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Internationalizing Your Graduate Education: Engineering

Posted on April 09, 2019

According to the Federal Government’s Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system, there are 21 different specializations you can choose in looking at opportunities in engineering. Though there is significant diversity in the specializations you can study when looking at engineering, the general concepts are the same: applying the principles of science and mathematics to develop economical solutions to technical problems.


Advanced degree coursework usually includes classes and research; field experience and internships. Graduate programs in engineering include courses like high-end electronics, complex computer systems design and resource management. Since most engineering degrees involve a high level of hands on training and quantitative analysis, some of the skills you will gain from pursuing an advanced degree can include design evaluation, cost effectiveness, and reliability and safety testing methods. In many cases, programs integrate management and supervisory training because many students go on to supervise production systems and manage product quality.

Computers have become the norm for producing and analyzing designs; testing how a machine, structure, or system operates; generating specifications for parts; and monitoring product quality and control process efficiency. For this reason, much of your training will also involve classes around technology integration and technical programming.

In the International Context

There are a number of international corporations and companies that manufacture and sell products outside of the US that have opportunities for career advancement abroad. There are several, in fact, that offer US based positions with opportunities for international travel to conduct trainings, enhance overseas performance, analyze international markets, and evaluate in country production. And if a more altruistic path is calling your name, there are plenty of opportunities with international nonprofits and US government agencies to work on enhancing technologies and implementation practices in developing nations. Organizations like Engineers Without Borders gives engineers who are interested in working abroad the chance to work on development projects around the globe.

Biomedical Engineering

Have you ever wondered who it was that designed and created the dialysis machine? Consider the professionals who were able to build a machine that would artificially act in place of the human lung when a person was no longer able to breathe. And now think of the training it would take to be able to develop those machines and you’ve got a biomedical engineer. Programs in this field teach students to apply knowledge of engineering, biology, and biomechanical principles to the design, development, evaluate biological and health systems and products. These include such things as artificial organs, prostheses, instrumentation, medical information systems, and health management and care delivery systems. You can expect to take classes that range from chemistry to robotics and from computer design to informatics. Depending on your area of focus, the classes you take could be as diverse or as specific as your interests.

Job Opportunities in the Field

This line of work is quite rewarding and interesting as you can imagine and the variety of opportunities are vast. You can work in areas like medical equipment manufacturing, scientific research and development, pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, scientific and technical consulting, wholesale marketing and brokering.

Chemical Engineering

With the world’s attention centered on issues like the AIDS epidemic, hunger eradication, and the war on terror; is it any wonder that we are increasingly dependent on the knowledge and experience of professional chemical engineers? This may sound absurd at first, but pursuing a degree in chemical engineering may have you working for a big name pharmaceutical company developing new antiviral drugs, or at a waste facility designing enhanced water treatment processes. There are a number of specializations that include environmental protection, pharmaceutical development, healthcare, food processing, and several others. In graduate programs for chemical engineering you can expect to take advanced courses in math, materials composition, chemistry, and process control. You can also expect to work on developing and designing your own project with a faculty member as a part of your curriculum.

Job Opportunities in the Field

Though the field appears to be limited, there are several unique careers you could pursue in this field as a scientist, chemist, technician, consultant, manufacturer, or manager. Some of the specialized areas you could work include scientific research and development, chemical manufacturing, natural resource manufacturing and management, pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing, and architectural engineering services.

Civil Engineering

Civil engineers are designers. The roads you drive on, buildings you work in, airports you travel through, tunnels you drive through, dams that give us energy, bridges that are built to last, and water and sewage systems that keep cities clean are just a few examples of what those designs could look like. But learning about structure integrity and blueprint design aren’t the only skills you’ll gain from pursuing an advanced degree in civil engineering. Often, these programs include classes on cost-benefit analysis, management, research and sustainability. Since civil engineering intersects with many of the topics found in urban planning, it is not out of the question for civil engineers to take courses in, or even seek a dual degree, with regional and urban planning. In fact the trend is slowly changing for programs to integrate some social and environmental concepts into the engineering curriculum. Programs are often designed to give students a meaningful educational experience in the humanities, social studies, English, economics, basic sciences, and suitable training in applying the fundamental principles in the analysis, design and maintenance,

Job Opportunities in the Field

Civil engineering is one of the broader engineering fields that encompasses a number of great opportunities and unique careers you could pursue. When looking at the kinds of jobs you could pursue some of the options include technician, consultant, manufacturer, agricultural and food scientists, architects, biological scientists, chemists, computer and information systems managers, engineering and natural sciences managers.

Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical engineers develop more efficient, more environmentally friendly, and sturdier materials for use in everything from elevators to computer parts. If you decide to pursue an advanced degree in mechanical engineering you can expect to study design optimization, automation, robotics, production engineering, biomechanics, thermo fluids and environmental protection. Emphasis is often placed on solving practical problems in industry and society. Many programs work at an interdepartmental and interdisciplinary level to offer students a broad base of courses. Usually, the focus is on applied research with a strong tie to industry, federal and international agencies. You can also expect traditional classroom training to be coupled with an internship under the supervision of experienced engineers.

Job Opportunities in the Field

As a mechanical engineer, the skills and training you’ve gained from your program will easily translate to nearly any engineering position. Specific areas of research and development are: manufacturing processes, energy conservation, noise control and acoustics, refrigeration and air conditioning, transportation, and product safety and reliability. Graduates with a master’s (MS) or PhD degree in mechanical engineering often work as senior mechanical designers, mechanical engineering managers, facilities engineering specialists and more.

Author: Diversity Abroad Community

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