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Aerospace 2nd Masters or PhD?

  1. Jan 8, 2013 #1
    Hi All,

    I very much want to become part of the growing off-world industry. Companies like those dreaming of asteroid mining really pique my interests. In particular, I'd like to be involved with design and implementation of robotic systems.

    I have an MSEE, and though I've been out of the industry for about 10 years, I have around 15 years experience as an embedded systems software/hardware engineer in broadcast television.

    Aside from personal enrichment, it seems a degree in Space Studies, like the Masters or Doctorate program offered by the University of North Dakota, might be a good way to shift into the field.

    I'm looking for opinions on a couple things...

    1. Outside of academia, would I be much more marketable with a doctorate than with just a second masters in space studies?

    2. I'm at a point in my life where I need to be able to return to school via a distance program. Does anyone have any pointers to other good "online" graduate programs in this area?

    Thanks for the help,
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 8, 2013 #2
    By way of clarification, I'm not entirely crazy. I know I'm not currently qualified to enter an aerospace doctoral program. I'm not sure what I'm missing to be able to enter a master's program. These are ultimate goals, far away though they may be.
  4. Jan 9, 2013 #3
    I don't really understand what you're trying to get into. Robotic systems is more mechatronic (electrical and mechanical) than aerospace. I can only help you with the Australian university requirements, other countries are different. I almost did a PhD in aerospace engineering, but it just isn't worth it. You usually end up joining a usual grad program anyway. Academic positions are few and far between. A lot more are doing them now since aerospace positions are so relativelyl ow compared to people after them.
  5. Jan 10, 2013 #4


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    I've never even heard of a degree in space studies. Are you sure this program can get you where you want to go? It's best to think about your end goal and then take note of the types of degrees that the people who have already achieved that goal have. Maybe this space studies business with do that, but it's hard to say not having ever heard of it.

    I would take the opposite position from Vadar2012 here. A PhD is a great idea... in certain situations. Only a select class of jobs actually require a PhD, and for those that don't, a PhD will overqualify you. You have to make sure that a PhD is actually the ticket to what you want to do. Otherwise it is not helpful and can even be harmful.
  6. Jan 10, 2013 #5
    That's kinda what I said, but in a diffrent way.
  7. Jan 14, 2013 #6
    Perhaps that is really the problem. Having finally talked myself into going back to school, I'm a little dazed at the possibilities, and haven't completely settled on what I'd ultimately like to go do every day. So many wonderful choices.
  8. Jan 15, 2013 #7


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    Are you looking into designing the electrical systems of satellites and orbital robotic systems, or are you planning on jumping ship into a completely different type of work?

    Honestly, any robotic system will need plenty of EE work.

    I would suggest looking into taking some basic(ish) classes to freshen up on current trends and skills to help negate the 10 years out of the industry, and then go full-on into a job search at NASA or companies who contract through NASA.

    You most likely do not want or need a PhD unless you are already in the field and the company you work for states that you will need one to advance.
  9. Jan 17, 2013 #8
    Thank you all for your replies. In the near term, I'll likely take Enigma's advice and take a few classes to freshen up with. Regardless where the future takes me, I could use the freshening. Beyond that, I guess I still have some soul searching to do. :-)
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