Category Archives: Education

The UK and Australia on Education

We often rave over the many reasons to study abroad. And they’re all true: From learning a second language to enriching your global perspective, the list of benefits of international studies is long. However, if you’re thinking of pursuing a graduate degree, you may also be wondering whether there are any key differences between grad studies abroad and in your home country. Here’s a closer look at five ways US grad school programs and UK and Australiagrad school programs differ.

1. Duration of Study

While the typical master’s degree in the US takes two years, master’s degrees in the UK and Australia can be completed in a much shorter amount of time — many in as little as a year. A PhD, meanwhile, takes around three years in the UK and Australia — compared to five in the US. Not only can trimming time off your degree amp up your earning potential by getting you into the workforce sooner, but you’ll also save money on tuition and living expenses due to the shorter duration.

2. Flexibility

Because US degrees graduate degrees are spread over two years, they are often broader in nature — at least in the beginning. This can be an advantage for students looking for the freedom to explore different specializations and areas of research. In the UK, meanwhile, degrees are more specialized and self-directed. Students who already know what they want to focus on can immediately begin directing their efforts into this area and finish up sooner.

 

The World through Renewable Energies Studies?

Human demand for once-abundance natural resources now exceeds what the earth can renew by more than 60 percent, according to the Global Footprint Network. One of the biggest challenges facing humankind moving forward? Energy. And while one approach involves continued reliance on harmful fossil fuels until they run out completely, another has a very different and sustainable strategy at its core: switching the focus to renewable energy resources. Here’s a closer look at this innovative solution, along with how you can become involved in the vital effort to power the planet while simultaneously protecting it.

Why Renewable Energies are the Future

The U.S. Energy Administration recently forecast renewable energies to be the fastest-growing power source through the year 2040. Which begs the question: What makes “renewable energies” such an important area?  While the world has long relied on fossil fuels, including coal, oil and natural gas, for energy, these are nonrenewable — meaning they draw on finite resources which are not only dwindling, but also increasingly expensive and environmentally destructive.

Conversely, renewable energies — the most prominent being solar, wind and hydropower, but also including biomass, geothermal, ocean and others — can be perpetually created or recreated. In other words, they are self-sustaining and so never run out on the timescale on mankind.

Countries all over the world are turning to renewable energies in the hopes of reversing our dependence on fossil fuels and harnessing the full potential of new technologies. Says Dr. Martin Heinrich, an administrator and instructor at Germany’s University of Freiburg, “Slowly governments and decision makers realized that renewable energies may allow a sustaining electricity generation for the future, which also avoids the huge emission of greenhouse gasses and dependencies on oil producing countries. This has been shown by the COP21 agreement in Paris and also companies such as BP, Shell, Total, Statoil, Repsol and Eni starting to invest into renewable energies or into methods of reducing oil and gas usage.”

In the US alone, investments in the renewable energies sector rose from $8 billion in the first quarter of 2004 to $50 billion in 2015’s first quarter, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, with more utilities companies investing in alternative energy solutions.

Within the RE sector, meanwhile, wind energy is taking an increasingly prominent position, according to the University of Kassel’s Dr. André Bisevic: “[2015 and 2016] were two impressive years for the wind industry worldwide. In 2016, 54,6 GW were installed all over the world. Especially the strong appetite for wind energy in China is responsible for this development.  It can be assumed that the increasing demand will continue in the coming years. According to estimates of the highly reputable Massachusetts of Technology (MIT), wind power could supply circa 26 percent of China´s projected electricity demand in the next 15 years.” The result? Positive environmental and economic effects around the globe.

On a macroscopic scale, renewable energies have the power to change the world. But we also need people to make that happen — specifically, people with the knowledge and expertise to understand and implement renewable energies. Because of this, the field is developing at a staggering pace, and is expected to continue to do so in the decades ahead.

According to HowStuffWorks, “With increasing government and private funding of renewable energy, the industry as a whole is exploding, and along with it the number of potential jobs in the green-power sector…If there were such a thing as a sure thing, expansion in green-energy employment opportunities would be it. It’s a huge market, encompassing solar power, wind power, geothermal energy, biofuels and hydropower, for a start. Research and development are ongoing, large-scale capability is increasing, and real-world implementation of renewable-energy technologies is growing by the day.”

Echoes Heinrich, “The huge interest by governments and companies worldwide increases the need for qualified personnel in the field of renewables and solar energy.”

Study What You Love

The voices of Pragmatism and Passion sit opposite each other, one on each of your shoulders, telling you what you should—or shouldn’t—do.  We’re here to tell you that you should study what you love.  If what you love happens to be practical for your career, so much the better.  If it’s not, you’ll figure out a way to make it lucrative.  Want to paint?Paint.  Want to act? Act.  Want to manage money? Manage money.  Want to teach?  Do it.  Want to sing? Sing your heart out.  Here’s why:

 

1. Money ≠ Happiness

A 2010 study by Tim Judge shows what we’ve heard all along: money doesn’t buy happiness.  If you study something that you don’t enjoy in the hopes of getting a job that you don’t enjoy, but that pays well, there’s a good chance, you won’t be happy.  You’ll just have lots of money.  The results of that study show that the correlation between salary and job satisfaction is weak.  Corollary: if you want to engage with your job, money isn’t the answer—it doesn’t buy engagement (see #2).

2. Engagement

You can go through the motions of a job or course of study for which you don’t care and do just fine.  But why would you want to?  You can pursue something you love and have a job you like less—but the ideal?  Pursue something you love, engage in it, and let it drive your job search and your life.  Studies show that to be engaged in your work, you need to find something that gives you meaning and that you enjoy doing.  The desire to do what you want will allow you to engage in your work and feel inspired (see #3).

Tourism Can Make the World A Better Place

The United Nations (UN) designated 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.  Why?  Tourism brings people to places they’ve never traveled, encouraging cross-cultural understanding—and bringing business to those places.

With eco-tourism and other forms of “responsible” travel on the rise, consider some salient reasons why sustainable tourism may offer you a chance to make a difference by using your entrepreneurial and business savvy.

Done the right way, sustainable tourism will make the world a better place.  Let’s find out how—and what to look out for:

1. Fast-growing Economic Sector

One of the fastest growing sectors not just in tourism, but in the whole economy, sustainable tourism stimulates economic growth and job creation.  When tourism is “sustainable,” there is an implied permanence—and a conservation of resources.  As sustainable tourism takes off, the need for jobs to protect wildlife, biodiversity, and fragile ecosystems for people to visit becomes clear—as does the need for experts who can act as “tour guides” of a sustainable tourist destination.  In addition, tourists need places to stay, places to eat, and things to do.  See #2 and #4.

2. Tourism Linked to Development

Sustainable tourism generates jobs, which generates increases in incomes, which creates options for people—and allows them to improve their quality of life.

Consider the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED), an international development agency that promotes private entrepreneurship in the developing world.  One of their subsidiaries includes Tourism Promotion Services, which owns and manages 26 hotels, resorts, lodges, and camps in Africa and Asia—all under one brand name.  Their goal?  To catalyze local growth of private sector ventures by coalescing international investment, business skills, and local knowledge.  AKFED focuses on using local or regional suppliers whenever possible, relying on local networks, offering internship opportunities for local youth, and building local infrastructure, in addition to building its properties.  One project that AKFED has encouraged?  Access to clean drinking water in places where they have projects.

For more examples of how tourism and development are linked, check out Harvard University’s report on “The Role of the Tourism Sector in Expanding Economic Opportunity.”

Help Students Stay On Track

Talk to any university student, and a common concern rises to the top: keeping up with the massive demands of a college course load. Luckily, today’s students have a huge advantage over students from 20, 10 or even five years ago. The best part? It fits handily in their back pockets. Of course, we’re talking about smartphones and — more specifically — the many apps designed to keep students connected, organized and on top of the demands of university life. Here’s a closer look at five popular organizer apps for today’s college students.

1. myHomework

This isn’t your mother’s planner. From receiving homework reminders to automatically downloading course files, this user-friendly, cross-platform planner syncs across all devices supporting easy access to classes and assignments at any time from any location. The result? A one-stop shop solution for tracking homework and assignments.

So how does myHomework stack up in a crowded field of similar options? AppPicker says, “With so many homework planners, organizers, and journals out there available to students it can be hard to wade through them to find the best one for you. This one just so happens to be a well-laid out, simple to use, and very effective app that may bring your search to an end. It’s ideal for college students who have multiple classes with assignments, tests, and homework they need to keep track of.”

2. Class Timetable (iOS)/Timetable (Android)

Think nothing will ever come between you and your conventional organizer? Class Timetable may overhaul your way of thinking.

Says Lifehacker, “Timetable takes all of the great things about a paper student organizer and puts them on your Android phone or tablet. You’ll always have a view with your schedule on it, so even though you eventually come to know by memory where you’re supposed to be at what time, you’ll always have a place to look at it. Timetable also makes it easy to note which days are holidays and vacation days, what assignments you have due on what days, which days you have exams or quizzes, and more. You can even search across assignments and classes…The app also supports DashClock Widget, so you can see your events on your lock screen, and comes with home screen widgets as well for a quick view of the class that’s coming up, or any lessons and tasks you have to do right now.”

Not only does it save timetables and tasks including everything from homework to exams, but it even automatically mutes during classes. Added points for its beautiful display.

The Right Student Loan

One of the biggest financial investments you’ll ever make?  College.  One of the biggest financial risks you’ll ever take?  College debt. Make sure you find the right student loan that works for you.  Why?  Graduating from college with large amounts of debt doesn’t set you up for financial success—it sets you up for more debt.  Manage your loans the right way by making sound decisions.  Consider these four strategies as you pick the right student loan—and a manageable debt load.

1. Federal v. Private

First thing you need to do is decide whether you want federal loans, private loans, or a combination of both.

If you’re an undergraduate borrowing on your own, go for a federal loan.  Federal loans are generally safer than private loans—they’re less expensive and they have flexible repayment options.  You can also avoid defaulting on them, which will protect your credit score.

How do they work?  Put simply, the federal government pays the interest on federal subsidized loans, like the Stafford and Perkins loans.  The government may also pay the interest during certain periods of deferment. And, depending on your loan and career choice, you may qualify for a loan forgiveness program.

Why would you choose a private loan?  If your credit score is high—at least 740—and you have a co-signer, then some private loan options might work better for you than federal loans.

Compare fixed and variable rates—if you plan on paying off your loan longer than its term, some of those variable rates might be appealing to you.  The other thing to consider?  Loan fees.  Run a compare and contrast of your options.

Feeling unsure?  Contact your university’s loan office and ask to speak to a Financial Aid officer.

 

2. Loan Calculator

Use one.  These are especially helpful when you’re comparing and contrasting rates and fees for private and federal loans.

The Repayment Estimator on StudentLoans.gov is helpful because it tracks your monthly payment based on all the variables and types of loans involved.  Get a clear sense of what you’ll pay, how often, and for how long.

Make sure that your numbers are similar to the statement from your Financial Aid office.  If they’re not—ask.  Figure out why before you sign anything.

3. How much $$?

Decide how much you want to borrow—because that will be the amount you owe, plus interest, fees, and any other loan-related expenses.

Beware the variable interest rate, typically found in private loans.  Variable interest rates do as their name implies.  They change.  They increase over time.

Borrowing a lot of money from a private lender can work, even with a variable interest rate provided you know that you’ll have the resources to pay it back quickly—don’t let that interest rate vary too much.

 

Engineers are a Perfect Fit

If the 21st century had a signature buzzword, “smart” might be it. From smartphones to smart homes, everything is getting smarter and, in doing so, opening up a near-endless range of new possibilities. One of the most intriguing developments in the shift to all things smart? Smart cities. Here’s a closer look at the state of smart cities, along with why engineers are positioned to lead the smart city movement.

The 411 on Smart Cities

The global market for smart cities is projected to skyrocket to US$1.2 trillion by the year 2020, according to a report from Global Industry Analysts, Inc. The potential benefits of smart cities are many, including higher quality of life, more equitable opportunities for all; unparalleled social, environmental and economic growth; increased participation from smart citizens; massive consumption reductions in both energy and water; and enhanced interconnectivity, communication and response, including during natural and manmade calamities.

All of which begs the question: What, exactly, is a smart city? In setting out to answer this question, The Pew Charitable Trusts ultimately came up with the following conclusion: It depends on who you ask.

Brooks Rainwater of the National League of Cities told Pew, “The concept of a smart city is somewhat amorphous, but it’s focused on cities leading with technological innovation,” while Jesse Berst of the Smart Cities Council said, ““It’s just using digital technology to improve community life.” Kansas City’s innovation analyst Kate Garman summed it up as “a paradigm shift in the way we think.”

The Hindu Times, meanwhile, offers the following, more specific definition: “A ‘smart city’ is an urban region that is highly advanced in terms of overall infrastructure, sustainable real estate, communications and market viability. It is a city where information technology is the principal infrastructure and the basis for providing essential services to residents. There are many technological platforms involved, including but not limited to automated sensor networks and data centres.”

While the definition may be somewhat slippery, we can all agree that smart cities do share some common characteristics, with mobility and connectivity at their core. But these bedrocks of smart cities ultimately serve a higher purpose: the wellbeing of inhabitants.

In discussing smart city features which not only make our environments more efficient, but also safer, friendlier and cleaner, David Perry, Director of Development and International Affairs at Lille, France’s HEI: Hautes Etudes d’Ingénieur, told Masterstudies, “We need to find solutions to what 20th century urbanism has left out, that is urban life metabolism and the flows that connect us to nature. What we take in, what we give off — circular economies.”

Where Are the Smart Cities?

Smart cities may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but the truth is that they’re alive and well all over the world. When asked to name a few of the globe’s smart cities, Perry rolled off an impressive list: “To name just a few prominent examples which demonstrate the variety of Smart Cities worldwide, we could mention: Digital Greenwich and London, England; Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Curitiba in Brazil; Paris and Lille in France; Yangon and Mandalay in Myanmar and Thessaloniki, Greece.” He continued, “There are many more. Barcelona, Amsterdam, Marrakech and others on all continents. Let’s not forget the great cities of Mumbai, Singapore and Jakarta or the cities of Mexico City and New York.

Future in Hurricane Disasters Prevention

An estimated 10,000 people die every year due to hurricanes and tropical storms. These major storms also cause millions of injuries and massive property destruction. But their effects don’t end there. Not only can hurricane winds, rain, and storm surge have both direct and indirect impacts on the ecosystems and agriculture, but they also take a catastrophic toll on the economy. In fact, economists predict the global toll may reach a staggering $10 trillion. Perhaps most alarmingly of all? Scientists say hurricanes will increase in both strength and frequency as the planet warms and sea levels rise.

The takeaway? With both short- and long-term solutions needed regarding hurricane preparedness and prevention, atmospheric science will take on an increasingly important role. Here’s a closer look at this vital field, why it matters, and one program leading the way in terms of educating the future’s hurricane disasters prevention experts.

What are Atmospheric Sciences?

NASA defines atmospheric science as “the study of the physics and chemistry of clouds, gases, and aerosols (airborne particles) that surround the planetary bodies of the solar system.” It comprises a number of specialties, including climatology; dynamic meteorology; cloud physics, atmospheric chemistry; atmospheric physics; aeronomy; and oceanography.

Graduates with degrees in atmospheric sciences can be found working in a broad range of environments, including for the government, private weather services, the media, commercial airlines, state governments, colleges and universities, public utility companies, consulting firms, and aircraft and instrument manufacturing companies across areas comprising field research, laboratory studies, and computer analysis and modeling.

Why Atmospheric Sciences Matter

Barring the opinions of climate change disbelievers, hard science tells us that climate change is not only very real, but it’s packing a wallop in the form of extreme and unprecedented weather.

Explains Dr. Antti Lauri, Programme Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Master’s Programme at Finland’s University of Helsinki, “Hurricanes get their energy from condensation of water vapor over warm tropical oceans. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases act to warm the atmosphere and the oceans. This leads to larger evaporation from the ocean and stronger condensation of water vapor in the atmosphere. Therefore, in suitable conditions, hurricanes can grow more intense, with stronger winds and more precipitation.”

As a result, there is a critical need for experts with a multidisciplinary education in atmospheric and earth system. And as knowledge continues to expand and as new regulations and directives are implemented, people who understand this complex issue from a scientific point of view will be tasked with navigating the challenges ahead.

What, specifically, can atmospheric studies do to mitigate hurricane disasters? Continues Lauri, “In the short term, the simplest way is to discourage building in areas most prone to hurricane disasters. It is of course also possible to adapt by building stronger structures, introducing new alarm systems based on more accurate scientific results about the forming and evolution of hurricanes, and ultimately by introducing climate engineering methods such as injecting cooling sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere.”

As far as the long-term goal of preventing stronger and more threatening hurricanes from developing, Lauri calls for a strong decrease in greenhouse gas emissions, which can be achieved through strategies including the use of renewable sources in energy production and afforestation.

Thinking of Doing a Double Major

With hundreds of possible majors to choose from, how can you narrow it down to just one?  A double major answers that question by allowing students to pursue two different fields of study — not to mention two different sets of requirements — en route to the acquisition of a single degree.

While the data on double majors is surprisingly sparse, one 2013 report from the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy at Vanderbilt University, Double Majors: Influences, Identities, & Impacts, suggests that as many as 40 percent of college students at US colleges and universities are pursuing double majors. Which begs the question: Should you undertake a double major of your own? Read on for three pros and cons pertaining to the double major.

Three Pros of a Double Major

1. It supports creative thinking and original ideation.

The advantages of multidisciplinary studies are increasingly touted in the world of higher education. Research indicates that double majors open the door to stronger critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving abilities.

In addition to amassing more knowledge and broader skills, you also gain an invaluable broader perspective. These benefits holds up — whether you combine a “practical” major and a “passionate” major or two related majors which uniquely complement each other, such as mathematics and physics or business and marketing.

2. You’ll have more career options after graduation.

Today’s employers are looking for students with the skills and talents necessary to navigate today’s complex global business landscape. A double major not only indicates that you’ve obtained a breadth and depth of knowledge, but also signifies sought-after initiative. Doing a double major, after all, is the definition of going “above and beyond.”

If your double majors are related, this may give you the inside edge over a candidate with more limited knowledge in a single field of study. Meanwhile, if your double majors are very different from each other, they may convey you as a refreshingly well-roundedness as a candidate.

Know About an Academic Paper

As we’ve said before, the publish or perish culture in the academic world is real—if you’re thinking about publishing a paper, you need to read this.

It’s possible—and entirely within your grasp—to publish a master’s level academic paper.  There are rules and some tricks of the trade though.

Trick #1? Consider co-publishing with your academic advisor.  Why?  Clout.  If your advisor is respected in the field, and signs his or her name to your work, then you’ll share some credibility.

Trick #2? Do your homework.  It’s not really a trick—it’s something you have to do.  Read academic journals and select a few that fit with your research and writing style.  Then, talk to that advisor about how to prepare your manuscript for submission.

Intrigued?  You should be.  Read on to learn more about how to write that paper—and then get it published.

1. The Abstract

The traditional academic paper has a brief synopsis of the paper, its salient points, and its conclusion.  Take note: this is the hardest part of the paper to write.  Why?  You have to boil down all of your research to about a paragraph.

What goes into the abstract?  A synopsis of the problem you researched and why it’s interesting, how you solved the problem—in brief—the results of your research, and your conclusion.

Our advice?  Write the paper first.  The summarize each section of the paper with one pithy sentence.  Voilá: abstract!

2. The Introduction

The key here is engagement.  You need to hook your readers so that they read all of your brilliant work.  How do you do that?  Start big.  What’s the biggest idea you tackle in your research?  Then narrow down so that eventually you come to your thesis—your primary argument.  Why you did what you did and why it’s important.

Let the introduction read as a roadmap—with an exciting destination for a conclusion.

Stuck?  Write the rest of the paper first, except for the abstract.