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How much knowledge do you use from your education on your job?

  1. Sep 5, 2014 #1
    Give us a set of examples of what you do regularly and how your education has played a part in that process.
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  3. Sep 6, 2014 #2


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    Building consensus on goals and prioritizing actions needed to achieve them would be one. One of the most useful skills you learn in uni is creating a team that is more than the sum of its parts. Lab projects stand out in my mind on that count.
  4. Sep 6, 2014 #3


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    Hierophant probably meant subject-matter, concepts, and skills. Your discussion would I guess be one of the outcomes of Engineering. In other courses with laboratory exercises, you would at least deal with a lab partner, but once you get a job as an employee, there is also much more opportunity for conflict, which is best learned in the actual job of being employed. The student in a lab class just wants to get through the exercise. The worker in the laboratory job might have power struggles with others who want to have control of people or are stingy with advice or equipment.
  5. Sep 6, 2014 #4
    I work as an "engineer" in the semiconductor industry even though I have degrees in physics. I don't use any of my physics education at work really. I believe that the success I have is in spite of my education, not because of it. The piece of paper might have got me past HR, but that's about it.
  6. Sep 7, 2014 #5
    Well, I tutor, so I use all the math I learned in high school and mastered in college. If I'm lucky, I'll occasionally get a client who wants linear algebra, differential equations, or one time, I even did real analysis. I consider myself only semi-employed right now, so this isn't a real job, but I just wanted to point out that tutoring can be a good side-job where you can put some of your content knowledge to use and make an extra buck (though the market for advanced stuff is smaller and smaller, as you go up). If you are doing it as a side job, you can charge as much as want, up to $150 an hour (in fact, I know a guy who's still in grad school who makes 60k from tutoring + grad student pay (about 16K) and charges $100/hr), if that's what your time is worth, depending on how hard you want it to be to get customers.
  7. Sep 7, 2014 #6


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    I won't go into details, but I use it all the time. I use math and physics to write computer models of aircraft flight dynamics and of flight controls. Also to understand what other people did and to modify their work, as required. I also use computer science full time on the job.
  8. Sep 8, 2014 #7
    I am working as a self-employed consulting engineer today, and for me it is the practical experience gained in projects (PhD or master thesis and semester project) that is most useful: Tinkering in the lab, tackling any problem that comes up, learning to operate devices, honing programming skills with a clear goal in mind.

    In addition, I was 'forced' to do controlling and project management for my research project during my PhD - and hated it. It turned out to be a most marketable and useful skill.

    Actually, the most valuable skills I have gained are those that had not been part of the formal curriculum.

    The universities gave me access to resources I never had otherwise - devices and contacts to partners from industry - and I had a chance to learn as I went, fortunately without much 'supervision'.
  9. Sep 8, 2014 #8
    I'm a software engineer/architect and my educational background is in physics. At work I spend most of my time reading code, trying to understand what somebody else did and writing code to extend it or fix problems with it. I'll also design/implement new modules for an existing software application or completely new software applications from the ground up, but that's more rare.

    To a very good approximation my educational background played zero role in my success. I've done a couple of integrals and worked in a couple biotech jobs where a general knowledge of science made it easier to interact with people in the labs, but that's about it. It's truly negligible.
  10. Sep 8, 2014 #9


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    A few days ago, I was the only one at my work who thought that the biggest contributor to ultrasonic wave propagation time in a particular (weird) configuration was material density. We contacted an expert who confirmed this.

    In school, did I ever study ultrasonic wave propagation in this special situation? No. But I did study wave propagation in general, and in a previous job I worked on a related subject. I know the basics, very well.

    And what my education gave me was the confidence to speak up. THAT is what I bring to an employer.
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