Cal Poly Pomona, IME 499 Engineering Colloquium Speaker Series
What a Young Engineer Should Know About...Graduate School
Presenters: Craig Stark, P.E. and Bob Pliska
January 20, 1998

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Table of Contents

MBA Claremont Grad School
MBA Pepperdine, MSQA CSU Dominguez Hills

Craig Stark, P.E.

The first presenter, Craig Stark, graduated in Industrial Engineering in 1984 from Cal Poly Pomona. He obtained his MBA from the Claremount Graduate School. Mr. Stark works for Boeing North American, in Seal Beach, California, as Group Lead for the Satellite System’s Information Management Development and Implementation group.

Mr. Stark began his presentation by pointing out how quickly times are changing: What was good two years ago is no longer good today, especially in the software industry. There are big technological changes such as satellites and the Internet.

GRADUATE SCHOOL (Back to Table of Contents)

Before going to graduate school there are very important questions to ask yourself: "Why do you need more education? What is the impact of Graduate School? Do you have the re$ource$? Or the time? What are your goals in life? The "carrier vs. family" question is always there.

The reason why Mr. Stark went to Graduate School was to assist what he was doing at work. However, he had to prioritize his job and use the extra time for school, since his job was paying the school bills.

FIELD (Back to Table of Contents)

What is the field you would like to get into? Computing, Engineering, Business, etc. This depends on personal preference and requirements. Are you going to school for work or personal satisfaction?

Mr. Stark chose business because it helps you in your business as well as in your personal life.

MBA vs. MS in FINANCE (Back to Table of Contents)

An MBA takes about 60 units, whereas an MS in Finance would have taken about 42 units. In addition, an MBA covers several subjects related to business such as psychology and marketing. An MS in Finance is more specific and covers mostly business and finance.

GRADUATE SCHOOL SELECTION (Back to Table of Contents)

Things to consider in choosing a graduate school:

    • Location
    • Cost
    • GMAT Score
    • Name Recognition
    • Networking
    • Kinds Of Friends

OTHER ADVICE (Back to Table of Contents)

The following is a list of the main points shared:

Bob Pliska

The second presenter, Bob Pliska, graduated in Nuclear Engineering in 1971 from The University of Michigan. Later he obtained his MBA from Pepperdine and got his M.S. in Quality Assurance from Cal State Dominguez Hills. Bob works for B/E Aerospace. His last two positions have been at the executive level in quality management.

GRADUATE SCHOOL (Back to Table of Contents)

Unlike getting a college degree, which is necessary in order to obtain a reasonably good job, attending Graduate School is an option that may bring higher rewards, but should be given extensive consideration before any final decision is made.


Graduate School presents you with grater challenges that will refine knowledge acquired in college and therefore make you a better professional. More professional opportunities will be presented to you, giving you the luxury of choosing the job you think is best for you. The NETWORK built during your college years will become larger. While attending graduate school you will have the opportunity to meet more individual whom are going to be involved in industry and could get you connected with that job you have been looking for. Since more than 60% of all jobs are filled through referrals, it is highly recommended that you network as much as you can. Graduate School gives you professional and academic recognition. It also represents a higher paying job.


While attending Graduate School you will have much less free time. You will need to prioritize and schedule your activities as well as to learn how to say NO. You will have less social life if any. And if your study skills were not so good during your college years, you will need to improve them given that you are going to be handling more stress than ever.


You should attend Graduate School if you want to learn more in your field of study or any other field you think may complement your background. It will benefit you if you are interested in obtaining an MS dependent job or just to obtain a better position at your present job. And if you want to pursue a teaching career in the future, Graduate School will prepare you to teach. Do not try to please anybody or just try to "look good" by going to Graduate school. More importantly, you should attend Graduate School because it has meaning for you, because you want to continue learning.


You should attend Graduate School when you have time for classes and are truly motivated to do it. The work load in Graduate School is typically heavier than in college, so make sure you allocate adequate time for your studies. Tuition at Graduate School institutions is normally higher than at most colleges, if you think you can afford attending Graduate School do it, otherwise get financial support. Many companies offer financial aid to employees. Such aid usually covers all of your studies expenses. It is not recommended to attend Graduate School if you are working and your work responsibilities interfere excessively with your studies. If you think that you are not ready for classes, or have too many responsibilities in your family or job, then you are not ready for Graduate School.


Graduate School work is heavier than undergraduate studies. Research and thesis are typically a number one requirement. Because of this instructors may assume a level of prior knowledge and expect students to pursue sources not mentioned or identified. Some schools and programs rely heavily on study teams that will require you to be a more responsible individual. Graduate School is not easy and you must be committed to your studies in order to be successful.


If you had second thoughts about attending Graduate School but would like to continue expanding your knowledge there are other alternatives that you might want to consider. For instance you can enroll in non-degree oriented classes that can keep you up-to date with the quick growth of technology. You can attend Professional Association seminars and classes or you can find out if your employer sponsors seminars or classes that may help you gain more knowledge in your field.

If you decide to attend Graduate School, make sure you choose what is best for you. Make sure that specific content to be covered is not something you are not going to be using. Don't waste your time. Study your instructor's background, if it doesn't suit your need and you are not going to feel comfortable, then try a different instructor. If you don't want to be driving long distances from your work or home to just take one class, then make sure you study the geographical location of the school you want to attend. In many occasions you can't avoid this. Most importantly, some institutions are accredited in some states but not in others, therefore make sure that the school is accredited to the level you require.

Notes taken by: Carlos Manzanares and Erich Kreidler

Photography by: John Kord