(EE advice for all)

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Hamster, Mar 16, 2004.

  1. Hamster

    Thread Starter Member

    Mar 16, 2004
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    If often surprises me (and sometimes not) how poorly some college courses are taught. Unfortunately, I only consider a handful of teachers that I have had to be good. I have talked with many other students in varying fields and from varying schools and I have concluded that this is a constant in all education. Therefore, anyone who has had the title student has had to suffer to some degree. Recently I read, “EE is a poorly taught profession.” I am beginning to believe this statement. As an EE under graduate at Washington University and UM-St. Louis, I feel a bit overwhelmed. First off, I have a 35-minute commute and I go to two schools (15 min apart). I have two jobs and a girlfriend that is going to a school that is two hours away depending on which house I may be driving from (mom’s or dad’s).

    I have been looking for resources that may help me in the learning process on my way to becoming an engineer. I am now in my third year with approximately two to go and I am sure that there are people viewing this board that are ahead and behind me in their education. What I suggest is that we may pool are thoughts on what has worked and helped improve the learning process for this degree program. Maybe even strengthen this online resource by adding practice problems tips ect. I would be willing to help contribute information and time to do this. I know xhtml pretty well Webmaster (as most of us probably do science ppl hehe) the offer stands.

    Here is a list of my suggestions and some ideas that I have found to be useful.

    1. I tutor college algebra and trigonometry I find this very helpful in fact I plan to work my way up through the calculus series and so on.

    2. Supplemental course books can be a godsend.
    To list a few:

    Student Solutions – Get it if you need it. (Teacher solutions I’m always amused when ppl get these and blankly copy out of them.)

    Schaum’s outlines – I’ve been told that the diff eq and calc books are good. I purchased Basic Electricity (note if I remember correctly node volt method in this book was with incoming currents and it was confusing) and Electronic Devices and Circuits editions.

    Rea’s problem solvers – I have the diff eq book seemed to be helpful

    NCEES – Fundmental of engineering hand book - I have been advised to get early on.

    The Art of Electronics - I have also been advised to get this.

    Of course this online book (very valuable)

    3. I am considering setting up some lab equipment to play around with design on my own time.(maybe some ham radio gear ect.) I want to take advantage of all of the circuit schematics that are availably on the web for analysis and understanding.

    4. I just bought Texas Instruments Voyage 200, which is that fattest Calculator I have ever seen. It offers some EE software that I have began to explore I still need to print off the manuals. I know that two books are offered in regards to EE application with this calculator.

    5. Orcad Pspice – analysis software. ( I know of a free circuirt drawing software but the name escapes me I will post a reply)


    That’s all I can think of right now. Please everyone share your wealth of information good software, website links, books, studying habits, EE field references, you name it anything that may be related. Let’s put it all in one place. This site can be more useful than just getting a single question answered If everybody contributed we could turn this site into an informational power house.

    Hamster
     
  2. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
    144
    Hi Hamster, welcome to the forums :D

    Good post first off, with some interesting points. Any input I have will be different from yours because I'm across the atlantic in the UK. Our system for engineering is a bit weird too, although you could study engineering (I mean by this the main faculties - Mechanical, Electrical, Civil etc) at most unversities, if you want the best you have to study at the best; by this I mean Cambridge, Imperial College, UMIST, Bath etc. The old polytechnic universities tend to struggle to provide what employers really want in engineers - this is what I've been reliably told by several senior engineers in industry.

    Also a point to remember Electrical Engineering is a very diverse subject. Is there any part you particularly think is poor? Also you didn't mention what field of EE you are going into.

    Looking at your list of course books, the only one I recognise is The Art of Electronics - which is highly recommended to engineers who want to see little Maths! I know this book has been very popular with students at my university.

    One book I recommend to any engineer is Kempes Engineers Yearbook. I think it is released every other year with all the latest engineering information across an enormous spectrum - not just electrical but also mechanical, manufacturing, nuclear, the list goes on. Engineers I know have this book with them at all times just for reference. It is a minefield of information, but expect the Maths to be advanced. Sadly it is also quite expensive at around £120 (not sure how much that is in dollars), but it will last for years.

    I know several achives of circuits for testing and will post up links if you want. Not sure what sort of stuff you want, just let us know.

    As for calculators, I can't comment. Because my University is heavily associated with the IEE (the equivalent of the IEEE) we can only use certain very basic calculators - presumably this is to keep our Maths in top condition!

    If you want to know about software have a look atthis thread here on All About Circuits. If you have any questions or ideas post them here, I for one am always interested in hearing about new freeware to have a play around with. I have been given some links for certain freeware for circuit simulation but as of yet have not been able to check them out. I will post up a link as and when I had a gander myself.

    Anyway hope you continue to contribute to the forums and share your knowledge with the other members.
     
  3. Hamster

    Thread Starter Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    16
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    I am currently working on a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering it is a 5-year degree program offered between two schools. This is not specialized in any one area although I have many electives to choose from when I am in the latter half of the program. Here’s a program description:

    Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE)
    The BSEE degree program is designed for those who want to pursue electrical engineering as a profession including working in optics, signal processing, radar, magnetics, electronics, electronic devices, communications, and imaging science. Graduates will be prepared for practice as an engineer and for continuing studies in graduate school. The program of study is built on courses in the Department of Electrical Engineering and is designed to impart an understanding, both fundamental and practical, of the principles required for a successful career in electrical engineering. ( For more info http://ee.wustl.edu/ )

    I do not know what area of EE that I will eventually go into, as I gain more knowledge I assume I will gravitate towards my interest. I completely agree with you keeping the math up to speed is necessary and every engineer should understand the math to use the math. All of my course work has been taught with out the use of calculators. My feeling on the subject is that I can use the tool when I understand how it works. I don’t feel so guilty when I solve a system of 10 equations immediately when my counterparts are flying through scratch paper. Whatever that can make me a more efficient problem solver I look into.

    Thanks for the reply I plan to look into the books you have mentioned. I tend to be resourceful with the Internet and finding related software should not be too much of a problem. Here is a link to some circuit drawing software called xcircuit http://xcircuit.ece.jhu.edu/index.html . I have not tried it yet; so let me know if it is worth getting.

    Paul
     
  4. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Yeah the course you are studying appears to be a similar version to one at my university - Electrical and Electronic Engineering. It gives a broad base in electrical engineering from Power engineering right through to Micro-electronic engineering. Its a good choice if you don't specifically know what area you wish to specialise in.

    5 years seems quite a long time, are you doing a year in industry?

    As for the Kempes Engineers Yearbook I really do recommend it. Although they update it every other year, the changes are minimal - afterall the fundamental principles that underlie all engineering never really change. However sadly being in the electronics industry which has experienced an astromnomical surge in the last 5 to 10 years, I will probably be replacing mine a lot sooner!

    I recognise the xcircuit software, if I remember correctly, there is a link to it here on All About Circuits. Having said that I have never tried it. Once I get this coursework I have on the go out the way I will have a proper look at it. I'll also dig out those recommended links to other software that I have been given so you can have a decent look yourself.
     
  5. Hamster

    Thread Starter Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    16
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    After re-reading through my first post it seemed like I was bashing on my school directly and I just want to make a point that I am just talking about education in general. I feel like the school and the degree program I have selected works well for me. The program is a joint program between two schools and the actual estimated completion time is 4.5 years. This still is a long time for a degree of this type. The reason for the extra length is the amount of general education requirements, because it is between two schools they each want to get their share of the money. And in my case I spent some of my early years in the pursuit of music as well as science.

    On the note of spending time in the industry I would like to mention I have also been advised to do this because it is beneficial to ones education. Now that I am starting to get into more and more upper level classes I am going to look into getting a coop or internship.

    I would love input from others on this topic please help us expand this thread.

    Paul
     
  6. Battousai

    Senior Member

    Nov 14, 2003
    141
    44
    As Dave mentioned, I can not stress this enough. EE is an extremley broad field. But if I'm forced to break it down into sub categories, then the ones I will choose are: "Circuit Design," "Devices and Device Fabrication," and "Signals, Systems, and control." I can explain these categories it someone wants me to. :unsure:

    I'm a 5th year double major (EE and materials science) student specializing in Circuit Design (Analog). I also have a pretty extensive background in devices and fabrication as well. My signals background is pretty weak and I wish I could have studied signals and control more, but with a double major it is difficult to do.

    I've had my share of poor teachers, but to be honest with you I am very satisfied with my educational experience. The EE program is actually a 4 year program at my school (UC Berkeley - EECS), but I was granted extra semesters due to my double major requirements.

    Most of the classes I've taken have been very professional. The professors are very accessible and treat the students as individuals. If you take the time to talk to them you'll find that they are very fair people. In most classes there are numerous resources to learn the material: the lecture itself, professor's office hours, usually a text is closely followed in the courses or a text is recommended, lecture notes are made available on the internet, and in some classes the lectures are even taped so you can watch them if you miss them or fell asleep or whatever.

    I believe that being a successful engineering student begins with getting yourself involved in all of these activities. Attending lecture, asking questions, talking to the professor make it easier to study. I use to study all by myself and tried to learn everything all by myself without any help because I felt that's the best way to learn and become smarter- however it's also very difficult and requires a lot of discipline! Sometimes with a hectic life it is too difficult to do.

    So my recommendation is to spend as much time as you can at school- this really builds your interest in the subject. Some people go to class and come home- it's hard to develop interest this way. Interest in the field will help you study and become a successful student. B)

    Figure out where you want to specialize in. For me I figured this out near the end of my third year- I wish I had figured this out earlier. And there's nothing really holding you back from figuring out what interests you. Talk to professors, other students, read about research, do whatever it takes to figure out what interests you. It makes your educational experience more worthwhile because you can begin to relate the material you are studying in class to something that interests you.

    So in my case I believe that the EE program at my school is excellent, however a lot of it has to do with hard work on my part. But you are right, some programs are poorly taught: I have taken some physics courses and I believe they are very unprofessional: usually there are no lecture notes made available, so sometimes your note taking ability factors into how well you do. Also they usually don't follow any textbook very closely. Sometimes they follow chapter 1 and 5 of book A and chapters 3 and 7 of book B, etc. This is annoying, not everyone is going to buy multiple books for one class and there aren't 40 copies available at the library to check out. Finally if you miss a lecture all you can do is get the notes from someone else- now your ability to learn depends on the note taking ability of whoever you borrowed the notes from and your ability to decipher their notes. :ph34r:

    I honestly feel spoiled by the professionalism of my EE program. For analog circuit design I recommend:

    "Analysis and Design of Analog Integrated Circuits" Gray, Hurst, Lewis, and Meyer

    I believe this is a popular book and you may have heard of it. It's kind of hard to read at first (at least that's what I thought), but you get use to it and it really is like a bible of analog circuit design.

    I will also bash some books: For physics, any book written by Kittel sucks. They are just terrible books. You can't learn anything from them. Specifically I've read "Thermal Physics" and his famous "Solid State Physics" Horrible horrible books, save your money, drop the class, do whatever you can to escape.

    I've also heard that "The Art of Analog Layout" is an excellent book. Analog layout is not something that is covered in undergraduate courses (at least at my school), I wish this topic was covered more as it is extremley important.

    The only complaint I have about my program is that there are only 2 undergraduate analog circuit design courses. I'd like there to be more. Also we're lacking a power analog circuit design course (for undergrad).
     
  7. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    I kinda took it that you were having a go at education in general :D I really can't comment on joint educational ventures between different universities/school, but I suppose if your happy with it working for yourself then thats good - afterall, thats all that really matter.

    Our undergrade Master courses are 4 years minimum and thats before you've even done any post-grad studies, so the 4.5 years you will be doing seems quite a normal degree.

    On the subject of working in industry I would recommend it highly. One thing to remember about engineering is that it is driven by the practical aspects of the industry and not by theory. Therefore industrial experience is essential. I was lucky (in some respects) because I started working in industry and then went to university so I already had a vast amount of experience of industry. I know it has proved a problem for certain graduates (I know) in the UK, who, when they have gone to get a job, have struggled because of a lack of practical experience in industry. I take it a coop or internship is like a sponsorship from a company? <_<

    Good post Battousai, I agree with all your comments about showing an interest in the subject goes along way to helping you succeed in it. Afterall you will be doing this job for the rest of your working life, so you got to enjoy it :D Also the systems of work you seem to have in place at your university seem very similar to mine, i.e. the following of a course text, lecture notes etc.

    Good topic :D
     
  8. Battousai

    Senior Member

    Nov 14, 2003
    141
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    I forgot to write about industry experience.

    Yeah it's hard to get a job right now, but it's picking up.

    If you have an opportunity to intern or take a semester off and work, I would definitley go for it. Once you graduate you have some industrial connection and can always go back and work there. This is very important!!! I'm looking for work right now as this is my last semester and it's not easy!

    A lot of my friends who interned don't have such a hard time because they go back to their previous employers.
     
  9. Optikon

    New Member

    Mar 18, 2004
    8
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    Hi guys, I'm new here. The forum looks great. I would also like to add that in addition ot the industry contact(s) you make, you will learn very valuable real life problem solving skills that are not taught in school. I have had my BSEE for 5 years now and I realize how valuable my co-op experience really was.
     
  10. SteveYTI

    Member

    Feb 9, 2004
    23
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    I must absolutely say first of all that I am lucky to have stumbled upon my summer job turned first job out of school. I must also say that I feel as though I found a way to graduate without really memorizing some fundamentals. If you were to make a website I would find a way to drill these things into the minds of the innocent :D These things are what you would find in any fundamental coursework. I attended Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester MA. There was a series of 5 classes aimed at fundamental EE work. Analog circuitry, Digital Circuitry, Labs .. everything. Signal Analysis was required coursework to get into the higher level analog and digital logic classes. Every school seems to go about teaching engineering differently. I think the main idea here is that most of my learning of concepts came when I was working with fellow students who understood the topic. Can a professor of practice write an equation on the board and expect the entire class to just get it like they do...I think absolutey not. The best way is to comprehend a topic and teach it to your peers. OR be on the recieving end. For a website of knowledge, submissions of "howto" and personal tricks I think would be the way to go. Take loop equations there is one way to do this type of problem but everyone I knew took a different approach, sooner or later they found thier way to a common point. Every exam I took had a list of necessary equations included. It is not the easiest to plug into an equation. One needs to know how to apply the concept and identify that this is the equation to use and here are the variables. It is easy to solve a written problem but as Dave knows from one of my previous posts, its a whole lot different when you are also creating the problem with a pencil and a piece of paper. (I have had to shelve that project for now BTW) Most employers will let you know exactly what you are working with and how to do what you need to in order to justify keeping you employed. Its your ability to understand the topics presented in training that enable you to be comfortable at your job. I have learned more by using a simpson meter and oscilliscope everyday then I did sitting in lecture. Having to use schematics everyday has helped quite a bit too. Something I don't remember a lot of in my bachelor program. Labs were very rigid... there was not much exploring -- This is too long -- I am definitely willing to help with the presentation of information of such a website drop me an email at electronics@yeagletech.com.
     
  11. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
    144
    Hi Optikon, welcome to the forums :)

    Just to pick up in one thing you have mentioned that is a key issue when students graduate and they go to get a job:

    you will learn very valuable real life problem solving skills that are not taught in school.

    It is a general perception, particularly here in the UK I'm sure what its like in the US, that graduates may very well be good at sitting down and working out the Maths and talking a good job, but give them a practical problem in front of them and they are lost. Although graduates can learn these skills when they get a job, its a case of the employer has to take a risk on a graduate while they are aquiring these practical, work place based skills. These are arguements for students obtaining practical work place based experience whilst doing their degree.

    Good to see you posting again Steve, sorry to hear about the project being shelved for the time being, I was wondering why it had all gone so quiet! Perhaps you could let us know what went wrong (over in the thread not to derail this topic ;) )
     
  12. Hamster

    Thread Starter Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    16
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    My first post I was blowing of some steam. I got burned on a test well not really burned I got a mid “c”. Long story short I picked out a schedule on short notice that is nearly impossible. . I have been busy recently, focusing my time and efforts towards school. But I always wanted to inquire about the project SteveYTI mentioned.

    I have a suggestion. Instead of going to the great efforts of creating something new lets encourage expansion of this community. I have noticed the addition of math symbols for the forum which I think is great. This site has the possibility to become a great electronic informational resource. It would be wonderful if it could be set up in such a way that members could freely submit information similar to an open source project (Except we are not all computer nerds we’re electronic ones. lol). The trick is to display this resource in a usable and formatted manner in addition to the forum. We already have the means to do this I plan on making donations to Tony R. Kuphaldt open book in hopes it will trickle back down to this site. More information on his book can be found here http://www.ibiblio.org/obp/electricCircuits/ . I realize all relevant topics are not well suited to be in a text book some examples might be study habits, examples of different paths that can be taken within this field, resourceful books, others that I have said in my previous post. We still be able to take advantage of the authors formatting scheme to present these topics. What do you think? Pros and Cons?

    Paul
     
  13. SteveYTI

    Member

    Feb 9, 2004
    23
    0
    Wow that is some site. And free at that... Just read the first of his chapters, skimmed really. When Ive got more time I will definitely read up to Nodal Analysis and see how he presents that. Thevenin Equivalents as well these are things that I believe weren't taught like they ought to have been. Fundamental classes I think should be a part of any EE cirriculum (just like spelling) and they should be graded Pass/Fail vs Letter Grades. Dunno my two cents, but thanks for this resource!
     
  14. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
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    That e-textbook on the ibiblio.org site is the basis of the All About Circuits site. I know Tony Kuphaldt posts here occasionally in this forum and he approves of the All About Circuits 'face' of his books. The beauty of the AAC site is the search facility which makes searching for a specific item easy.

    I agree with you Steve about the fundamental topics and concepts which are essential (in any field). I remember when I did my Higher National, the exams were split into two sections - section A which were core topics and you had to get 100% just to pass the course, and section B which dictated your grade, you get 0% on section B and you merely pass, get over 90% and you pass with distinction. Pretty good system I think.
     
  15. Hamster

    Thread Starter Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    16
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    I have just sent an email to the author. Hopefully he has time to respond, concerning a submission of practice problems I plan to make for his text.

    Paul
     
  16. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
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    The author of the textbook occasionally post here on the forums, hopefully he will drop by and offer his input on this matter. Keep us posted Hamster on what he says, thanks.
     
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