On reinventing the Masters Degree

Oct. 1, 1995
Great editorial in the September issue! An option might be a joint degree with an MBA and an applied research MS. That would be a very powerful combination for a person looking for an industrial career.

On reinventing the Master`s Degree

Great editorial in the September issue! An option might be a joint degree with an MBA and an applied research MS. That would be a very powerful combination for a person looking for an industrial career.

Kee¥u¥the good work at Laser Focus--it is a great publication.

Steven M. Arrivo

Molecular Physics Division

National Institute of Standards

and Technology

[email protected]

I just finished reading with interest your September editorial. I expect you will get many responses that say "we have already done that." This is one of them.

In 1993 the Center for Applied Optics at the University of Alabama in Huntsville proposed to the Manufacturing Education program of the TR¥the formation of a Practice Oriented Masters in optics manufacturing and engineering business management. Students have to fulfill requirements in three area: optics fundamentals, optics engineering, and design. The proposal was funded and we are now in the second year of the program with thirteen students. We expect our first graduates this December. The program involves departments in the UAH colleges of Science, Engineering, and Administrative Science. Students appear to like the mix. We have a dozen companies involved in advising the program. Several of these have offered student support. A practicum at a manufacturing location is required for graduation.

John Dimmock, Director CAO

University of Alabama, Huntsville, AL

[email protected]

Having a more research/problem-solving master`s degree will be difficult to achieve in engineering. Many excellent universities offer 1 to 2 year master`s programs with little or no research requirement. If a single school attempts to require, say, a substantial thesis project as part of the master`s, then many students (not all, not necessarily the "best") will go to schools without this requirement. This is not pure laziness on their part. It is well known that a substantial experimental research thesis project can cause unavoidable time delays in getting a degree.

One possible solution to this is the "Engineering" degree (in electrical engineering both here in UofM, and at MIT, my alma mater, we have an Electrical Engineer`s degree between the MS and PhD). This degree, however, is seldom conferred and is in many ways the engineering "booby prize" for a failed PhD effort. This is unfortunate, but unless both employers and academics somehow add more respectability to this type of degree, it will not be attractive to students.

An overlooked solution is to hire people with PhDs in engineering and science for jobs other than the corporate research labs and academia. PhDs are supposedly, by definition, people who can solve significant problems. Some of my own students have wound u¥working directly on manufacturing problems (not theory, but real day-to-day, put-it-out-the-door-or-else large-scale production) and have been very successful. The old line is that the PhD is too expensive for this. I don`t have statistical evidence, but I have noticed that experienced MS and even BS people serving in these roles are making as much or more than the new PhDs.

Fred L. Terry, Jr., Assoc. Prof. of EECS

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, MI

[email protected]

The California State University System for the most part offers only a terminal Masters Degree in most subjects. I graduated from the San Diego State University program that offers a terminal Masters in Physics with the choice of area of concentration being optics (primarily using lasers/ optical correlators/ or nonlinear optics), solid-state physics (superconductivity, etc.), or Nuclear Radiation/Health Physics. Students from these programs tend to go on to work in industry. Those that choose to go on to PhD programs tend to appreciate the more applied nature of the work involved in obtaining their Masters.

Susan Highnote

Laser Power Research

San Diego, CA

[email protected]

Candidates sought for Dennis Gabor Award

The late Hungarian scientist Dennis Gabor won a Nobel Prize in 1971 for his invention of holography. Twenty years later, in his honor, an international awards program was set u¥to recognize young scientists in the field of modern optics. Awards are to be made every three years to one Hungarian scientist and to a scientist from another country.

The next presentation of awards will be in 1996, and the due date for nominations is December 15, 1995. I would like to remind the international optical science and technology community that it is time to search for candidates for these awards. Please contact me for nomination information.

Prof. Pal Greguss

President of the International Curatorium

Rona u. 226, Budapest, Hungary H-1145

Phone: +36.1.463-2518

FAX: +36.1.463-3178

E-mail: [email protected]

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