Author Topic: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists  (Read 4521 times)

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Offline jproject

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Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« on: June 15, 2011, 05:15:34 am »
Hello all,

I've been looking over the stuff that 4th year university students do here and its considered a prestigious school but it seems like electronic hobbyists seem to know more about electronics than our students without paying the 12k tuition per a year... The students that win "competitions" and who get awards are always the ones who have some type of electronic hobbyist background. I pride in my school which is the reason why I chose it but it seems like there is definitely something wrong with the curriculum when actual working engineers tell me, who went to the same university, that you use less than 15% of what you learned in lectures. Your thoughts?
 

Offline westfw

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2011, 05:58:17 am »
University EE programs are very theory oriented.  In theory, you can graduate from a prestigious Ivy League University without ever having picked up a soldering iron, and you'll still be valuable because the theory you've learned will "connect up" with the practice that your early employers provide (at their expense, hoping to have picked up "smart people.")

In reality, EE majors do not have a little bit of hobbyist background, have never had any hobbyist background, and are not interested in ever having a hobbyist background, are a bit scary.  I think they become managers (which is still scary.)  But that's true of most professions; you always want the people who actually love what they're doing.  They're much easier to exploit.

I've been self-philosophizing recently, trying to figure out which of the highschool and college classes I took actually had an impact on the way I do/did my job(s.)  Math (algebra, geometry, calculus) seems to come up pretty high on the list, even though I've never actually had to do much math.  It's not the mechanics so much as the concepts: this real world thing can be described in ways that can be manipulated in known ways to yield info about other real world things.  Sort of like the difference between adding up N values and dividing by N, vs knowing what it means for a signal to have an average value...

You may end up using less than 15% of what you learn in lectures.  But all of it goes into shaping the mind that knows HOW to use that 15%.  (OK, maybe not so much the Russian History class...)  I regret the classes that never "caught" enough for me to get beyond passing the exams to actually getting a feel for what they meant...


 

Offline Neilm

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2011, 08:12:36 pm »
You might only use 15% of what you learned, but you might remember enough to know what to look for when you have a problem.

The trouble with not having practical experiance is that you might end up doing what a mechanical engineer I worked with did. He designed a  box to be fitted into an enclosure, however he could not bolt it in to place. It was a tight fit and he neglected to consider that the bolts stick out before they are done up.

Neil
Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe. - Albert Einstein
Tesla referral code https://ts.la/neil53539
 

Offline Sionyn

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2011, 09:11:08 pm »
agree its the difference of learning something your self than than have some else teach you.

i think that makes sense

i remember some interns we had he wanted to write his own operating system but had no idea what a kernel was
eecs guy
 

Offline jproject

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2011, 09:24:55 pm »
University EE programs are very theory oriented.  In theory, you can graduate from a prestigious Ivy League University without ever having picked up a soldering iron, and you'll still be valuable because the theory you've learned will "connect up" with the practice that your early employers provide (at their expense, hoping to have picked up "smart people.")

In reality, EE majors do not have a little bit of hobbyist background, have never had any hobbyist background, and are not interested in ever having a hobbyist background, are a bit scary.  I think they become managers (which is still scary.)  But that's true of most professions; you always want the people who actually love what they're doing.  They're much easier to exploit.

I've been self-philosophizing recently, trying to figure out which of the highschool and college classes I took actually had an impact on the way I do/did my job(s.)  Math (algebra, geometry, calculus) seems to come up pretty high on the list, even though I've never actually had to do much math.  It's not the mechanics so much as the concepts: this real world thing can be described in ways that can be manipulated in known ways to yield info about other real world things.  Sort of like the difference between adding up N values and dividing by N, vs knowing what it means for a signal to have an average value...

You may end up using less than 15% of what you learn in lectures.  But all of it goes into shaping the mind that knows HOW to use that 15%.  (OK, maybe not so much the Russian History class...)  I regret the classes that never "caught" enough for me to get beyond passing the exams to actually getting a feel for what they meant...



I agree with most of what you said but the 15% of the stuff you learn are the practical stuff like circuits. The other 85% are usually like advanced thermodynamics or some weird signal theory that you won't even get to use unless you work at a university or a high end scientific facility. Like you said, the other 85% will be like "history class" and I don't think it will help you much when your job is to design a power management solution for a factory or a town. I wouldn't consider most of the graduates in my university as an "engineer" since they don't even have much (or none) work experience (1 year at best).

Here is a comic strip that I found from EEweb and it's funny because it's true!

http://www.eeweb.com/rtz/moores-law
 

Offline scrat

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2011, 11:40:44 pm »
I agree with most of what you said but the 15% of the stuff you learn are the practical stuff like circuits. The other 85% are usually like advanced thermodynamics or some weird signal theory that you won't even get to use unless you work at a university or a high end scientific facility.

I find signal and systems theory very often useful to understand how real world things work. Using analogies (applying knowledge into a field to a different one) is really important, it's a way of thinking that I wouldn't have learnt outside university.
One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man. - Elbert Hubbard
 

Offline jproject

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2011, 04:13:14 am »
I agree with most of what you said but the 15% of the stuff you learn are the practical stuff like circuits. The other 85% are usually like advanced thermodynamics or some weird signal theory that you won't even get to use unless you work at a university or a high end scientific facility.

I find signal and systems theory very often useful to understand how real world things work. Using analogies (applying knowledge into a field to a different one) is really important, it's a way of thinking that I wouldn't have learnt outside university.


Those situations are great when they happen but personally, I rather learn practical stuff that are actually "about" the stuff I'll end up using rather then wait for those type of situations. But, I guess I am being unfair saying this since there are so many type of jobs that engineers take on such as working at a bank as an analyst that has almost nothing to do with engineering.
 

Offline MrPlacid

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2011, 07:11:41 am »
jproject , you are walking on dangerous water. The more you know about education, the more it could ruin you. Think of it this way, if a fresh out of highschool student (hobbyist or not) wanted to become an engineer and he knows nothing about real world engineering, but believes every class he took is important to him. He'll study his ass off with a happy face. :) You, on the other hand, know that some classes are completely worthless and may end up doing worse since your interest is gone.

It's like watching a movie and already knowing its ending.

About using the 15%, it's very true. It's the same in every field you go to. Those advance stuffs is for you to remember back and say, "Ah, ha!! I remember doing that." Don't worry, you'll lose 70% of what you learn this year by next year anyway. ;)

As for hobbyist, they are the best to be engineer. I can only think an engineer must be really bad to not have his own work bench at home. Hobbyist engineers are always honing their skill while the other one finished work and just sit down and watch tv.

« Last Edit: June 16, 2011, 07:23:10 am by MrPlacid »
 

Offline Vertigo

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2011, 12:31:04 pm »
Education is bullshit.
sorry for the bad language, but i can't be nice about this.
education is expressly designed to keep people dependant on authority as much as possible.

the reason for this goes back to when the germans were still the pruissians.
having the finest and most advanced army in the world, they still got beaten by
napoleons far inferior army.

after some research it was determined that the problem was that german soldiers were
thought to be smart and independent, and make creative decisions on their own.
as a result of this, their officers often refused to march their soldiers into what looked
like certain death.
napoleon recruited from all walks of life, and had only 1 criteria for his soldiers: the willingness to pick up a rifle.
those soldiers knew nothing and were entirely dependant on the authority structure, and as a result of this they
would willingly walk to their own death if told to do so.

and this won them the war.

the germans eventually adopted this principle for their army, and invented the 3 tier school system.
the general school, like most of the ones we know now, the real school where people learned only trade specific stuff,
and nothing else, and the elite schools, where only the uber rich were taught in such a way as to be empowered.

so its no surprise that today that 99% of all the super rich people come from ivy league schools, and the old story
of rags to riches just doesn't happen to people who limit themselves to schooling.
only the geeks who learn on their own accord in their basements and garages etc etc.
like bill gates, the wuz etc are ever able to break trough the social classes and become successful.


valedictorian speaks out against the education system:


John Taylor Gatto (teacher of the year NY city 98, 90, 91, teacher of the year NY state 91)
 

Offline Excavatoree

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #9 on: June 16, 2011, 03:48:20 pm »
I remember struggling a bit in the classroom, especially my "solid state physics" class.  (pitchfork function, AKA Schrodinger's wave equation) and such.

I was overjoyed when I took my first lab class - piece of cake.  Plus, I got to listen to the TA (lab instructor, usually a grad student) say things to my fellow student like:

"you have to connect your chips to power and ground."
"you're burning something and you don't even know it."
"you capacitor (electrolytic) blew up because you installed it backward."

All of my practical knowledge came from my job as a repair technician, or my hobby work.  (I'm an electrical engineer AND a MCU related hobbyist.)


I'll add this:

It's very difficult for people to have an objective discussion about higher education.  Those who did attend university don't want to believe they wasted their time and/or money.  (Or Mom and Dad's money)  Those who did not attend don't want to believe they missed out on something beneficial.   

« Last Edit: June 16, 2011, 03:57:43 pm by Excavatoree »
 

Offline sacherjj

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #10 on: June 16, 2011, 04:14:04 pm »
It completely floored me that over 80% of the EE majors I was in College with had never bread boarded anything in their life. 
 

Offline jproject

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2011, 04:22:25 pm »
Education is bullshit.
sorry for the bad language, but i can't be nice about this.
education is expressly designed to keep people dependant on authority as much as possible.

the reason for this goes back to when the germans were still the pruissians.
having the finest and most advanced army in the world, they still got beaten by
napoleons far inferior army.

after some research it was determined that the problem was that german soldiers were
thought to be smart and independent, and make creative decisions on their own.
as a result of this, their officers often refused to march their soldiers into what looked
like certain death.
napoleon recruited from all walks of life, and had only 1 criteria for his soldiers: the willingness to pick up a rifle.
those soldiers knew nothing and were entirely dependant on the authority structure, and as a result of this they
would willingly walk to their own death if told to do so.

and this won them the war.

the germans eventually adopted this principle for their army, and invented the 3 tier school system.
the general school, like most of the ones we know now, the real school where people learned only trade specific stuff,
and nothing else, and the elite schools, where only the uber rich were taught in such a way as to be empowered.

so its no surprise that today that 99% of all the super rich people come from ivy league schools, and the old story
of rags to riches just doesn't happen to people who limit themselves to schooling.
only the geeks who learn on their own accord in their basements and garages etc etc.
like bill gates, the wuz etc are ever able to break trough the social classes and become successful.


valedictorian speaks out against the education system:


John Taylor Gatto (teacher of the year NY city 98, 90, 91, teacher of the year NY state 91)



That is some dark stuff your talking about lmao. Not saying it's not true (or true) but I believe education is very important; it's just we have to change the structure. Back in grade 8, I felt that my creativeness was dying because I realized that when we learn anything in the classroom, we are strictly taught to learn it in the style of "our teacher", not my own. I found a man who believes in the same thing. Maybe you heard of him, Sir Ken Robinson. But anyways, when I look at part of the countries that lack education (such as Rednecks *cough) I feel bad for them for the ignorant shit they are spouting. I guess in a way, rednecks are given a education by their parents or peers but in the very wrong direction. If they were given the right education where they are told to think for themselves, they will eventually realize the wrongs from the rights. I can't remember which belief it was (I think it was Taoism) but if a group of people are taught everything necessary to survive and told what will hurt people and what will make people happy, eventually people will end up trying to be happy and this will lead to the creation of a civilization.


But, I see where your coming from and I think I can sum up nicely what you said for people who receive education and cannot think independently. As Benjamin Franklin once said:
"A learned blockhead is a greater blockhead than an ignorant one."


EDIT: Btw, nice find on the video of the girl. She speaks the truth.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2011, 04:29:23 pm by jproject »
 

Offline Frangible

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2011, 04:33:29 pm »
I used to help the TA in my electronics lab set up the oscilloscopes after people had turned all the knobs in random fashion.  He didn't know much about practical stuff, and I knew very little about theoretical stuff.  We both learned a lot from that lab.

These days I actually do use some of the stuff I learned in college.  It's hard to understand electrical power systems without a fundamental understanding of mathematics.  When you try to measure esoteric stuff like reactive and apparent power, you really need to understand what's going on - math makes that a lot easier.  In school, I could never figure why I had to learn Calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, statistics and so forth.  Now I know it was just for practice.  These days I can grab one of my old (ancient) textbooks, work through a couple chapters again and apply it to what I'm doing.

So no, education is not bullshit.  Perhaps the schools are - but learning basic theory is not a waste of time, you'll have to learn it one way or another.
 

Offline Vertigo

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2011, 04:55:24 pm »
yeah lol sorry bout the rant there :P

but yeah, if you want to understand stuff, you have to, as etymology demands,
stand under the thing and school doesn't do that.
its what you learn on your own that makes the difference between that guy
with the novel idea or inspiring project etc, and the anonymous cubicle dweller.

or to put it in another way: geeks get more action then sheep :P
Quote
So no, education is not bullshit.  Perhaps the schools are - but learning basic theory is not a waste of time, you'll have to learn it one way or another.

yeah i was commenting on the education system, particularly the way we do it in the west.
also i'm not saying its entirely useless, just rigged to rob people of any sense of individuality, crush their spirit and make them ready
to become obedient corporate slaves.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2011, 04:59:16 pm by Vertigo »
 

Offline A-sic Enginerd

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Re: Electrical Engineers vs MCU related Hobbyists
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2011, 06:14:48 pm »
It all depends on what you're after.

I worked with many engineers and scientists at one of the US top research labs. (LLNL). The stuff going on there and the problems even just the avg engineer were being asked to solve, had them pulling out all the stops from all the education they took and beyond.

On the other hand, if you're working for an average electronics company designing a run of the mill widget, then yeah it's pretty likely you won't use much of the education you got....depending on where you went to school.

Which that brings me to my next point. It is amazing the differences you'll find in the philosophies of different schools. I attended a little known university that is run by the state. The chairperson for our department was a very practical man. He took that same approach to the curriculum he outlined for my degree (Computer Engineering. One of the few schools that this degree is actually its own animal, not a minor field of study under EE or CS). As such we had a lot of classes that had major lab components to the program. We got enough theory to know what the hell we were talking about, but didn't go into the ridiculous and spend 2 weeks on a theory that only a fraction of a percent of people in the world actually use.

How effective is this approach to the program?
The best illustration is from a colleague of mine that graduated some time before me, but was part of the same program. His first job was with Motorola. For the division he got hired into, it was standard practice to send ALL college hires through an in house training program. He found himself in a classroom surrounded by heavy hitters from the likes of Stanford, MIT, etc., all with masters and PhD's. He was the only one with a lowly BS from a no name school in Sacramento. However, it didn't take long before everyone else in the class was turning to him to learn how to drive their O-scopes and spectrum analyzers. As to my own experience, the typical thing I run into is- I've lost count of the number of people I've come across that are afraid (yes..."afraid") to touch a logic analyzer, let alone actually use it to debug. I learned how to drive one in my second semester logic design class in college. I find it as essential to my debugging toolbag as an o-scope or a multimeter.

My point - there are schools out there that teach with a practical approach and aren't full of nothing but theory.
My advice - seek them out.

To those that say formal education is total bull - that's because you don't know how much you might be missing until you learn it (and how long it took you and how much of it you really understand). I'll be the first to say college is not for everyone, and there are certainly lots of things required of universities that is total crap. But I can't dismiss them.
The more you learn, the more you realize just how little you really know.

- college buddy and long time friend KernerD (aka: Dr. Pinhead)
 


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