Calling all BSEE graduates...

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by tip, May 26, 2013.

  1. tip

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 20, 2013
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    I am transferring to a 4 year school in Fall '13 for EE. I have done the last couple years at the community college level, so I'll be starting as a junior.

    Needless to say, I'm a bit nervous!

    If you could go back and tell yourself something before your junior year what would you tell yourself? What would you brush up on, review or learn before you started?

    Just trying to get a general idea on what I should be expecting and maybe try to get ahead of the game. I keep hearing about the high drop out rate, huge workload, brutal math, etc...
     
  2. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
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    I'd probably brush up on my calculus, I had a weak grasp at that point, and struggled a bit in trying to follow what my professors did on the board.

    Another thing is, pay attention, even if the class is boring or the material doesn't seem to relate, because you will probably be needed to know about it, in some capacity, later on (even if only to know what to do and you don't remember how to do it).

    I saw a lot of people lacking basic programming skills. If you don't know how to program, or are weak in it, now is the time to hone those skills.

    On another note, what school are you applying to?
     
  3. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
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    I second the call for calculus. That's one of the most important things for you to know when going into EE. It'll also help to look at what classes you might be taking, and that should give you an idea of what to brush up on.

    Also, a problem I always had in college was that I kept thinking to myself during a lecture "I already know this", and would zone out. Then I'd miss something very important. Regardless of whether you know it or not, pay attention and TAKE NOTES. Note-taking has saved my skin more times than I can remember, even in the workplace.

    Maths and paying attention are probably the first things you should brush up on. From there, check and see what kinds of classes you'd be taking like I suggested earlier, and that'll help you figure out what else you should review.

    Good luck!
    Matt
     
  4. tip

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 20, 2013
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    Thanks for the great advice so far. I was planning on taking a few weeks before school starts and brushing up on calculus... This coming Fall it will be almost 2 years since I finished Calc 3!

    Programming - that's a good idea. I am pretty clueless when it comes to programming, I just finished Java 1 last quarter. Got an A but worked my tail off for it.

    Paying attention - another good one. I am pretty good at that, and taking notes... pretty sure its the only reason I've gotten this far ;)

    I meet with my new advisor in June, so I'll know my classes then. I'll update this thread once I find out.


    I was accepted into Seattle U's program over the winter.
     
  5. amilton542

    Active Member

    Nov 13, 2010
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    Being nervous is a good thing. The power of adrenaline can work wonders.

    If I were you, I'd just go hardcore on the maths for now.

    The electrical side to an electronic/electrical degree is virtually extinct now. Abstract areas that interest you will be down to "me" time. So with this in mind, I'd go hardcore on digital electronics and computer programming.
     
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  6. Georacer

    Moderator

    Nov 25, 2009
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    A comment on "note-taking":

    I started taking notes in the first years of my degree. Soon I realized that I was really bad at it: While re-reading them I couldn't see any continuity in the lesson and I had already sacrificed brain-time in the lecture to write them.
    So now I don't take any notes and try to focus on the lecture. If I can find notes from a colleague of mine, that's all the better, but nowadays most courses have their powerpoint notes online.
     
  7. tindel

    Active Member

    Sep 16, 2012
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    I too found that I was an awful note taker... but continued to take notes - I think this hurt me in the long run. Looking back, I would have taken less notes and concentrated more on the lectures and read the books more. I would have recorded the lectures if the professor would have allowed me so I could listen to them driving back and fourth to school too.

    It's important for studying engineers to grasp concepts - not necessarily know all of the intricate details. You might need to put some of the details in short-term memory for a few months to prepare for your exam. EE is a very broad field. There is no way a EE will retain everything they learned in college. However, the EE should retain the concepts - know where to find pertinent information on any topic, and recall the details in a reasonable amount of time.

    I would also have spent more time in the labs on my 'free time'. Real knowledge is obtained by doing.

    Finally, I would have tried to track down old exams more... some of the professors even handed them out freely! This really helps grasp concepts that aren't always found in books or might be a surprise to you otherwise once you sit down in the exam hall.
     
  8. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
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    Congratulations!

    I love Seattle, I was just there for a week last December, and was awe-struck by the city.

    With respect to notetaking, I felt that I was never any good at it, then I took the multivariate calculus class, and had to use multiple colored pens in order to show what I was trying to. All my notes after that have certain colors for certain things: asides, things to remember while doing the problem, color coded forces/fields/particles/etc. Now I can look back on notes since and get a fairly good grasp of what was going on, as one color denotes what may have been on the board, and another, what was said, or the steps taken to arrive at a solution.

    You may look weird pulling 8-10 pens out to take notes, but I was always the one people went to to explain the concepts.;)

    Anyway, good luck!
     
  9. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
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    That is a great idea tshuck.

    Things I like ...

    1. recording the instructor for replay
    2. If the instructor has PPS, and plans to instruct from it, print the PPS to the notebook and either give them out hard copy or send it to the students as a pdf. Then all the students need to do is add minor notes and pay attention. Pre-pps days, another instructor and myself, mulled over why a large percentage of the students didn't pass a course. I remembered the students with their heads down and writing vice looking at the instructor and paying attention. So we passed out our guides to the students.
    3. if there are objectives, write them down and then read the references and insert notes under the objectives.
    4. When working with schematics, color code various signals. Red for +V, black for ground, green for signals ... whatever scheme you decide. I did that for a receiver block diagram, coloring the blocks related to a function the same color.

    Whatever works to increase your retention is good.
     
  10. GopherT

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 23, 2012
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    Spend the WHOLE summer brushing up on calc. Study like you want an A. Start from the beginning and make sure you have your trig relationships memorized. Then work forward, 2 chapters per week. Hit a math/calc forums for help (if they exist).

    Next advice, read ahead. Know what your prof will talk about before class starts. When I was a TA, I was amazed that students would say, "we had to buy the book but we never used it". Well, the B and C students never used it but the course outline listed the chapters to read and weeks each would be covered. Read in advance and, whether you page through before the class then really read after class, it is up to you. You almost can skip the note taking if you read the book and take notes from the book. Books are well edited and refined with new editions (your professors notes are not reviewed by an editor and may not have been updated in15 years). Books explain things a different way, read it and things may become clearer. Same goes for the calc book, don't just do the practice problems. Read the calc book.

    Finally, drinking and pot are easily available, stay away on weekdays. Go to EVERY CLASS. spend 2 hours on homework and reading ahead for every hour in class for non technical classes, 3 hours for technical classes.

    If you are having trouble, use your professors office hours to talk,learn and get caught up. Most professors office hours are unused. Without you showing up, he will think he is doing a great job.

    Remember, you are paying the university to set up the factory, make the technology available and have all logistics, accounting and raw materials available to make the product (your education). The labor to get it done is for you to complete.
     
  11. Georacer

    Moderator

    Nov 25, 2009
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    I 'd say that those working hours are a bit extreme for five continuous years of studying.
    Instead, I 'd say that you should keep trying even if you don't understand zilch in a lesson and always have in mind why you are doing whatever you do; have an ultimate goal.
    And above all, try to have a bit of fun in whatever you do, if possible!
     
  12. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
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    I don't have a BSEE, but I have more than one college degree, so maybe my input has some validity. When I was teaching, I was amazed at how few students knew how to make (not take) notes. So, I created the attached handout; it is both instructions and an example.
     
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  13. tip

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 20, 2013
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    Some great advice so far! I like all the note taking strategies... especially the multi-color idea.

    Reviewing Calculus all summer... I was thinking about that one all night. Its a good idea for sure, whether or not I would have the motivation is another story. I will have to set some concrete goals.
     
  14. Brownout

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2012
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    The university will challenge you more than the junior college did. You might take a couple semesters to adapt. My grades plummetted when I got to the U. After a couple semesters, they recovered.
     
  15. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
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    Take lots of notes.
    Try to stay ahead of what the professor is saying.
    Always sit in the front row.
     
  16. DerStrom8

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2011
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    I second that. All my best grades came from classes where I sat in the front row.
     
  17. count_volta

    Active Member

    Feb 4, 2009
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    I just graduated from University with BSEE. My questions are, what courses did you take in community college? I transferred from community college too. The biggest thing community college gave me is a strong foundation in basic math and calculus.

    One of the first courses you will be taking in Uni is differential equations. Don't delay or skip that course. That is an extremely important course. Almost all your other courses depend on it. Pay close attention to Laplace transform and Fourier analysis in that course.

    Review some programming skills. Get yourself a student version of Matlab and learn how to use it. Write some basic matlab programs. Also go learn C. Best way to learn C is to mess around with micro-controllers like arduino and PIC. They will not stress the importance of micro-controllers and programming in the EE department, but once you get to the workplace you will be programming micro-controllers a lot.

    One of the worst mistakes I saw my friends make is get obsessed with either hardware or software. I know guys who are "hardware guy" or "software guy". They never touch both at the same time. Real electrical engineering involves both hardware and software. I was a hardware guy in the beginning and then began to play around with uC's and robots and learned to love programming. Now I graduated and got a job working on both hardware and software.

    If your school has a robotics club or radio club, join it. They will teach you very little hands on stuff in your classes and labs, but these clubs teach you how to actually build something yourself and how to solder. Plus they are fun. I made many friends there.
     
  18. Georacer

    Moderator

    Nov 25, 2009
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    I don't really think that you need to take software development lessons to program robots.

    Computer science and programming languages courses go waaaaay beyond the needs of robotics, as far as I have experienced so far.
     
  19. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
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    Sorry, Geo, I'd have to disagree. The more time I spend with robotics, the more complex a task becomes. As an example, using a camera to determine where a robot should go (path-planning) or getting a robot to be autonomous, capable of responding to situations it may never have encountered before are both very much computer science topics. Now, their implementation may be done in a low-level language (relatively), but the topics are anything but low level.

    However, none of this is to say that you cannot build a robot without these skills, just that they may be more crude or simple as a result, or that an informal understanding of a well-defined topic may be at play...
     
  20. Georacer

    Moderator

    Nov 25, 2009
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    I guess you could be right. I know friends of mine that are much more involved in software who have done neural networks and A* search algorithms. But those can also be taught in a robotics class.
    Graph search is another good example.

    On the other hand those guys have done database managment and web infrastructure which I don't deem crucial for robotics.
     
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