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Is being multidisciplinary a bad or under appreciated feature?

I ended up graduating with a solid mechanical engineering (MechE) degree, but made my record extremely multidisciplinary through research and other classes. I claim to have experience at least 3 domains of engineering, including MechE.

I get that some people have one main focus and maybe switched entirely to another, but what if they are like me, with 3 or more disciplines? They’re all interrelated, so I feel like I can bridge seemingly unrelated domains to come up with new ideas.

Do I leave all of this on my resume/CV, OR should I only highlight only a couple expertise on one resume and try not to say too much else?

Thanks!

  • Of course, some people will feel that it takes full-time commitment to X to be competent at it, so if you also allocate time to Y and Z, and claiming competence in all three, you are making sensational (and not believable) claims about your intellectual powers. Be careful about claims of "expertise" as opposed to "experience". At least in US English the latter seems both more modest and more... accurate. Srsly, a claim of "expertise" is too volatile, unless you really, really are an expert. – paul garrett Jun 22 at 22:16
  • Thank you for your comment. I agree. My reasoning for the question is because I genuinely do have experience in them, from different projects that require these areas, I do not claim expertise however. Thanks for the remark that people believe it takes a long time commitment to hone in abilities - this is especially true. – sensuisam Jun 23 at 0:25
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I think that this is easier to accomplish for a senior researcher than a relatively new one. Academia tends to value specialization in research, so at the beginning of a career you may need to focus your efforts, and your applications, on some specialized area.

But many of the big questions can only be answered by taking a broader look, so it is a mistake to think that a multidisciplinary approach isn't valued. But it may be harder for a new researcher to convince people that you can do serious work in more than one area, or that you have sufficiently deep understanding that you can bring those multiple threads of thought together in a coherent way.

The trick is to get a good position (tenure) so that you have the freedom to work to your own muse. Once you have some sort of reputation, people will defer to your ideas more than they will for a new, and possibly misguided, free spirit.

Our education system seems to start out broad, then go narrow and deep. Then you can freely broaden it again from a solid base.

Note that there isn't anything right or wrong here, but it does seem to be a common conception.

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