Advice for an aspiring embedded systems designer

Thread Starter


Joined Nov 4, 2015
Hello AAC Community,
I am an analytical scientist that has been getting into custom designed analytical systems to support our quality control group. My core educational background is a BSE in chemical engineering, but I have taken a couple courses at our local public college in electrical engineering, including core circuits coursework, a microelectronics lab, focused on passive and active elements, and a signal analysis course. Really enjoying it so far, enough to get into Arduino development. I have prototyped a machine state monitor system that is also collecting sensor data related to machine operation, creating log files, and storing them to track historical performance and provide real time data to lab operators about whats going on. Another current project on the proto bench is a multi-channel conductivity reader to again assist the QC group with an automated plate reader to detect manufacturing contamination.

Along that way, I strongly considered going back to school for a degree in EE, but the cost of courses and lost work time adds up to a substantial burden financially, and although the local college would of credited me 1/2 of the degree for my previous engineering coursework, taking one or two classes at a time will take quite some time to complete. Without investment from outside sources, its a daunting task.

With all that in mind, I was inquiring as to other avenues of education and exposure are out there that are also credible and worthwhile. I have taken to purchasing textbooks and reading them cover to cover to help tackle design problems, but sometimes there is no replacement for some guided learning. I have looked at some online courses and certifications, but I am concerned about paying a substantial amount of money for certificates that might or might not be as useful as I hope.

So, to ask some specific questions -
1 - Are there any recommended types of coursework that are valuable for an embedded systems/firmware engineer that are available through workshops/community colleges/certification programs/online programs?

2 - As someone whom could work directly with embedded/firmware engineers, what qualifications or experience do you value in the said engineers?

3 - Are there viable avenues to pursue such a career other than a 4 year public university or am I just avoiding the inevitable?

When it comes to type of work I am looking to do, instrument and electro-mechanical design is where my passions and interests lie. I also am interested in wireless communication, sensor networks, and communications technologies. If forced to put a title to jobs I would like to have, among them are -
Firmware engineer
Embedded systems engineer
Applications engineer
Instrumentation engineer.

I apologize for a bit of a long-winded post, and appreciate it if you have made it this far. Any feedback is welcome, though constructive is preferred :)