New Doctor of Engineering program designed with the needs of working professionals in mind

July 10, 2018
First DEng cohort at Johns Hopkins University

Image: Larry Canner / Homewood Photography

Kara Shipley had always planned to pursue a doctorate in engineering someday, but life got in the way, including a thriving professional career, a husband, and, eventually, a daughter.

“I got my undergraduate degree and went straight into the workforce because I loved putting my knowledge and skills to work in a practical way,” said Shipley, an assistant section supervisor in the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory‘s Oceanic, Atmospheric and Remote Sensing Sciences Group. “I earned my master’s in mechanical engineering at Johns Hopkins part-time while I was working, but I didn’t go on from there because doing a thesis while working full-time and balancing family responsibilities seemed too daunting.”

Until now.

This summer, Shipley became a member of the first cohort of students accepted to the Whiting School of Engineering‘s innovative new Doctor of Engineering program, which was designed with the needs of working, mid-career engineering professionals like Shipley in mind.

“This program is a perfect fit for me because it will enable me to get the doctorate that I always wanted and planned for while still working full-time and raising my daughter,” she said.

Like a traditional PhD, the DEng program is grounded in a candidate’s advanced research and mentorship by a member of the Whiting School’s engineering faculty.

But the similarities end there. While traditional PhD programs focus on engineering theory and scholarship to prepare candidates for careers in academic or industrial research and leadership, the DEng program centers on engineering practice and application to prepare graduates for technical leadership roles in industry or the public sector.

Students in the new program don’t have to spend the five or more years on a university campus conducting laboratory-based research—they continue to work full-time, focusing on applying creative and innovative solutions to challenges that arise in their companies or agencies.

“Unlike a traditional dissertation conducted in university laboratories, the DEng students’ projects are very ‘real world’ in nature,” said Ed Scheinerman, vice dean for graduate education at the Whiting School. “This allows the students to have direct and immediate impact at their place of work.”

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