After 2 years working in R&D at Schlumberger, I decided the time was right to pursue a Master's degree as a part-time student while still continuing my career full-time. To be successful, I needed a program to meet two equally important criteria: 1) compatibility with career and family, and 2) academic quality. UF's EDGE program and the Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering absolutely fit the bill.
The organization and flexibility of these programs enabled me to finish my MSEE in 6 semesters while simultaneously working on two high-profile projects and nurturing a family. The online format of EDGE freed me to view lectures during my lunch break, while traveling, or whenever else best suit my schedule. When difficult situations arose, such as when my father passed away, my professors were always accommodating.
Indeed, the dedication of the professors in ensuring academic quality while still incorporating distance students is impressive. Coursework and projects were always academically challenging yet suitable for the resources I had available. Professors were not only prompt in answering my emails, but often took the time to review my questions in the following lecture with the rest of the class. This helped keep me motivated and generally in sync with on-campus progress.
In addition, the EDGE staff showed a dedication to continually improving the distance student's experience. I rarely had technical issues, but the few instances I had were promptly resolved. The changes I saw made to websites, interfaces, distribution methods, etc. were all for the better.
Pursuing an advanced engineering degree is never a small feat, and doing so while working full-time adds to the challenge. But given the dedicated people behind UF's programs, I recommend EDGE to any engineer committed to continuing their education.
Kelly Wong Hagen
Senior Electrical Engineer
I recently earned my Master's degree in Engineering from the University of Florida, while working a full-time job at Alcoa. UF EDGE allowed me to accomplish this within five years. The program provides a clear path to an advanced engineering degree, along with outstanding web access to course materials and the full range of UF library resources. UF EDGE staff kept me informed about class schedules, academic requirements, and important UF deadlines and events. They were particularly good at coordinating with my chosen academic department, promptly addressing any questions I had related to course delivery and making arrangements to fulfill administrative needs.
Many of my professors were internationally recognized as leaders in their field of expertise. Even so, I found them to be very accessible, friendly, and helpful. If they could not take my calls or questions at once, they were always willing to set a specific time to discuss a homework problem or offer thoughtful replies to more detailed questions by email. It was quite clear that my professors took distance learning students into consideration. In every course I took, the lectures and notes often included questions and issues that were raised by off-campus students. Best of all, electronic delivery of course content allowed me to study at times I found convenient, and to review class materials at my leisure. In contrast to a tightly-scheduled on-campus program, this flexibility was a definite advantage to a working student.
I strongly recommend the UF EDGE program to any full-time employee who wishes to pursue a graduate degree, and to any company seeking to provide meaningful professional development opportunities for motivated employees.
Materials Science and Engineering
When I finished my undergraduate degree, I wanted to immediately continue with a graduate degree but Motorola presented an offer I could not refuse. I could immediately start working to gain experience and the company would pay for my graduate education.
I first started at a different university which initially appeared more flexible but I quickly realized that continuing my graduate education at my Alma Mata (University of Florida) was a better option for the quality of education, the cost, self pace and flexibility.
The UF EDGE and CISE personnel were very supportive throughout the program. My professors were accommodating of my situation and very available over email and the phone. My most challenging class was very bearable because of a professor that was available on weekends and all odd hours of the day.
The main difference between the EDGE degree and the on campus degree was the student interaction, but I was fortunate to also have co-workers in similar programs.
I highly recommend this program and have two pieces of advice. One, start small and figure out what class load matches your work load. Two, the lectures are available within hours of the live presentation so don't let them pile up (unless you really really enjoy lecture marathons).
Soon after graduating with my Bachelor's Degree, I knew I wanted to continue my education by pursuing a Masters Degree, however, I also had the opportunity to work for the US Army Corps of Engineers around this same time. Getting work experience was also important to me, so I didn't know how I was going to be able to take advantage of both opportunities. When the UF EDGE program was presented to me, I knew this was going to be a great way to get both experiences without delaying one for the other. In the beginning I was a little concerned about on-line degree programs; however, it turned out to be a wonderful experience. I had taken a few classes prior to this program on-line and some were good experiences and some were not.
After completing the program, I would say that UF has developed a good program and has made sure that the on-line students are getting all they can out of each of the classes. Additionally, I found the courses to be very relevant to my job as well as current and up to date. For me, these two experiences have complimented each other very well.
Earning my Engineering Masters degree online with University of Florida was a very rewarding experience that exceeded all my expectations. The quality and flexibility offered by the UF EDGE program compares with an on campus program. I began the graduate program with classroom instruction and enrolled on the UF EDGE program as soon as it became available. Internet access to the program is very easy and information is current at all times. You can access from work, home or hotel when traveling. Class schedules and requirements for the entire session are posted at the beginning of the course. Conferences are posted on the same day they are recorded on campus, allowing off-campus students to advance at the same pace as the rest of the class.
As a Chief Construction Branch US Army Corps of Engineers, I had a very busy schedule with frequent temporary travel out of town. I had the flexibility of accessing the WEBCT and completing the required work on time. The professors and supporting staff of the UF EDGE program have been flexible to accommodate any special arrangements when needed. They are available on a daily basis through email and can be reached easily via telephone. All work including homework, quizzes, test and projects are submitted electronically.
The professors are experienced professional engineers bringing into the program their experiences and expertise on the latest in engineering and technological advances. I am a PE with 35 years of Construction Management experience and found the program has provided a valuable tool to my career. There was positive interaction with the professors and my groups and dealing with other students from all over the state on teleconferences and through email, all working together to complete our course objectives. Given the fact that this is exactly how we achieve most of our business goals - by working collaboratively at a distance - I found this online learning method to be a rewarding and efficient use of my time. Based on this successful experience, I recommend the program to all engineers involved in Construction Management functions. They can apply the tools and techniques learned at UF on their jobs. I recently retired from the USACE and I am ready for the next challenge. The USACE is a strong supporter of individual development programs like the UF EDGE.
Chief Construction Branch
USACE (RET), PE
The UF EDGE program has allowed me the freedom to continue my studies while pursuing my career. I began my education as a full time student at the Florida campus but then had to resume working for financial reasons. Since then, my career has taken me from Florida to Washington State and ultimately to California; with the UF EDGE program I have been able to continue my Masters degree regardless of my residence. In one instance, I spent three months in Japan for a work-related project. With the distance learning program I was able to continue my studies uninterrupted and even schedule an exam over 7000 miles away from Gainesville. The online video and audio is high quality and the web tools for downloading notes are very easy to use.
I highly recommend this program, as it gives students the freedom to continue their world class education at the University of Florida while developing a professional career.
Sr. Mechanical Engineer
Land & Armament
Being in the Army and raising a family, I don't have a routine schedule that allows traditional or evening classroom studies. When I started researching distance learning engineering programs, I wanted a flexible program that I could incorporate into my busy schedule. UF EDGE and the UF Environmental Engineering Sciences department provided the right program. I was able to balance my studies throughout the program with the competing demands of the Army. Completing the program of study in Water Resource Planning and Management via distance learning provided me with the fundamentals of environmental planning and how environmental issues influence political decisions. Working with the USACE, I'm sure these skills will be applicable nationally or abroad. Personally, I see this as a chance to expand opportunities within the USACE and in shifting my career in an environmentally focused direction.
MAJ MIL USA TRADOC
The three years experience I have taking classes with the UF EDGE program have been extremely positive and rewarding. The posting of class lectures and materials online is wonderful. The ability to print out lecture slides and take notes on them as I watch the lectures has greatly improved my note taking and study habits. I find myself able to actually listen to what the professor is saying instead of furiously trying to copy down every word he says in addition to the information on the slides. Also the ability to watch a lecture at your own leisure has made juggling career, school and social life easier.
I have taken 7 classes online with 5 different professors all of whom understand what it is like to work full time and take classes. I have never had a problem reaching any of my professors either online or by phone. All my professors have been very accommodating. For instance, you are given a range of time to take a test. Once, due to work obligations, I was unable to take a test in the time range provided. My professor worked with me to reschedule for a time that was convenient for both of us.
At times trying to balance my career and school while still having some personal time leftover has been frustrating for me. I seriously question my motivations at least once a semester for doing this. Afterall, I have a job that I am relatively happy with. I have a Masters Degree. I don't need a second Masters Degree for my present job or job advancement, yet I keep doing it. All I can say is the sense of accomplishment I feel at the end of a semester, with one more class towards that degree out of the way makes it all worthwhile.
Beth A. Orlando
Specialist Scientific Associate
South Florida Water Management District
I always wanted to pursue an advanced engineering degree, but with my career as a tactical airlift pilot for the Air Force, I didn't think I'd be able to. When I found out about the UF EDGE program, it was exactly what I had been looking for. As a C-17 pilot, my duties take me as far as Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, and countless others, often with little to no advanced notice. Having an all-online degree program allows me to take my education with me on the road, and when I do get behind, the entire EDGE program is right there, ready to help me get back on track. When I'm not behind, I have access to lectures and course materials within hours of the on-campus students. Because of this and the ease of communication between myself and my professors, I feel like I'm right there in the classroom, even if I'm on the other side of the world.
The idea of tackling a masters degree by myself was daunting, to say the least, but UF made it much less overwhelming. My professors have been knowledgeable, accessible, and approachable. The EDGE staff has gone out of their way to ease my transition back into the academic world, and they stand ready at every turn to help me in whatever way they can. After a two week long mission airlifting UN troops into Darfur, I fell behind on my schoolwork and got worried about how I would catch up. But my professors took a personal stake in my academic success, and I have reaped countless benefits from it. All in all, I've joined a great team whose number 1 priority is my education. I highly recommend this program to both military members as well as working professionals - UF EDGE is exactly what you're looking for!
Charleston Air Force Base, SC
I started working for BCI five years ago following my graduation of my undergraduate degree from the University of Florida. I began work as an environmental scientist as an onsite contractor for the St Johns River Water Management District. I soon realized the level of this competitive field I had entered into, so I decided to return to school to obtain my masters degree. However, with my full time job and being the mother of a 1-year-old daughter, I thought this was an impossibility. I then learned of the distance program at UF and started exploring my options.
The professors in the environmental engineering program have surpassed my expectations in their sensitivity to the individual timeframes. My work entails travel and fieldwork, which can be difficult especially when there is limited access to a computer. I also became pregnant again and had my second child. The issues that surround a mother of a toddler and a newborn are of their own class. However, the professors I have had more than understood, especially with test taking and assignments. Their concern is not with syllabus deadlines, but more of that the student understands the material and that they may apply it to their careers.
I fully recommend this program to anyone who wants to further their career, or to make themselves more desirable to the job market for future employment. I already notice such a positive difference in my job that this program has made on me. The flexibility of the courses, the level of commitment the staff has to this program, and the quality of having a degree from such a prestigious University, should make this decision of any student the simplest one of their career.
BCI Engineers & Scientists
On Site-Contractor for St. Johns River Water Management District
As a Navy Officer stationed in Italy, UF EDGE has provided a great way for me to pursue my ME in Environmental Engineering. This program allows students to take courses at their own pace. Having this flexibility is great for anyone trying to balance a demanding career with varying work hours and locations, busy family life, and professional development through advanced education. The professors and teaching assistants are very helpful and the website is easy to access. It would be wonderful if more departments and colleges at UF had programs similar to EDGE for individuals interested in advancing in their career, studying a new field, or for professionals interested in returning to academia as a full-time student for higher level degrees.
LTJG, CEC, USN
The South Florida Water Management District encourages its employees to continue their education through their education reimbursement option. One of the options presented to me by the District was the UF EDGE program. The Water Resources Planning and Management Specialization in the Environmental Engineering Department was a natural choice given my current position. The UF EDGE program provided me the opportunity to receive my graduate degree from a nationally recognized university with a strong curriculum. Without UF EDGE I would have had to sacrifice the quality of the school and the program for a university closer to my work.
Through UF EDGE I had the flexibility I needed to determine my own class schedule while still receiving the same support and assistance from the professors and UF EDGE staff that an on campus student would receive. I was continually impressed by the availability of the professors when I had a question or problem and their willingness to work with me one on one to resolve the issues. The classes were challenging and diverse so I was always learning something new and stretching myself intellectually and professionally. An M.S. degree from UF has had a strong impact on my career including new promotional opportunities. Taking advantage of this program was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I strongly recommend UF EDGE to any working professional considering a graduate degree in engineering.
South Florida Water Management District
I have been extremely fortunate to have found an engineering graduate program of such quality that is as flexible as UF EDGE. Classes are posted on the internet the same day they are recorded on campus, which allows off-campus students the opportunity to stay current with the class. As a Coast Guard pilot, my schedule sometimes includes long work weeks and is often times dynamic and unpredictable. I stand overnight duty as a ready pilot and often times am out of the country for a few weeks at a time. Professors and UF EDGE staff have been flexible to accommodate me at every possible chance. They are available on a daily basis through email and can be reached easily via telephone, homework can be scanned or faxed to UF, and solutions are often made available on a class website. As long as there is an internet connection available, I have been able to keep up with the class.
Initially, I was a little unsure of how smooth a completely on-line engineering program would run. I continue to be impressed with the quality of education I am receiving at UF. Professors take just as much time and show the same concern they would for an on-campus student. Academically, I have been challenged to stretch my engineering application past undergraduate expectations. Although there are unique challenges with an on-line curriculum such as additional time spent studying, susceptibility to falling behind easily, and limited access to other students, UF Professors understand these issues and work to accommodate the individual student. I would strongly recommend this program to any working professional interested in pursuing a graduate degree in engineering - UF EDGE can accommodate any work schedule.
United States Coast Guard