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Thread: To PhD or not to Phd?

  1. #1
    International 12th Man Kirkut's Avatar
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    To PhD or not to Phd?

    Hello. Is it advisable to pursue a PhD in engineering if I do not wish to remain in academia?

    What kind of attitude is required for a PhD in engineering?

    It will be great if someone can give good and bad reasons to do a PhD as well!


    P.S.: The advisor I know is a great professor, he's working on thermal management of lithium ion batteries and I might work on that if I choose to do a PhD.

    I am not strongly motivated right now, so this is one of the reasons I hesitate to pursue a PhD.
    Last edited by Kirkut; 18-06-2019 at 05:53 PM.
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  2. #2
    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    Bad: might take forever. if you pick something that's not practical, you've wasted your time if you don't want to stay in academia. The opportunity cost over a masters degree might be hard to make up.
    Good: ?depending on what your specialty is, you might be wanted for your specific expertise, which opens up career options and opportunities.

    I'm assuming you want to go into R&D in industry?
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    International 12th Man Kirkut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by silentstriker View Post
    Bad: might take forever. if you pick something that's not practical, you've wasted your time if you don't want to stay in academia. The opportunity cost over a masters degree might be hard to make up.
    Good: ?depending on what your specialty is, you might be wanted for your specific expertise, which opens up career options and opportunities.

    I'm assuming you want to go into R&D in industry?
    The bold part is my worry.

    Yes, I would prefer to enter R&D but then the jobs seem to be scarce since PhDs happen to be overqualified.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend zorax's Avatar
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    I have yet to meet an engineering PhD who successfully transferred out of academia to industry
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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zorax View Post
    I have yet to meet an engineering PhD who successfully transferred out of academia to industry
    There are definitely PhDs in industry but I think you have to tailor your thesis and your educational trajectory with that goal in mind.
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    The Wheel is Forever silentstriker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirkut View Post
    Yes, I would prefer to enter R&D but then the jobs seem to be scarce since PhDs happen to be overqualified.
    So what is your dream job? Figure that out first. Then work backwards and make a path that gets you there.
    Last edited by silentstriker; 18-06-2019 at 09:14 PM.
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    International Coach mr_mister's Avatar
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    Personally I couldn't think of anything worse. If you're good at study/writing papers though then why not.
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    Just finished mine, not engineering but a hard science and took a career break to do one.

    Opportunity costs are very real. Probably won’t reach what I was earning beforehand any time soon although my post doc isn’t bad. Having a bad supervisor makes everything far harder, bad enough if they’re a jerk but also if their collaborators suck. I personally needed reasons other than the academic exercise and money and, for me, it was a great way to live somewhere outside the home country. Academia itself I don’t have a lot of time for but that’s a separate issue.

    Long story short, don’t do one if you feel like you have to, do it because you want to. Vet your supervisor heavily because they’ll be your direct collaborator for 4+ years. And read the damn literature. All considered, was one of the best decisions I ever made but we’ll see about any career benefits.
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    Request Your Custom Title Now! Top_Cat's Avatar
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    Just to underscore something, doing the PhD was a shitload of fun. Nothing quite like feeling like your projects are derivative and dull only to discover that your corner of the literature is actually barely studied. Was surprised many times by what was missing even in an old science like mine.

  11. #11
    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    Unless you have a clear goal in mind and are completely committed to it I would advise you to avoid at all costs. Hoping it might lead to some vague benefit and only being partially sure about it is probably the worst reason for doing one.
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  12. #12
    International Coach hendrix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirkut View Post
    Hello. Is it advisable to pursue a PhD in engineering if I do not wish to remain in academia?

    What kind of attitude is required for a PhD in engineering?

    It will be great if someone can give good and bad reasons to do a PhD as well!


    P.S.: The advisor I know is a great professor, he's working on thermal management of lithium ion batteries and I might work on that if I choose to do a PhD.

    I am not strongly motivated right now, so this is one of the reasons I hesitate to pursue a PhD.
    Do not do it.

    It is does not fit in with your career goals and it will be impossible if you are not strongly motivated.

    Quote Originally Posted by mr_mister View Post
    Personally I couldn't think of anything worse. If you're good at study/writing papers though then why not.
    It's not really about studying though, you have to maintain a level of self-motivation and self-organisation and commitment that requires a single-mindedness that most of us do not possess.

    It's not like doing a paper at university or even writing and presenting research. It's jumping down a rabbit hole, basically.

    Quote Originally Posted by sledger View Post
    Unless you have a clear goal in mind and are completely committed to it I would advise you to avoid at all costs. Hoping it might lead to some vague benefit and only being partially sure about it is probably the worst reason for doing one.
    This.
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  13. #13
    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hendrix View Post
    It's not really about studying though, you have to maintain a level of self-motivation and self-organisation and commitment that requires a single-mindedness that most of us do not possess.

    It's not like doing a paper at university or even writing and presenting research. It's jumping down a rabbit hole, basically.
    Yeah precisely. It is a process which puts you completely at the mercy of others. It is not about working hard. It is not even about producing something that is, for lack of a better term, objectively good. It is a game, the aim of which is to convince other people that what you have done is good. This is perilous, as it means you are always only one thumbs down away from everything you have done being shot down in flames. The politics of the entire thing is something that nobody ever really mentions, but is probably the most significant aspect.

    If you are hugely committed to what you are doing, and have the resiliency to face that possibility daily, then fair dinkum. If not, then you'll be in some serious strife, because that's what the reality of your life will be, hence why I would not advise most people to do one.

    Just to reiterate, "Yeah I've not got a lot else lined up and a PhD might be pretty cool I guess" is perhaps the worst reason for doing a one that I can think of.
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  14. #14
    International Coach StephenZA's Avatar
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    I don't regret the decision of doing my PhD, but seriously the emotional and physical toll it has taken on me has been horrendous. Just about everything went sideways which you later find out is pretty standard. What Sledger said is 100% true, if it was just about the work and quality of the work and you could concentrate on that, life would be much simpler. A PhD has an added simple component, opening yourself up to extreme criticism and judgement which should be based on work but becomes very personal quickly, and can become condescension.

    Practically for work PhD is not required for majority of professions, even at the top, it is totally unnecessary. Outside academia it is generally only needed in 'hard science' industry and cutting edge engineering fields, and on the second it can often be done and paid for by companies after you start your career and you feel it is needed. It is a sacrifice of your time, you quite often lose 4-5 years of your life doing a PhD while your friends get on with their lives and careers.

    In the end the one and only good reason to do a PhD is absolute love of the subject and wanting to immerse yourself more into it.
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    Request Your Custom Title Now! Uppercut's Avatar
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    Only do it if you hate having half-decent mental health and aspire to earn much less money than you otherwise would.

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