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Difficult Decision

  1. May 30, 2010 #1
    Hello all,

    I am in a lucky, but difficult position. I am in a rotational program at the aerospace company I currently work for. As part of this program, they will pay for a graduate degree of my choice.

    However, I cannot decide which degree to go for. I have an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering (which I wrote a thesis for and really enjoyed the research) and I have basically two options here:

    1) PhD in AE
    2) M.S. in Systems Engineering

    I am extremely interested in both. I love AE and would definitely like to have a PhD in it, but I am not 100% sure I want to stay on the technical side of the house my entire career. Now, just having a PhD does not rule me out of moving to a managerial role, but it is a huge commitment and I don't want to head down this path unless I'm sure it's exactly what I want.

    The MSSE is an interesting degree. It's a mixture of project management, system engineering (requirement management, system architecture, performance metrics), etc. I am extremely interested in this type of material as well. This degree has plenty of options to take technical electives, and is not just an "management" degree

    I've been in roles at work that ranged from purely technical, working with research engineers with PhDs, to engineering managers/system engineers that did much of the SE work I mentioned above. I've really enjoyed both.

    I should mention that I've spoken with engineers on both sides of the fence. Each really enjoy what they do. The research engineering guys did not feel like they were pigeon-holed just because they have a PhD in a certain area. The type of work we/they do is extremely suited for people that have a very deep understanding in certain fields that are applicable to our industry.

    I've also thought about the case where I was laid off or just, for one reason or another, looking for a new job. I don't think that either of these degrees would be harmful in my job search.

    So, in short, is there anyone here that went down either of these paths at a large aerospace company and can shed some insight on this decision?
  2. jcsd
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