Author Topic: Where are all the EE PhDs?  (Read 878 times)

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MosFett

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Where are all the EE PhDs?
« on: May 12, 2019, 09:38:31 pm »
Is it common to find practicing engineers who have a PhD? From what little I've seen from internships (I'm a student) it looks like it's very uncommon for a PhD to do design work in their career. When I was at NASA I met zero engineering PhDs - everyone I knew had either a bachelors or masters.

Does having a PhD make getting a job as a design engineer more difficult? I know electrical engineering PhDs are out there, so where do they all go? Academia?
 

Offline jpb

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Re: Where are all the EE PhDs?
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2019, 09:47:53 pm »
PhDs tend to go into research. The area I used to work in had a lot of PhDs - this was in the design of Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits so it was a mixture of device phyics and high frequency circuit design or work on the chemical aspects of etching/doping etc.

Of course a lot of PhDs end up working in unrelated areas - it is hard to get work in academic posts as there are not many of them and they tend to be short term (in the UK at least).

Doing a PhD probably doesn't help you much with circuit design and it means you're four or more years behind colleagues who have gone into design straight from university (or without going to university) so from a pure career move it is probably not a good thing to do but if you're interested in research (as I've been most of my career) then you do it out of interest and job satisfaction.

 

Offline floobydust

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Re: Where are all the EE PhDs?
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2019, 10:17:41 pm »
Engineering is an applied science.
I have worked with a few PhD's and they have a strong academic background but are a total failure at hands-on, practical engineering and project management.
Far far away from getting a concept, patent, idea etc. into something tangible. They cannot do product development.
This is a huge problem for universities, to turn their IP into businesses.

I've never seen a job posting for a EE/CE/CS PhD, so I decided it was not worth pursuing unless you want to become a prof and stay protected inside the small world of a university, as opposed to working in industry.
 

Offline blueskull

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Re: Where are all the EE PhDs?
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2019, 10:29:37 pm »
Many high-end, engineering-intense companies hire PhDs for engineering tasks.

ADI/LT, TI, Tesla, Google, you name it. I personally know PhDs working for every of them.

TI's Kirby lab hires almost only PhDs (for fresh graduates), and I believe this is common among other tech companies.

I also personally know PhDs working for Chinese tech giants like Huawei (and Futureway, its USA-based R&D) and CRRC (the company behind China's high speed railway system).

In all those above mentioned companies, the leading edge R&D (not product R&D) department is basically all PhD, or Masters with many years of experience.

Finding a job in a leading R&D department as a fresh graduate without a PhD is not easy, so far I've never heard of any (in US, among international students).
 

Offline rx8pilot

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Re: Where are all the EE PhDs?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2019, 10:44:03 pm »
One of my friends from high school went on to get a PhD in EE. He has gone through a few jobs that he was not allowed to talk about but his most recent job is with a very large company where he is practically involved in the design of thier flagship product. From our last conversation, it seems that he is dealing with the nuts and bolts of very complex designs.

He has experience in ASIC design in high-speed communications and some sort of high density compute or DSP type systems. All of it surpasses my knowledge by a few orders of magnitude, but it seems he has kept his feet on the ground.

Typet purly on my fone.

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Online EEVblog

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Re: Where are all the EE PhDs?
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2019, 11:21:01 pm »
Engineering is an applied science.

This.
Most PhD's will go into research at universities, think tanks, management, or work on really high end innovative products etc. Quite rare for one to become a practicing hand-on product design engineer on everyday commercial products unless it's some specific niche.

In fact you can have a majority of even degree graduates from certain university engineering department never end up as practising design engineer. Sydney University is one example, I have never met a USyd B.Eng graduate who goes into practical design work. I don't know what it is they are teaching there, but they don't seem to end up in industry for some reason.
 

Offline Circlotron

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Re: Where are all the EE PhDs?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2019, 11:41:46 pm »
 

Offline harnon

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Re: Where are all the EE PhDs?
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2019, 10:05:41 am »
As an "almost PhD" who probably does not want to go into academia, I think it probably depends on the industry. I know a lot of PhDs who are working in small R&D style companies and I hope to do the same. Not all are working in the same area that they received their PhD in but many are.

Anecdotally I've been told a lot of consulting firms love to have PhDs on staff as it impresses clients :-DD. There is a recent survey doing the rounds in Aus that claims about 50% of PhD students surveyed want to go into industry not academia, as I have a commercial background and now most of a science/engineering PhD I've always assumed I'd end up back in industry.

Link to a report on the survey in the AFR: https://s3-ap-southeast-2.amazonaws.com/production-ribit-wordpress/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/01151007/PhD-students-want-jobs-in-business-not-universities-ROB-BOLTON-AFR-1st-May-20191.pdf
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Where are all the EE PhDs?
« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2019, 10:43:34 am »
As an "almost PhD" who probably does not want to go into academia, I think it probably depends on the industry. I know a lot of PhDs who are working in small R&D style companies and I hope to do the same. Not all are working in the same area that they received their PhD in but many are.

Yes, but of course that requires careful, prescient choice of a subject.

If the university has a good track record in a topic, then there may be a cluster of small spinouts.

Quote
Anecdotally I've been told a lot of consulting firms love to have PhDs on staff as it impresses clients :-DD. There is a recent survey doing the rounds in Aus that claims about 50% of PhD students surveyed want to go into industry not academia, as I have a commercial background and now most of a science/engineering PhD I've always assumed I'd end up back in industry.

As someone who has worked in commercial R&D consulting companies, I can confirm that. Not having a PhD is not a critical impediment,  but having a good degree plus experience is more or less mandatory.
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