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ME Looking to transition to EE, Go for BS or MS?

  1. Apr 17, 2014 #1
    I've been working as an ME for approximately 3 years and I'm not enjoying what I'm doing as much as I'd have hoped. I'm currently completing an MS in ME Control Systems, which I absolutely love (2 courses from completion).

    During my MS coursework I've taken a lot of EE courses on electric machines and drives, including DC drives and field oriented control of AC machines. I've enjoyed the EE courses so much I'd like to continue to study it and eventually transition careers. My general interests thus far in EE are electric machines, control systems, and analog circuits. My ME classes have touched on some basic DSP and mechatronics but all within the ME scope, such as vibration analysis.

    I've been looking into online study programs and I've found two options. ASU now offers a fully online ABET accredit BS degree (You perform the labs at home with supplies and a USB oscilloscope). The second option is an MSEE degree from Ohio University. The enrollment counselor stated I should be able to jump right into the program without having to take additional undergraduate courses to "catch up".

    I'm concerned as to what may make me the most employable and give me the most applicable knowledge. My concern with the MS degree will be more specialized and I will not have all of the basic EE knowledge that employers might expect of me. While the BS degree will give me all the basic knowledge I will essentially be back to square one as an entry level college kid.

    As an employer which do you feel would be the most valuable degree to obtain? Both will cost approximately the same amount of money, the BS degree will, however, take longer to complete.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 17, 2014 #2
    Get the MS, a second bachelor's is not seen as giving you an advantage in the hiring process. Especially if you don't need any courses to enroll in the masters degree.
  4. Apr 17, 2014 #3
    I looked into that and their courses are not ready yet. It will still be a few years before they actually have upper division EE courses to offer online...
  5. Apr 17, 2014 #4


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    Like I mentioned before, having a P.E. can be way more valuable than a masters in many cases. Some employers want the masters.....just depends.

    Cost of PE can be under $1,000 and take a few months studying.

    Masters can be 10's of thousands of dollars with at least a couple years of studying.

    At my consulting firm (design construction drawings for contractors to install in field) they simply give you a pat on the back for getting your masters and it is never mentioned again. No status, no raise.
    Why is that? That's because our particular clients do not pay extra for masters....however they will pay more for a state certified professional engineer. (PE)

    However, the PE is instant cash raise, instant status raise, and added security as lots of employers state that PE's are preferred. Just food for thought.

    To the OP...ask around at your college about the PE.....see what people say.
    Perhaps you plan on your masters and PE.....better even yet I suppose if you have the time and money.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2014
  6. Apr 17, 2014 #5
    I'm not so sure I'm authorized to take the electrical engineering P.E. without spending any portion of my career working in the electrical engineering field. I'm looking for a degree that will allow me to me marketable and transition into the field.
  7. Apr 17, 2014 #6


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    Correct. Take the FE before you graduate (senior year). Pass the FE and you will qualify to take the PE with 4 years work experience. At least keep in your back pocket as future goal....

    But I suggest definietly take the FE (Fundamentals of engineering exam) before you graduate and forget everything.

    Your BS engineering will do a fine job on its own of making you marketable.
  8. Apr 17, 2014 #7


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    The value of a PE depends strongly on the field you work in. Civil engineers benefit greatly for having a PE but not all EEs benefit. If you are an EE working in power then it is worth it but if you are designing digital ICs at Intel your boss might not even know what a PE is. I say I am an EIT on my resume and a lot of employers ask me what an EIT even is.

    A controls engineer might benefit from having a PE. The FE exam is not hard to pass so you might as well take it. I think you need to score around a 58% to pass so the bar isn't set too high. The problems are pretty simple too. The PE exam (the one you take after gaining 4 years experience) is significantly harder but I have never taken it.
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2014
  9. Apr 17, 2014 #8
    I passed the FE years ago. I'm more interested in knowing if I should pursue a BSEE to get all the basics or an MSEE.
  10. Apr 17, 2014 #9


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    In the aerospace electronics and defense electronics fields i don't know of anyone in my section of the company that has a PE. This includes high level engineers and researchers. However having a masters degree is almost required. Having a PE vs Masters is industry specific.

    That being said, I may try for my PE in 3 years just in case I switch industries.
  11. Apr 17, 2014 #10


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    I say go for the MSEE instead of the BSEE. You may have to take some foundational undergrad classes though.
  12. Apr 18, 2014 #11


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    100% agree. Go for the MSEE and take the remedial courses. You'll be significantly ahead of BS grads and you should be able to get done faster.
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