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Engineering Career in R&D

  1. Oct 18, 2015 #1

    I am a master's student in engineering at Koç University(İstanbul/Turkey) and my bachelor's degree is in Physics from Middle East Technical University(Ankara/Turkey). After I finish my master's I would like to pursue a career in industrial R&D abroad; however, it seems that my advisors do not have this kind of experience and cannot guide me quite well.

    Should I pursue a doctorate degree afterwards or directly apply for some companies? The thing that bugs me the most is that I have no internship experience and most of my work is academical up to this point. How will this affect the transition period between academical and industrial settings? Currently I am learning German and some new programming languages to increase my competency in European market as I prefer going to Europe to going to the USA. The countries in my mind are Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and Netherlands.

    I wonder if anyone else is/was in a similar situation and what would you do if you were in my shoes?


    P.S: My research is master's focuses on plasmonics, nanophotonics and I have taken courses in lasers as an undergraduate student.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 23, 2015 #2
    Thanks for the post! This is an automated courtesy bump. Sorry you aren't generating responses at the moment. Do you have any further information, come to any new conclusions or is it possible to reword the post?
  4. Oct 24, 2015 #3
    I work in R&D in the Netherlands. It is pretty common here and in most of north-west Europe to go into industry after your PhD. My group is a mix of people with PhD and MSc degrees. So if you want to go into R&D, it doesn't matter that much if you have a PhD or an MSc degree. At least if you're Dutch.

    However, you are coming from Turkey and you want to work internationally. Having a PhD, or working as a PhD student, will increase your chances of working internationally. For instance, there are several European Union programs for international knowledge exchange, and they are only granted to a person when the knowledge required is so specific, that this knowledge cannot be found in the country-of-placement itself. These positions are usually PhD or post-doc projects. PhD-level knowledge is more rare, so the PhD community is more international.

    If you have very good grades (more than 8/10 average), if you like the idea of doing PhD research and you want to work in e.g. Germany, then look for a PhD position in Germany.
  5. Oct 26, 2015 #4
    I read that Switzerland has some of the top schools in the world aside from Britain, Paris, and Berlin.
  6. Oct 27, 2015 #5


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    Ever heard of little places like MIT, Stanford, or Caltech?

    To the OP, several of my co-Ph.D. students were from Turkey. Of the three, one is current VP of Engineering of a mid-size IC company, one returned to Turkey where he works for Analog Devices (formerly Hittite) and the other is an R&D with Keysight (formerly Agilent).

    So, it seems like a Ph.D. is a good way for you to get into R&D.
  7. Oct 29, 2015 #6
    of course i have but the question was about schools in europe
  8. Oct 30, 2015 #7


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    My bad. When you wrote "top schools in the world aside from Britain, Paris, and Berlin" I guess I interpreted that as "top schools in the world aside from Britain, Paris, and Berlin".

  9. Nov 1, 2015 #8
    but IN EUROPE.
  10. Apr 23, 2016 #9
    Dear analogdesing,

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and sorry for my really late reply. May I ask in which field they were pursuing their Ph. D. degree? I am experienced in lasers and plasmonics actually. As far as I understood you suggest that before pursuing an industrial position in an international setting, having a Ph. D. will be of great benefit.
  11. Apr 23, 2016 #10
    I also heard of them, yet my main intention is to directly move into industry abroad after getting my MSc in Turkey. However, I also consider industrial PhD programs which may give me an upper hand in the competition. I think there are such programs in Switzerland, am I right?
  12. Apr 25, 2016 #11
    Is there any beef you have against the US?
  13. Apr 25, 2016 #12


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    They all studied Electrical Engineering, like me. At my lab I know of only one single person from abroad who had to return to his country because he couldn't find a US company to sponsor him for employment, and this was during the darkest days of the financial crisis in 2009/2010.

    The key to get a job in the US with a PhD is to do the PhD at an American University, it makes things much easier if you choose to go that route. It is possible to move to the US after studies in Europe or Asia but more difficult.
  14. Apr 25, 2016 #13
    I would actually like to be in a less competitive environment than in USA.
  15. Apr 25, 2016 #14
    I actually want to work in Europe not in America, but I can also consider the option of working there. USA is much more competitive than Europe and I am afraid of that actually.
  16. Apr 25, 2016 #15


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    I've never worked in Europe so I can't speak to that but I don't think the US is overly competitive as long as you stay away from companies like Google or Apple.

    At any rate, in my opinion you are best off getting a PhD in the country you wish to live in. So if you want to live in Netherlands, go to Delft or Twente, that type of thing.
  17. May 5, 2016 #16
    The university I'm thinking of is this one https://www.ethz.ch/en.html so maybe check that site because I don't know.
  18. May 5, 2016 #17
    It is not 100% necessary to have a PhD to work in R&D in those countries. Teams need PhD people. But they also need MSc people with a true engineering spirit. As opposed to sciency PhD people who overthink everything.

    As you are Turkish, it may be easier to land a job in those countries if you have a PhD from the same country rather than just an MSc. But that's just my gut feeling.
    I do know that many PhD students in the Netherlands tend to immigrate to the Netherlands. Pretty sure there's a statistic on that out there somewhere.
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