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Industry to a university

  1. Aug 8, 2009 #1
    So I have heard that the prestige of the school you get your phd matters a lot when trying to get a job as a professor at a university. Would that still apply if you work in research for a number of years outside of the university before you try to become a professor.

    For example I am going to get my phd in either mech or aerospace engineering and I could possilbly go to a university that is ranked 30 or so even if i were to get into a higher ranked program because the lower rank has research that I am very interested in. Then after I get my phd I go and work for say NASA for a few years. Would the fact that I did not got to a top 10 school matter so much if I then tried to get a job as a professor? Are there any complications with trying to go from somewhere such as NASA to a university?

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 8, 2009 #2


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    Where did you hear this and is it based on any actual evidence?

    The fact of the matter is that the prestige of the university doesn't matter nearly so much as the quality of work that you do and the prestige of the journals you publish in. The advantages provided by the "top" schools come down to funding and opportunities, but if you slack off and doo just enough work to graduate you can't expect the name of the institution to do any work for you.

    The issue with trying to become a professor after working in industry for a few years largely comes down to one of academic productivity. Industrial research often does not result in publications and gives you little teaching experience. So when you're competing for a tenure-track position you'll have a pool of candidates who've remained in academia and have those publications. On the other hand, I would think that in the engineering disciplines, industrial exposure would likely count for something.
  4. Aug 8, 2009 #3
    Thanks for the reply.

    I have no evidence to back up what I said about the prestige mattering, it is only something that I have heard from other people.

    I spent the summer doing research at NASA and they are not really typical industry. The people I worked with published a lot of papers so I dont see that being a problem if you work somewhere similar, but not having teaching experience is a good point.

    Thanks again.
  5. Aug 8, 2009 #4
    NASA is a great place. Awesome mission IMO. I lived in Florida for a long time and still know some of the folks at Universities that work with NASA and the associated research institutions. If you want to go into the corporate world and then back into academics you need to maintain your connections to the academic world. If you have a research oriented corporate position and do some journal publishing that would be a good strategy. Also, your ability to be appointed to a University as a professor depends a lot on how much research grant money you can get. And a place like NASA gives you a good source of contacts for building the ability to get grants.

    Dr. Dan
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