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Old 10-19-2010, 05:26 PM   #121
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A PHD may elevate the ceiling in the technical ladder, but initially PHDs and BSs hire in as an entry level employee. What happens after that will be based largely on performance. Maybe the PHDs are given preference later on, but it is certainly not the master-peon relationship you suggest.
Your description was NOT the way it worked at my Megacorp. PHDs hired in at a level that only one or two out of 50 BS/MS hires would EVER achieve in a lifetime of work/experience/productivity. There WERE exceptions which were used to keep the worker bees in their place. Basically, it only happened when one of those PHDs decided someone from the lower ranks deserved such a prestigious position (and pay).

I'm really not complaining (too much). I didn't have the smarts or ambition to get a PHD and I won't deny the contributions made by many of our PHDs. There really WAS a difference in MOST of the folks who were PHDs. Still, I did see plenty of times when PHDs were treated as gods while BS/MS types (like me) were considered "also-rans".

One nice thing at our Co. was a relatively collegial atmosphere (we rarely referred to anyone as "Doctor". It was "Al" or "Gene" or "Mary". Still, when the rubber met the road, it was quite clear who upper management (virtually all PHDs) valued.

We had a group of folks who ranged from relatively new hires to upper middle management we used to refer to as the "Harvard Mafia" (all had received PHDs from Harvard). They took good care of each other's careers and took the "good old boy" concept to a much higher level.

Again, not complaining (too much). Just saying... I'm sure the PHDs used to complain about the stupid BS/MS types they had to depend upon to get the actual work done. Looking back, there is little I would have changed about my career and becoming a PHD only briefly crossed my mind even though there were definite advantages that paid for themselves at my Co.

YMMV
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Old 10-19-2010, 05:44 PM   #122
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Your description was NOT the way it worked at my Megacorp. PHDs hired in at a level that only one or two out of 50 BS/MS hires would EVER achieve in a lifetime of work/experience/productivity. There WERE exceptions which were used to keep the worker bees in their place. Basically, it only happened when one of those PHDs decided someone from the lower ranks deserved such a prestigious position (and pay).

I'm really not complaining (too much). I didn't have the smarts or ambition to get a PHD and I won't deny the contributions made by many of our PHDs. There really WAS a difference in MOST of the folks who were PHDs. Still, I did see plenty of times when PHDs were treated as gods while BS/MS types (like me) were considered "also-rans".

One nice thing at our Co. was a relatively collegial atmosphere (we rarely referred to anyone as "Doctor". It was "Al" or "Gene" or "Mary". Still, when the rubber met the road, it was quite clear who upper management (virtually all PHDs) valued.

We had a group of folks who ranged from relatively new hires to upper middle management we used to refer to as the "Harvard Mafia" (all had received PHDs from Harvard). They took good care of each other's careers and took the "good old boy" concept to a much higher level.

Again, not complaining (too much). Just saying... I'm sure the PHDs used to complain about the stupid BS/MS types they had to depend upon to get the actual work done. Looking back, there is little I would have changed about my career and becoming a PHD only briefly crossed my mind even though there were definite advantages that paid for themselves at my Co.

YMMV
That's my experience as well. At my old company, an advanced degree (PhD/MBA/MD/law degree/etc...) was required for anyone at level 10 (associate director) and above. Level 8-10 (non-management) was a mixture of green PhDs and experienced MS/BS. So if you want to remain hands-on (lab work), a PhD might not buy a lot of extras because you'll always remain at the bottom of the corporate ladder. But if you want to move up the ladder into management, having an advanced degree is essential.
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Old 10-19-2010, 05:47 PM   #123
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Considering most adults spend 40-50 years subsidizing their state and county colleges through their sales, income and or property taxes, those out of state students are getting a pretty good deal.
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Old 10-19-2010, 09:54 PM   #124
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But if you want to move up the ladder into management, having an advanced degree is essential.
An advanced degree would help, but political savvy and people skills are supreme.
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Old 10-19-2010, 10:23 PM   #125
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Dex, I took a quick look at some of those stats. At the PhD level, US Citizens and Permanent Residents dropped from 67.5% of degree earners to 56% over the ten year period 1997-2006.

Looking distinctly at Engineering PhD's for a moment and you see an even stronger story of the US lagging behind. In 1997, 3,332 Engineering PhDs were awarded to US Citizens and 2,555 were awarded to temporary immigrants. 10 years later in 2006, US students received only 2,485 PhDs, whereas foreign students received 4,272 PhDs. In other words, the last 10-15 years have shown us a continuing trend of foreign students increasing their enrollment in PhD programs at the expense of American students. In absolute terms and in proportions.
In many if not most cases Foreign students being paid by their governments to study here because of the quality of engineering education. In general We generally get as many US students as our government will pay for. As the anti tax groups took over, Engineering graduate support dropped dramatically, especially at the state level.
This trend was well established by 2001 and has continued
http://www8.nationalacademies.org/on...RecordID=10162

that being said the vast majority of foreign PHD Students Stay here after graduations
At the time of doctorate receipt, more than three-quarters of foreign recipients of U.S. S&E doctorates plan to stay in the United States and about half have either accepted an offer of postdoctoral study or employment or are continuing employment in the United States

In effect we import the best and the brightest and they join our country and intellectual effort.
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Old 10-19-2010, 10:46 PM   #126
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In many if not most cases Foreign students being paid by their governments to study here because of the quality of engineering education. In general We generally get as many US students as our government will pay for.
This wasn't true in my experience. At most the higher end research universities pretty much everybody I knew was supported on their professors funding which wasn't particularly difficult to get. The real limiting factor is that many of today's US born students simply don't want to go for a phd.
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Old 10-20-2010, 12:23 AM   #127
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This wasn't true in my experience. At most the higher end research universities pretty much everybody I knew was supported on their professors funding which wasn't particularly difficult to get. The real limiting factor is that many of today's US born students simply don't want to go for a phd.
At top tier schools, many of the graduate students will also have been recipients of NSF, DOD, NIH, or other government fellowships.

For those who are supported directly by their PI's grants on a research assistantship, the grants often also come from the same federal funding agencies as the fellowships. Although there is private endowment and industrial money coming in to research, in many fields the government still plays a dominant monetary support role.
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Old 10-20-2010, 12:46 AM   #128
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You're right that all the funding comes from government sources and it if it ultimately dried up we wouldn't have any grad students (american born or otherwise). However, I would still submit that for US students the decline in enrollments is not driven by funding but rather a lack of interest.
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Old 10-20-2010, 01:23 AM   #129
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Did anyone read the link I posted? (Don't become a scientist) The decline of US grad students, at least in science, is driven by excess funding, not lack thereof. The excess funding creates an oversupply, again at least in science, making it very hard to do well career-wise comparable to other career choices.

Keep in mind that there's a big difference between starting your career in the hard sciences during the boom times in 1970-80 and now. Back then you could expect to get tenure shortly out of grad school. Today it's a long shot and if you get it, it'll take 10-15 years.

These days science is a calling. Not a career.
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Old 10-20-2010, 01:50 AM   #130
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Did anyone read the link I posted? (Don't become a scientist) The decline of US grad students, at least in science, is driven by excess funding, not lack thereof. The excess funding creates an oversupply, again at least in science, making it very hard to do well career-wise comparable to other career choices.

Keep in mind that there's a big difference between starting your career in the hard sciences during the boom times in 1970-80 and now. Back then you could expect to get tenure shortly out of grad school. Today it's a long shot and if you get it, it'll take 10-15 years.

These days science is a calling. Not a career.
I think this is more true when discussing a purely academic career path.

From the perspective of industry and industrial research, pure chemists, biologists, and physicists can still be in strong demand. Oftentimes it will not be in the exact field of research one pursues in their graduate work, but a significant number of people who remain in academia also switch focus during post-doctoral or professorial careers for either a change of pace or to retain a high enough level of funding to support their research group.

I'm not going to argue that the dedication:remuneration ratio is higher for science than it is for business or finance, but one can still make a far better than average living. Starting doctoral level compensation in biotech from top tier schools is approaching 6 figures as a starting salary. An example from physics (say in astronomy) would be applying signal-processing knowledge to the semiconductor industry - again with overall starting compensation packages approaching six figures.

One can argue plenty of negatives for going into the sciences, but a doctorate and a reality-based career goal will allow one to become, at the least, firmly implanted within the middle class.
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Old 10-20-2010, 01:53 AM   #131
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You're right that all the funding comes from government sources and it if it ultimately dried up we wouldn't have any grad students (american born or otherwise). However, I would still submit that for US students the decline in enrollments is not driven by funding but rather a lack of interest.
I'd certainly agree with that last statement. Money is available if people are willing to work hard enough.

For quite a few years, even within strong engineering universities, it has been recognized that one can make more money with less work in other fields.
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Old 10-20-2010, 02:09 AM   #132
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Did anyone read the link I posted? (Don't become a scientist) The decline of US grad students, at least in science, is driven by excess funding, not lack thereof. The excess funding creates an oversupply, again at least in science, making it very hard to do well career-wise comparable to other career choices.

Keep in mind that there's a big difference between starting your career in the hard sciences during the boom times in 1970-80 and now. Back then you could expect to get tenure shortly out of grad school. Today it's a long shot and if you get it, it'll take 10-15 years.

These days science is a calling. Not a career.
We clearly live on two different planets. The vast majority of my friends are scientists. They have good careers. They make upper middle class incomes. They have good benefits. I really can't relate to anything you wrote. Of course, you seem focused on academic careers whereas my friends and I work in the private sector, so our experiences are bound to be different.
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Old 10-20-2010, 11:03 AM   #133
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We clearly live on two different planets. The vast majority of my friends are scientists. They have good careers. They make upper middle class incomes. They have good benefits. I really can't relate to anything you wrote. Of course, you seem focused on academic careers whereas my friends and I work in the private sector, so our experiences are bound to be different.
Maybe there's a difference between "pure research" scientific fields and those which more easily lend themselves to commercialization through technology-transfer patents and businesses.

Our local State U isn't Rice or Stanford or MIT, but it does a brisk business licensing technology patents (developed in its research labs) to the LLCs developed in its business school.
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Old 10-20-2010, 11:48 AM   #134
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I wonder how the statistics re foreign vs. US students in grad school might change for 2009 and 2010--a lot of people went back to school who had been making a lot of money earlier and were laid off.
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Old 10-20-2010, 04:59 PM   #135
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As a semi-tangent, I've seen a couple things in the last week that go like this. Interviewer talks to Chinese students and asks for career plans. Students say "Start my education here, go to the US to get an advanced degree, work in the US for a while to build up by resume, come back to China in a fast growing field to make the real money."

IMO, that's a reasonable plan for the students. But, if US taxpayers are subsidizing their education, I don't think we're getting much in return.
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Old 10-20-2010, 05:14 PM   #136
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As a semi-tangent, I've seen a couple things in the last week that go like this. Interviewer talks to Chinese students and asks for career plans. Students say "Start my education here, go to the US to get an advanced degree, work in the US for a while to build up by resume, come back to China in a fast growing field to make the real money."

IMO, that's a reasonable plan for the students. But, if US taxpayers are subsidizing their education, I don't think we're getting much in return.
And it's not just that we are subsidizing their education but that's also one less admissions slot available for someone who would use the education here.
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Old 10-20-2010, 05:33 PM   #137
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As a semi-tangent, I've seen a couple things in the last week that go like this. Interviewer talks to Chinese students and asks for career plans. Students say "Start my education here, go to the US to get an advanced degree, work in the US for a while to build up by resume, come back to China in a fast growing field to make the real money."

IMO, that's a reasonable plan for the students. But, if US taxpayers are subsidizing their education, I don't think we're getting much in return.
Uh-Oh...

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Start my education here, go to the US to get an advanced degree, work in the US for a while to build up by resume, come back to China in a fast growing field to make the real money realize I can FIRE before my 40th birthday and drop from the work force...
I'm afraid I wasn't such a good investment for the US tax payer. Hopefully, I can contribute to the country in other ways...
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Old 10-20-2010, 05:51 PM   #138
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But, if US taxpayers are subsidizing their education, I don't think we're getting much in return.
We get to propagandize them by giving them the experience of living in a free society for 4-6 years, so when they go back home, their expectations will have changed. They can help reshape their political systems back home to fit in better with our ideas of life and thought in the 21st century. That's something we get in return.
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Old 10-20-2010, 05:55 PM   #139
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Keep in mind that there's a big difference between starting your career in the hard sciences during the boom times in 1970-80 and now. Back then you could expect to get tenure shortly out of grad school. Today it's a long shot and if you get it, it'll take 10-15 years.

These days science is a calling. Not a career.
I've chaired promotion and tenure committees. The boom years in science were over by the Mid 70s, but no normal human being ever got tenure at a major research university "shortly out of Grad school"

I got tenure at the age of 32 and it was considered a sort of miracle. The average age was 35 in the sciences and 38 in the social sciences.
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Old 10-20-2010, 06:00 PM   #140
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I'm afraid I wasn't such a good investment for the US tax payer. Hopefully, I can contribute to the country in other ways...
You did. You quit and freed up a j*b for someone who needed it more than you.
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