This isn't about myself, so kindly bare with me. I'll try to make this question as generic as possible.

I already read U.S. humanities professors: Can you get back into academia if you leave? and Does taking an academic job in Asia or Africa make it difficult to get a job in the US or Europe later? but they aren't a good match for my question.

A friend got a PhD in mechanical engineering at 2000 from a tier 1 university in US. Then he moved back to his home country and started teaching there. Now he is back in the US. His computer skills and knowledge of industry related softwares are limited. He just taught core mechanical engineering courses with 2-3 national papers published. His English is very good though. No problem there.

What are his best options of teaching? I initially thought that he would be able to teach in (community) colleges, but then most colleges are teaching CS, social sciences, economy, healthcare, math or at best chemistry. Most of them don't have anything related to engineering, let alone mechanical engineering i.e. thermodynamics, heat transfer, fluid mechanics, etc.

Currently what I'm thinking is that his best option is to just teach math in colleges. Are there any better solutions?

  • Some community colleges have pre-engineering programs; perhaps this could be worthy of looking into?
    – Mad Jack
    Jan 26, 2018 at 16:12
  • 2
    Here in Connecticut, there are several community colleges that offer associate degrees that can lead into mechanical engineering bachelor's degrees at other institutions. See here or here.
    – Peter K.
    Jan 26, 2018 at 17:14
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    @Honey I just used Google too, but I used Mechanical engineering "community college" as the search terms to ensure that "community college" together appeared in the results.
    – Peter K.
    Jan 26, 2018 at 20:09
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    You haven't mentioned whether or not your friend will require visa sponsorship. Many institutions are unwilling to sponsor employment-based visa for instructors, so this could be a limiting factor. Jan 26, 2018 at 23:00
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    This is not an answer because I am not a professor in US. Your friend has PhD from a tier 1 university in US, has some national papers, very good English speaking, already have green card (your comment says, no visa required). They should have no problem finding ME teaching job in universities, may not be R1 university, but a second tier university should not be a problem. This question is two years old, did they find a teaching job yet?
    – Nobody
    Mar 3, 2021 at 12:15

1 Answer 1


Some community colleges have pre-engineering programs in which someone with a Ph.D. in engineering could be an instructor. The engineering courses offered in these programs are typically very limited. Courses like thermodynamics are not typically offered at the community college level.

Most community colleges have rules for the required academic background of instructors. For example, a fairly common rule is that instructors are required to have 15 credit hours of graduate-level coursework in the subject that they are teaching. These kinds of rules might well prevent your friend from getting a job teaching mathematics, chemistry, etc.

Your friend might also consider applying for a job as a full-time instructor at a four-year college that has an engineering program.

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