For the engineers..

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by MWalden, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. MWalden

    Thread Starter Member

    Apr 26, 2007
    22
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    I am planning to go to school for electrical engineering and was wondering what are some of the things you do at work? I know you design things, but what exactly?

    I am looking for examples of a typical work day being an electrical engineer or computer enginner (any type of electrical/electronic engineering) with a bachelor's degree, maybe Projects that have been worked on for work, how long it took, and for different fields of EE like video, audo, communications, etc.

    Also, what will having a higher degree like a master's or Ph.D. do for your career besides make you more money? How will it differ in the work that you will do?

    I know there has to be some different fields of engineers in here to give some examples?

    Thanks for any help.
     
  2. John Luciani

    Active Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    477
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    For embedded systems work I will design the peripheral circuits surrounding
    the uC. Some circuits consist of adapting designs from a manufacturer's application
    notes others are my own designs. The electrical engineer may also do the software design and PCB design. Since an embedded system may communicate with a host system you could also do the hardware and software design on the host end.

    Take a look at the circuit boards at http://www.luciani.org/works-in-progress/works-in-progress-index.html

    A couple of the boards on my site --
    * A uC board with an TI MSP430F169 and USB port.
    * A uC board with a MSP430F20x2 uC.
    * A power supply board powered from a SuperCap and coincell
    * A power supply board powered from a wall transformer.

    On the uC boards there are header connectors to interface with peripheral
    boards containing light sensors, temperature sensors, electromechanical parts,
    LCD controllers and a Zigbee radio. I also a couple of MIDI boards.

    As an EE doing embedded system work you may be called on to do analog design,
    digital design and software design. Depending on the size of the company you
    work for you may do your own PCB design. I enjoy embedded system work because
    of the variety of tasks that you get to perform.

    (* jcl *)

    (* jcl *)


    power supply boards that plug into the MSP430F169. There i
     
  3. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Typically, you will find PhDs are suited for careers in either research or academia - and those in that field may argue against it making them more money. As someone who works in commercial R&D, everyday is different, somtimes I can do a 5 hour day, other I can do a 15 hour day - that is the way it works. Often I find myself doing something I have never even looked at before in order to investigate a particular issue, whether reading up on a 'new' published topic, doing some computer-simulation or knocking together a design for a specific task. The thing I like about R&D, as opposed to field involving design etc, is that R&D is very hands-on - creating mock-ups is common, keeping you in touch with the rudiments of the subject and some would suggest keeping your feet on the ground (I say that, but I haven't done any mock-ups for about 12 months! - But this shows the variability).

    The question you must ask yourself is: What do you want to do? There are thousands of engineering careers out there, everyone different from the other.

    Dave
     
  4. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
    3,373
    1,159
    Dave,

    Don't overlook your contributions to those who have inquiries here. That certainly keeps your feet on terra ferma. You might not be the first to answer, but you certainly think about what everyone's written.
     
  5. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Very true Joe, I would say being involved in a community such as this one is a great way to learn something from others and keep you in touch with the rudiments of the subject. As you state, by helping others I feel it allows us to keep on top of subjects that we may not be coming into contct with on a regular basis. Additionally, I personally have learnt a lot from the many members of AAC.

    Dave
     
  6. recca02

    Senior Member

    Apr 2, 2007
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    if at all u get into power transmission stuff,
    due to all the control and instrumentation all u need to do is take readings until something abnormal happens and then call the maintenance personnel.
    if u become a maintenance personnel u'll again have to take readings periodically but at the local site and hope nothing wrong happens else its quite a headache when something trips or fails.

    its a great pleasure to help someone(which i havent had much btw :p )
     
  7. chesart1

    Senior Member

    Jan 23, 2006
    269
    1
    As an electrical engineer, you will be given the specifications for a circuit and told to design the circuit. You will probably do your design using some software program like Switchercad 3. Next you will order components for your circuit. When the components are received, you will either tell a technician to build it or you will build it yourself. After the circuit is wired, you will test the circuit and debug your design. Once the design is debugged, you will have someone lay out the printed circuit board. His job will be to determine the exact path for each track on the printed circuit board and draw it on the artwork [for lack of other terms]. You might give him assistance from time to time. You may want to verify that all connections are shown on the artwork and that everything is laid out correctly. Next the printed circuit board is ordered. When you receive the printed circuit board, you will use a meter to ensure that the circuit connections are the same as shown on the artwork. Then you will give the ciruit board to a technician who will solder components to the circuit board. Next you or a technician assigned to you will test the printed circuit board.
     
  8. RiJoRI

    Well-Known Member

    Aug 15, 2007
    536
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    I worked with an EE fresh out of school. He had the theory down pat, but when it came to actually building something, he was at a loss! We Electronics Technicians (ETs?) had to bail him out, until he went into selling vitamins!

    My point is that his school did him a disservice by not having enough Lab work for the Real World.

    --Rich
     
  9. haditya

    Senior Member

    Jan 19, 2004
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    i can quite relate to wat rijori here says...
    i am still a final yr EE undergrad.. and although we do get some lab work done. we feel that the industry is going to be a drastic leap in terms of application of theoritical knowledge. of course i dont under estimate the importance of theoritical rigor, heck instead i would rate it as absolutely essential.
    is there anything one can do, without much of college's aid, that will make that transition easier.
    (i know this is quite an off-shoot to the topic. forgive me)
     
  10. chesart1

    Senior Member

    Jan 23, 2006
    269
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    This is slightly off the original topic, but survival on the job also depends upon that person effectively debugging his design. When troubleshooting, can that person sift through the confusing symptoms and find the cause of the problem? I think the disservice is the fact that the schools don't test troubleshooting skills. A student is graded on theory and lab, but not troubleshooting. If a person cannot troubleshoot, then that person will have a very short career in electronics.
     
  11. recca02

    Senior Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    1,211
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    Most of the time its not the course or syllabus at fault it is the way students study/learn their attitude which is at fault.
    many a times the whole objective of projects etc in academia is defeated just because students find a easier way out of them.
    lab work: neither the students nor the professors take this seriously here.
    most of the focus is on the completion of reports etc which most of us copy from others most of the time.
     
  12. agentofdarkness

    Active Member

    Oct 9, 2007
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    I think that troubleshooting is built into labs. I don't think I've built a circuit that has worked the first time in my Intro to Logic Design class. I always have to go searching through the gates to find the misplaced wire or missing ground connection. I'm a second year and I have to start thinking about what I want to go into. I don't really want to do logic design. What other fields are there? I know there is power distribution, signal processing, etc but what exactly does that all mean?
     
  13. chesart1

    Senior Member

    Jan 23, 2006
    269
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    In the labs I attended, the teacher would divide the class into small groups of four or five people. Generally, each group would have a natural leader and the others in the group would end up watching. The oscilloscopes were always on with the sweep on the screen when we entered the lab. Consequently, when I got my first job and turned on an oscilloscope, I had to ask someone how to set it up.

    During the interview for the job [electronic calibration technician], I was given a color test which I failed miserably. One day I was troubleshooting a test fixture and asked the question "Which wire is ground?" Not realizing I was color blind, one associate answered "The green wire." I responded "Which wire is the green wire?" Everyone laughed.
     
  14. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Power distribution and signal processing are generic terms of certain specialist fields.

    For example, power distribution looks at mechanisms for distributing electrical power around a system, these systems could be "the-grid", aircraft avionic systems, or the power system in a building. Furthermore, signal processing looks at the process of taking electrical signals (both analogue and digital) and processing the signal in-order to enhance, suppress, remove elements within that signal for a particular purpose. For example, I work with Tomographic images and we often wish to remove noise from the images incurred as part of the data acquisition process, we also wish to enhance the quality of the target object so that more information can be inferred.

    What are the subjects you are doing as part of your course?

    Dave
     
  15. agentofdarkness

    Active Member

    Oct 9, 2007
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    Right now I am taking Intro to Logic Design and Computer Organization. I'm not really having much a problem with the coursework in either course but I don't want to go into computers. Next semester will be circuit analysis and thermodynamics. I'm still taking my core engineering courses and haven't chosen which advanced course I will take. At my college, we have to take a certain number of lower level courses and then we get to choose which higher level course we want to take. This is one of the reasons I'm trying to find out what is out there because I will have to make a decision in Fall 08 for which advanced courses I want to take.
     
  16. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Sensible approach. Do your college/university do open day sessions where you can sit in on lectures for the advanced modules? I know from speaking to a colleague that power engineering is both short of suitable engineers coming into the industry, and is needing to promote it because of the fad of economical energy production and distribution. We are also looking at getting more people into image-engineering as the technology is maturing and entering new industrial fields. There are two options.

    Dave
     
  17. chesart1

    Senior Member

    Jan 23, 2006
    269
    1
    At the vocational high school, the students in electronics would learn theory each morning and troubleshoot old equipment in the afternoons. That gave then some real practical experience!
     
  18. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Its a good idea - do they not get them "out-in-the-field" working on real applications?

    Many vocational colleges try and get companies involved to encourage the learning process. It's a two way process - the student gets good hands-on experience and the company gets an extra set of hands and first look at potential future employees with no strings attached.

    Dave
     
  19. JoeJester

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 26, 2005
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    At my vocational technical high school, we worked our senior year in a related field. We went to school two weeks and work two weeks. It was great. :)

    My high school major was Radio/TV servicing. I worked my sophmore year at fixing televisions for a shop in town, my junior and senior years I did the maintenance at a commercial broadcast radio station. From there I went into the military ... Electronics Technician.
     
  20. agentofdarkness

    Active Member

    Oct 9, 2007
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    I don't think my university has a formal program like that but I'm sure that if I go talk to the professor he/she wouldn't mind me sitting in on the lecture. I believe all the professors are required to advise students on classes so you can go talk to professors about future classes. What does power and image engineering involve? I'm looking to go into a field that most people don't even look at. Everyone wants to go into computer design and such so I want to work in a field where too many people don't work.
     
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