Am I too dumb for this?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by duffdong, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. duffdong

    Thread Starter New Member

    Sep 15, 2008

    I am probably not thinking very straight right now, and what I type may seem jumbled. If it does, please stay with me.

    I didn't have a very good time at school. I had a death in the family when I was about 6, and suffered a partial amnesia on my life upto a certain point. (some sort of ptsd). The reason I am telling this is that any base for my education was lost. All basic maths and english were forgotton. By the time I got to secondary school I was already well behind the curve. As a double whammy I also was regularly assaulted at school (weak kid, dealing with problems) and had to leave school at 15.

    Fast forward ten years. I have always been scared of maths, and I don't do too well at it. (It's my worst subject)

    So I have managed to struggle by with no maths education, but now I think I have found what I want to do - Electronics engineering. What I want to ask is do I have a chance? I'm old, poor at maths and scared of it. I'm not a dummy and am quite bright, but I just want to ask whether or not my goal is possible or I should forget it and do something else?

    Thanks for listening.
  2. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    Electrical engineering is much more than the maths. Whilst a basic understanding is a necessity, a deep understanding of maths is typically restricted to certain aspects of this field. You will probably find that if you have a passion for EE the Maths will come easier and you find that you are more proficient and confident in applying mathematical constructs.

    Rest assured this site will help you if you want to learn about electronics - check the e-book and worksheets, and if you have a problem the forums are here to help you - everyone here at this site was once new to electronics so we know how it feels to be daunted by a new and challenging subject.

  3. hgmjr


    Jan 28, 2005
    I concur with dave's comments and would like to emphasize that if you possess a true passion for electronics you will be motivated to excel in those skills you need to succeed.

    Many of the members here, myself included, would admit to their own weaknesses in various areas. Most if not all of them have surprised themselves at what they have been able to learn because of the powerful curiosity that has driven them to acquire the understanding needed.

    As dave also pointed out, if you read the material and engage in some hands-on experimentation you too may be surprised at what you can learn. When you hit a snag then you will find our members are eager to assist you whenever possible.

  4. silvrstring

    Active Member

    Mar 27, 2008
    duffdong, Don't sweat it.

    Michael Faraday wasn't so great at math, but he had an intuitive feel for electricity and magnetism. Now you can't look at a capacitor without thinking of his name--literally!

    If you like it, give it go!
  5. theamber

    Active Member

    Jun 13, 2008
    Is obvious this guy is just joking or making a psychological experiment.
  6. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
    Duffdong, you have made your number one post (1).You have made a whole post.You can't make a half post. But you can have one haft
    of a pizza.That would be decimal .5 decimal, two .5x.5 = 1 pizza.
    So all basic Fraction's and decimal's are less than one.Come on guy's
    give Duffdong some example's.
  7. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    Most of the folks are extremely helpful, so feel free to ask questions. The occasional offputting reply is rare, and is dealt with if it is too obnoxious.

    I enjoy working with my hands, but I enjoy conceptual stuff more. I think you'll like it here.
  8. SgtWookie


    Jul 17, 2007
    Really duffdong,
    Don't sweat the math part too much. It's far easier nowadays than it was 40 years ago.

    Math is certainly not my strong suit either. I had a terrible time getting a handle on trigonometry; my tools at the time were pencil, scratch paper and a slide rule. I spent $75 on a used Texas Instruments' handheld calculator; it's most advanced function was a built in square root key. At the time I bought it, that was more than a week's pay.

    Nowadays, you can download programs that can simulate entire circuits pretty accurately - for free. It takes some time to learn how to use them, but it's far faster, easier and more accurate than having to work everything out on a scratch pad with a slide rule.

    The biggest battle that you will face is knowing how to look things up. If you have an idea of what you need to know, you can do a search for it on the Internet, in a library, in a datasheet, in a parametric search engine.

    Knowing how to do the math is good. But you can always find the formula for the math, and simply plug the numbers in - the answer pops out the other end of the formula. A spreadsheet program gives you a tremendous amount of computing power with even what's considered a low-end computer nowadays.

    Try some small projects. Don't take on anything too complex in the beginning, as complex projects for a beginner tend to not end well.

    I strongly recommend that you pick up the Electronics Learning Lab from Radio Shack:
    It's $70. If there is no Radio Shack nearby, they offer free shipping for orders over $50. You will also need six "AA" Alkaline cells to power it. It does not also require a 9v cell as the website says. You can use rechargeable batteries if you wish.

    This lab is worth the price for the project board alone. It also comes with a number of components, jumper wires for the board, and two Lab Manuals. The Lab was designed and written by Forrest M. Mims III, who is a highly regarded citizen-scientist. He makes electronics easy and fun. His personal website is here:

    His commercial website is here:
    "Getting Started in Electronics" is a very good book to have, particularly if you're new to it.
    On this page:
    I highly recommend Volumes I and IV. I keep both nearby, and refer to them often. My copies are quite dog-eared, and have a number of pages "flagged" for quick access. These are must-have reference books.

    You don't have to keep everything in your head. You just need to remember where to find what you need.
  9. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    I second that projects kit, their still fun even at the advanced stage.
  10. SIcam

    Active Member

    Aug 9, 2008

    Disclosure statement: Please do not take this wrong or think in any way I am discouraging you from pursueing your dream or passion but I will try to state facts!

    1. Some people are very modest and will state they are not good at something but until they are tested there is no good way to fully understand their current condition. (Placement Testing)

    2. After assessing the current state of condition, then the next course of action can be taken to lead them to the path that will get them to their desired location. ( Planned course layout).

    Now you state that you would like to go into Electronics Engineering - from my point of view - go for it however, there are different levels of education and if you plan to make this your living that will put food on the table then you need to fully understand how deep the pool is that you are diving into. I am going to try to break this down into levels of education/degrees.

    Hobbiest in electronics -
    A. no class time to get done or most of your time.
    B. Education at your own pace and course levels you choose your own path.
    C. Math Level - non required.
    D. No certificate, No degree, Resume states -Hobbies - electronics.

    Certificate in Electronics Technology -
    A. About 1 year in class but hands on or might be on line.
    B. Education is hands on labs
    C. Math Level - non required but they may ask to do simple math +-/*.
    D. Certificate -

    Associate in Science in Electronics Technology -
    A. 2 years of schooling - 60 hours
    B. Education covers Basics in English, Math, etc. and Electronics mostly hands on courses.
    C. Basic math +-/*.
    D. Associate in Electronics Technology

    Bachelors in Science in Electronics Technology
    A. 4 years of Schooling - 120 hours (60 from AS in Electronics Tech)
    B. Education covers a little more math but mostly core classes.
    C. Math but not hard.
    D. BS in Electronics Technology Management/Engineering.

    Bachelors in Science in Electronics Engineering
    A. 4 years of schooling but a different path than Technology courses.
    B. Education covers in depth math and detail Electronics
    C. Math will most likely be Algebra, Trigonometry,Calculus, Differential Equations, Linear Algebra.
    D. BS in Electronics Engineering

    The most difficult part is understanding that the University requires the math and you must pass the course to get the Diploma from them. At the Major University level you compete with everyone in your class and everyone has the ability to learn if they have the passion and apply themselves.

    Do you have a chance? DEFINITELY
  11. scubasteve_911

    Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2007
    I don't like to be the negative nancy here, but you need to understand your boundaries.

    For employment, I give everyone the same advice. Your success as an employee depends on how many people can do your job and how much demand there is for it. I recommend picking a career that you know you can do very well and that has a high demand. The same as not everyone is meant to be an artist, not everyone is meant to be an engineer. Since humans do not comprehend much past what they can see, sometimes this is unclear. For example, it is clear when watching an artist paint that it is a gift and not everyone can pick up a paintbrush and do the same thing. But, how to judge the mind to its potential in that same manner?

    I had moved in with several other students during my first year at University. One of them was very handy and could make anything out of wood. He was very well-spoken and was able to come up with high level ideas. Unfortunately, he never really understood math. I have never seen someone work so hard for something! He studied all the time.. He pretty much flunked the first semester, then had a second chance. Being terrified, he studied even harder. I tried my best to help him, but he was honestly mathematically-challenged. He was kicked out the next semester. He was a very good friend to me and it was sad to see someone try and fail, especially when I was able to do it without a fraction of the effort.

    One other roommate flunked out too, but that is because he liked to party more than study. This wasn't too sad to witness, especially since he kept me up all the time.

    Anyways, just try your best to understand your strengths and how you can apply them to the employment world. Much easier said than done in a lot of cases.


  12. scubasteve_911

    Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2007
    Maybe if you denoted * as a complex operator :p
    I spent three years getting my technologist certificate. I learned a lot of control theory, solving ODEs w/ laplace, and fourier analysis. I also had to take two calculus courses, doing matrices, differentiation, integration. It was not as simple as you state, although I did find the high level math easy.

  13. SIcam

    Active Member

    Aug 9, 2008
    Steve - each school/college/university is different. Some require more than others in their curriculum. I am not stating if it is easy or difficult but merely wanted to give some facts to help with the difficult decision that was posed. Engineering typically requires a large amount of high level mathmetics and is more oriented to theoretical design vs. Technology courses is more oriented to hands on. Some Universities also give Mathematics Minors to Engineering students who do a little extra math as their electives since Engineering Majors have taken so much math. However, there is a clear difference between Hobbiest, Certificate, Associates, Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees. There is also aa difference between an Engineer and a Technologist.

    I have seen a couple times were the Hobbiest got a better solution to the proble than the Engineer with the Phd.

    Back to the original question posed. -

    With time, passion and persistance anything can be achieved. Somethings just take longer.
  14. duffdong

    Thread Starter New Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Thanks for all the replies all.

    I'm going to do a refresher course in Maths, and see if I can get up to the level of entry to a degree.

    Would anyone try to dissuade me from becoming an EE? (for any reason, lack of jobs, poor salary etc). (I'm from the Uk.)
  15. scubasteve_911

    Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2007
    As I was inferring, do it because you think you will enjoy it. Too many fools join engineering because they think they're going to get rich or have great job security. The only reason I would ever considering getting into this field is if I really enjoy it. If you want money and job security, become a doctor or a lawyer. If you want a tough life full of problems for a modest pay, become an engineer.

  16. RiJoRI

    Well-Known Member

    Aug 15, 2007
    Duffdog --
    My electronics education came from a trade school, which was light on the maths, and strong on the hands-on experience. I was going to go for an EE, but work got in my way! :D

    I would say that you should look into the EE schooling, but maybe the Electronics Technology route may fit you better. While the trade school did give a test before they accepted me (and my money! ;D), and the test included maths used by children in the 6th grade (the 6th year of school here in the States), unless you absolutely could not add two numbers, they would accept you.
  17. duffdong

    Thread Starter New Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    Hi. I'm not from the US, so I'm not sure what you mean by Electronics Technology. Could you clarify? Thanks, man.:D
  18. niftydog

    Active Member

    Jun 13, 2007
    Pure maths, or maths for maths sake can be boring and extremely difficult to grasp.

    Maths with a clear, practical purpose, such as solving engineering problems, is much easier to get along with!

    I say go for it!
  19. SIcam

    Active Member

    Aug 9, 2008

    Electronics technology majors learn the basic skills needed to operate, maintain, install, and repair electrical and electronic equipment. (Technician for electronics)

    Electronic engineering is a discipline dealing with the behavior and effects of electrons (as in electron tubes and transistors) and with electronic devices, systems, or equipment. (Design of electronic equipment)
  20. duffdong

    Thread Starter New Member

    Sep 15, 2008
    I see. So what are the prospects like for Electronics technicians vs Engineers? What jobs would a technician by emplyed for/by?

    I can't say I have ever seen any jobs like this, but then I never knew what to look for.

    Would you say that a technician would be looked down upon by an engineer for not being as smart?