Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Pre- and post-civil engineering degrees

    Posted 05-27-2021 03:33 PM
    It was only a couple of weeks ago that I graduated from civil engineering. After I finish up my part-time jobs, I plan to head to the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign to get a master's degree in statistics-analytics.

    I prepared myself for this degree using a minor in statistics at Ohio State because I hope to have a versatile career field, with the ability to focus on data scientific aspects of the data companies and/or the government processes. Members who have more than one degree, what is your other degree in and why?

    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Bexley OH

  • 2.  RE: Pre- and post-civil engineering degrees

    Posted 06-02-2021 02:10 PM
    When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to be an architect, because I enjoyed designing buildings and enjoyed math and physics. When I first started college, I was an architecture major. But in that first year, I realized that I was more interested in the nuts and bolts on how buildings stood up (structural engineering) than the shape of the building itself. After that first year, I switched colleges and my major to civil engineering, focusing on structural engineering. One of the best decisions I ever made.

    After graduating from college, I decided to enter the workforce and use my degree. After working for a few years, I started thinking about going back to school to get a graduate degree. My role at the time was transitioning more into project management, which I had little knowledge on. So I decided to go back to school for a graduate degree in Project Management. I later also became a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). Even though many engineers have experience and perform project management, few of them have formal schooling or certifications in project management. I feel my combination of experience in both engineering and project management allows me to stand out from my peers and take on more complex projects, which allows me to continue growing as both an engineer and project manager. 

    Great topic Alexander! I hope more people ill share their experiences, as there are so many different avenues that are related to civil engineering.

    Doug Cantrell P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Durham NC

  • 3.  RE: Pre- and post-civil engineering degrees

    Posted 06-02-2021 09:37 PM
    Thank you very much for responding, Doug.

    I also think this there is value in having different degrees that build off of each other.

    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Bexley OH

  • 4.  RE: Pre- and post-civil engineering degrees

    Posted 06-08-2021 08:33 AM
    I'm currently partway through my Masters program in Project Management at UDLAP in Cholula, Mexico. 

    I got my undergrad in Civil Engineering, and as part of that program I took Masters level electives in both Open Channel Flow and Project Management. At the time of graduation,  I thought I may come back in a few years and get a graduate degree related to water resources since that is an important component of designing in site development. 

    I also got a BA in Spanish and got credit for an EWB project that included implementation trips to Honduras on a water filtration project. 

    After working for a few years, I sought out an opportunity to go to Mexico to serve as an exchange student intern at a campus ministry if I studied at the local university. It also seemed like a great way to combine my previous education/experiences in a new way. 

    After being out of school and working in industry for a few years, I realized I was more interested in studying Project Management than water resources. The university in Mexico has a Masters program in Construction Project Management, so I applied for the program and was accepted. I'm scheduled to graduate in March of 2022, and I've already had a couple opportunities to apply what I'm learning to my job back home. 

    I know some people know right away what they would want to go on to study for a graduate degree, but I also want to reassure people that there's no need to rush into a graduate program if you aren't sure. If you need to go into industry and feel it out before you devote time and resources to a graduate degree, by all means do so. Depending on your area of specialty in practice and career desires, you may even realize a graduate degree isn't something you need to pursue. There's no one right way to go about those kinds of decisions. 

    My time so far in the graduate program has been rewarding in both personal and professional ways. I'm being challenged not only by the course material but also by studying in my second language. I'm learning about another culture. I'm having to think about some of the course topics from a new perspective because of cultural, climate, and infrastructural differences. I'm taking business classes for the first time. I'm completing more in-class projects based on actual companies and/or projects than in undergrad. Overall it's a worthwhile challenge that I'm glad I have the opportunity to experience.

    Heidi C. Wallace, P.E., M.ASCE
    Tulsa, OK

  • 5.  RE: Pre- and post-civil engineering degrees

    Posted 06-10-2021 09:00 AM
    Hi Alexander, congratulations on your graduation and good luck at U of I! I sort of fell into Civil Engineering, as it was not my original choice when I started college. In high school, I enjoyed my science classes, specifically chemistry and human anatomy. When I started college, I went after a biomedical engineering degree, with the hope of continuing on to pharmacology. Six months in, I knew it wasn't the career for me. 

    I also had interests in construction and specifically trains, so civil engineering seemed like a good choice. My undergraduate degree is in civil engineering with a concentration in construction management. Today, I work as a freight/transit rail project engineer and focus on both design and consulting projects. Last year I obtained a professional graduate certification in railroad engineering. This certification not only taught me a lot about track design but also about how railroads operate and what their top priorities are on projects. The knowledge obtained during these courses has enabled me to be a better task leader on projects. I highly recommend looking into graduate certifications that focus on more specific engineering practices to further aid someone's career. I will be taking the PE next year, but once I pass, will be looking into master's programs in either project management or business. Personally, my company highly values a MBA if you are looking to go the business development PM track, which is where I hope my career is going.

    Assunta Daprano A.M.ASCE
    Secane PA

  • 6.  RE: Pre- and post-civil engineering degrees

    Posted 06-10-2021 09:58 AM
    Hey Alex,

    My answer may be a little more boring than others, but I hope it is useful discourse as well. My masters degree is in Civil Engineering, just like my undergraduate degree, and I earned the second one directly after earning the first.

    Coming out of undergrad, I did not feel that I had a strong idea of what kind of field I wanted to get involved in. I started half-heartedly applying to jobs in the construction sector as that had been closer to what my internship had been in. But I wasn't excited about any prospects I was coming across. 

    At the end of my senior year, my undergraduate water resources professor informed me that he was looking for a graduate student for the following year. I took the position and am very glad that I did. 
    - I felt that additional coursework would help me learn the things I only thought I learned in undergrad.
    - I was excited to get to be a lab instructor to teach fluid mechanics and water resources labs to undergraduate juniors. 
    - I was very interested doing research for a master's thesis and hopefully a publication. 
    - I hoped that having a masters would help me stand out when applying for jobs, particularly in water resources, which I realized I had an interest in. 

    To make a long story short, most of those things worked out in the way that I hoped. I didn't end up getting my research published, but the modeling work I performed was very helpful in me getting the job I have now. My company had also made a point of looking for someone with more than undergraduate experience at that time, so for me, getting the second degree to drill deeper into topics introduced to me during the first degree was a big help for me. It also helped me understand academia a little better, and I even applied for a few PhDs before deciding to go directly into industry instead. 

    Finally, while I remained at the same school for both degrees, a masters always seemed like an excellent opportunity to try living in a new area. I hope you find the experience rewarding in many different ways as you begin your own masters program!

    Christopher Seigel P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer

  • 7.  RE: Pre- and post-civil engineering degrees

    Posted 07-13-2021 07:58 PM
    My bachelors is in civil engineering and it seemed to prepare me well for the science and number crunching aspects of our work.  Even so, I knew that I needed a bit of "finishing school" so I did all of the writing papers and giving presentations that it took to get my master in public administration degree.  It was a good combination for me.

    Esco Bell, PE, PLS
    Public Works Director

    Edward [MiddleName] Bell P.E., P.L.S, M.ASCE
    Public Works Director
    City of Marysville
    Marysville WA