Author Topic: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?  (Read 44784 times)

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Offline owiecc

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #50 on: February 08, 2015, 07:44:10 am »
OK. Let's do an experiment:
We can do a counter experiment. This is a real world EE problem: design an active filter to remove certain frequencies from harmonic spectrum of a wind turbine. No hardware mods, only control. Will you do it without a degree?

To answer your question I would first go to the factory and observe the process. Maybe there is a fault somewhere. When I know what causes it I then may prevent it. You get good repeatability either by careful and controlled processes (this may need periodical checking due to aging) or by feedback (weighing, etc.).
 

Offline dannyf

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #51 on: February 08, 2015, 10:31:25 am »
The solutions proposed, by well qualified engineers, included a redesigned assembly line, weighing conveyor belt, pick-and-weigh machine, optical scanner, special dye for the matches, ...

The winning solution came from a temp worker who overheard the conversation. His solution? Place a fan blowing air at the conveyor belt.

Quote
you can have an airstream blowing sideways. if the box is too light it will be blown sideways further than one with the correct weight.

Bingo!

One smart solution.
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Offline owiecc

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #52 on: February 08, 2015, 10:41:35 am »
The solutions proposed, by well qualified engineers, included a redesigned assembly line, weighing conveyor belt, pick-and-weigh machine, optical scanner, special dye for the matches, ...

The winning solution came from a temp worker who overheard the conversation. His solution? Place a fan blowing air at the conveyor belt.

Quote
you can have an airstream blowing sideways. if the box is too light it will be blown sideways further than one with the correct weight.

Bingo!

One smart solution.
So the next time the humidity changes in the factory or part of the belt gets greasy or anything else gets changed his solution will fail because it relies on the friction between the box and the belt. Good engineering  :-DD But he was a temp so he will not be there to see when his idea backfires.
 

Offline tggzzz

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #53 on: February 08, 2015, 11:15:00 am »
The solutions proposed, by well qualified engineers, included a redesigned assembly line, weighing conveyor belt, pick-and-weigh machine, optical scanner, special dye for the matches, ...
The winning solution came from a temp worker who overheard the conversation. His solution? Place a fan blowing air at the conveyor belt.
Quote
you can have an airstream blowing sideways. if the box is too light it will be blown sideways further than one with the correct weight.
Bingo!
One smart solution.

Potentially a good use of appropriate technology, if it proves to be reliable.  But the anecdote proves precisely nothing about degrees. It is just as easy to produce anecdotes that demonstrate the opposite.

BTW, was there a good reason that you snipped the caveats from nctnico's thoughtful post, when you introduced this question?
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Offline IanB

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #54 on: February 08, 2015, 11:45:15 am »
dannyf's question, by the way, is a classic urban legend that has been doing the rounds for a while. As originally told it involves a toothpaste factory and empty boxes on the conveyor belt, and possibly before that a soap factory and empty soap boxes.
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Offline AndyC_772

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #55 on: February 08, 2015, 11:47:50 am »
I think it proves that people without degrees can - and I stress, can - be very poor at evaluating proposed solutions to problems.

Here we have a suggestion which might possibly form the basis for a good solution, but there's nowhere near enough detail to make a valid assessment. "Let's try using a fan" is the outcome of the very first discussion on the project, not the last, and it's not engineering. Engineering is what comes later, implementing and (above all) quantifying how well the solution can be made to work.

Offline IanB

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #56 on: February 08, 2015, 11:55:13 am »
I think it proves that people without degrees can - and I stress, can - be very poor at evaluating proposed solutions to problems.

Here we have a suggestion which might possibly form the basis for a good solution, but there's nowhere near enough detail to make a valid assessment. "Let's try using a fan" is the outcome of the very first discussion on the project, not the last, and it's not engineering. Engineering is what comes later, implementing and (above all) quantifying how well the solution can be made to work.

One commentator when considering possible lessons to be learned from the parable, pointed to a failure by all concerned to look for a root cause. It is one thing to detect and reject empty boxes coming down the line before they get to customers, but why are there empty boxes in the first place? In real life engineers would start asking why the packaging machine is unreliable and would try to fix it.
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Offline Howardlong

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #57 on: February 08, 2015, 12:06:37 pm »
Do you think it's possible to be formally taught analytical skills, or is it something that comes innately?

I've always thought that being able to nuture analytical skills is something that some people are just wired up for better, I can't think of anything I learned on my degree that  might made me any better at analysing things than anyone else.

Having experience, on the other hand, I'd say would.
 

Offline dannyf

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #58 on: February 08, 2015, 12:26:48 pm »
-I can't think of anything I learned on my degree that  might made me any better at analysing things than anyone else-

The answer is yes. Your example shows a poor program. A college, in my view, does threw things for its students

1. Learning basic knowledge.
2. Learn a structured way to solve problems. They are usually the least efficient way but will always give you a solution.
3. Networking.

A college can -teach- you 1 and 2. But you are on your own when it comes to 3.

There are exceptions to that. For example, hbs is known to teach exclusively on case studies. But networking, for many of the top schools is pretty much the only reason one goes there.
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Offline dannyf

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #59 on: February 08, 2015, 01:05:23 pm »
On what can or cannot be taught.

I don't think smarts can be taught. You can teach knowledge, even intelligence. But you can't make a dumb person smart. And no amount of degrees can solve that.

I think personality LARGELY can not be taught. We are mostly who we are and even those well trained to behave like somebody other than themselves let it slip from time to time.

All those riddles are trying to discriminate smarts, and those behavior interview questions to identify personality.
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Offline TheWelly888

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #60 on: February 08, 2015, 01:16:04 pm »
I work in a hospital repairing medical equipment. We had a vacancy for a technician recently, one candidate turned up for the interview with TWO degrees both related to engineering yet when he was tested on wiring a mains plug, he took 20 minutes to wire the plug and wired the earth wire to the LIVE (hot) pin!!!!  Additionally there were lots of exposed conductors in that plug :palm:

Two degrees is way over-qualified for that particular job so why did that candidate apply knowing he had limited practical experience?
You can do anything with the right attitude and a hammer.
 

Offline dannyf

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #61 on: February 08, 2015, 01:19:54 pm »
-why did that candidate apply knowing he had limited practical experience?-

Maybe he's a professional student? Those people can't deal with the reality so they bury themselves in the pursuit of degrees and certifications.
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Offline TheWelly888

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #62 on: February 08, 2015, 01:28:38 pm »
I did not meet that candidate so I cannot give any handle.
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #63 on: February 08, 2015, 04:54:10 pm »
I've seen interviewers use this type of question before, thinking they are being clever. A friend if mine walked out of an interview when the riddles stated. There are a lot of bad interviewers and sometimes you realise the company doesn't know what they want, or has unrealistic expectations.

Oh yes, I've seen that. There is an alternative: play with the interviewer by answering the question in all sorts of ways except the one they are thinking of :)

Once, many years ago I was asked how I would, when building the Egypitan pyramids, I would measure the duration of a workers shift. After about 5 minutes he asked if I knew the answer he was expecting (a glorified egg-timer), and I admitted I did.

Yes, I had been inspired by "The Barometer Question" (the 1968 Saturday Review variant) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barometer_question
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
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Offline free_electron

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #64 on: February 08, 2015, 05:15:27 pm »
The solutions proposed, by well qualified engineers, included a redesigned assembly line, weighing conveyor belt, pick-and-weigh machine, optical scanner, special dye for the matches, ...

The winning solution came from a temp worker who overheard the conversation. His solution? Place a fan blowing air at the conveyor belt.

Quote
you can have an airstream blowing sideways. if the box is too light it will be blown sideways further than one with the correct weight.

Bingo!

One smart solution.

Yay ! point proven. i don't have a degree  >:D
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Offline free_electron

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #65 on: February 08, 2015, 05:30:43 pm »

2. Learn a structured way to solve problems. They are usually the least efficient way but will always give you a solution.

This is a problem. if every one tackles a problem the same way you will never discover something 'outside the box' because everyone is conditioned the same way.

Here is a , at first sight, simple question where you can weed out people who have just a degree , and people who have actually built something 'outside school' or have some real experience designing stuff. The been there done that, burnt my fingers , got it working learned a lot kinda people.

Simple opamp, inverting amplifier. 9k from out to + , 1k from + to gnd. ( so gain of 10 )
5 volt power rail.
2vpp sinewave in

initially we assume bandwidth is not a problem

The theoretical guys ALL get it wrong. even a lot of the guys that have built stuff get it wrong.
here is where they fail

- clipping against power rail because too large gain
- clipping of the input because the input goes below ground and the opamp
- fail to ask if this thing is rail to rail on input and or output
- fail to ask if common mode includes ground and if not how high it sits off ground


when they finally struggle through this and get a signal out i will drill deeper and ask em this
assuming the output stays within the rails ( i lower the input amplitude or decrease the gain )
q:  what will happen if this opamp is bandwidth limited and you approach the bandwidth.
- they mostly know the output amplitude will drop. but almost all of em fail to mention the phase shift and even phase inversion.


these are fundamental things that you should know when mucking about with opamps. even before you start calculating anything you need to do a 'sanity check'. the calculation follows later when you tinker with the details to get it 'right'. First make sure it has a chance of working at all

As for why so many people with degrees show up for jobs they are 'overqualified for' .. because they can't get the job they 'think'  goes with the degree.
Degrees are good for some really cool jobs, but
- there are only so many openings ( for every degreed engineer you need 10 that do the gruntwork )
- when chosing between someone with a degree and someone with a degree + 2 years experience or someone with 20 years experience and proven track record the newly minted doesn't have a chance. this is a chicken and egg problem: Need experience but cant get experience because doesn't have experience ... very few companies are willing to train their people and let them make mistakes. it's a dog eat dog world and whoever gets the stuff to market first makes money. the rest are just 'followers'. the harsh reality.

and then there is this attitude as well ( the degreed people are spoon-fed the notion that they are better. this is a fact in a lot of universities. )

double phd shows up at foreman's trailer on a construction site. foreman says : well we really need to move that pile of dirt out of here, grab a shovel and help the guys out loading it up in the dump truck. Bit sir, i have a double PHD ... in that case, lemme explain it again to you....
Sometimes stuff just needs to be done. and it doesn't matter what degree you have.
i remember years ago in our office in brussels. some bigwig from headquarters was going to come in the next day. we were ALL instructed to clean our desks, wash the windows  , hide all oose paper in cabinets. There were a couple of phd's that were kinda complaining that that wasn't really their work and why could we not get a cleaning crew in there. the short answer was : this was just announced and he was going to be here tomorrow. if we all cleaned our desk for an hour the place would be spotless. some kept murmuring. they got the bucket with water and sponge to wash the windows.
moral of the story( true story) : sometimes everyone has to shovel shit. If you can't work together degreed and non degreed and even outside your terrain ... you are useless to the company.



« Last Edit: February 08, 2015, 05:43:02 pm by free_electron »
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Offline c4757p

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #66 on: February 08, 2015, 05:38:07 pm »
That has nothing to do with "outside the box", it's just a different amount of experience. You're basically claiming that people with more experience have more experience, which is a useless tautology...
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Offline tggzzz

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #67 on: February 08, 2015, 05:42:02 pm »

2. Learn a structured way to solve problems. They are usually the least efficient way but will always give you a solution.

This is a problem. if every one tackles a problem the same way you will never discover something 'outside the box' because everyone is conditioned the same way.
(single ancdote snipped)

You are showing your ignorance, and, are - notably - thinking inside the box!

Your ignorance is in terms of
  • clearly never having worked in a research and development environment; if you had you would realise that your statements are very wide of the mark
  • not have seen nor conceived of the different techniques that can be used to help people think out of the box
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
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Online coppice

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #68 on: February 08, 2015, 05:42:11 pm »
In my experience (UK experience) the great majority of microwave engineers don't have degrees in electronics. They have degrees in physics.
 

Offline KJDS

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #69 on: February 08, 2015, 05:47:04 pm »
In my experience (UK experience) the great majority of microwave engineers don't have degrees in electronics. They have degrees in physics.

In 25 years of working in RF and microwave electronics in the UK, I know three with a physics degree and about 100 with electronics degrees. Two of the three with physics degrees were among the worst engineers I've ever encountered. The third was one of the best.

Offline Rory

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #70 on: February 08, 2015, 05:50:47 pm »

when they finally struggle through this and get a signal out i will drill deeper and ask em this
assuming the output stays within the rails ( i lower the input amplitude or decrease the gain )
q:  what will happen if this opamp is bandwidth limited and you approach the bandwidth.
- they mostly know the output amplitude will drop. but almost all of em fail to mention the phase shift and even phase inversion.


I would have forgotten about the phase effects at the bandwidth limits. Yes, it's there in the book and some of the app notes if you look for it, but it would not have come into mind because I've never had the need to push a particular device to that limit - the gain bandwidth product and slew rate of the amp tells me whether or not it is suitable for my application and I choose a device that is suitable, and if the frequency is too high then discretes or MMIC is required.

And I do not claim to be an engineer. My parents were married when I was born.
 

Offline tom66

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #71 on: February 08, 2015, 05:56:03 pm »
Yay ! point proven. i don't have a degree  >:D

But only a valid solution for spherical matchboxes in a vacuum.
 

Offline German_EE

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #72 on: February 08, 2015, 06:01:33 pm »
I have received a few queries about the test given to prospective elevator service engineers. The person concerned is taken by another engineer to floor ten (about 30m/100Ft) in an elevator and then both people exit via the roof hatch into the shaft. They attach to the inspection ladder using their safety harnesses and then the elevator descends under control to the basement. The engineer accompanying the candidate is expected to judge at that point if they are suitable for the job.

Done right an elevator shaft is a safe working environment, parachute jumpers and bungee jumpers scare me rigid each time I see them.

Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.

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Offline IanB

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #73 on: February 08, 2015, 06:05:19 pm »
I used to work for an elevator manufacturer. ALL candidates for field service positions got a height test to make sure they could safely handle elevator shafts, fail that and there was no point continuing.

I have received a few queries about the test given to prospective elevator service engineers. The person concerned is taken by another engineer to floor ten (about 30m/100Ft) in an elevator and then both people exit via the roof hatch into the shaft. They attach to the inspection ladder using their safety harnesses and then the elevator descends under control to the basement.

OK, I now understand. It is not a test of the candidate's height, it is a test of the candidate's "head for heights"  :)
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Offline zapta

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Re: Would you employ someone without a degree in electronics?
« Reply #74 on: February 08, 2015, 06:10:09 pm »
double phd shows up at foreman's trailer on a construction site. foreman says : well we really need to move that pile of dirt out of here, grab a shovel and help the guys out loading it up in the dump truck. Bit sir, i have a double PHD ... in that case, lemme explain it again to you...

I worked one on a system that requires graphical user interface that involved navigable panoramas so we found a programmer that had experience with Flash. Since I have some formal education in math I offer my help with 'the math' but he said that he will try to tackled it himself first and indeed he did a very good job. Later I found that he has a Ph.D. math from Yale.

I know great (software) engineers, many of them have advanced degrees from top universities, so I don't understand the stereotypes and eduphobia here.
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