Uses of Engineering Doctorates

<p>What exactly do Doctorate holding Engineers do? I've heard that most Doctorate holders don't work in industry and that PhDs are primarily for teaching and research but I have no idea what engineering research is like.</p>

<p>How does the work of research engineers vary from those in industry?</p>

<p>I'm curious because I'm applying to colleges as an engineering major but have little interest in industry. I'd like to work along side physicist and work on projects like particle accelerators, fusion reactors, high energy lasers. Basically, I want help physicists with their research by creating the high tech tools they use in their experiments and research. Will a doctorate help me in pursuing this?</p>

<p>Sorry for making a similar thread to the one I just made less than an hour ago. I wanted to expand and change the wording of my question but apparently there's a time limit after which you can no longer edit your posts.</p>

<p>A PhD is a research degree, and the reason you get one is so you can do research. The majority of PhD engineers still work in industry, but they usually fill the R&D positions at the companies rather than the more standard design and analysis type jobs. Researchers still do that stuff, but in support of a research objective rather than as a sellable product. That research project still supports the end goal of a sellable product, it’s just earlier along in the process.</p>

<p>Basically, you have roughly three routes that you can go if you get a PhD: industry, national labs, and academia. I already went over the basics of industry. Academia is being a professor, meaning you are dividing your time between teaching and researching. The major research schools that get all the publicity (MIT, Purdue, etc.) will be heavily focused on research and less so on teaching. In that role you can do research on basically any topic you can convince someone to fund.</p>

<p>National labs and NASA and similar institutions represent a middle ground of sorts. You have more freedom that industry but less than a professor.</p>

<p>The engineering work for a place like CERN was not done by the research team itself. They cover the theoretical design of the device, but all the engineering work on those sorts of project is usually accomplished by paid engineering firms like Siemens or Bechtel or other large firms. The same thing goes for large fusion projects like ITAR or NIF. For smaller projects like individual instruments the engineering is largely done in-house by the researchers themselves.</p>

<p>Basically, if you are looking to run your own research program (in essence be the applied physicist), a PhD in engineering is what you need. If you just want to build the facilities and equipment that physicists use, that doesn’t require a PhD, just a degree and a job at the right company.</p>