Colorado School of Mines Graduate School Insights

Do you need additional education in additive manufacturing to work in the field?

Student working in 3d printing labCourses of study in additive manufacturing are definitely a plus for engineers looking to work in the field.

“Most students don’t get much exposure to manufacturing in a traditional engineering curriculum—very few schools offer ‘manufacturing engineering’ as a discipline,” said Craig Brice, professor of practice in mechanical engineering and director of the Advanced Manufacturing Program at Colorado School of Mines.

“Relevance is key,” Brice said. “Our program is highly relevant, which partly comes from my own personal experience in an industrial manufacturing environment.” He said that in building out the curriculum, Mines sought out experts beyond traditional faculty and have courses taught by adjuncts who are working or have worked in the manufacturing the environment.

“Our master’s degree program gives students the information they didn’t get in their undergraduate programs, and it’s particularly well suited for those entering into careers in fabrication and manufacturing,” Brice said. A graduate certificate is also an option. “The choice is a matter of depth—the certificate makes up the core courses in the master’s program.”

Mines’ 12-credit-hour graduate certificate program (which can be taken completely online) comprises four courses: an introduction to additive manufacturing that requires research; two courses that cover either materials, design or the use of data in additive manufacturing; and an AM elective. In addition to the core courses, students in the MS program choose 21 credits of electives from the dozens of courses available, allowing them to delve further into various aspects of additive manufacturing.

Because the field is truly interdisciplinary, students from various backgrounds can be successful in additive manufacturing, Brice said. “Skills and knowledge in mechanical engineering, materials, computer science, etc., are all applicable,” he said. “Fundamental skills that are helpful are computer-aided modeling and design, basic materials science, statistical methods and engineering economics.”

While the additive manufacturing field is fairly wide open, with plenty of positions relative to available talent, specific additional experience and advanced education helps candidates stand out.

Post-baccalaureate degrees also provide a wage premium, particularly in STEM fields. In 2013, for example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that chemists and materials scientists with master’s degrees earned a median annual wage of $71,000, compared to $60,000 for those with bachelor’s degrees—an 18% premium.

What’s the outlook for additive manufacturing jobs and the discipline as a whole? »

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