Master’s Degree Paves the Way to New Opportunities

Guy Bates

District Engineer, Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District

Entering the job market after earning his bachelor’s degree in bioresources and agricultural engineering, engineer Guy Bates quickly determined that he needed to add to his skillset if he wanted to advance in the construction industry. So he enrolled in the UW Master of Science in Civil Engineering: Construction Engineering online program.

“As I looked into improving my professional development, I wanted to focus on construction and construction management,” he said. “That's why I chose the University of Washington.”

Guy also wanted to keep his current job while he went back to school for his master’s. The fact that the UW program was fully online allowed him to do that. It was a perfect fit.

A 2012 graduate, Guy works as a district engineer for a resource conservation district in Southern California. Here he talks about his experience in our program and how it gave him skills he could use on the job immediately, as well as preparing him to further his career.


Can you tell us a little about your current job?

I'm a registered professional civil engineer in California and work as the district engineer for a resource conservation district. I do design work and also a lot of contract work, construction estimating, projects relating to sustainability – things like that.

How did the UW master's program prepare you for the work you're doing now? 

I learned about construction estimating from a contractor's point of view, and about working through all the different steps required in construction, and then seeing how that relates to construction contracting. Also, learning different ways of delivering projects – public works projects in particular – has definitely helped me as I develop projects and get them installed.

Were you able to apply what you were learning immediately in your job? 

There was a lot that I learned related to road construction that I was able to put to use in the design of roads and estimating the cost of construction. For example, at the time that I was going through the program, we were working on some larger projects at my job that required a more significant effort in the realm of cost estimating. No one in my office had that knowledge other than me. It was definitely useful.

Did the degree open doors to new opportunities?

I'm now teaching, which I would not have been able to do without a master's degree. In addition, my education related to project procurement, contracting, sustainability – all of those are big issues that will definitely help my career in the future.

How did the online aspect of the program influence your decision to go back to school?

The distance learning program was important to me, and I really liked it. The asynchronous nature of it was helpful. I could have done a master's at another school, but it just wouldn't have worked into my work schedule.

What were the instructors like?

The instructors had a lot of practical knowledge and research experience. They were available for you to access directly. If you had a question, or in your posts something came out that was not quite right, the instructors were there. It was almost like you were in the classroom and you had access to the teachers. They were the best feature of the program.