Author Topic: How can I kick-start my EE career?  (Read 10838 times)

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Offline Mint.

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How can I kick-start my EE career?
« on: May 29, 2012, 05:15:46 am »
I have made the decision that I want to become an Electrical Engineer and that is what I want to do in university. After watching Dave's video, EEVblog #54 - Electronics - When I was a boy..., I heard him say that he started formally learning electronics at the age of 15, I think it is around the 5:45 mark in the video.
Since I am the same age currently, it got me thinking what I could do to right now to help me become an EE. How did Dave get into electronics at the age of 15? I am not sure if there is a video of it or something, perhaps you saw me talking about it in the chatbox, if there is can, somebody please link me to it?
I have a fair amount of spare time right now so I really want to put it to use. I've recently started a blog so I can keep track of my projects that I have made and that will help me get a job in the industry as an EE in the future, this was mentioned in one of The Amp Hour episodes. I want to do a bit more things to assist me with my EE career. Does anybody have any ideas or wish they did something at my age, but they didn't? I really don't mind what you say, even if it is a little thing it can help me.
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Online vk6zgo

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2012, 08:09:10 am »
It depends upon what you mean by "formally".
Back in the day,most of us went to Technical College Night School.
Those lucky enough to be able to score an Apprenticeship got Day release for some subjects,but mostly did Night school like the rest of us.
The old Department of Civil Aviation & PMG's Department (later Telecom Australia) had excellent internal training systems,as did some other organisations,but mostly it was Tech School for the rest.

The big organisations used to have Cadet Engineers-----you could go to Uni,& be supported by the employer.
In your breaks from Uni,you were put to work,officially supervised by a Senior Engineer,but more likely you would go & work on your project amongst the Techs & "Get the edges knocked off you".
Some Techs also got into this system after completing their first year of Uni "under their own steam."

Alas,such Cadetships have pretty much disappeared,so you will probably have to do it all yourself.

In the present climate,I would suggest that there  are two possibilities:
 (1)
At 15, you still have some years left in Secondary School,& should try to get the best results you can get in your Year 12 Exams.
That way,you have a fair chance to get into University,where with  HECs funding & a lot of hard work,you can get your Degree.

(2)
The other route,is to do a Certificate,and/or Diploma at TAFE.
In my opinion,TAFE courses today do not give you as good a grounding in your chosen subject,as the old Tech Colleges did.

The emphasis seems to be on "outcomes",so that you finish the course able to do some particular things.
This is all well & good,but it doesn't encourage the versatility needed by a good Tech,so some independent study would be a good idea.
You MAY be able to get an Apprenticeship,so will be given study days & so on.

If you end up with a Technician's job,& after a while are established financially,you could then decide to go to Uni as a Mature Age student,& get your Degree,

The downside I see with (2),is if you are doing OK as a Tech,making reasonable money,& having maybe by then,a wife & kids,plus a Home mortgage,
the "I wanna be an EE" idea will be "put on the back burner,& you won't end up doing it.

I realise this advice sounds funny coming from a Technician,but I think (1) is your best bet.
 





 

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2012, 08:35:10 am »
I finished year 10 and went straight to TAFE full time. I was always a year ahead of everyone else given when my birthday fell, hence 15 at the time.
I did the 2 year certificate and was qualified by 17 when I got my first professional job. I continued with the 3 year diploma part time.
As vk6zgo said, I've heard the current courses aren't nearly as good as they were back then. When I did mine it was an experimental thing, the first time that had run some new framework since the old E&C I think it was called? We did a lot of excellent classes that I don't think exist today, or have been dumbed down.

At your current age (I'm assuming year 9 or 10?), you probably have three options:
1) Just continue with the HSC for another 2 years and then get entry into a uni normally like all the other sheep. 99.99% of uni students do this.
2) Do a TAFE course part time, and continue with the HSC. I believe you can now get advanced credit for the TAFE stuff, but do check this stuff first for the uni course you intend going into. If it turns out it doesn't get you advanced credit, then it is not wasted, you would have learned a lot, but that would be a kick in the guts. There might be a minimum age entry these days? There wasn't when I went, you just had to pass an entrance exam to get in. This might give you a backup to get into uni if you don't get the marks you need in the HSC. And I think there might be "pathway" programs or some such that guarantee you a spot in a uni course?
3) Leave year 10 and do TAFE full time like I did. If you are sure this gets you credit and entry into uni later, then could potentially be a better choice learning wise than doing the HSC. But you'll miss out on the advanced math stuff in the HSC which will be pretty essential for a uni engineering course. I don't know, perhaps they do calculus before the HSC these days? This is a high risk option though if the uni's do not play ball, and hardly anyone does this. The unis will treat you as some kind of weirdo. Beware.

"Mature age" entry into uni used to be at least 21 in my day, and was strictly enforced. Might be different these days? That's the backup to get into uni at a later  date, and a TAFE certificate or better, a diploma would almost certainly get you into certain uni EE courses.

I'd recommend #2 and you'll be streets ahead of the average pleb come uni time.

Dave.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 09:01:07 am by EEVblog »
 

Offline IanB

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2012, 08:46:23 am »
I think your main decision is whether you (or your teachers) think you can get into university and make it through to graduation. Age 15 is about the time when you can start thinking about that and plan your next two years of school. You will want to know what subjects you need to study for university entry for your chosen subject and what kind of grades you should be aiming for. (For an engineering degree this will invariably include maths and physics.)

If a university degree is open to you, that would be your best choice, since you cannot have too little education.

If your teachers and advisers think that is a bit of a stretch, then you should plan on one of the technical diploma paths as an alternative option.
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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2012, 09:03:57 am »
If your teachers and advisers think that is a bit of a stretch, then you should plan on one of the technical diploma paths as an alternative option.

But beware teachers or advisers who think you might not have the aptitude for uni EE, when in fact you might be ideally suited, they often don't know shit.

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Online vk6zgo

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2012, 10:24:04 am »
I remember doing an Aptitude Test with the old Dept of Employment & National Service when I was 15.
They recommended I become a Compositor!
Great future in that ! I would have been obsolete by 1980.
At least with Electronics,I could usually get work somewhere.
« Last Edit: May 29, 2012, 11:15:27 am by vk6zgo »
 

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #6 on: May 29, 2012, 10:38:14 am »
I remember doing an Aptitude Test with the old Dept of Employment & National Service when I was 15.
They recommended I become a Compositor!

*snort*
I went for a job at Nokia once, and did their extensive psych test that took several hours.
Based on the results they wanted to know why I was applying for an engineering role, they had this much better managerial role that I'd be perfectly suited for!  ::)

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Online vk6zgo

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #7 on: May 29, 2012, 11:24:55 am »
Or the job interview I went to:
They advertised it as "requiring knowledge of sophisticated communications systems".
When I got there,a lady asked me questions about RS232 connections & voltage levels!
The wage was also less than they advertised,too,so I wasn't very impressed! ;D
 

Offline Neilm

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #8 on: May 29, 2012, 06:25:15 pm »
I remember doing an Aptitude Test with the old Dept of Employment & National Service when I was 15.
They recommended I become a Compositor!
Great future in that ! I would have been obsolete by 1980.
At least with Electronics,I could usually get work somewhere.

I had a test like that - they recommended that I be an estate agent.

Neil
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Offline free_electron

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #9 on: May 29, 2012, 06:40:02 pm »
, they often don't know shit.
I second that !  My 'state' advisors (every year from age 6 to 14 you get a state mandated medical checkup in belgium school by an institution called PMS , Psycho Medical something , they also to skill tests and guide misadvise you on your education path) They told my parents i shouldn't go in electronics because i am colorblind ( deuteranopia ) i don't see 'green'.
It would be a disaster because i would not be able to read the resistors and capacitor values ( back in 1980 we had those 'flag' capacitors with color coding )
The first school i went too was also a bit hesitant on that subject...

Luckily an uncle of mine , who is also in electronics, showed my parents that this is not a problem. We have .. Ohmmeters ! and besides its only green i dont see... so the difficulty is only with 1k2 1k5 for example.  5k6 is easily recognizable because fo the color band for 6... and the only other with 6 is 6.8 which is also easily recognizable. so you can eliminate a bunch of impossible values. the only problem really is 1k2 vs 1k5.. and then you take your ohmmeter.. ( E12 was the common series back then )

Besides, it's all surface mounted now with either numbers, or nothing, printed on it. If i ever get to meet those nitwits again ... there'll be some harsh words spoken. flaming idiots !
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Offline SeanB

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #10 on: May 29, 2012, 06:54:21 pm »
And there was my father, blue/green colour blind. And had for many years a pilot's license, flew private and commercial planes, and only had 3 accidents, not because of sight. 1 in training, 1 over Lake Constance going to do a delivery to Hamburg and 1 where he hit a pothole on landing in a field.
 

Offline T4P

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2012, 06:56:46 pm »
, they often don't know shit.
I second that !  My 'state' advisors (every year from age 6 to 14 you get a state mandated medical checkup in belgium school by an institution called PMS , Psycho Medical something , they also to skill tests and guide misadvise you on your education path) They told my parents i shouldn't go in electronics because i am colorblind ( deuteranopia ) i don't see 'green'.
It would be a disaster because i would not be able to read the resistors and capacitor values ( back in 1980 we had those 'flag' capacitors with color coding )
The first school i went too was also a bit hesitant on that subject...

Luckily an uncle of mine , who is also in electronics, showed my parents that this is not a problem. We have .. Ohmmeters ! and besides its only green i dont see... so the difficulty is only with 1k2 1k5 for example.  5k6 is easily recognizable because fo the color band for 6... and the only other with 6 is 6.8 which is also easily recognizable. so you can eliminate a bunch of impossible values. the only problem really is 1k2 vs 1k5.. and then you take your ohmmeter.. ( E12 was the common series back then )

Besides, it's all surface mounted now with either numbers, or nothing, printed on it. If i ever get to meet those nitwits again ... there'll be some harsh words spoken. flaming idiots !

I bow down to you man. Nothing less can be said about those people, they advised i better go down the F&B route ...
 

Offline bruce273

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2012, 07:22:48 pm »
So long you enjoy maths and physics go for it. To be completely honest the people who have lasted the course are the ones who actually enjoy it so another thing to look at if your thinking of university is the courses that you would have to take. A word of warning that some universities such as my own do not have loads of practical work. Most of it is essays and tutorial classes. HO
A great way of finding out is to see what employers want. There may be some who offer apprentiship schemes, but alot of the time they will tell you what they want you to have.

As others have been saying ignore the career tests that folk use. They reckoned I should be a plumber, yet here I am 5 years later about to graduate with a masters degree in EE.
 

Offline free_electron

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2012, 07:48:04 pm »
I should be a plumber, yet here I am 5 years later about to graduate with a masters degree in EE.
I wish i were a plumber.. those guys are always inundated with work (you can never get one.. .they are always busy ) ,charge and arm and a leg , arrive always late and people still call them and pay them with a smile ( or a grunt) .

Besides there is no difference between electronics engineering and plumbing... you are still either soldering or cleaning up someone's shit ...
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Offline IanB

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2012, 08:01:21 pm »
I do not talk about career advisers. You really need to follow your own inclinations when it comes to a career path.

However, I had teachers at school who told me I was academically able to go to university and that I should definitely apply.

An engineering degree course at a university is academically rigorous and will require ability in mathematics, problem solving and self-discipline in equal measure. If you don't manage to buckle down and do the work you will struggle to get through it.

Your teachers at school are best placed to advise you whether you would be up to that. You should have a good idea yourself from your grades. If you are not getting good grades in mathematics and physics then you are not going to survive well doing an engineering degree. If that happens to be the case you should think about something more practically oriented.
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Offline Mint.

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #15 on: June 02, 2012, 02:37:26 am »
Hello!
Thank you to everyone who has replied.
I finished year 10 and went straight to TAFE full time. I was always a year ahead of everyone else given when my birthday fell, hence 15 at the time.
I did the 2 year certificate and was qualified by 17 when I got my first professional job. I continued with the 3 year diploma part time.
As vk6zgo said, I've heard the current courses aren't nearly as good as they were back then. When I did mine it was an experimental thing, the first time that had run some new framework since the old E&C I think it was called? We did a lot of excellent classes that I don't think exist today, or have been dumbed down.

At your current age (I'm assuming year 9 or 10?), you probably have three options:
1) Just continue with the HSC for another 2 years and then get entry into a uni normally like all the other sheep. 99.99% of uni students do this.
2) Do a TAFE course part time, and continue with the HSC. I believe you can now get advanced credit for the TAFE stuff, but do check this stuff first for the uni course you intend going into. If it turns out it doesn't get you advanced credit, then it is not wasted, you would have learned a lot, but that would be a kick in the guts. There might be a minimum age entry these days? There wasn't when I went, you just had to pass an entrance exam to get in. This might give you a backup to get into uni if you don't get the marks you need in the HSC. And I think there might be "pathway" programs or some such that guarantee you a spot in a uni course?
3) Leave year 10 and do TAFE full time like I did. If you are sure this gets you credit and entry into uni later, then could potentially be a better choice learning wise than doing the HSC. But you'll miss out on the advanced math stuff in the HSC which will be pretty essential for a uni engineering course. I don't know, perhaps they do calculus before the HSC these days? This is a high risk option though if the uni's do not play ball, and hardly anyone does this. The unis will treat you as some kind of weirdo. Beware.

"Mature age" entry into uni used to be at least 21 in my day, and was strictly enforced. Might be different these days? That's the backup to get into uni at a later  date, and a TAFE certificate or better, a diploma would almost certainly get you into certain uni EE courses.

I'd recommend #2 and you'll be streets ahead of the average pleb come uni time.

Dave.

I believe that I am an able student and will be able to get into an EE course in my uni. Like you mentioned doing a TAFE course at the same time while at school might be an option, I will explore further into that idea.

So long you enjoy maths and physics go for it. To be completely honest the people who have lasted the course are the ones who actually enjoy it so another thing to look at if your thinking of university is the courses that you would have to take. A word of warning that some universities such as my own do not have loads of practical work. Most of it is essays and tutorial classes. HO
A great way of finding out is to see what employers want. There may be some who offer apprentiship schemes, but alot of the time they will tell you what they want you to have.

As others have been saying ignore the career tests that folk use. They reckoned I should be a plumber, yet here I am 5 years later about to graduate with a masters degree in EE.

Ill have a look at the different universities available and do some research on them.

While I am at school right now in year 10, next year I will be able to chose subjects. I know I will have to do some kind of maths, physics, but what about other subjects? Such as chemistry which is not my strongest subject.

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Online EEVblog

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2012, 02:47:58 am »
An engineering degree course at a university is academically rigorous and will require ability in mathematics, problem solving and self-discipline in equal measure. If you don't manage to buckle down and do the work you will struggle to get through it.

Indeed.

Quote
Your teachers at school are best placed to advise you whether you would be up to that. You should have a good idea yourself from your grades. If you are not getting good grades in mathematics and physics then you are not going to survive well doing an engineering degree. If that happens to be the case you should think about something more practically oriented.

I wouldn't say that.
I do think it's more important, in fact, vital, to pursue your passion, even if you fail.
If you want to do engineering at university, do it, and don't let anyone tell you you won't make it, or shouldn't do it.
Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance, especially when the games changes. Uni is not like high school, some find it easier or better, some find it harder or worse. You won't know until you try.

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2012, 02:53:33 am »
While I am at school right now in year 10, next year I will be able to chose subjects. I know I will have to do some kind of maths, physics, but what about other subjects? Such as chemistry which is not my strongest subject.

No real idea. Perhaps someone else whose has done it recently in Oz can help you out there?
AFAIK, all that matters the TER score (or whatever it's called these days), it's a binary thing, you ever get the marks to get into the course you want, or you don't. I don't think the subjects matter at all, but as has been mentioned, maths and physics are essential for a uni level EE course. So if you snuck in with easy marks in art appreciation or something, you might find yourself in trouble.

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Offline IanB

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #18 on: June 02, 2012, 02:53:53 am »
While I am at school right now in year 10, next year I will be able to chose subjects. I know I will have to do some kind of maths, physics, but what about other subjects? Such as chemistry which is not my strongest subject.

Maths and physics are essential for engineering. Chemistry less so, unless you are considering chemical engineering or something related. But an aptitude for science helps, so another science subject would be good. I don't know how the school system works in Australia, but I would have liked to continue studying a language. Unfortunately the option wasn't open to me. My university offered combined engineering with a language degrees, but only for mechanical engineering students.

Try at least to choose subjects with a degree of academic rigor to them, and avoid "fluffy" subjects like economics or business studies. Not because there is anything wrong with those subjects as such, but rather because you need all the training you can get for a university degree course. It's like training for a marathon, you want to be well prepared at the starting line.
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Offline IanB

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #19 on: June 02, 2012, 03:04:58 am »
I wouldn't say that.
I do think it's more important, in fact, vital, to pursue your passion, even if you fail.
If you want to do engineering at university, do it, and don't let anyone tell you you won't make it, or shouldn't do it.
Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance, especially when the games changes. Uni is not like high school, some find it easier or better, some find it harder or worse. You won't know until you try.

It is important to pursue your passion. The question is what path you follow to get there? I was in the position of going from high school to a university engineering degree, and it was tough. Where high school was like a gentle stroll in the park, university was like a hard work out, like running up 30 floors of a building on the fire escape stairs without stopping (have you ever  tried that?  :) ).

I can quite understand everyone's experience will be different, but do expect that a good engineering degree course will tough and searching. You aren't meant to get that bit of paper at the end of it for nothing. I don't want to scare you Mint or put you off, but do expect that each year you advance in your education the demands made of you will increase. I encourage you to go for it, but go for it with open eyes and the best preparation you can get.
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Offline Mint.

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #20 on: June 02, 2012, 10:32:08 am »
I wouldn't say that.
I do think it's more important, in fact, vital, to pursue your passion, even if you fail.
If you want to do engineering at university, do it, and don't let anyone tell you you won't make it, or shouldn't do it.
Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance, especially when the games changes. Uni is not like high school, some find it easier or better, some find it harder or worse. You won't know until you try.

It is important to pursue your passion. The question is what path you follow to get there? I was in the position of going from high school to a university engineering degree, and it was tough. Where high school was like a gentle stroll in the park, university was like a hard work out, like running up 30 floors of a building on the fire escape stairs without stopping (have you ever  tried that?  :) ).

I can quite understand everyone's experience will be different, but do expect that a good engineering degree course will tough and searching. You aren't meant to get that bit of paper at the end of it for nothing. I don't want to scare you Mint or put you off, but do expect that each year you advance in your education the demands made of you will increase. I encourage you to go for it, but go for it with open eyes and the best preparation you can get.

I will pursue my passion and my goal, to become an electrical engineer. I am finding school far too easy and it feels like its all about fun and games. I can't wait to go to uni and challenge myself and learn about electronics! I have had a look at different courses in different universities, I have the handbook of 4 universities, what surprised me was the fact that 3 out of 4 required a pretty average entry score which did not seem to be challenging. This makes me question whenever electrical engineering is taken seriously.
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Offline gregariz

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #21 on: June 02, 2012, 10:48:45 am »
I wouldn't worry about entry scores, they are mostly an indicator of demand. Many mathematics degrees have low entry points but are difficult nonetheless.
 

Offline Hypernova

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #22 on: June 02, 2012, 10:51:44 am »
I was doing pretty ok with high school math yet I sucked monkey balls at the university level to the point I almost dropped out. But then I had a blast with my senior project and aced it (my only A for the entire degree) and it reminded me why I went to uni in the first place.

In uni everybody have to survive the math but not everyone have to stick with them for the rest of their career. I got a 10 year veteran at work who used to code CD drive and servo motor FW in 8051 asm at Delta. He told me he used to be able to breeze through entire math text books back when he was in uni, now days you pick any question at random he wouldn't know what to do with them. When told what to do when hardcore math shit show up he says you just leave it to the guy with the PhD.
 

Offline nanofrog

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #23 on: June 02, 2012, 10:56:16 am »
...when hardcore math shit show up he says you just leave it to the guy with the PhD.
Math software can come in very handy too.  ;)
 

Offline Hypernova

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Re: How can I kick-start my EE career?
« Reply #24 on: June 02, 2012, 10:56:36 am »
I wouldn't say that.
I do think it's more important, in fact, vital, to pursue your passion, even if you fail.
If you want to do engineering at university, do it, and don't let anyone tell you you won't make it, or shouldn't do it.
Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance, especially when the games changes. Uni is not like high school, some find it easier or better, some find it harder or worse. You won't know until you try.

It is important to pursue your passion. The question is what path you follow to get there? I was in the position of going from high school to a university engineering degree, and it was tough. Where high school was like a gentle stroll in the park, university was like a hard work out, like running up 30 floors of a building on the fire escape stairs without stopping (have you ever  tried that?  :) ).

I can quite understand everyone's experience will be different, but do expect that a good engineering degree course will tough and searching. You aren't meant to get that bit of paper at the end of it for nothing. I don't want to scare you Mint or put you off, but do expect that each year you advance in your education the demands made of you will increase. I encourage you to go for it, but go for it with open eyes and the best preparation you can get.

I will pursue my passion and my goal, to become an electrical engineer. I am finding school far too easy and it feels like its all about fun and games. I can't wait to go to uni and challenge myself and learn about electronics! I have had a look at different courses in different universities, I have the handbook of 4 universities, what surprised me was the fact that 3 out of 4 required a pretty average entry score which did not seem to be challenging. This makes me question whenever electrical engineering is taken seriously.

Just because it's easy to get in doesn't mean it's easy to get out.
 


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