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ETH Zurich vs. University of Cambridge (Ph.D. Mech. Eng.)


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Hi everyone,
I got offers for a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from ETH Zurich and University of Cambridge. Maybe you can give me an "American point of view" (I'm planning to work in the US for a while afterwards); but all other comments are just as welcome.
The project is very similar at both positions (well, there might be a very small advantage with the project and location of ETH, but the supervisor at Cambridge is a big guy in his field, which probably makes up for it), and so is the location, supervisor as a person and duration. However, the big difference is in the the salary and reputation. While ETH pays more than double the money (ca $60k/year net!), Cambridge ($25k/year net) has a slightly better reputation. That is true especially for the general case, but perhaps also for mechanical engineering in particular. Over the duration of 4 years, at ETH I could possibly save $70k more than at Cambridge and have a better live regarding money for a nice flat, holiday trips etc. (different costs of living taken into account!). I highly doubt that there´s such a big difference in the jobs I could get afterwards to make up for that; do you agree with me? On the other hand, I couldn´t tell my grandma that I went to Cambridge, and I doubt she´s ever heard of ETH before. It´s just not the same brand-name, and the life in Cambridge is also nice - for instance if you consider all the famous speakers etc. I should also add that I´m already 27 years old, which is probably much older than the average Cambridge-PhD-student. 
How would you decide?
Money or reputation? 
Do you have another, helpful input which I didn´t consider yet?
Thanks so much!
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So, you're here too? :) I recognize you from TSR. Hope you get some useful replies here.


By the way, do you think the average ETH PhD student would be older than the average Cambridge PhD student? (Since you mention your age as a factor.)

Edited by Kleene
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Yes, I'm also here :-) I think there might be a different kind of input available here.


Yes, I certainly think that the average PhD student in Switzerland (and Germany) would be older than in the UK. I studied in both countries and recognized quite a difference between the countries.

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