I work as a university assistant professor, I teach engineering-related subjects. However, I have no real professional experience in engineering (in the industry), I've never worked as an engineer or something, and in my country, you can't work in 2 positions obviously (you can't have 2 salaries) even if you are teaching at university, the only option is to start your own firm! and I don't think it's a good idea to start my own firm (my own business) without professional experience in the field.

BUT, sometimes students ask questions about the real world, about real problems and I find it sometimes "awkward" not to answer their questions because I don't have professional experience (in the industry).

  • so is it normal to work at university without experience in the industry? does not this make me look less compared to the rest of my colleagues?
  • if so, what are my best options to get some professional experience in the field?
  • finally, how should I answer students' questions if I stayed without experience in the industry?
  • 1
    Which question are you asking? The title question and the last paragraph are two completely different questions.
    – Allure
    Jul 20 '20 at 12:03
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    "you can't have 2 salaries": Why? I know a lot of (rich) people who has even more than two salaries.
    – Our
    Jul 20 '20 at 12:50
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    Could you maybe invite once a real world expert to your class (either a professional or one of your collegues) and tell your students they should direct all questions to the expert?
    – user111388
    Jul 20 '20 at 12:55
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    Allure asked you to clarify which question you were asking, and instead you added more questions. One question per post, please. Jul 20 '20 at 13:15
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    As pointed out in another comment, the following: (quote) "you can't work in 2 positions obviously (you can't have 2 salaries)" is (as an absolute) wrong. However your specific contract (or laws on working hours) may prevent you from having more than 1 job and thus more than 1 salary. - As to your question: A lot of academics don't have industry experience at all. Some people went to work in industry and came back to teach. - Especially academia can be accommodating with part time positions to allow staff to hold another position - e.g. in industry (also for the connection). Some do consulting
    – DetlevCM
    Jul 20 '20 at 14:54

What are my best options to get some professional experience in the field?

You could get a secondment to a company to do specific (applied) research for example.

When I was a student, some of the best professors had spent time in both industry and academia. One I remember had used temperature sensors to record brake disk temperatures on a testing rig - they were glowing... So he was slightly amused at how we were finding it difficult to calibrate a temperature sensor for use between ambient and 100 deg C... He got us sorted though.

  • 1
    I didn't downvote, but I suspect the downvotes are because you didn't really address OP's specific question...perhaps this should be a comment?
    – cag51
    Jul 20 '20 at 14:34
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    Ah, I see what you mean. I proposed an edit that will hopefully make the relevance clearer (feel free to revert if you disagree) -- perhaps that will help.
    – cag51
    Jul 20 '20 at 14:39
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    @SolarMike Perhaps the downvotes are for telling personal anecdotes rather than answering the question?
    – user151413
    Jul 20 '20 at 19:47
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    This is a question-and-answer site, not a question-and-I-tell-some-anecdotes-from-my-experience site. These should be comments or go to chat.
    – user151413
    Jul 20 '20 at 19:49
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    ... though the substance of the answer should be on facts and recommendations, not on anecdotes. Omitting the anecdote, this is a one-line answer, which are rarely the best (but common with some users).
    – user151413
    Jul 20 '20 at 19:53

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