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Back to School?

May 3, 2011
“A designer is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.”
— R. Buckminster Fuller

I love the above quote by Buckminster Fuller. There is so much power and potential in design. It gives me goosebumps! Which brings me to the topic of this post today — how can I be a better designer?

Lately I have been thinking about my academic and career paths. After I graduated with a BS in industrial design last May from Georgia Tech, I knew I would eventualy go back to school for a master’s degree in something — civil or environmental engineering, architecture, public health, public policy … the list goes on. I just want to learn about a lot of different fields — so I can be a better designer; solve problems with many different lenses. Maybe “better” is the wrong adjective — so I can be the designer I really want to be.

For the past few weeks, I have been thinking seriously about applying to graduate schools for environmental engineering. I was really pumped! An environmental engineering degree on top of my industrial design degree would be such a powerful combination. As a designer, it will help me better understand how to create solutions for the environmental issues I am passionate about. My happiness train came to a hault when, after talking to a few graduate admissions offices, I learned that I was completely unqualified to apply for a master’s of environmental engineering. My background did not contain enough engineering pre-requisite courses. Damn! 

Then, after more discussions, learned that I could take 1-2 years of pre-req classes, THEN I would be more prepared to apply for my master’s. So thats a possible 4 years of school just for 1 master’s. Eeek.  Thoroughly discouraged at this point. Do I even need a master’s degree to learn about environmental engineering ? Not necessarily, it is possible that I could teach myself the important principles. I am already really interested in environmental issues and solutions, it would just take  more dedication.

I really want to learn nitty-gritty stuff though! Like fluid mechanics. Or groundwater hydrology. Especially air pollution engineering.

I more recently learned that I could apply for a second undergraduate degree in environmental engineering. At first it sounded a little crazy. All I could think of was rewriting corny college essays, SAT scores, monstrous freshman-year lectures, and other horrible things. However, once I got all of the details, it sounded like a great option. I could go back to Georgia Tech and complete my second degree in around two years. That is not too shabby. Then, if so inclined, I could apply to graduate school for environmental engineering or something else.

But I will figure that out when the time comes.

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