Looking for some input on best way forward if I'm an electrical engineer with an interest in astronomical instrumentation, large optical systems, etc. I've really been enjoying reading about some of the big telescopes around the world (JWST, TMT, GMT, etc., also kinda fascinated by Antarctica and the South Pole telescope/Bicep3 work in cosmic microwave background just to name a few...)
I have my BSEE (cum gpa 3.44, gpa for eng/sci/math classes ~3.22) and MSEE (specialized in fields & optics, no thesis, gpa 3.11) from Purdue. Not impressive grades, but oh well. I worked for 10 years, took a couple off for family, and just got a job as a full-time research assistant in an applied physics/optical science & engineering department at a small school. Not as a student, I'm staff. It'll give me a chance to revector back towards hands-on work in a lab environment, possibly publish, and take free grad classes--as a degree seeking student or not, or I can just audit stuff. Unfortunately they don't have any astronomy/astrophysics classes, or really anything focused in astronomical instrumentation, but I can fill gaps in my physics background and maybe go elsewhere on my own time.
1) take a few free physics/optics classes, then apply to phd programs (or a second/more relevant MS program if this exists) in astrophysics/astronomy/physics with focus on instrumentation once I have more research experience, a publication or two, and recent (better) grades.
2) acknowledge that I don't really have the right qualifications for a phd program, take a couple classes as I have time and $$ to fill specific skills/knowledge gaps, and try to get work doing what I want with my current degrees.
3) get a free phd or second ms degree at the school where I work, in an area not related to astronomical instrumentation--it would be easy enough since I'm doing the research for my job anyway and they encourage continued learning. But not related to my long term career goals. They have both physics and optical science and engineering, just no research in my interest areas. So basically just more letters after my name.
4) something else?
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