Author Topic: Degree necessary for EE field?  (Read 33817 times)

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Offline zapta

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #25 on: May 30, 2015, 05:01:47 am »
Gates and woz are cherry picked out liars which ever normal distribution has. The probability that the OP will have similar outcome is very skim.

Prediction based on a few biased anecdotes is not a good practice.
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Offline free_electron

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #26 on: May 30, 2015, 05:14:16 am »
There is also all the people that developed electronics. people like Ampere, Ohm, Volta , Faraday , Lenz. They certainly didn't have a formal education in the field , as , before them , the field didn't exist !

I'm not downplaying the knowledge you will gain from following a program that leads to a degree. I'm just stating there are other routes possible to reach the same end result.

My problem with the 'traditional' educational institutes was that i had to learn the same stuff over and over again  ( plus oodles of stuff i had no interest in learning )
At age 14 i was playing with microcontrollers , at age 16 i was playing with FPGA's , and in school they try to explain ohms law and basic boolean gates ... to me that was ancient history ... i learned that years ago...
THen you go off and try to do a BSEE ( age 18 ) . Education restarts with ohms law. WTF ? well you have to understand we have people streaming in from other backgroudns so we need to get those up to speed... Make that a separate year. And combine them afterwards. Sorry guys.  And out of the 40 hours a week of lectures 20 are filled with crap that have no relevance ot the field of study. History, Geographics , languages .. i'm studying electronics. if you gonna give me history lessons make it about electronics and not about how hitler invaded poland or what the yalta accord was about. Same for mathematics. you better give applied examples to the field of electronics, not how to bend a sheet of metal to make a gutter with maximum water flow. That bears no relevance to what i am studying.

you may say : we need to teach history and geographics in order to widen your base. Fine, but keep that for 6 to 12 year's. after that FOCUS on what the student wants to learn. someone who wants to learn history and become a history mayor should not need to take physics lessons. someone who wants to do Electronics should not need to learn history. it works both ways.  I can always read a book on the history of worlds war II at a later point in my life, should i develop a craving to know more about that. ( i don't , it;s history, happened way before i was born. Prime example of how bad human society can be. Beyond that i have no interest in it. That doesn't mean i don't care about the victims , i just have no interest in the finer details.)
« Last Edit: May 30, 2015, 05:17:14 am by free_electron »
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #27 on: May 30, 2015, 05:19:37 am »
Gates and woz are cherry picked out liars which ever normal distribution has. The probability that the OP will have similar outcome is very skim.

Prediction based on a few biased anecdotes is not a good practice.

Especially when based on a few historical anecdotes!

People really should understand the theory and practice of team building - it is one of the few sociology concepts that you must know before anyone can consider themelves competent. (Similarly, the laws of thermodynamics, basic statistics) For example, if you have a team of >1 Steve Jobs, then nothing will get done because they they wil be continually fighting each other. And a team of 1 won't be able to accomplish much!
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #28 on: May 30, 2015, 11:16:10 am »
As I said, I don't have actual statistics.  The HR department at my company either couldn't or wouldn't supply statistics to justify their approach.  I know that the vast majority of them would not know a statistic if they saw one, and would know even less about how to interpret it.

I picked Gates and Woz as names widely recognizable who succeeded in their field without a degree.  I have no opinion on their veracity or other personality characteristics.  My own informal sampling has dozens of names, none nationally known (except within certain extremely specialized circles).  I call it informal because I am quite aware of the difficulties in gathering a valid statistic on this topic.  I personally believe that it is representative in the field in which I worked, but have even less claim for validity beyond that.  To further muddy the water, my personal list of top decile performers is something like 30% non-degreed, 30% hold PhD degrees, and the remainder have one or more degrees, usually in a technical subject, but not necessarily directly related.

Finally, free_electron has responded with his own version of what I described as a reason to believe that the statistic may not be Gaussian, but is in fact truncated or attenuated in the upper tail.  There is no real reason (other than the Central Limit Theorem) to believe that the distribution is Gaussian, and very many somewhat normal distributions depart widely from the Gaussian in the tails.  As an easily observed example, the distribution of men's height is fairly close to a normal distribution.  If it were truly normal the National Basketball Association would look very different because the supply of extremely tall men would be much smaller.
 

Offline zapta

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #29 on: May 30, 2015, 11:58:50 am »
As I said, I don't have actual statistics.  The HR department at my company either couldn't or wouldn't supply statistics to justify their approach.  I know that the vast majority of them would not know a statistic if they saw one, and would know even less about how to interpret it.

The actual distribution doesn't matter that much. It was an example of distributions that overlap and have tails which is probably the case here so a biased set of anecdotes may be misleading.

You can find here average salary statistics for various EE degree levels and in general it goes up with the degree.

http://www.payscale.com/index/US/Degree



you may say : we need to teach history and geographics in order to widen your base. Fine, but keep that for 6 to 12 year's. after that FOCUS on what the student wants to learn. someone who wants to learn history and become a history mayor should not need to take physics lessons. someone who wants to do Electronics should not need to learn history. it works both ways.  I can always read a book on the history of worlds war II at a later point in my life, should i develop a craving to know more about that. ( i don't , it;s history, happened way before i was born. Prime example of how bad human society can be. Beyond that i have no interest in it. That doesn't mean i don't care about the victims , i just have no interest in the finer details.)

That's a problem with the undergraduate STEM education in the US, a lot of non relevant fluff courses. I talked with engineers that came from India and China and it's much more focused over there.
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #30 on: May 30, 2015, 07:23:00 pm »
As I said, I don't have actual statistics.  The HR department at my company either couldn't or wouldn't supply statistics to justify their approach.  I know that the vast majority of them would not know a statistic if they saw one, and would know even less about how to interpret it.

I once worked for a company that published an anonymous scattergram of age vs salary. Since most people could see they were paid roughly inline with other people, salary ceased to be a bone of contention. There were outliers and you could guess who they were - and since you knew their capabilities you didn't begrudge them their pay. (One such was a Bragg, with the obvious well-known forbears; lovely guy, very competent)

Quote
I picked Gates and Woz as names widely recognizable who succeeded in their field without a degree. 

You can "prove" anything by cherry picking examples, of course. OTOH, if you can reliably pick such individuals before they achieve greatness, then you are onto something.

Similarly, if you use rare examples to formulate laws, then you will make onerous ineffective laws. Classic example: Dr Harold Shipman who murdered several hundred of his patients over the years, is not a reason for imposing new laws on doctors!
« Last Edit: May 30, 2015, 07:30:48 pm by tggzzz »
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline Yansi

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #31 on: May 30, 2015, 07:33:25 pm »
There is also all the people that developed electronics. people like Ampere, Ohm, Volta , Faraday , Lenz. They certainly didn't have a formal education in the field , as , before them , the field didn't exist !

I'm not downplaying the knowledge you will gain from following a program that leads to a degree. I'm just stating there are other routes possible to reach the same end result.

My problem with the 'traditional' educational institutes was that i had to learn the same stuff over and over again  ( plus oodles of stuff i had no interest in learning )
At age 14 i was playing with microcontrollers , at age 16 i was playing with FPGA's , and in school they try to explain ohms law and basic boolean gates ... to me that was ancient history ... i learned that years ago...
THen you go off and try to do a BSEE ( age 18 ) . Education restarts with ohms law. WTF ? well you have to understand we have people streaming in from other backgroudns so we need to get those up to speed... Make that a separate year. And combine them afterwards. Sorry guys.  And out of the 40 hours a week of lectures 20 are filled with crap that have no relevance ot the field of study. History, Geographics , languages .. i'm studying electronics. if you gonna give me history lessons make it about electronics and not about how hitler invaded poland or what the yalta accord was about. Same for mathematics. you better give applied examples to the field of electronics, not how to bend a sheet of metal to make a gutter with maximum water flow. That bears no relevance to what i am studying.

you may say : we need to teach history and geographics in order to widen your base. Fine, but keep that for 6 to 12 year's. after that FOCUS on what the student wants to learn. someone who wants to learn history and become a history mayor should not need to take physics lessons. someone who wants to do Electronics should not need to learn history. it works both ways.  I can always read a book on the history of worlds war II at a later point in my life, should i develop a craving to know more about that. ( i don't , it;s history, happened way before i was born. Prime example of how bad human society can be. Beyond that i have no interest in it. That doesn't mean i don't care about the victims , i just have no interest in the finer details.)

Well done! Eactly as what I think about our local school system. It's the same useless crap.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #32 on: May 31, 2015, 06:43:32 am »
My problem with the 'traditional' educational institutes was that i had to learn the same stuff over and over again  ( plus oodles of stuff i had no interest in learning )
At age 14 i was playing with microcontrollers , at age 16 i was playing with FPGA's , and in school they try to explain ohms law and basic boolean gates ... to me that was ancient history ... i learned that years ago...

That was my experience too, except FPGAs didn't exist.

Quote
THen you go off and try to do a BSEE ( age 18 ) . Education restarts with ohms law.

I had that experience too.

Except that we had a test on it after 2 weeks, and I was shocked to get my lowest ever test result. That made me realise that even though I did know more electronics than most, there was far far more that I didn't know. A very valuable lesson, and I'm eternally grateful it came in time for me to adjust my attitude.

Quote
WTF ? well you have to understand we have people streaming in from other backgroudns so we need to get those up to speed... Make that a separate year. And combine them afterwards. Sorry guys.  And out of the 40 hours a week of lectures 20 are filled with crap that have no relevance ot the field of study. History, Geographics , languages .. i'm studying electronics. if you gonna give me history lessons make it about electronics and not about how hitler invaded poland or what the yalta accord was about. Same for mathematics. you better give applied examples to the field of electronics, not how to bend a sheet of metal to make a gutter with maximum water flow. That bears no relevance to what i am studying.

That is almost entirely different to my EE degree course, which was ~90% hardcore electronic/computing.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline IanB

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #33 on: May 31, 2015, 07:21:25 am »
That is almost entirely different to my EE degree course, which was ~90% hardcore electronic/computing.

That is a characteristic difference between the UK and US education systems. When you embark on an undergraduate degree in the UK it is expected you will be specializing in a given domain or subject area. Your study will be almost entirely focused in your chosen field. The USA has a liberal arts tradition, where university is supposed to continue the broad education from high school.

In fact, I would suggest to any American students looking for an engineering degree program to consider studying in the UK. The fees will be relatively modest compared to many US private universities and you will get to spend much more time learning what you are interested in.
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Offline photon

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #34 on: May 31, 2015, 07:31:00 am »
That is almost entirely different to my EE degree course, which was ~90% hardcore electronic/computing.

That is a characteristic difference between the UK and US education systems. When you embark on an undergraduate degree in the UK it is expected you will be specializing in a given domain or subject area. Your study will be almost entirely focused in your chosen field. The USA has a liberal arts tradition, where university is supposed to continue the broad education from high school.

In fact, I would suggest to any American students looking for an engineering degree program to consider studying in the UK. The fees will be relatively modest compared to many US private universities and you will get to spend much more time learning what you are interested in.
I went to an American school for engineering and all I remember is hell. There were about ten times the number of students who wanted to major in EE than there were places for them. It was pure competition. It seemed like every class was there to weed people out. Boredom was not a problem, fear was.
 

Offline void_error

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #35 on: May 31, 2015, 07:41:08 am »
Where I live having the knowledge to be an EE and having an EE degree are two completely different things, with the latter being more common... a lot of graduates know very little about electronics although they have an EE degree.
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Offline photon

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #36 on: May 31, 2015, 08:02:21 am »
Another thing I remember about American colleges is that all, and I mean every, teacher gave bad lectures. What I would have given for a Fundamental Friday lecture instead of any lecture I had there. The prof could make a test where 2/3 of the class fails but could not communicate a simple idea without making it unintelligible.
 

Offline Howardlong

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #37 on: May 31, 2015, 08:28:32 am »
My personal opinion is that an EE degree is fairly key to getting your foot in the door at lots of places, particularly in the early to mid phase of your career. It simplifies the selection criteria, particularly for HR bods.

Do I think a 3 to 4 year EE degree _really_ adds value in terms of time to someone who is already keen and proven in designing, building and troubleshooting a board from scratch with, say, 100 parts? Rarely, and not in terms of understanding, no. You are almost certainly, though, the kind of person who is already creative and good at analytical skills as well as being technically competent and, key to this, a self-learner.

But irrespective, do I think that, given the opportunity to take a degree at an early age compared to just chancing a job right out of school who will be better off in seven or ten years' time? Regrettably, the degree holder will, in general, be better off in general than the self-taught individual. I hate it, but sadly that's the way it is.
 

Offline IanB

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #38 on: May 31, 2015, 08:42:02 am »
Do I think a 3 to 4 year EE degree _really_ adds value in terms of time to someone who is already keen and proven in designing, building and troubleshooting a board from scratch with, say, 100 parts?

Is that really the kind of thing you are meant to learn from an engineering degree? That seems to me more like industrial practice, the kind of thing you should become adept at in the first few years after graduating. It is "hands-on" work, where you can hopefully apply the theory you have learned during your studies. Sure, you have to do practical lab work and project work to internalize the theory, but I don't think many people would allow a freshly graduated engineer to design something important without a certain amount of guidance and supervision.
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Offline Howardlong

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #39 on: May 31, 2015, 08:58:42 am »
Do I think a 3 to 4 year EE degree _really_ adds value in terms of time to someone who is already keen and proven in designing, building and troubleshooting a board from scratch with, say, 100 parts?

Is that really the kind of thing you are meant to learn from an engineering degree? That seems to me more like industrial practice, the kind of thing you should become adept at in the first few years after graduating. It is "hands-on" work, where you can hopefully apply the theory you have learned during your studies. Sure, you have to do practical lab work and project work to internalize the theory, but I don't think many people would allow a freshly graduated engineer to design something important without a certain amount of guidance and supervision.

I wish it was. The degree I did was almost all learning by rote. Sure, I could solve math(s) equations a gazillion different ways, but in practical terms it was almost useless. How often do I use all that math(s)? Almost never. How often do I switch on a scope and solder something? Every day. And I do think it's sad that someone coming off a three/four year course still can't be trusted to design and build something with circa 100 parts without guidance and supervision. But they can probably do some mean h parameter transistor modelling, for one of those 100 parts.
 

Online rx8pilot

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #40 on: May 31, 2015, 09:21:34 am »

I wish it was. The degree I did was almost all learning by rote. Sure, I could solve math(s) equations a gazillion different ways, but in practical terms it was almost useless. How often do I use all that math(s)? Almost never. How often do I switch on a scope and solder something? Every day. And I do think it's sad that someone coming off a three/four year course still can't be trusted to design and build something with circa 100 parts without guidance and supervision. But they can probably do some mean h parameter transistor modelling, for one of those 100 parts.

A few years ago I saw this first hand. Hired two new engineers fresh out of a good school and had great academic records. They were useless, requiring so much supervision that I could never get anything done. They also had a degree in egotistical arts which caused problems. When a circuit blew up, they would first blame Linear, TI, Maxim, etc....for having a defective design. The energy spent on that effort would blind them from seeing that they have no practical understanding.

I am self-taught and consider myself a modestly skilled engineer. Sadly, I can and did run circles around them over and over - until they were let go. They were hired to be better than me - way better. This story may not always be true, but it seems common.
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Offline miguelvp

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #41 on: May 31, 2015, 09:33:41 am »
A few years ago I saw this first hand. Hired two new engineers fresh out of a good school and had great academic records. They were useless, requiring so much supervision that I could never get anything done. They also had a degree in egotistical arts which caused problems. When a circuit blew up, they would first blame Linear, TI, Maxim, etc....for having a defective design. The energy spent on that effort would blind them from seeing that they have no practical understanding.

I am self-taught and consider myself a modestly skilled engineer. Sadly, I can and did run circles around them over and over - until they were let go. They were hired to be better than me - way better. This story may not always be true, but it seems common.

The trick is to hire them after they been in the field for a while, but they they are more expensive aren't they?

Like anything else you get what you paid for, leave the fresh out of College hiring to the companies with a large enough infrastructure to break them in first.

Or if you must hire someone fresh out, at least put more effort on the interview aspect, there are always gems out there but you have to do the work to find the right candidate.

 

Online rx8pilot

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #42 on: May 31, 2015, 10:17:01 am »
I learned that lesson the hard way.
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Offline IanB

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #43 on: May 31, 2015, 10:49:38 am »
Hired two new engineers fresh out of a good school...

But people are not going to be "engineers" fresh out of school. They are going to be greenhorns, engineers-in-training. It takes probably 3-5 years out of college to become a practiced and capable engineer.

If you try to hire fresh graduates to design circuits and products for you, then I think you are suffering from a mismatch between expectation and reality.

What would be more typical is to have a more experienced engineer on staff to handle the primary business need, and then if the workload grows to consider hiring in fresh graduates to take on some assigned tasks and share the load.
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Offline Yansi

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #44 on: May 31, 2015, 11:39:44 am »
Hired two new engineers fresh out of a good school...

But people are not going to be "engineers" fresh out of school. They are going to be greenhorns, engineers-in-training. It takes probably 3-5 years out of college to become a practiced and capable engineer.

If you try to hire fresh graduates to design circuits and products for you, then I think you are suffering from a mismatch between expectation and reality.

By-the-way how do employers usually take a possibility that non-degree selftaught could be way better than those greenhorns with red diploma from school? Or probably just don't care about non-degree people? Please tell me how do employers cope with that. I'd like to understand their behavior, just my interest for better understanding this strange world based on bureaucracy... Unfortunately I don't know anyone to ask that.

I am one of the selftaught group of people trying to complete a degree to get even some chance to get a stable job here. Not only a "year test" with some extensions like I have now, with uncertain result: If I get kicked from that damned school I'm fired. Like free_electron wrote about his experience with their school, exactly the same applies here. The school is useless in terms of any practicval skills (for me, not sure about others).

Last time I had an argument with a professor at exams, if you can directly rectify mains without a damn transformer. He didn't believe me that modern compact VFDs do not include any power transformers at 50Hz.  And that was one of the small group of more usable subjects at this school, I quite enjoyed compared to others. That was a "Power electronics 1" class, but not really that in general, it was focused only damn thyristor (SCR) rectifiers the whole semester, only mentioning existence of power BJTs and IGBTs - all that in a 2015!  And still it missed a lot, was quite incomplete.

Add the rest of the crap subjects like basics of economy, compulsory humanitarian subjects like history, some other crap like calculationf of steam entropy/enthalpy in a water boiler, measurements and calculations of light sources (of course manually on a paper! And then they tell ya that it's never done like that in practice, cause these methods are quite unaccurate), the whole bunch of unnecessary physics classes full everything but nothing electrical related, not even mentioning the crapload of mathematics, without any references to what are we studying here... and then think how does that entertain someone with alread moderate skills in circuit design. It is simply evil and I hate the school. It does not help me almost with anything. It only gulps amounts of my free time, to do silly schoolish things. I should have rather spent that time like practicing VHDL, but haven't any fucking chance to do that in the last two semesters - because I only switch in between a school mode or I am at work.

Sorry for my another futile rant, but I am starting to be pissed about where my life is going...  ;D Instead of gaining useful epxperience, only spending years of time and tons of nerves for some uncertain piece of paper.
 

Offline John_ITIC

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #45 on: May 31, 2015, 01:40:35 pm »
I have a feeling that degreed EEs have been mentally acclimated to accepting a lot of pointless activities and therefore can better stand a career of wasted time doing meaningless activities a'la Dilbert-style cubicle life. Sort of how doctors are supposed to work residency for days without sleep to get "used" to real-world conditions in a hospital. The degree perhaps therefore becomes proof of tenacity rather than practical skills. However, having formal education is somewhat of a guarantee that there are not huge holes in the basic knowledge.

I myself got my formal EE education in Sweden and had little of the "fluff" they apparently teach in U.S. EE colleges. Mostly useful Digital, Analog, uControllers, Assembly, C, Pascal and the like. FPGAs started to come onto the market at the time. I do remember some not-related subjects like economics though (I still remember getting better grade in economics class than in electronics class - go figure).

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Offline f5r5e5d

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #46 on: May 31, 2015, 02:23:44 pm »
you do get fewer of these complaints if you offer a Comp Sci degree that doesn't require learning about biasing a transistor

but in analog hardware EE it is hard to pack in even the basic tool set and required practice in 2nd courses with Linear Systems, Complex Analysis, Signals and Systems, Feedback Control math in a undergrad degree
 

Offline photon

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #47 on: May 31, 2015, 04:59:18 pm »
you do get fewer of these complaints if you offer a Comp Sci degree that doesn't require learning about biasing a transistor

but in analog hardware EE it is hard to pack in even the basic tool set and required practice in 2nd courses with Linear Systems, Complex Analysis, Signals and Systems, Feedback Control math in a undergrad degree
I don't remember fluff or meaningless stuff, but I do remember the Linear Systems, Complex Anaylsis, Feedback Control, DSP, Signals and Systems, Electromagnetism, Analog and Digital Circuits, CPU design, programming, ... The problem is not that it's a waste of time but is more stuff than you can learn in 4 years.
 

Offline Howardlong

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #48 on: May 31, 2015, 05:23:11 pm »
Hired two new engineers fresh out of a good school...

But people are not going to be "engineers" fresh out of school. They are going to be greenhorns, engineers-in-training. It takes probably 3-5 years out of college to become a practiced and capable engineer.

If you try to hire fresh graduates to design circuits and products for you, then I think you are suffering from a mismatch between expectation and reality.

Regretfully you are right. It just seems wrong, someone spends a significant chunk of their life and future earnings being educated for a vocational skill, and three or four years later still can't identify one end of a diode from the other (I am pretty darned sure many of my peers were in that group).

The point I am trying to make is that the balance is not there, and while I think my course was probably one of the bad ones in this regard with almost no practical training, I do think that at the end of their formal EE education an individual ought to be capable of at least designing, making and troubleshooting something with the complexity of, say, 100 or so parts (I hate using arbitrary numbers, but it demonstrates the point).

Perhaps it's all down to money, after all sitting students down in front of a blackboard is cheaper than having them in an expensive lab.
 

Offline photon

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Re: Degree necessary for EE field?
« Reply #49 on: May 31, 2015, 05:59:09 pm »
Where I work the management agrees with many here that fancy degrees are meaningless  and look to replace engineers with lower cost labor, eventually machines.
 


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