Self Education advice

Discussion in 'Wireless & RF Design' started by dtow1, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. dtow1

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 27, 2010
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    I wanted to ask those with work experience what are good topics to learn. I have a BSEE. My favorite classes were the ones I did in RF, I worked on an antenna design for my senior design project, etc.

    I have been out of school and working in a non-related but technical field for a year now. I want to focus my free time into learning and understanding RF topics again. I am hoping to either transition to a graduate program or into a career doing something that I enjoy and am passionate about.

    Can anyone offer some insight as to what is really useful and practical. For example is it worth the time to focus a lot of time and energy into Maxwell's equations, or is it a better path to learn a software tool for that sort of work? What sort of proficiency should I shoot for and what are the key areas to brush up on.

    Are topics such as digital design and analog design as important as E&M theory?

    Thanks for any insight from those "in the know".
     
  2. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
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    If you are doing RF, then good knowledge of Maxwell's equations and solutions to the standard textbook problems is critical. Obviously, real world design problems go beyond the basic textbook solutions, so proficiency with modeling software is also important. However, fundamentals are always more important than the tools. One can always learn the tools easily if the fundamentals are understood well. The reverse is rarely true, and without fundamental knowledge, an amateur using software is like a blind man walking near a cliff.


    Yes of course. You are a BSEE, so digital design, analog design, EM fundamentals, system theory, control theory, communications and general physics and math are all expected to be part of your fundamental knowledge.

    As you get experience, you will specialize and know some things more than others, but you do need a general working knowledge of all these areas to work and communicate with other professionals.
     
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  3. dtow1

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 27, 2010
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    Thank for the reply. I do have a basic understanding of a lot of the topics that we studied but I would not say I have mastery.

    I am just not really sure how much I should review topics in analog and digital. I know a lot of the concepts and ideas related to them but would certainly call myself rusty. I would I were to sit down at this exact moment I would not be able to ace an exam in the topics that I learned in school.

    I would of course assume that the more I know about the topics that had been covered the better. I don't really have a good gauge for what level of understanding/proficiency I should have in order to feel satisfied that I know enough to focus more on topics of interest in RF.

    I am hoping to focus my energy and limited time in as efficient a manner as possible instead of brute force relearning every nuance of the courses I took in college. If that's what is required though then so be it, it will just take more time to reach my goals.

    Thanks again for the reply. I really appreciate your insight and feedback.
     
  4. steveb

    Senior Member

    Jul 3, 2008
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    You should never feel satisfied unless you can utilize your knowledge instantly when needed. I think most of us need to continually review old material if we don't use it often. You mentioned something about getting an A on a test, but this is irrelevant. Rather, ask yourself whether you can solve a real world problem. For example, can you design an analog circuit, when given a specification? What about a digital circuit? Do you know Maxwell's equations off the top of your head? Can you derive the wave equation? Can you solve field equations in geometrically simple cases? Can you derive the transfer function of any circuit and determine input and output impedances? Can you experimentally find answers and build real systems? Can you design a feedback system on paper, and then implement it in a real system? etc. etc . etc.

    I really don't think I could ace the tests I used to ace because I would be too slow. I take my time solving problems now. In the real world, the hard part is being sure you haven't missed any subtle details (which there always are), and this is only possible when you go a lot slower than typical in a test taking scenario. Also, I'm always reviewing some old topic that I'm rusty on, and any subject that is suddenly needed to solve a pressing problem.

    If this sounds impossible, don't worry about that. It is more a matter of trying than succeeding. The attitude should be that you never know enough and that you enjoy learning as you go. School is just the introduction to being an engineer. The real training and growth comes with experience and the attitude that you never know it all, or even enough.
     
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  5. bertus

    Administrator

    Apr 5, 2008
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  6. PRFGADGET

    Active Member

    Aug 8, 2011
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    As "bertus" stated the "NEETS Series" is very good reading.
    I would also recommend laying hand's on (or eyeballs) a few of the older (1940's & 1950's)" Radio Amateurs Handbooks" as well as the material by William Orr and Joe Carr, also the hand books by "Frank Jones " make for interesting reading.
    There is a world of knowledge on this board, especially among us "OLDER" people, if something intrigues you, ASK someone will give you an answer.
    One thing I can caution you about since you are just starting in the EE field, DO NOT expect everything that work's on paper to work as planned in the FIELD !
     
  7. bertus

    Administrator

    Apr 5, 2008
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  8. mlog

    Member

    Feb 11, 2012
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    Are you involved in amateur (ham) radio? It's a great way to learn and enjoy RF design as a hobby. You will meet lots of people with a similar interest.
     
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