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Thread: Civil engineer looking for masters degree advice

  1. #1
    Member
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    Champaign, IL
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    Civil engineer looking for masters degree advice

    This is my first post, and I've been appreciative of the descriptive feedback provided to career "challenged" individuals like myself. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    I'm currently a civil engineer (3 years exp.) getting an MBA part time in the evenings at the University of Illinois. I am about 50% through the degree. I'm very interested in urban planning, particularly Local and Regional Economic Development (one concentration) and Sustainable Design and Development (another concentration). One option I have is to turn the MBA into a dual masters degree with urban planning. The problem with this option is it requires full time schooling (urban planning classes are only offered during the day). While the tuition costs aren't awful, the idea of paying a mortgage etc. without full time work is daunting. I would be interested to hear how involved typical assistantships are, or success on valuable part time work while going to school full time.

    I've been doing research on scholarships with little success. Fastweb and the FAFSA are steps in the right direction, but providing supplemental income, not just tuition, looks difficult.

    My second question lies in the area of urban planning concentrations. Local and Regional Development peaks my interest because a substantial portion of my work experience is in residential and commercial land development. Sustainable Development is also interesting, because I believe with time this will become more and more valuable to engineers/planners.

    With a local and regional development emphasis, in tandem with an MBA, do you have recommendations for ideal places to work? With sustainable development, will that anchor me to an engineering position, because I will already have an engineering degree? Do planners in sustainable design and development spend much time reviewing plans?

    I'm in consulting now, as an engineer, and its gratifying, but at this point career wise I do not have input in the planning stages. I have seen what intelligent planners can do in the early stages, and it looks exciting and satisfying. My greatest interest lies in the ability to design a set of plans, plan its location, and finance its funding. Thanks very much for your advice, questions, or any recommendations.

    Mike

  2. #2
    Member
    Registered
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Brooklyn, NY
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    advice from a civil engineer

    I would advise you to look at the descriptions of jobs you are interested in. Go to a school that will give you exactly the education and training employers are looking for.

    I'm an engineer who recently graduated from grad school with an urban design degree. I wish someone had given me this advice because now I can't get the job I want because I don't have the qualifications. I did not get the training in graduate school to match the employer's requirements.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Dec 2006
    Location
    midwest
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    2,802
    Quote Originally posted by Blieger View post
    This is my first post, and I've been appreciative of the descriptive feedback provided to career "challenged" individuals like myself. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    I'm currently a civil engineer (3 years exp.) getting an MBA part time in the evenings at the University of Illinois. I am about 50% through the degree. I'm very interested in urban planning, particularly Local and Regional Economic Development (one concentration) and Sustainable Design and Development (another concentration). One option I have is to turn the MBA into a dual masters degree with urban planning. The problem with this option is it requires full time schooling (urban planning classes are only offered during the day). While the tuition costs aren't awful, the idea of paying a mortgage etc. without full time work is daunting. I would be interested to hear how involved typical assistantships are, or success on valuable part time work while going to school full time.

    I've been doing research on scholarships with little success. Fastweb and the FAFSA are steps in the right direction, but providing supplemental income, not just tuition, looks difficult.

    My second question lies in the area of urban planning concentrations. Local and Regional Development peaks my interest because a substantial portion of my work experience is in residential and commercial land development. Sustainable Development is also interesting, because I believe with time this will become more and more valuable to engineers/planners.

    With a local and regional development emphasis, in tandem with an MBA, do you have recommendations for ideal places to work? With sustainable development, will that anchor me to an engineering position, because I will already have an engineering degree? Do planners in sustainable design and development spend much time reviewing plans?

    I'm in consulting now, as an engineer, and its gratifying, but at this point career wise I do not have input in the planning stages. I have seen what intelligent planners can do in the early stages, and it looks exciting and satisfying. My greatest interest lies in the ability to design a set of plans, plan its location, and finance its funding. Thanks very much for your advice, questions, or any recommendations.

    Mike
    I earned my BAUP from UIUC. Try to see if you could get an engineering job working for either the City of Champaign, City of Urbana, or the Champaign County Regional Plan Commission, which is based in Urbana. I knew at least one graduate student who worked full time as a planner with the City of Champaign, and I am pretty sure she went to school part time. Two of my adjunct professors are Champaign employees, and a few of my old classmates work as a planners for the City. I'm pretty sure any of these government bodies would be flexible regarding your schedule and "possibly" offer tuition reimbursement, but you would have to check with them.

  4. #4

    As a fellow civil............

    As a fellow civil with 11+ years of government experience, I would say that a MPO might be a good career option for you. MPO's are more planning-based than a traditional engineering firm or muni engineering office. You would likely get alot of planning experience there. Your civil skills could be utilized in a transportation planning/engineering capacity, so that may be a good start. If you want pure planning, you may have missed your "boat". I would suggest that you get more experience to help you clarify what you want, and also to keep you from being academically overqualified and work-experience under-qualified, as that could be a point of contention when job hunting. Don't let your civil degree go to waste. Good luck.
    Who's gonna re-invent the wheel today?

  5. #5
    Member
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    Dec 2007
    Location
    Champaign, IL
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    Thanks for the advice. I appreciate it. Picking my concentration for the potential masters has been challenging because, as cited above in the replies, I don't want to be over qualified academically, and yet I want it to be practical to exactly where I will fit in.

    I have never heard of a MPO firm before. Metropolitan Planning Organization...is the engineering they do exclusive to transportation? I'm interested in looking at planning in regard to economic development, so I'll look into that further. Would it be possible to utilize an MBA there? I suppose that's a generic question, but I'll ask it anyway. :o)

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