College Transfer - Electronics ET to Electrical Engineering: Tips for choosing Electives

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Godsninja, May 1, 2016.

  1. Godsninja

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 30, 2016
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    Hi Everyone. I never knew this site had a forum until yesterday when I was doing some research into electronics ET and EE. I read a fairly amusing thread on this forum, and even though the OP apparently had some issues, I learned a lot about the differences between electronics and electrical, as well as technology and engineering.

    As the title says, I'm doing a transfer program from my college (Durham College, Oshawa, Ontario, Canada) to a university out in the middle of Ontario, called Lakehead (Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada). These are both fairly small schools. The program I just finished was 3 years long. This transfer program is fairly old, and is usually done in 2.5 semesters. It's not a usual bridge program, I'm not even too sure if it's called a bridge. After a summer semester of math courses, some chem, (bio?), mech, and thermodynamics, I'll go right into the 3rd year of the program. I've heard that those at this university can graduate after their 2nd year, with an advanced diploma like myself. Not sure if it's electrical or electronics, though I heard it was electronics.

    Aaaaanyways, I got my conditional acceptance and I have high grades, so I'm sure I'll get in. Even if I do, and even if I don't, I'd still like to have a branch of engineering which I'd like to focus on and specialize in. That is the point of this thread. I know that a technologist is a position that specializes, but this may not necessarily be true for EE's. But it could be, right? Even though I'll be getting my bachelors in EE, it would still be a good idea for me to find my true passion within the field, right? The thing is, everything that I’ve learned in my 3 years interests me.

    I enjoy the areas of computers, as well as telecommunications, but I really like the field of industrial controls and even robotics, although we haven’t had as much exposure to these 2 as I’d have liked (don’t get me wrong, I did get the chance to automate a workcell with a Fanuc robot and conveyer system, that was awesome!). We also did 2 courses in instrumentation and control. I liked it, but I find myself wondering why there are so many jobs in this field (at least in my area). What kind of real developments occur in the field of instrumentation and controls? I can’t imagine there being developments as great as for computers or telecom, fields where I can’t recall a single job posting (maybe they are elsewhere). Although I have indeed seen my share number of jobs looking for students who have a strong grasp of instrumentation and controls, so it seems that there is demand, and job reliability is definitely important. Alas, I’m not too sure about the signal processing class, due to the professor, as well at the students in my program holding the prof back in his teachings many time, as well as an extremely large course load. I'm sure I would have really enjoyed it under more ideal circumstances (not to say that I didn't enjoy it, it just turned out to be a subpar teaching/learning experience).

    So I believe I have a strong foundation, but I’ve yet to decide on an exact area that I’d like to focus my attention on when I get to decide on my engineering electives. How did other people do it when they had to decide? Go for what interests you most? Go for what can make the most money? Most demand? Most useful skill for applications? Most difficult (less competition)? Highest future forecast? The deciding factors go on…I’ll show the electives below to give you guys/gals an idea of what electives I’m talking about:
    • ENGI 0138 Control Systems III
    • ENGI 0438 Electric Power Systems II
    • ENGI 0531 Special Topics in Electrical Engineering
    • ENGI 0550 Optical Communications
    • ENGI 0554 Power Electronics II
    • ENGI 0573 Fuzzy Logic Expert Systems
    • ENGI 0578 Wireless Communications
    • ENGI 0651 Computer Organization
    • ENGI 0654 Advanced Electronic Devices
    • ENGI 3312 Embedded Systems

    I know this has been a long post. Hopefully I’ve explained my situation well enough for you to understand, and perhaps give me some useful advice. Electives are for the winter semesters so I still have time.

    Thanks.


    - Tomi
     
  2. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    MOD NOTE: Moved from Feedback and Suggestions to General Electronics Chat
     
  3. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    All of the factors you've mentioned should be given some thought -- and there are many others such as where jobs in the various fields tend to be concentrated. YOU will need to decide what is most important to you (and that is something that is likely to change over time as your career progresses).

    From my perspective, the biggest factor should be to follow your passion. Choosing an area just because it has a reputation for more and better paying jobs is often a losing strategy because in order to get that better paying job you have to be better at it than most people and if it isn't something you LOVE doing, you are unlikely to put in the time and effort required to become that good. Remember, while nothing says that you have to love what you do, you can't lose sight of the fact that you will always be competing against people that do. On the other hand, if you follow a path that you love, you are much more likely to excel at it and be sufficiently better than most other people that even if it is a field that has a reputation for few and lower paying jobs you will have the potential to be at the top end of that spectrum. Of course, like everything, you can't take this to extremes and ignore all of those other factors.
     
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  4. dannyf

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2015
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    I would say pick a general field you want to be in (say engineering), and look around and see what your peers (=competitors) are NOT good at and focus on that.

    The biggest shortfall of any student is to be too deep in one area - whatever you learn from school beyond the first couple years is obsolete before you even learned it. They add no value to your careers - which is unlikely to be in the field of your study anyway.

    So spend the time OUTSIDE of class rooms to develop your non-engineering skills. Take advantage of the school's offerings in liberal arts programs, for example. In music, in law, in history, in arts, in social networking, in leadership, in volunteering, ..... in anything but your field of study.

    30 years from now, you will thank me for this advice.
     
  5. Godsninja

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 30, 2016
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    I hear that. I think I've read something similar from you before. I've been thinking about this, and I'm glad I love this field because I remember more than one time looking around my lab and seeing people frustrated and not enjoying what they're doing.

    What do you mean by this? As in, the third/fourth year class that's been prepared ahead of time for students that are currently in their first year? I could see this for IT, but for electronics and electrical...???

    Thanks for the feedback!
     
  6. Veracohr

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 3, 2011
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    I've been looking for a job & I see a lot of postings looking for RF or control expertise, and many of the jobs, regardless of the area of EE, are looking for at least some programming knowledge.

    Unfortunately for me, these are three things I never cared to learn.
     
  7. Godsninja

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 30, 2016
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    Yea that's something new that my program (electronics ET) has been pushing. Before my year they never did any programming. Nobody sane is going to ask for a circuit with different kind of IC's. Using an atmega328 is something more realistic. Luckily, programming in C can be fun :)

    The C Programming Language (BK&DR) is pretty good. Not much of a starters book but it's definitely a good guide to understanding what's going on.
     
  8. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    I don't follow. Look inside pretty much any device and you will see different kinds of ICs. Why would manufacturers spend billions of dollars, literally, building fabrication facilities to make all of these different kinds of ICs if only insane people are going to ask for circuits that use them?
     
  9. Veracohr

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 3, 2011
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    The ones I've seen have mostly been looking for C++, VHDL, or Verilog.
     
  10. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    VHDL and Verilog are the two dominant hardware description languages. Companies that do FPGA, ASIC, or similar hardware development are generally going to use one of these two (very possibly both since different IC vendors may support one and not the other, not to mention that third-party IP cores are often only available in one of the two.

    They're wonderful for digital systems. Far less so for analog systems (though that is steadily improving).
     
  11. BR-549

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 22, 2013
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    Now a days, any electrical studies will HAVE to include switch flipping.

    I have met people who were scared to death of it. I have also met people, who after flipping a few switches.....can't stop and do it the rest of their lives.

    A requirement now for sure.
     
  12. Veracohr

    Well-Known Member

    Jan 3, 2011
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    Oh I know, I had two VHDL courses. I just don't think it was enough (and was long enough ago) that I can reasonably say I can do it for a job. My post was for the benefit of the OP anyway.
     
  13. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    So was mine -- I was just trying to flesh out for him why those languages are so often mentioned in hiring ads and such.
     
  14. Godsninja

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 30, 2016
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    My apologies, I'm still a student. When I said ICs, I was referring to 7400- or 4000-series ICs.

    I'm extremely familiar with them for some reason as that's what my college education provided.
    I had no previous knowledge about PLD's and HDL's, until a few minutes ago when I read the introduction to PLDs in my digital textbook (something we never did as inferred), and from your comments.
    Then I have knowledge about micro-controllers.

    So I learned something very new. Now I'm left wondering where PLDs and microcontrollers really fit on the field. Google provides results about PLCs vs microcontrollers, which is much more easily understood..but it seems to me like a PLD is just a slightly lower level microcontroller that has fewer features. Correct me if I'm wrong.

    Thanks for the correction!
     
  15. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    One of the reasons why there are so many different types of ICs (the same is true for other types of products) is that different problems have different requirements. Some require speed, some require low cost, some require the ability to get the product up and working very quickly, some require a low total parts count, some require the ability to update the solution without changing the hardware. You could come up with other criteria. When solving a problem, look at the things that are important for that problem and then consider which options best meet those needs.

    PLDs are very different from microcontrollers (though the lines between products are constantly being blurred as companies try to blend the best parts of various devices). In general you don't run a program on a PLD -- it is more like a combinatorial logic circuit than a microcontroller that dues. While PLDs are less capable than other products that could do the same thing, they tend to be very fast when doing the things they are good at.
     
  16. Godsninja

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 30, 2016
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    Yea, this article goes pretty deep into the jargon. Sounds amazing. http://www.eetimes.com/document.asp?doc_id=1277343

    Although we did end up going a little astray from the topic (I almost always do), I'd like to thank you guys for all your amazing comments!
     
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