Is Electrical Engineering dying

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by rlm0360, Mar 31, 2016.

  1. rlm0360

    Thread Starter New Member

    Mar 13, 2016
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    I am an electrical engineering student and unfamiliar with the industry post graduation. A professor told me that the era of circuit design is dying and that's what I'm really interested in. Does anyone in the industry have an opinion? That comment hit me like a hammer and it seems to have truth.
     
  2. nsaspook

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    Was this a music professor?
     
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  3. ISB123

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    No but discrete design is slowly getting phased out by MCU's and FPGA's.
     
  4. GopherT

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    Where in the world do you live? What industries are in your area.

    In Pittsburgh, PA (USA) there seems to be plenty of work for everything from robotics/atonimous vehicles (uber and google are here, Carnegie Mellon has a big robotics center, Disney has their animatronics and advanced imagineering center here, lots of small and mid-sized medical device companies, a cool consumer products company putting technology in baby toys and strollers and anything else a parent could need (4MOMs), all kinds so motion control companies (Siemens, Mitsubishi, and more), several companies making upgrades for CNC tools, ... It doesn't feel like circuit design is dead around here.

    Oh, and military, and hardware encryption, and biometric encryption, and thermo-fisher scientific and all of their instrumentation, and...
     
  5. rlm0360

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    Mar 13, 2016
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    He talked like most "engineering" is being done by computer programs because of the complexity of digital electronics. So most of an electrical engineers job is being converted to programs
     
  6. GopherT

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    Let me catch my breath, I'm laughing too hard.
     
  7. ISB123

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    Engineer still has to do the schematics and PCB design, auto router screws it up a lot of times. I'm not sure how processors are designed but I believe that they are the only thing that is fully automatized because I don't think anyone can draw billions of gates that CPU has.
     
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  8. rlm0360

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    Mar 13, 2016
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    Haha okay, okay, that gives me a lot of hope then!
     
  9. rlm0360

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    Mar 13, 2016
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    I'm from Texas and you're probably right. I need to begin exploring the industry more!
     
  10. GopherT

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    What does your professor think is happening in industry? Does he think some marketing person walks into a room labelled "product development" and asks a robot or computer to make a circuit that does x, y and z? Ask him how his imaginary process works. Be really serious. Then start asking for details.
     
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  11. paulktreg

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    I think the TS has posted an interesting point.

    I work in the medical sector and if his professor is speaking solely in terms of electronic design in the USA or indeed the UK or anywhere in the west he has a point.

    I am seeing more and more equipment coming from the far east, China mainly, and it's a quality product that's almost certainly "specified" in the west but designed and built to that specification in China.

    Intel beware!
     
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  12. nsaspook

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    We shouldn't get complacent but Intel alone spends about four times as much on R&D as does the entire Chinese chip industry today. It will take at least 10 years for them to catch-up with current Intel technology, fab capacity and supplier infrastructure. You can bet Intel and others will still be 10 years ahead when that happens.
     
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  13. panic mode

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    yes but how much Chinese industry invests in copying or 'borrowing'?
     
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  14. nsaspook

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    You can't just copy or borrow a high-end semiconductor manufacturing plant that costs 5 to 6 billion dollars a pop with most of the tools and materials needed for ISO qualified products manufactured outside of China. Without massive outside help they have almost no chance of catching-up to the leading edge of technology. Intel is an 800 lb gorilla in the market, they will crush you (and enjoy it) if you step on their turf because they're one of the few players in the manufacturing tool market that can make or break your business for the long run.
     
  15. panic mode

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    maybe so but i think you overestimate what ISO, patents, copyrights, human rights, etc mean in some places of the world.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
  16. tindel

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    EE is not dying - but I think it is evolving. Microcontrollers, DSP's, FPGA's, and microprocessors are getting so small and cheap that things are naturally gravitating towards these parts. These do really take a lot of the inventiveness out of the design. And with the continued improvements I imagine it will only become more so. Many of the things that I use to design discretely are now readily available in a specialized IC as well (ie. Switching Power Supply modules, RF modules, current sensors, etc.). Even still, you will occasionally run into some requirement that requires you to do a discrete design. Even today many IC's are too expensive to justify the cost over a discrete design. Many times the discrete design won't have as good of specs as the IC, but the discrete design will still get the job done if you can spare the board space.

    I recently came up with a snazzy discrete design for a PIR sensor that used uC internal comparators and voltage reference to simplify the uC code and processor time. But it was going to cost another $0.50 - so I cut it from the design. I'm now just taking the amplified signal and putting it right into the uC ADC. Boring, but it saves significant cost.

    If you've really got your heart set on discrete design I'd suggest working in RF design, power supply design, or analog IC design.
     
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  17. Hypatia's Protege

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    As I see it, outsourcing is far more the 'issue' than is automation at this point --- An observation, sadly, applicable to many trades/professions...

    Best regards
    HP
     
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  18. AnalogKid

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    Texas Instruments (heard of them?) started out building oil well instruments in Texas. Hence, the name.

    In a narrow, myopic way your professor is correct. Complex digital ICs are impossible to design, and barely possible to conceive, without massive computing horsepower. However, he forgot to discuss the other 99% of the Electrical Engineering universe. The vast majority of EE work is not designing the devices, but designing the things that use the devices. Not not not the same thing.

    And, of course, there's that whole non-digital side of the universe. There's a word for it...

    ak
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2016
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  19. GopherT

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    Headache?
     
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  20. Lestraveled

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    Whether engineering is dying or flourishing is based on the viewpoint of the person you talk to. If that person views the art through a pin hole aperture, they would say it is dying. If that person views electrical engineering with a wide angle lens, they would say it has never been so vibrant. NEVER disregard the basics. NEVER be so arrogant that you consider some area of electrical design not worthy of learning or using.

    Electrical engineering is huge, I hope you have the wide angle view to see it.
     
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