.

There has been been elements of luck, but much of it has been my skill and drive that has got me where I am today.  I'm also very thankful to mentors and peers that have seen my potential and have helped along the way.

Programmers who can program are a dime a dozen. Other engineers who can code and develop algorithms are in high demand.
110% agree with this point.

It's all about seeking out the best work and applying yourself to your work when you DO get that dream job.  You will be successful if you're the best!  And honestly, I don't think it's that hard to be the best.

So, my trajectory is a weird one. I got a job with no education as a software engineer, and then never got a raise because I didn't have a degree. Never mind that I ran the entire department after 3 years and people were coming in making tons more than me that I managed. Without any degree, there was really nowhere for me to go. I never really tested the waters of what it would look like with just a B.S. in C.S. as I went straight into the MS from there after 5 years of working with no degree. The $75k was So. Cal money. The $130 is LCOL midwest money, so I'm pretty happy with it.

The respect, well that has a lot to do with where I work I suppose. I work for the National Labs/DoE. A master's is required to get in the door. I'm one of the few that gets a say in anything without a PhD, mostly because my stuff works better than the folks with higher educations. I can't say exactly what I do, what I've built, or any of that, but it gets attention.

Now, could I be working at Amazon/Google/FB/Uber/etc for more money with just a bachelors? Probably. I've gotten offers every couple of weeks from them for the past 3 years to come on board and do neat things. But how many can say they have a reactor or a particle accelerator on site? This place is neat, the job is stable, and the work life balance is ideal.

therethere

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2017, 10:06:44 AM »
I have an MS in Ceramic and Materials Engineering from a good state school in the northeast. I only have the Master's because there weren't many jobs when I got the BS,


I have a mechanical engineering masters for this exact reason. All my peers had jobs lined up fall senior year and I didn't. So I stayed another 6-12 months and got my Master's. Another reason, was you could still qualify as an intern as long as you were in school. I don't work in research now so my Master's degree has been useless. None of my employers paid more salary for a Master's. I actually think it detracted from my job applications falling into the "overqualified" bucket. All my Master's did was buy me some time to find a job and result in another 20k loan. Looking back it was not the most wise decision.

I would say unless you have a drive to do only research in your career do not get a master's in engineering.

COEE

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2017, 10:42:18 AM »
A master's is required to get in the door.

Yep, there are certainly jobs like that.  Maybe 1% of jobs or so is what I'm seeing.  I work in a very high tech location, so I probably see more like 3-5%.  I can't even get a phone call - I've tried.

I've run into exactly one problem in 10 years that I wish I had more education for.  I was able to fix the problem, and I have a clear understanding of why my solution fixed the problem.  I just couldn't work out all of the detailed math around the issue - and it may have been easier with a single masters level course - not even a degree.  I did buy a book, but realized it was more in depth than I wanted to get.  Just fix the problem, understand why the fix worked and will continue to work, and move along to the next problem.

Lorundir

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2017, 05:02:17 PM »
Wow this blew up! I'll explain my situation further:

4th year out of 5 undergraduate Materials Science and Engineering major at a great public school in Ohio. Minor in mathematics. Definitely have taken more classes than necessary for the minor.

I am a musician by nature. Been playing almost 19 years at this point. My plan is to shoot for FI so that I could focus on my technique and skills to be able to say what I need to say through my medium. I like music, but I don't like the musician's life. Once I realized that there was a way to have the cake and eat it too, I decided to jump on the engineering train. My question is: does a grad degree in engineering or math set you up better financially than an undergraduate, and does it provide more satisfaction than an undergraduate degree in terms of the type of work that you get?

I don't hate my degree nor what I am doing. In fact much of the dislike I have towards my major is the lack of depth in many of the topics that I study right now. I do a lot of extra classes in mathematics and mechanics in the hopes that I stand a chance with my friends in Mechanical/EE Engineering, as a Materials guy. It's just that I don't want to become a person whose main purpose in life is to be an engineer or scientist. My ultimate dream in life is to make music. That's it. I don't have any other real goals on that scale.

If I do go to grad school, I will not focus on music at all. I know this about myself. It will become a side thing for me. But I'll still come home and feel like I'm not doing enough justice to my musical pursuit. On the other hand, if I spent most of my day practicing, producing, recording, performing, composing, whatever, and didn't do enough of the engineering/math side, I'd be fine with that. As it is right now, I have to be careful how much music I do because hours will pass before I look at the time, but it's not something that I can dabble in for a couple minutes every day and be happy with. I don't want to carry this dissonance with me any more.

My health is a complicated issue--I have fibromyalgia, but it's really a psychological problem at its root. The type of energy required to focus on my engineering and math is completely against the grain for my condition. So like someone said earlier, it's stress-related. Studies are a very cognitive thing, and trying to balance that along with my self-awareness makes the going that much more painful. I don't think I can focus on studying engineering for extended periods of time past next year, to be honest. Part of me wants to take it easy for a bit and have a job I can just do without stressing out too much and easing the cognitive dissonance by being able to get into music after hours.

That being said, I'm a healthy chap--I practice kung fu and teach my roommate how to train like a boxer (a lot of conditioning and technique, no sparring!), ride my bike when tornadoes aren't blazing through town, and meditate multiple times a day (mainly to keep chipping away at my fibromyalgia, which I'm making awesome progress in). I cut down my video games and computer usage by quite a bit last year (it was less than 4 hours a day even then), and I enjoy walks and being outdoors (hiking, climbing, being with friends) much more. I enjoy the very rare glass of red wine and don't do any drugs. I don't even drink coffee! Lol

Before I give a bigger answer.  (discloser,  I have a PhD in MSE.  I am not and have never wanted to be a professor.)

what made you choose MSE in the first place?  what was the spark that got you interested?

What is your specialty for your junior/senior classes- metals, polymers, ceramic, semiconductor, biomaterials,  other?

What internships/co-ops have you done?
What was the favorite part of your internships? least favorite?

What industry is your (not other people's) ultimate goal industry?    manufacturing (production/process), consulting, design, research, etc...  large company, small company, government, academia, etc...

My reason for going down the MSE path was actually because people told me how broad and applicable it was. I didn't have an idea of what I wanted to do in my professional life then, and I do not now as a 4th year undergrad student (out of 5). My reason was to simply train for the eventuality that I would have to drop everything and be able to learn something entirely new quickly and effectively. Like I said above, my eventual goal is to make the dough to be financially stable so that I don't have to worry about living a musician's life.

My personal specialty is mechanics, with a little bit of applied mathematics thrown in for spice. I've taken advanced (well, advanced for undergraduates :) ) courses in mechanics of materials (continuum mechanics, theory of elasticity, that sort of thing), and I'm slowly improving my mathematical skillset. I'd be really excited to try my hand in supply chain management, failure analysis, or consulting of some sort. I feel like I will have the background to be able to do those types of jobs, and well. The department has me down for the metals track.

I should say this, however: If there is a field or position that makes more money than my interests right now and it also has interesting problems, I would make that switch to that industry in a heartbeat. I have zero loyalty for this field, and I only care about having interesting problems/healthy work environment. I have a GPA above 3.6, do research, and see my degree as a glorified problem solving certification. If anyone has suggestions, please post them.

One internship with Parker Hannifin in one of the Metals Labs. Honestly, I didn't like it very much. I didn't have contact with other people for 8 hours a day. No team work, not much interfacing, just training on the machines and getting the results out to the people who needed them done. Don't get me wrong, I loved my boss and I learned a lot, but I don't ever want to work in that type of environment again. I need problems to solve and people to help. I'm actually having a difficult time finding a second internship, and I'm starting to feel like people don't want me because I'm a Materials person. I know it's not cause of my grades or my attitude when speaking to employers. People tell me to my face that they like me and they want someone with my GPA to work for them. It's just that it never really converts. Perhaps I'm not doing enough on this front to be able to say that it's not working out, but with the injuries and the classes, I've got my hands full.

Quote

Programmers who can program are a dime a dozen. Other engineers who can code and develop algorithms are in high demand.


I will look into this. I was planning on doing some coursework in data analytics and statistics. I have a rather solid background in algorithm building and numerical methods for Materials guy whose program is notorious for having students graduate with very poor math and programming skills, and my research position right now is primarily developing algorithms in C for image analysis.

It's really nice to hear that people with BSs in MSE are doing well for themselves and have found really satisfying jobs. Really gives me a lot of motivation to see this through!

Overall, I think I should say that I have rejected a lot of my major and have gone down the path of becoming more a math/engineer guy than a scientist.

My chief worries are:

1.) Employers not being able to see past the MSE label and reject me,

2.) Not being able to work towards my Mustachian dreams because of the location and the occupation I'm in, and

3.) Not having the same mobility as other engineering majors to switch industries or jobs as easily.

I hope this answered some questions about my situation. Thank you so much for the advice so far. I will definitely take some of you up on the offers to carry on the conversation in PMs--just gotta deal with the rest of this week/semester first!

pecunia

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2017, 06:23:57 PM »
The most important thing is your health.

I have a neighbor who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  This seems to be a disease assigned when the medical community cannot discern what is really wrong with you.  The neighbor kept reading on the subject.  He couldn't work.  The disease just sapped his strength after brief exercise.  It turned out he had a bacteria that burrows into the nerves.  It wasn't Lime disease, but something like it.  This disease is peculiar because he can still perform active activities, but cannot work a full 8 hour day.

Many engineering jobs require a longer day than 8 hours.  With this disease, you may be giving up too much of your life. The neighbor obtained disability after quite the battle with the state.  He's not that old and shows no signs of being disabled.  That disease may take a toll with the stress of work.

I recommend finding a job with low stress and concentrating on the music in your off time.  The music will always be inside you.  That flame may go down, but will never go out.  It will always be a longing, an open place.  Think about it. 

Lorundir

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #21 on: November 09, 2017, 07:12:03 AM »
Fibromyalgia is a tricky beast. I won't make any claims about anyone else, but the reason that my ability to focus and work goes down during the semester is because stuff from the subconscious tries to come up, but the conscious mind blocks it by sending the conflict into the muscles. It sounds crazy, but that's exactly what I observed happening to me--whenever I'd feel like I was going under again, I started to notice that my emotional state wasn't the best either.

I'm keeping a pretty strict regimen on improving my mental health, and I'm learning a lot about myself in the process. I like your recommendation. I've set up more realistic goals and healthy boundaries for myself, and my overall happiness as well as my health, has skyrocketed.

As a side note, you might want to bring up Sarno's MindBody book if he hasn't read it to your neighbor. That book was the turning point for my getting better.

therethere

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Re: Grad School for Engineering/Applied Math?
« Reply #22 on: November 09, 2017, 08:25:55 AM »
Materials Science is a nice niche in the oil/gas industry. The industry is filled with ME's and Civil people who don't understand much beyond "steel". So materials people are few and far between. Although jobs may not come up often, the pool of people is small. Similar to you I focused more on stress analysis, mechanics, etc. The failure analysis and root cause is what I'm interested in.  I get a mix of new problems 1-2x a year that I get to figure out and the rest of the time I get to act as a subject matter expert. I started in oil which was a demanding industry always wanting travel, overtime, and pretty much your life. But I moved into utilities for a huge improvement in work life balance.

My advice would be to stick with the Bachelors and be picky on the jobs you want. Realize that you might be giving up a decent amount of salary for work life balance. Look for jobs with high starting vacation time or flex time as that's a good precursor to the company attitude.