Ok, so I graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by assassin___0, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. assassin___0

    Thread Starter New Member

    May 10, 2011
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    But I don't feel like an engineer... at all. It's like I passed these four years of school solely on prayers. Luckily, i have a family business in industrial machine repair, like motor drives and power supplies, so i guess i'm still employed one way or another. All the other companies i applied to turned me down, most of them because of my social skills.


    So what I plan on doing now is self educating on things that are relevant to the work industries, not crap that only matter in books. So in case I start applying again I'll have luck. My work shop is a great place to practice too during times i'm not repairing.


    Can you guys suggest some things to brush up on/ extensively practice on things related to power electronics? So if I go to apply for a power electronic position, i'd have some good stuff in my experience.

    On another note, i know circuits are like bread and butter of electrical engineering, but I feel i don't know enough of general common circuit designs. I'm talking small things, like I know there is such a thing like a voltage follower circuit to add high impedance at the input. Do you have a useful links that I can use to brush up on circuits that are application oriented, and not just explanation using math.

    This was kind of a long post, but business is slow as hell and i'm sitting here doing nothing right now.
     
  2. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    LOL! It is common knowledge that a brand new BSEE lacks practical skills. You don't have much of the wisdom that comes from experience.

    The way this site works, most of the time, is that we are problem solvers, often referred to as, "nerds". You come up with an idea to control something and we clear up the details. So, pick one application and we'll go through the necessary parts and connections, clearing up misconceptions along the way. It turns into a conversation that lasts as long as necessary.

    Edit: MrChips! That was harsh! You might be right, but self education is the stated goal and we all know that self education continues all of your life. If somebody shoots this guy in the foot, I'm going to let it be himself. Until then, he is as welcome as any other random stranger.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
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  3. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    Hopefully not because of the implication in your Forum name! :eek:

    If you want to dabble and learn hands on, a project that covers pretty much all avenues, Power, Drive Technology, Logic etc, is to put together a basic stepper motor controller with self built power supply and step direction control.
    The sourcing steppers off ebay etc the total cost will be minimal.
    Just one avenue to explore, and hey, you may be able to sell them?
    Max.
     
  4. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
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    Going through the eBook, and some of the experiments might benefit you.

    If you have the ubiquitous Sedra/Smith book, going through that provides a lot of insight, though it does use math to prove and show relationships (a good thing).

    I would recommend applying for jobs you may not find glamorous, but relates to what you want to end up doing - no one will hire a fresh graduate for designing power supplies, but you can grow into it.
     
  5. assassin___0

    Thread Starter New Member

    May 10, 2011
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    Ok MrChips, listen bro, i don't party nor do I drink. Be more useful next time please.


    I'll research the stepper motor idea before i commit to it. I want it to be a complex project. Just so you guys can get an idea, my senior design project at my university was to build a solar powered batter charger. I designed the buck converter topology, with voltage sensors and current sensors, and controlled the switching with a 32-bit micro controller. (the voltage sensor was essentially a voltage divider -> voltage follower -> 3.3v latch -> filter -> microcontroller). We made the layout of the pcb, ordered it, tested it... well it's a long explanation if I were to describe everything.

    I'm familiar with the design process. I'm interested in learning the little things in the circuit that help accomplish the main goal. Plus, some more control design would be nice as well.

    But ya, i'll check out that stepper motor and lets you guys know if I decide to do it.
     
  6. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    Complex is relative, I did not know what your level is at the practical level.

    If you want to get into a continuous growing technology, it would be in the CNC field, where there is an ever growing demand for Technicians.
    This covers many disciplines, starting with Electrical power and Servo technology.
    Incidentally, the advent of PC based software such as Mach3 has allowed the average non-technical person to take it up at the hobby level and build a small CNC machine that was previously only available at the industrial level using Mitsubishi, Fanuc, Fagor and Siemens systems for e.g.
    Max.
     
  7. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    Read your own words trying to think of them as having been written by someone else that is asking your advice. This person says that all of the companies he applied to turned him down because of his social skills. Yet he doesn't mention taking any steps at all to improve his social skills. So why wouldn't history just repeat itself the next time he applies to a bunch of companies with the same social skills that the previous batch of companies rejected him over?

    Two people going to the same school at the same time taking the same courses -- and even getting the same grades -- can leave college with very different skill sets. The student that took each course as just one more requirement that had to be checked off on the road to a piece of paper that was going to result in companies throwing lots of money at him will frequently end up not having any practical skills and feel like they have wasted a bunch of time and money on stuff that only matters in books. The other person saw each course as an opportunity to learn new things that they then made a concerted effort to find ways to apply them in the read world, often via hobby interests developed specifically for that purpose. This second person ends up with considerable practical skills that they can apply right away and are in a position to begin the life-long journey of learning that their degree work has prepared them for. The first sees the degree itself as the end goal, while the second sees the degree as a license to learn.
     
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  8. Wendy

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    Mar 24, 2008
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    Another good way to gain experience is look for Maker Spaces, where all the tools you would need for DIY projects can be used pretty cheaply. Basically it is up to you to get practical experience, DIY is a good start.
     
  9. Georacer

    Moderator

    Nov 25, 2009
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    @MrChips,

    You sound like you have some sore personal experiences regarding graduate students. Yes, we all have our experiences with people having a degree and being able to solve even the simplest problem. Even worse, sometimes they expect to receive a desk and a seal with their name from day one.
    But there is no reason to generalize. assassin___0 asked for help without arrogance and so far nothing is wrong with his request.

    @assassin___0,
    It is normal to have little practical skills when coming out of the university, especially in some countries more than others. Unless you got yourself involved in real-world projects, then you will find yourself lacking any sense of direction.

    My advice: Pick a field that seems interesting and build a small project. The stepper motor suggestion is a fine one. At first it will be difficult. You will not know what to do or how to achieve your short-term requirements. But keep on reading, googling and searching and eventually you will sort it out. It is more a matter of persistence than knowledge.
    Eventually you will develop a sense of problem solving and engineering.

    About your social skills, I don't think we can't be of much help. We simply don't know you and therefore can't judge you. Take a good look inside you, be brave and be the harshest critic of yourself there is.
     
  10. ronv

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 12, 2008
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    Or find a good mentor that works on something you like. We used to hire lots of new grads and put them with senior engineers. A lot of those guys are hot dogs now.
     
  11. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    +1 Nailed it.

    I'd be very concerned about what went into the "social skills" comment. It doesn't mean you lack the skills to host a nice holiday dinner party. It might mean interviewers found you too quirky or so antisocial as to be ineffective in a team environment, which most jobs are. It could mean you had bad hygiene or never smiled, or who knows? They didn't want to risk hiring you. Or your comment could be a coping mechanism on your part to rationalize why your C-average transcript didn't get employers very excited.

    We don't know the reality - but you really need to know and face up to whatever you meant by that. If you really need to go to charm school, for goodness sake do it! Could be valuable life skills in and out of work.

    Short of working for someone or taking classes, i.e. to generate documented skill sets, I don't think self-taught skills will help you much in getting a job. Not nearly so much as erasing whatever deficiency you have already identified.
     
  12. MrChips

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    Oct 2, 2009
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    I am really ticked off that there are millions of people in this world that genuinely want to go to college but cannot afford to. Yet some folks get their parents to pay their tuition and then they discredit their school as teaching crap and wasted a great opportunity to be useful to society.
     
  13. wayneh

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    I think there's more going on here than any failure of the educational institution.
     
  14. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    Also, it's worth taking a step back and asking why you believe all of those companies based their decisions on "social skills". Most companies, by policy and out of fear of lawsuits if nothing else, will simply not tell someone why they chose not to hire them. So there is a high likelihood that you are drawing conclusions regarding why you didn't get hired and it would be worthwhile for you to take a hard, critical look at what you are basing those conclusions on.
     
  15. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    It's a sword that cuts both ways.

    I definitely agree that there are lots of students that, for a host of reasons, do not take advantage of the educational opportunities they have been presented with.

    But there are also plenty of schools out there that are basically shams. Many of the for-profit schools (not nearly all -- there are some truly fine for-profit schools) fall into this category because student loan and VA benefit rules have created a fertile ground for people to set up essentially fraudulent schools to bilk students and the government out of lots of money. They prey on students that, for whatever reason, are not really qualified to attend a "real school" (be it public, private, or for-profit) and pump them up with lots of platitudes and promises to keep milking them on their way to a worthless degree. The very fact that there are some really good for-profit schools makes it easier for the sham schools to keep pulling this off because they bask in their good reputation by association (while, at the same time, tainting those same reputations by recipricol association).

    Of course, in this case, we have absolutely no idea to what degree any of this might or might not apply.
     
  16. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
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    I always struggle with the relevance of whether an organization is "for profit" or not. Almost all "not for profit" organizations have paid employees and, for that reason if for no other, there is a vested interest in whether or not the organization continues to exist. "Not for profit" doesn't necessarily mean altruistic. Schools are no exception.

    Not for profit schools are usually regarded as more legitimate than for profit schools, but there are many colleges and universities, both private and public, that are "in the business" of attracting paying students. There is one private university in my area that is a good example. It has transformed itself from a small struggling liberal arts college to a thriving university based primarily on awarding graduate degrees based largely on "life experience." in the process, it has gone from being financially "strapped" to "flushed."

    So, it's not just the "for profit" schools that are encouraging unsuitable people to pay for higher education that may have no value in the workplace.

    ETA: In no way do I mean this post to imply that the OP's degree is not valid and valuable. I have no knowledge whatsoever about his educational experience. My observation is general rather than specific.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  17. WBahn

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    You'll get no argument from me on this one. The school's status as public, private, or for-profit (i.e., corporate) is not an end-all, be-all indicator of whether the school, at it's heart, is legit -- and I never said it was. In particular, notice that I never said that ONLY for-profit schools fall in the category of being shams. For that matter, different programs within the same school have varying levels of legitimacy (in terms of providing a sound curriculum the delivers on its promises for students that deliver on their obligations in turn). But there is a correlation there and I think that anyone looking at attending a for-profit school owes it to themselves to look into the matter particularly carefully and skeptically. But don't give a public or private school a pass, either. And in all cases, don't just look at the information that the school makes available to you -- of COURSE that's going to paint a positive picture of the place! Look for several outside reviews and rankings.
     
  18. Wendy

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    Mar 24, 2008
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    This is not off topic, so lets keep it pertinent.

    To the OP, we don't really know much about your shop, but hands on is always good IMO. If you feel you need serious advice about people skills, counselors are a good resource, if you find a good one.

    There are always things you can do for self improvement.
     
  19. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
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    If my post appeared confrontational, I apologize; I actually agree with everything you posted. I get my undies in a wad when I see people buying degrees that I had to work for. :)
     
  20. WBahn

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    Mar 31, 2012
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    Good point.

    If the OP really wants to build his practical EE skills, then that is probably best done by doing practical EE things. That's what all of these suggestions come down to. You are most likely to do that well if you choose things that are of genuine interest to you. If you are truly interested in power electronics, then by all means look for things to do related to power electronics, whether it's designing and building your own solar or wind turbine power system or whatever. But if you are thinking of power electronics only because you think it's the best path to get a job, then you will be unlikely to put in the kind of devoted and focused effort that it will take to get good enough at it to make a big difference.

    Also, don't think that you have to start off with big, complicated systems. Start small and simple. I'm a prime example. I've had a growing interest for a number of years to get into RF electronics and even though I have a deep background in some areas of EE, including some that are relevant to RF systems, I'm getting started with the simple basics of crystal AM radios because I want to build a solid foundation upon which to build a firm understanding. Yes, crystal radios are things that ten year olds make. So what? I plan to learn a lot more from the ones I build than nearly any ten year old would.
     
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