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Who is the person with more educational background?

  1. Sep 24, 2016 #1
    On this days, it's common to see people with double degrees. Little less common is to meet a person with a PhD and a Master. But then, rarely you come to know people who have a lot of degrees. One of those is Micheal Guillen, who has a PhD in Physics, another PhD in Cosmology, and a PhD on Mathematics.
    Now, if you were impressed by Guillen, he's nothing compared to NASA's administrator Michael D.Griffin:

    Griffin currently holds seven academic degrees:

    -a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics from Johns Hopkins University in 1971
    -a Master of Science in Engineering degree in Aerospace Science from the Catholic University of America
    -a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland in 1977
    -a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1979
    -a Master of Science degree in Applied Physics from Johns Hopkins University in 1983
    -a Master of Business Administration from Loyola University Maryland in 1990
    -a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering from George Washington University in 1998.
    -He was working towards a Master of Science degree in Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University

    Wow, not bad...; do you guys know other people who has such lots of degrees?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2016 #2


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    What's the point of collecting degrees?

    In Griffins case, I'd be much more impressed if he had done something with his education, but his job and the way he handled it, and things he's said in the press are not that impressive.
  4. Sep 24, 2016 #3


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    Most of these are pretty similar - once you have one of them, you need just a few courses to get another, and less and less courses to get each next one.

    Actually I am ready to assume someone with PhD in Aerospace Engineering knows enough to be granted several lesser engineering degrees without additional hassle.
  5. Sep 24, 2016 #4
    Call me cynical, but I really just don't trust someone who feels like they have to have that many degrees (or badges) to validate themselves. Give me a BA and good idea and you have my respect.
  6. Sep 24, 2016 #5
    Why even a BA? A good idea is a good idea no matter who comes up with one.
  7. Sep 24, 2016 #6
    In my earlier years I would have agreed with you 100%. But as I get older I've come to realize that there are two things going on here. One is the raw creative spirit, the chaos of inspiration and invention, and the other is what you might call the "grounded discipline" side. Of the few things my dad educated me on this I feel was a good one. What does it mean to have a BA or BS or any sort of an undergraduate degree? Is it about what you learned in school? Maybe a little, but that's not really what it's about. It's about showing that you "paid your dues" to the system, so to speak. It's some kind of indicator that you can be trusted to put in the industry to get a job done. That's what's its really about. And maybe that does mean something.

    It's the same thing in the private sector workaday world. What's the purpose of everyone dressing up in a "monkey suit" everyday, wearing a suit and tie and shaving? Is that really necessary to do your job effectively? No. But it's like a "covercharge" into the arena your working in. That is, if you can get it together to shave in the morning and tie your tie, then we'll let you into the game. It's pretty much that simple. It's not really about appearance or how GQ you look, it's about whether you have the discipline to make "the cut." Witness the fat slob businessman or attorney who looks like he or she rolled up on the local shorebreak. Even though they might not look too pretty in their suit or blazer, if they're well shaven and tie their tie properly we give them fair quarter and admission because they have paid their "social covercharge." That's it, it's not about looking pretty, it's about industry.

    So, getting back t the BA, that's why I feel it's important, it says that even though you may have kicked and screamed through it for however many years it took you to get it (it took me 10), you finally did it and now you're accepted and can be as stupid and idiotic as you like and we'll still take you somewhat seriously. That's all.

    What does going for a PhD give you beyond this? Idk to be honest. I'm actually in PhD program right now myself but I'm not doing it so much to get the PhD per se as I am to be in an environment where I can work with others in a lab setting. I received my BA in Biology in 1995 and have done independent research since then (over 20 years). And it was great and I liked to work alone and be the lone wolf and be the sole author on my papers. But you can only be your own best friend for so long and I'm in a different phase now where I want to work with a team and "service" a project that the team wants to accomplish. I want to service a group effort and not be so focused on my own goals and theories and egotism. I'm liking doing this, for now at least, and hopefully for the foreseeable future. Being a megalomaniac is a lonely course.
  8. Sep 24, 2016 #7
    I agree. I have a BS in Chemistry. I've had several PhDs working for big chemical companies ask for some of my analytical methods because they had no success developing them.
  9. Sep 24, 2016 #8


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    I'm pretty sure neither Guillen nor Griffin have one of these.
  10. Sep 24, 2016 #9
    Wow, I'd be proud to have a veterstrikdiploma. I would actually frame it and put it up on my wall. Think back to the day when you were struggling with learning to tie your shoe. You've forgotten about that but it was big frustrating challenge at the time. I think a degree is warranted for this.
  11. Sep 24, 2016 #10
    I see your point. Like the pre graduate intern who comes up with a good idea. A good manager recognizes a good idea is a good idea no matter who it's from and steals it.
  12. Sep 24, 2016 #11
    I heard the saying one time "it's better to know a little about a lot than a lot about a little". That's a tough question you ask. I don't think it's that important to hold a lot of different degrees. One doesn't necessarily have to hold a degree to be educated. I'm sure you know this so I'm not making an insult, just stating my opinion. I can't think of too many people with multiple degrees off hand.

    One of my favorite educators that uses the "a little about a lot" philosophy is Neil Degrasse Tyson. He holds a few degrees himself. His expertise is that he is highly intelligent and has an open mind. He also has great people skills and can explain things to the average person easily. He seems like he can find the path of least resistance to understand the most important concept of any field of science, politics, etc. I do think it would be a shame if people like him spent all of their time studying to earn another degree when they can be educating the world.
  13. Sep 24, 2016 #12
    My father has 0 higher education past high school. He owns his own machine shop/metal fabrication business. He does a lot of contract work for nearby factories. One in particular has a lot of engineers (a lot fairly new out of college) and my dad often is preferred over them. He's been known to solve a problem from scratch faster than an engineer with several days notice. I don't want to sound like i'm knocking education, but sometimes real life applications are harder for somebody with little experience in the workplace. I do think education is important, but how much of it is spent learning things that you really just don't need to know?
  14. Sep 24, 2016 #13
    I agree with you Diracpool.

    If I go on a date with a woman, I want to make sure I look great, clean my car, and have my plans together about what we are doing. That shows that I took her seriously and I want to make a good impression. I can still be goofy, funny, or whatever. I also want her to dress nicely and show some manners. She can not wear make up or wear pj's and still look great, but I want to know that she respected me enough to make her best impression as well. I guess that is a similar example right?
  15. Sep 25, 2016 #14
    Yep, that's basically the sentiment, Seth.
  16. Sep 25, 2016 #15
    Good artists copy, great artists steal! :woot:
  17. Sep 25, 2016 #16
    I was going to say the exact same thing. :approve:

    Without mentioning that a considerable amount of credits in Masters and PhDs are spent just assisting conferences where you just sit and listen to someone else talk for hours with 100+ power point slides.

    Back to topic, if my memory doesn't betray me I sort of think there was once a chemist who did one or more number of discoveries or contributions and had many degrees. I just can't remember his name. It was in my book of General Chemistry. Although since he had many degrees I don't know if I should call him a chemist or by the name of another degree.
  18. Sep 25, 2016 #17
    That reminds me of a funny story. I was invited to give a talk at the 2003 Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC) conference in Memphis, TN., and I thought I'd better step up my game and give a power point presentation. Fortunately, my AA sponsor at the time was a computer admin guy and got me up to speed real quick. So I was giving what they call a "concurrent session" which is where they couple you with 4 other speakers in a 2-hour segment usually based around some particular topic. So each speaker has a bout 20 minutes to talk and about 5 minutes to take questions.

    So being naive I overprepared and actually had, no joke, about 100 power point slides in my presentation. So I'm up there giving my talk and I'm whipping through the slides like there's no tomorrow and at some point I just said stop, this isn't working. The vets of these conferences knew better. You don't overpower your lecture with 100 slides. Less is more. For a 15 minute presentation, 5 slides is actually appropriate.

    As a funny sidenote, on the last day of the conference this guy was slated to give a keynote speech and presentation and, low and behold, they pull out an old-school overhead projector where he had his transparencies all ready to go. The first thing he said was that, during the 4-day event, he basically became depressed and horrified that he was going to be the only presenter at the conference who didn't give a Power-point presentation. I thought that was funny.

    But the overhead and the transparencies are still cool, I think. Roger Penrose still uses them to great efficacy IMO.
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