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Is an engineering PhD right for me?

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Replies to: Is an engineering PhD right for me?

  • skieuropeskieurope Super Moderator Posts: 36,743 Super Moderator
    MODERATOR'S NOTE:
    The OP's question is: "Is an engineering PhD right for me?" How this discussion swerved to "Why is a doctorate required to count pills?" is a) off topic and b) insulting to those in the profession. Several posts edited/deleted.
  • xraymancsxraymancs Forum Champion Graduate School Posts: 4,526 Forum Champion
    @AuraObscura - It seems that you have thought this out clearly and that you have a solid reason for getting into a PhD program. Yes there are sacrifices to be made but as long as you go into it with your eyes open, your age should not be a major impediment. The fact that you already have an MS may let you avoid a couple of years of coursework if you choose a program that facilitates students coming in with work experience and completed coursework. You could very well complete the PhD in less than 4 years. The key is motivation and is sounds like you have it.
  • AuraObscuraAuraObscura Registered User Posts: 599 Member
    @HPuck35 Thanks for the yes vote! It is a tough decision, but I feel like it's becoming easier by the minute.
    I doubt anyone can tell you anything you don’t already know. If you already have a MS, you know what grad school is like. Best case scenario you might have a PhD by 35 and it often takes longer than that.
    @roethlisburger Agreed, I think you summed it up quite well.
    eyemgh wrote:
    My take is that the latter statement can be true without the former statement being true. The PhD can allow you to call the shots, or to even have enough basic background to play in the space. My guess is that this is the case for position, navigation and timing. You might not be adding to the body of knowledge in the purest sense, but you won't be designing the seat for yet another airliner. You'd be doing new, cutting edge, practical stuff, as opposed to science for the sake of science.

    Count me in a a "go for it" vote.
    @eyemgh You may not be an engineer, but I think you're 100% correct, and those are exactly some of the reasons I began to give the idea serious thought. Thank you!

    @juillet I will definitely keep that advice in mind (regarding "coming out of your own head from time to time").
    Beaudreau wrote:
    FWIW, at age 29 I decided to go to law school. I had been a mediocre college student and even with a good score on the LSAT, I could not have gotten into a top-tier law school. So I went to the fourth-tier local school, worked hard and graduated near the top of my class.

    I worked in-house for a company for several years and then decided to pick up an MBA from a top-tier university. That took almost four years going part-time. I was ten years older than most of the other students. With that degree, I was able to land a job with one of the top law firms in the US. I was 15 years older than most of the other associates. I hated every minute of my job, but I was able to move from there to a pretty successful career. I also got married and started a family later than most but I've loved being a dad. Now, my oldest is starting on his PhD, my second will be applying for a masters degree, and my third is entering his junior year in college.

    The way I looked at it at age 29, was that it would be tough being older than my peers, but the alternative was to be 60 years old and regret not having given it all a shot. Do you want to regret not having followed your dreams?
    @Beaudreau Thanks for sharing your story--it's comforting to learn of others who have been in my position and for whom things turned out positively! That last paragraph, about being 60 and regret not having given it a shot, is exactly what I think about before I go to bed most nights. Nice to know I'm not necessarily being an unrealistic idealist.
    OP, so have you only had that one job that you left because you weren’t doing enough research? What have you been doing since then? On the one hand, your interest in research is a good reason for getting a PhD, but on the other hand your one unsatisfactory work experience doesn’t mean by itself that you need a PhD.
    @CheddarcheeseMN Valid points. Since leaving my job, which was actually only a couple months ago, I've taken some time off to travel. I've also been spending most of my free time learning skills and working on personal projects relevant to my field of interest. I've continued to look for jobs, just as I was doing before I quit, and I've had a couple interviews. However, the more I apply and interview and read job postings, the more I realize that all the interesting jobs require a PhD, and even if I were to, at some point, start my own company, I would greatly benefit from the skills and expertise, not to mention credibility, I would gain from a PhD. I've also spent time talking to people in the industry and looking at LinkedIn profiles of people at the types companies I want to work for, doing the type of work I want to do. Invariably, they tend to have PhDs.

    More importantly, I think @boneh3ad hit the nail on the head--the one job was enough to show me I will only be happy doing research, and getting to know the industry has shown me I'll likely need a PhD to do that research.

    @xraymancs Thank you for the vote of confidence! I think I have the motivation and the discipline--with a little luck, maybe things will work out very favorably.
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