I have a BS in MechE, and work in R&D. I've been plugging away at my MS in MechE, about halfway through, and have been considering that a PhD may really be more intellectually and personally what I want. I've spoken to some old professors and friends with doctorates. I don't think I'm ready to commit fully to academia; I find working to be too fulfilling to give it up completely. Plus a mortgage doesn't help. Does anyone here have experience (direct or indirect) with getting a PhD through an employer/university collaboration? I'm somewhat at a loss of how these things come up. I work at a small company, and don't think they'd be supportive. How does one position themselves into a situation conducive to the above? Does the employer come first? Advisor? Did you, or someone you know, go in with that goal known or did it come up after they started? Right now I have a smattering of experiences, but mostly with composites (design and analysis). Through school, personal interest, and some work projects my real interests actually lies more in structural dynamics/controls. Not sure if that muddies the waters at all.