Author Topic: M. Eng. vs M.S. vs Travel more  (Read 1084 times)

COEE

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M. Eng. vs M.S. vs Travel more
« on: June 24, 2018, 11:59:18 PM »
I'm considering getting my Masters Degree, and am hoping to get some advice from other like minded/skilled people. 

I currently have a BSEE from a second tier engineering school but have still managed to score jobs at really great companies doing really cool work, and have an excellent resume.  I've worked in Aerospace, Commercial LED Lighting, and Integrated Circuits.  I usually have a 70-80% call-back rate when I send out my resume for a position I'm interested in.

I find myself living about 20 minutes from the University of Colorado, which has (without question - IMHO) the best power electronics curriculum in the world.  The professors literally wrote the text book that all of the other schools use.  The curriculum literally exists to crank out the very best power supply design engineers in the world.  Ironically, I have spent the last 11 years of my career working in the field of power electronics.  My primary purpose in getting a masters would be to compliment my practical experience with a more theoretical background, and to study under the best professors in the world in my area of expertise.

So today I'm wondering
1) With my work history, is their any value to getting my Masters?
2) Should I get an M.Eng or a non-thesis MS?  The only two differences I can discern is that the GRE is required to be admitted to the MS program and I would get 6 years to complete my M.Eng. vs 4 on the MS.
3) Do companies typically discern between M.Eng, MS, non-thesis MS?
4) I'm leaning towards doing this despite the fact I don't think it will really provide any additional income, I think it is likely to open more doors, particularly once I hit FI, and I can truly do whatever I want.  Does that make sense?  Has anyone had experience going to get their Masters for this reason?  How'd it turn out for you?

Other facts:
1) I have 0 desire to get my Ph.D. so I don't think I need a thesis based program.
2) I do plan on being FI in the next 10 or so years, but I don't particularly want to RE. 
3) According to salary.com I am very well compensated for my skill set and I don't expect any increase in salary when I complete the curriculum.  Also, my current company will cover a considerable chunk of the tuition, so cost isn't a factor in this decision in anyway (both income and cost of education) other than perhaps the education is nearly free.
4) I have little desire to manage from an 'manager' perspective.  However, I have an incredibly strong desire to be a business leader as far as involved with negotiations, client facing, innovative, having technical direct reports, etc.  Therefore, I have aspirations of being CTO, Chief Engineer, Fellow, etc. at some point in the future. 
5) I have a child, and doing graduate course work will take away from my time with her.

Thoughts?  What would you do?  What have you done?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: M. Eng. vs M.S. vs Travel more
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2018, 03:55:42 AM »
I have an engineering degree, a related thesis MS, both from top-tier schools in those fields, and I am a first-level manager at an engineering company.

We pay zero attention to M. Eng. degrees, even from respected schools. A thesis MS is more impressive because it requires innovation, teamwork, and applying knowledge. But when somebody has eleven yearsí experience, we donít pay attention to degrees at all.

My advice is to spend more time with you child and not try to get a degree while working.

Car Jack

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Re: M. Eng. vs M.S. vs Travel more
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2018, 08:27:09 AM »
Colorado certainly has some good power electronics concentrations.  I'll leave it at that as my MSEE is from Virginia Tech which at the time I attended was VPEC (Virginia Power Electronics Center).

If your goal is to better understand how power electronic stuff works, theory and design, then that's a great reason to go back for the Masters.

Power electronics is still an area with big demand.  I've never been without a job in this field, ever.  I've been a power supply design engineer since 1985.  I was lucky to have an employer who sent me to get an MSEE and paid in full including my salary.  I finished at the end of 1989 and my school choices were MIT, VT and Duke.  I evaluated all and chose VT as it was by far the leader in power research.  Colorado has come along more since that time (and although I didn't mention Cal Tech, I guess I should).

At VT, there is no difference between the 2 degrees you mention.  Doing either gives one an MSEE.  When I attended, the 3 choices were Thesis, Grad exam w/2 extra classes, and project, which was 2 extra classes and a thesis-like project with less publication/defense requirements.  As I had a non-movable 18 month completion date, I did thesis work but also took the extra classes (had some transfer classes) and took the grad exam, which was also PhD entrance exam.  My diploma says nothing about what option I opted for and doesn't say that I specialized in power electronics.

I guess I'd say to look at what you'd get out of the program and choose what's best for you.  I know a TON of students who only have to complete their thesis to finish and I know they never will.  This is where a non-thesis option holds a huge advantage.  For me, had I not finished and returned to work, I never would have been able to complete my masters.

Feel free to PM me with any questions.  I now work as a power FAE for a chip company as I'm not scared of speaking to engineers.

jjcamembert

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Re: M. Eng. vs M.S. vs Travel more
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2018, 02:23:06 PM »
CU has a Master's program in Engineering Management, as well as certificate programs in case you're interested in exploring the business side of things.

4) I have little desire to manage from an 'manager' perspective.  However, I have an incredibly strong desire to be a business leader as far as involved with negotiations, client facing, innovative, having technical direct reports, etc.  Therefore, I have aspirations of being CTO, Chief Engineer, Fellow, etc. at some point in the future. 

I share this sentiment, however I have come to think this doesn't exist. To be a CTO, Chief Engineer, etc. you need to be really good at working with people. All of tasks you mentioned require strong people skills, not necessarily engineering knowledge. Having direct technical reports and running a project is being a manager, I don't think there's a way around it.

I'm also over 10 years in my career (but in IT) and have also considered further education but when I looked at the cost in terms of time, and then my potential reward after that, it wasn't worthwhile in my situation. For me it's much more cost-effective (and fun) to learn high-demand IT skills than to spend time getting a degree.

If you're not sure, and work will pay for it, why not take 1 class? Then you can assess the demand on your time and family, and whether it's worth it.

COEE

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Re: M. Eng. vs M.S. vs Travel more
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2018, 08:12:50 PM »
Thanks for your inputs it's given me a few things to think about.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp:  Regarding not getting a degree while working.  I have thought about quitting and just going to school.  If I did that then 2.5 years tuition, fees, and living expenses would be about $125k in total.  I'm also not sure it's worth 2.5 years off of work right now either.  Also, what industry are you currently working in?  That might be a good metric for me.

Quote
Car Jack: "If your goal is to better understand how power electronic stuff works, theory and design, then that's a great reason to go back for the Masters." 
That's exactly where I'm at.  The degree is somewhat secondary to me, but I would like it on the resume too.  One of the problems with the thesis option is that there are so many classes I want to take.  I really just want to learn more.  Power Electronics is just a small portion of my interest.  I also have interest in controls and firmware.  I'm not sure I can take all the classes I want to take if I do a thesis.  I have interest in all of these things, but the real draw is the power supply course.

jjcamembert: Yeah, I was thinking of taking one class the first semester, and see how it goes.  If it goes well I May take the Power Electronics Certificate, and if I want to go on then get the ME/MS.

In some way, I share your thoughts about the dream job doesn't exist.  But at the same time, I think the job doesn't exist at most companies.  You do need people skills, but people skills are different from management skills.  I don't think you necessarily need 'management skills', but certainly you need soft people skills.  I generally think engineers make awful managers. 

I actually think the slower pace of the M.Eng. might be good for me at my point in my life.  I can do a 3-4 hour course each semester without much issue I think, and probably have a good understanding of the material - better than if I just rushed through it.  Trying to take 6-8 hours each semester will be a little much and I'll have to do that once or twice to complete the M.S. program.  But it's not out of the question either with the right classes.


the_fixer

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Re: M. Eng. vs M.S. vs Travel more
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2018, 07:55:47 AM »
I am not an engineer but my wife is and we have discussed it at length and in the end what we came up with

1. It would only benefit her if she wanted to go down the management track, she is technical and wants to stay technical so it would be a waste of time, effort and money.
2. She will only be working another 5 or so years too short of a timeframe for payoff
3. Since she wants to remain technical it would benefit her more to get the PE as it will provide an instant raise and open up more consulting opportunities when she is FIRE if we need to generate some cash flow.

Who knows if we were right or not but that is the conclusion we went with.


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Roboturner

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Re: M. Eng. vs M.S. vs Travel more
« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2018, 10:23:12 AM »
I had the same decision to make as you when thinking of doing a M-Eng vs MS at Colo school of Mines. What pushed me to MS:

1. The professors told me I had a better chance of admittance into the program going the MS route (my degree was v. competitive w/ lots of internationals, so needed every edge i could get)
2. You will very likely get a full-ride/stipend if you catch on with a research consortium (M.Eng's were not offered this, and thus had to pay) - this was big for me, as i did not want to incur debt
3. Left an opportunity to do a PhD later should I feel like it (I wont, but I'm someone who needs options)

That being said, I have never once been swayed from hiring an M.Eng vs an MS (and in fact all my M.Eng counterparts got jobs just as I did). M.Eng's are much easier imo, as classwork isn't nearly as labor-intensive as a research project, so if speed is the name of the game, go that route. However, if your industry greatly appreciates research/higher-ed, you may want to go with an MS. I feel like most 'engineering' doesn't care as much about research as other hard-science degrees, like physics.

(Also the GRE is a total joke, so that shouldn't be a deciding factor)
« Last Edit: June 27, 2018, 10:28:14 AM by Roboturner »