# Chat about electronics engineering as a career choice, especially money

Discussion in 'Career Advising' started by DraxDomax, May 15, 2019.

1. ### djsfantasi AAC Fanatic!

Apr 11, 2010
4,840
1,826
My point is, if done correctly, any damn place I please

(I wish to note that my responses in this thread are written tongue-in-cheek. They contain s kernel of truth in a wrapper of hyperbole. Take them as such. Thanks)

2. ### Ian Rogers Well-Known Member

Dec 12, 2012
610
163
Now tell them about the months of debugging!! After many years of embedded design, I can eventually design and run pretty much trouble free but at the beginning.... Wow!

Almost every book for computers contains code... You will also know that hardly any have been tested. Authors just write it ( independent of hardware) then just print it! You try run it... Then spend hours finding out the author hasn't tested it..

3. ### DraxDomax Thread Starter Member

Apr 5, 2019
36
1
love this chat so far!
1. As a software guy, I must admit I admire the veterans who layed the foundations, who done the dirty work for me. It's now relatively easy for me to develop applications because I stick to managed code, running on a meticulously woven interpreter & compiler.
So, acknowledging the guys here who said they are from the 60's, salutations!

BTW, I've done 5 years of COBOL work for Microfocus. It's gives me a little tingle using an ATM and thinking there's a chance my code is currently giving me money. I also think it's cool there's a slight chance someone here might have touched COBOL/CICS/Mainframes. You don't get that in your usual coding forums!

2. Amazed at how different we are. I think everyone here dabbled in software (a demonstration of how easy it is to start). Some are true software guys with electronics passion, other are hardware guys and we have embedded guys who are hybrids.
Me, I see software very easily. I didn't study it classically but when I sit down with Ma/PhD software devs, I hold my own.
When I think about electronics, especially AC circuits, I am so scared I am sometimes running away. I am aware of that so I am really trying to tackle that with intention.
Maybe if you guys say software is much more complex in the end game, then perhaps I should be less scared of how "integrated" circuits are. You clip a wire on the left side, everything stops working. You connect a wire where you shouldn't, your circuit burns...
Even if you do everything right, the tolerance of one component can throw your maths off and make the circuit work badly.

3. It was mentioned here that software can unfortunately appear working even though it's broken - boy, is that the story of my life!
One of the reasons I applied to Microfocus is that they deal with veteran technology. I've worked with 37 year-old applications, enabling them to execute on a PC. Let me tell you, there is no fat there! It's pure computer science and I can't blame the customer for not wanting to hire someone to rewrite that application.
One of the problems of my character is that if I see bad work, I get angry. I used to call people names. One time I actually shoved my monitor off, left the office in the snow, wearing a t-shirt, and gave software a 2 year hiatus. That was in Ubisoft (a dream job for anyone, let alone someone with issues like me).

I may be wrong but I feel that back in the day, you had to know a lot to get started on software. So, people were producing some serious work.
Now, everything is off-shored to the lowest bidder. Don't get me wrong, I am not racist but I've had to work with people who have only seen a computer 2 years ago for the first time. They were hard working, smart people but they couldn't understand the problems a computer user faces and how to solve them nicely

4. ### bogosort Active Member

Sep 24, 2011
338
186

My point was that math is assuredly not beholden to pencil and paper (if it were, we'd never be able to conceive of the real numbers, for instance). Mathematicians routinely invoke objects that cannot possibly exist in the physical world, such as infinite-dimensional function spaces, where every point in the space is itself a vector space of uncountably infinite dimension. Ho hum.

Somehow, our minds are not encumbered by physical limits. We can conceive of faster than light speed; we can imagine shapes that are bigger on the inside than the outside; we can mentally reverse entropy flow, our arrow of time, and visualize shards of ceramic on the floor becoming a coffee cup on the counter.

And though software is designed to run on hardware, its purview is the mind. What is software but a sequence of instructions? A 'for' loop is not a physical thing; it is an idea. Sure, at the lowest level of the software-hardware interface, the idea must be transduced into physical actions, but those are implementation details. At the software level, it's all ideas and, hence, unburdened by physical law.

This is why computer scientists study wholly unphysical things, such as Turing machines or Busy Beaver functions. But to make the point as simply as possible, consider that every year college freshmen are introduced to this physically-unrealizable expression:

$\displaystyle{x = \sum_{n=1}^\infty \frac{1}{2^n}}$

There aren't nearly enough atoms in the universe to create a piece of paper large enough to hold all of the terms in the series, yet we nevertheless know that for n ∈ ℕ, x = 1. This is no different than the following pseudo-code:
Code (Text):
1. x = 0;
2.
3. for ( n = 0; n > -1; ++n ) {
4.   x += 1 / (2 << n);
5. }
No computer can complete this loop, yet we can easily see the idea. More still, we can reason about it as if it were physically possible. For example, we can assume that n has finite precision and see that x becomes infinite. Or, we can assume that x has finite precision and calculate its largest possible value.

The un-physicality of ideas is precisely why software design is so very hard: for whatever we're trying to do, software complexity grows exponentially faster than hardware complexity. Put another way, our CPUs need only a handful of physically-realizable instructions to implement an unfathomable number of abstract ideas. And this is only a lower-bound, as we can effortlessly untether our algorithmic ideas from any notion of what's physically possible. It's the reason why we don't have an answer to "What's the largest number?", the reason why we can conceive of the concept of n + 1, for any n.

5. ### BR-549 AAC Fanatic!

Sep 22, 2013
4,833
1,317
If you are a young fella, and if you are asking hardware or software.......the answer is both.

They will be merging. Future devices will be a combination of both. Programming naked and redressable hardware is the future.

Future components will be a blank of configurable gates and memory. The configurations of such, can be changed as the programming needs it.

A self determining configurable device. The first step to AI. Knowing what it needs.

6. ### MrChips Moderator

Oct 2, 2009
18,477
5,858
I don't see what the fuss is all about.
I am a hardware + software person.
I would not have one over the other.

7. ### SamR Member

Mar 19, 2019
437
135
My mantra used to be "I'm Not a Programmer", but I lied. They do go hand in hand now especially in the industrial environment. My son has a dual Computer/Business degree and is a code monkey making huge bucks. I've tried to interest him in the electronic/hardware side of it, but it is completely out of his realm.

8. ### DraxDomax Thread Starter Member

Apr 5, 2019
36
1
Well, my original question wasn't which one to go for. It's why one area seems like a much nicer (less study, more jobs, more pay) choice, especially since I think the other one (electronics) is a lot more sophisticated and about equally important to the industry.

It's kind of an absurd that I can easily find a million web developers, some of them good.
But if I wanted to hire someone for battery design, it's slim pickings out there and hard to see who did his job well and who built me something that could explode any moment.

9. ### bogosort Active Member

Sep 24, 2011
338
186
Isn't it obvious? There's much more demand for web developers than electronics engineers. Note, however, the falling trend in average web developer salary, a consequence of the huge (and growing) applicant pool. According to GlassDoor, the average web developer salary is $75k, compared with$80k for electronics engineer. That seems about right to me, though I believe the web dev salaries will continue to fall.

As for sophistication, it's true that much of the web dev jobs are on the shallow side of the pool, a fact made evident by the proliferation of "code boot camps" that can take you from zero knowledge to hirable as a junior web dev in 8 weeks. But that's what happens when you have the combination of high demand and relatively low barrier to entry. Consider the other side of the software dev spectrum. If you want to work in something like OS or compiler design, you'll almost certainly need to be an experienced and expert programmer with a CS graduate degree, and that only gets you to the interview. You'll be competing with other similarly qualified candidates for a handful of jobs that will almost certainly require relocation, with a starting salary that's comparable to a mid-level web dev. This is the reality of low-demand jobs. As a technology career choice, electronics engineering leans toward the high-skill/low-demand side of the graph.

By the way, I wouldn't hire electronics engineers to design a battery.

10. ### SamR Member

Mar 19, 2019
437
135
Web developers and telephone tech support have moved offshore to lower paid workers and a lot of developers are temporary contract employees with no benefits or retirement. And not just web, all areas of coding have gone that way with even the biggies like Microsoft. The real hot ticket now is in business applications. Word processing, CAD, spreadsheet analysis, graphics, database applications are pretty well covered and matured areas, but business applications are hot items now. For a while, it was video conferencing applications that were hot but with the cost of fuel going back down that has cooled off a bit.

11. ### DraxDomax Thread Starter Member

Apr 5, 2019
36
1
@bogosort Yeah, I noticed the same trends. I think Web Dev isn't necessarily so easy. It's a lot of work knowing all the bits that make a website.
Also, these JS frameworks wait for nobody. Rapid development there and the stuff they do is rather optimized. JS is rendering graphics from code in real time, (still) working a little different on each browser (js engine). Really hard stuff to debug when you code everything right and it looks wrong.
And yet the salaries are very lackluster.
A little Java+DB pays a lot better than that (although that's on the decline as well).

More importantly, why not hire an electronics engineer to design a battery? Is it because it's more of a physicist/chemist thing?
I actually meant the application of the battery, how it will supply power (I bet there is some power circuit after the battery, to regulate the voltage, read the battery status) and how it will charge - which I hope are within the electronics engineering field?

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12. ### bogosort Active Member

Sep 24, 2011
338
186
Totally agree. I wasn't saying that web dev is easy -- making and maintaining a modern web site is far more complicated now than it was 10 years ago, when there were basically just two target platforms, and "full stack" only meant that you knew LAMP. But I do believe that it's easier and faster to get from zero knowledge to a junior-level position in web dev than in most any other software dev role. And though it's certainly true that the average senior-level web developer requires quite a bit of knowledge and experience, I don't think it's on par with what's required for the average senior-level systems or application developer. To put it another way, the developers who code the frameworks are probably a few levels above the developers who use them. None of this is meant to suggest that web dev is easy or unimportant in any way, but I do believe it helps explain the flooded worker market and consequent downward salary trend.

Indeed, if for some crazy reason you were tasked with designing a battery (which would be wildly more expensive than simply sourcing an off-the-shelf model for your BOM), I'd recommend hiring chemists and a mechanical engineer (for the case design). As for power supplies, absolutely, that is the domain of electronics engineers, though in my experience, the power supply is typically the easy part of the application. For smaller battery-powered projects, you find a voltage regulator that meets your circuit requirements and implement the manufacturer's recommended design; for larger, mains-powered applications, you source an appropriate commercial power supply and add it to the BOM. There are definitely situations where power performance is critical and extra care must be given to the supply, but for most applications, I'd be comfortable delegating the power supply to a junior engineer.

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