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Can a placement in industry be research experience?


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Dear all,


I am a German engineering students interested in going abroad for a masters degree. The curriculum of my bachelors includes mandatory industry placements where I have been obligated to work independently on a topic and present the results in a thesis (1 of around 30 pages, 2 of around 60 pages). Topics I handled were:


- Creation of a simulation tool for the testing of an electronic hardware (6 months)

- Evaluation of different measurements methods for their suitability with an aircraft structure and partly the implementation of the most promising method (3 months). The aircraft concept is a new development and right now there are no comparable available, therefore this could be research?

- Selection of a camera, integration into an unmanned aircraft (same as above), testing of the composition. This might sound like plug-and-play, however required developing a rather complex thermal concept (3 months)


During all of these placements I was supervised by an experienced employee of the department. I am not quite sure where to see this work: as working experience (I mean, if I would not have done it, another employee would have done it) or as research experience (as it required adopting to new areas of expertise, independent work under supervision and the creation of an elaborate documentation). I perveice that in Germany, distinguishing between work experience and research experience is not that strictly done, therefore I am not sure how this would be seen for example in the US.


I would be very thankful if somebody could tell me where to locate above mentioned work.


Thanks a lot,




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When I applied to graduate school (US citizen, US graduate schools) the vast majority of my research experience was industrial. I was working in chemical formulation and that background was seen in a favorable light. I'd be surprised if engineering, which has even greater industrial focus, would have a problem with an industry placement. Assuming that you would work on research and development of some sort I'd think it would count as research experience. And from what you describe, it sounds like research.

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I worked in an industrial testing facility (analytical chem and industrial scale-up stuff) conducting research and described the experience in terms of the skills I was able to gain. So yes, from your description, I would definitely say it counts as a research experience. 

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I'd also echo everyone else that experience in the field is what matters. It doesn't matter if you worked for a lab in your University or in industry. As an undergraduate applying to graduate schools, they are not looking for experienced academic researchers--they are looking for people with the core skills to become an effective researcher. Whether you do this via the academic or industrial route does not matter.


For letters of reference though, if you can find someone with a PhD to write your letter, that would be ideal.

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