Online Master's in Electrical Engineering

Graduate Success Story David Butler shifts careers from math to mechanical engineering

March 22, 2017

With a background in mathematics, David Butler saw an opportunity to expand his advancement potential by diversifying his skills. That’s what drove him to earn his Master’s in Engineering with a specialization in Mechanical Engineering online at University of California Riverside. The degree helped him to be considered for more roles within his company before he even graduated.

In the Q&A below, David discusses how the online engineering degree helped him transition from math to mechanical engineering and enhanced his skills as a project manager for Bell Helicopter.

Do you have any insights you want to share with students who are considering earning their Master’s in Engineering degree online from UCR?

My experience was a good one. I didn’t come into the Master’s in Engineering with a specialization in Mechanical Engineering with a background in engineering. My background was in mathematics. Taking the program online, I was able to do extra research to assist me with grasping the engineering concepts. Professors would extend deadlines when I asked ahead of time. The Blackboard tool was user-friendly. I didn’t have any issues with it.

Could you describe your experiences with UCR faculty and instructors through the online engineering program?

I had a professor who would swap math lab codes with me. The professor was very responsive in directing me to where I was making mistakes without giving me the answers, so that I could learn. I was able to chat with the professor through Blackboard as well, which was very helpful.

With my project design course, I spent some time on the phone with my faculty advisor discussing projects. We got to know each other a bit since I am from Texas and the professor attended college in Texas.

Did you learn anything during the online engineering degree program that you have been able to apply to your current position?

Yes. I currently work as a systems engineer at Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas. I have mostly applied the technology and management coursework that I took with Dr. Fryer to my current position. The information, stories and experiences that Dr. Fryer shared really helped me understand system engineering and processes at a deeper level. I am in a project management type of role in my current job.

What impact has the program made directly on your life?

I have worked for Bell Helicopter for years, but before the program, I was in an analyst position working on the financial side of helicopters. While pursuing my Master’s in Engineering degree, I applied for engineering jobs. Because I was pursuing my master’s degree, it opened the door for me. Being in the program put me ahead of other applicants in being considered for positions.

Would you recommend this program to someone seeking a master’s degree in Engineering? Why?

Yes, I would. The experience I had with UCR was good. I would recommend it because you are allowed to work on assignments on your schedule. With a full-time job and children, I was able to do my classwork after they went to bed. The due dates were reasonable, and the professors were responsive on email.

Do you have advice for students enrolled in the online Master’s in Engineering program?

It is like anything else, whatever you put into it, you will get out. If you want to be challenged and learn new things, watch all of the lecture videos. Dive in and learn everything you can with the coursework you are working on.