Online certificate and master’s degree help engineer climb the ladder.

T. Jordan Berry was working as a manufacturing engineer in California when his manager told him about a certificate program that had helped him advance his career.

Berry decided to give the program—the University of Delaware Graduate Certificate in Composites Manufacturing and Engineering—a try. Through this three-course graduate certificate, which can be completed online, working engineers can build a strong foundation in working with composite materials.

Berry enjoyed the classes so much, plus the fact that they took him about 30% of the way to a master’s degree, that he decided to stay on and complete an online master’s degree in mechanical engineering from UD. (He holds a bachelors’ degree in the subject from West Virginia University.)

The online program was convenient, allowing Berry to work whenever he had time. And it paid off. Shortly after Berry started the certificate, he was promoted. Then he moved to another company: Brain Corp., a San Diego-based artificial intelligence company that creates robotics technologies. Since starting the master’s degree, Berry has been promoted twice. He is now a lead mechanical engineer, with a team of five, who helps companies set up production lines.

“I think part of the reason for that is that the management appreciated my willingness to continue education, and also my ability to motivate others to pursue education with me,” he said.

The manufacturing and robotics knowledge he gained from UD coursework has helped him grow. “In all these manufacturing methods that I was learning from experience, and the same with the robotics I was working with, I felt like I needed to understand more about it from an academic level,” he said. “It’s helped me to understand how the software’s working for navigation, things like that. I would say that for just about every class that I took, I’ve been able to take something important from it and apply it to my professional life.”

A course in Manufacturing Processes and Systems was also invaluable. “I believe everyone should have to take that class,” he said.

The course explains key concepts and elements of processes such as metal cutting and forming, technologies such as robotics and ergonomics, industries and systems and advances such as lean manufacturing.

“It saves a lot of time, it saves a lot of money, it makes everyone happier if the people designing the parts understand how they’re going to be made in a more detailed way.”

Wondering whether graduate studies in engineering are worth it for you? “What I suggest to people who just aren’t sure if they want to jump all the way into a program is doing a graduate certificate,” said Berry.

His other advice: “Make sure it’s something that you like and are interested in, because you’re gonna spend a lot of time on it,” he said.