Combining work and studies

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by JerryNa, Feb 19, 2010.

  1. JerryNa

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 15, 2010
    I'm an EE student at my third year, and also work in a company who develops hardware and communication devices.

    The subjects I need to learn for my job are so not related to the courses I study, and the issue is that it really decreases my motivation to make an effort to understand the material of each course.

    For example, in my job I deal with so many communication protocols, which studies provided me with no background about them.

    Its just frustrating me to keep studying just to get the diploma and the engineer title.
    I feel like the studies are detaining me instead of advancing me.

    Am I wrong with my approach?
    I'd like to hear your comments on it.
  2. Wendy


    Mar 24, 2008
    You may not always have this job, and as someone who doesn't have an advanced degree I gotta tell you it is needed. Without it you will always be a low level employee, with it you can go where you want, R&D, management, whatever. Life isn't fair, but the rules are pretty spelled out.
  3. loosewire

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 25, 2008
    Government and schools set salary standard,so some people
    get your job because of paper not knowledge.
  4. JerryNa

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 15, 2010
    You are right that the degree is very important.

    However, why do I feel that it conributes me nothing but an engineer title?
    Am I just not understanding the courses well enough to see how useful the knowledge they offer is?

    For example, last semester I took a course called transmission lines and microwaves.
    On the last days I had to test several antennas to see which would bring best results.
    I didnt gain anything from taking this course, and all I did was just soldering several antennas and seeing which gives the widest reception range.

    So I just dont get it, how did this course help me?
  5. someonesdad

    Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2009
    There's no way four years of schooling can give you all the skills you'll need for a job. A good education does at least a couple of things:

    1. Teaches you how to teach yourself.
    2. Teaches you the basic principles and processes so that you will be able to apply and extend that material to the new situations you come across in your work.
    You probably have some engineer colleagues at work -- I propose you ping them with the question you posed and get their take on it.

    For me, my education was a prime prerequisite for the work I did in industry. I also wished I had paid more attention to and taken more of the "softer" courses -- they also would have proven valuable later on. Too bad my inexperience didn't let me see that...
  6. JerryNa

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 15, 2010
    I agree that the degree has taught me how to approach subjects that are new to me.

    Well, my expectations of the degree were higher than that, I thought I'd learn things that I could use in my job and things that would help me being a better worker.
    But its just barely happening.
  7. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009

    To a person that has little knowledge of the field they are hiring for, to a non engineer manager or owner who needs to hire an engineer, a degree is a type of mental insurance policy.

    They cannot sit with you in a interview and ask you what you know about engineering, because they will not understand the answers. So, they know they need an engineer, and this fella has a sheet of paper that says thats what he is. Not only that, but it says this school says he learned enough to be called an engineer.

    Is some rare cases, usually involving small businesses, the Sr. Engineer will hire the other engineers. These are the cases where a self-taught engineer can get a good job. I have seen people hired out of a bar for electrical engineer positions. I don't know if the hiree had a degree, but it was his knowledge of the subjects at hand that got him the job.

    Also, some insurance companies require products to be engineered by university qualified engineers. And sometimes investors want the same. They want to "be sure" that the people spending their money know what they are doing.
  8. JerryNa

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 15, 2010
    Thanks for the answers.

    What I'm trying to understand here is why I dont feel that the courses help me being a better worker?
    You know, its very hard learning such tough courses just to be called an engineer.
    It would be much easier if I could use it afterwards for something practical.
    But I just dont see how it could be useful.
  9. Nanophotonics

    Active Member

    Apr 2, 2009
    I understand your feeling about the course and it's quite common. Many courses do not cover work related issues. But at least you'll have an understanding of electrical engineering. It will help you in your life. People find it really hard to understand the nature of that course. You'll use technology better. If your TV doesn't have a good reception, you wouldn't be trying stupid things like most people would do. You won't fall for technology commercial traps/scams and so on.

    It's more about the learning process in your case. You'll find it's usefulness in the long run. Whatever you study, no education is useless.
  10. JerryNa

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 15, 2010
    I have no idea what to do if my TV has bad reception.

    Perhaps people here could describe how what they learned during the course of EE degree helped them in their jobs?
  11. StayatHomeElectronics

    AAC Fanatic!

    Sep 25, 2008
    You will have a long career ahead of you and there is no way to tell exactly when, or if, a particular piece of information will be useful to you.

    I like someonesdad's short list, as it is very true. Learning how to approach new topics will be very important when you get to work. New tasks and problems are contantly being thrown at engineers to solve and you will be expected to contribute in areas that you have no formal training.

    As far as your course in transmission lines and antennas, I can think of a few places where that might be helpful in the future. Most products in the communications arena, and many others as well, will be required to pass electromagnetic compatibility tests... a little transmission line theory and some knowledge of antennas can be useful in the PCB design as well as in the testing of the device...

    This might not be your current assigned task; however, it may be in the future...

    Now is the time to get a very good background in the field.
  12. retched

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 5, 2009
    Think about what you used to hear from kids in high school.. "Why do I have to learn algebra? When will I ever use this? Im going to be a lumberjack." But invariably, before death, that kid will use algebra to figure out something.

    This depression you are feeling can be rather destructive. You are taking a very noble step in trying to find a solution that will let you feel better about your course publicly. People take classes for reasons beyond their employment all the time. I took a microbiology course just to be in the same room as a beautiful girl. (It worked). The whole time I felt it was a waste of money and time to be studying for this class, but I figured while I was there, make the best of it. Now fifteen years later, I am surprised by how Ive used what I have learned in that class. Even in carpentry.

    There are also many aspects to your line of work. Just because you are not using what you are learning now, you will have the power to do so If you choose.