Is it better to specialize in one area( Hardware or software) or is it better to learn about everything(power electronics, Digital electronics, Analog

Thread Starter

ashokraj

Joined Feb 1, 2018
124
Hi,
In my first job I have worked as an Embedded systems engineer (with major focus on software) for 1.5 years. I am currently working as a hardware engineer for 2 years. Considering the long term success, is it better to specializing in one area( Specifically analog electronics or digital electronics or power electronics) or is it better to learn about everything(Hardware+ Software) ?
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,106
Hi,
In my first job I have worked as an Embedded systems engineer (with major focus on software) for 1.5 years. I am currently working as a hardware engineer for 2 years. Considering the long term success, is it better to specializing in one area( Specifically analog electronics or digital electronics or power electronics) or is it better to learn about everything(Hardware+ Software) ?
There is no such thing as "better". There is just "different". Someone can specialize and enjoy being an expert at what they do. Some people get bored or want to understand the "big picture" or whole process and they tend to diversify but cannot be an expert in everything so they get labeled a "generalist" unless they are the rare person who can be an expert in many areas - those people are eventually referred to as Technical Fellow, a 10x Engineer or various other great title but this is rare.

Often, people that are able to see the whole picture eventually get bored with development all together and move to the Marketing/Business Management/Product Management/Technical Marketing/Technical Sales/Business Development/Tech Support roles and find great careers there too.

My general advice,
(1) don't over-plan your career, you'll just be disappointed.
(2) take advantage of being young and change jobs every 2-years (within the same company is ok, but changing companies is better).
 

dendad

Joined Feb 20, 2016
4,178
There are advantages for software folk to have an understanding of hardware, and vice-verca.
This will help in application development of both fields.
I do not think you can have too much knowledge.
Even in optimizing the code you may write to make the best use of the hardware the code is running on.
Some times, hardware is a better fix that software, and sometimes not.
So, go ahead and learn both if you can.
 

Thread Starter

ashokraj

Joined Feb 1, 2018
124
There is no such thing as "better". There is just "different". Someone can specialize and enjoy being an expert at what they do. Some people get bored or want to understand the "big picture" or whole process and they tend to diversify but cannot be an expert in everything so they get labeled a "generalist" unless they are the rare person who can be an expert in many areas - those people are eventually referred to as Technical Fellow, a 10x Engineer or various other great title but this is rare.

Often, people that are able to see the whole picture eventually get bored with development all together and move to the Marketing/Business Management/Product Management/Technical Marketing/Technical Sales/Business Development/Tech Support roles and find great careers there too.

My general advice,
(1) don't over-plan your career, you'll just be disappointed.
(2) take advantage of being young and change jobs every 2-years (within the same company is ok, but changing companies is better).
Thanks
 

Deleted member 115935

Joined Dec 31, 1969
0
I would say its impossible for most people to be an expert in one thing, let alone multiple things and it changes over time, building on each other.


I specialise in system design now days,
I used to specialise in FPGA design
and before that High speed digital layout.

BUT
I also do a fair amount of analog, and software programming,
as well as a fair dabble in RF.

I know my limitations, and it helps in working with different specialist is you have a common language.

As an inverse example,
Its good when I work with say a software expert that they know how to drive a scope, so they can probe say an IO moving
although they are never likely to dire on in full anger.

In conclusion

Learn every thing you can
Knowledge never becomes a hinderance, just as long as you realise your limits.
 

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
6,286
If you adopt a systems perspective, no matter what you focus on in the end, you will have an overview that improves your own work. You will probably never be able to do the work of say, a hardware specialist, if you focus on software; or an RF specialist if you focus on digital design, but with products today comprising systems using component subsystems from several disciplines, the best work can be done with awareness of what other members of the systems team need from you.

To this end, you should choose something as your intense focus but learn something about what everyone else you will work with does. One of the best ways to do this is with hobby projects that require you to actually solve problems in those specializations. They won't make you qualified for commercial applications but they will help you understand the most critical area: how your work interfaces, influences, and supports the work of others you are collaborating with.

This very importantly includes inherent limitations they will encounter in executing designs. If you don't understand what they are facing you may feel that something is "simple" and be overly critical or imagine they are incompetent. This leads to very poor teamwork. Working knowledge of their area will also help you support their work when what you do touches what they do—at the interfaces. This is critical and sometimes a place where very odd stuff happens if the two systems are not designed with understanding of each other.

With all the potential specializations—not just hardware vs. software but even in each of those categories—you will not be able to learn everything. But, there are fundamental ideas that are the foundation of each that you can learn over time, and crucially, the better you actually know your own specialization the more you will find it useful as an analogy for understanding others.

People who really know something in depth can spot the same patterns in other things they want to understand and generalize the information in a way that uses the knowledge they have to incorporate the new thing.

[EDIT: typo repair]
 
Last edited:

KeithWalker

Joined Jul 10, 2017
2,456
Technology is changing at an ever faster pace every day. It is difficult to stay up to date with everything that is happening. Don't become too specialized in any one subject because tomorrow it my be replaced with completely new technology and you will suddenly be obsolete. Focus on getting a really good understanding of the physics and chemistry of electronics and the basics of programming. Everything else is built from those, and a basic understanding makes it easy to learn about new devices and applications. Make sure you are doing a job that you enjoy. That way you will excel. Once that is recognized, further opportunities will be offered to you. Make sure that when you do change jobs, it will be something that you will enjoy and will offer you opportunities to increase your knowledge and present you with challenges.

The definition of a specialist is: Someone who learns more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing.
 

dcbingaman

Joined Jun 30, 2021
685
I personally feel it is beneficial to have a diverse background with lots of knowledge in various subjects. It is good for your brain. It also increases your ability to solve problems and increases creativity. I have an EE degree but have written software in C, C++ for microcontrollers. C# for PC applications. Java-script for internet web pages along with CSS and HTML. I have written a lot of VHDL for FPGA applications. I have designed digital circuits as well as analog circuits. I do not agree with the 'Jack of All trades master of none'. I think that is just an excuse to be lazy with your mental powers. You can learn a lot more than you realize. When we push ourselves the brain is up to the challenge. It is like the muscles in your body the more you challenge it the more powerful it becomes. Set your goals high. Always be learning new things, new technologies and be willing to learn things even way outside your normal expertise. I took up metal working, welding, carpentry. I like the idea of getting my hands dirty as well. Now at the same time, you are an individual with specific gifts. God grants everyone specific gifts. I think it is good to concentrate especially on your gifts but that is no reason not to stretch your brain some and learn a lot of other things as well. Also, enjoy everything you do and enjoy life! Enjoy the journey!
 

Thread Starter

ashokraj

Joined Feb 1, 2018
124
I personally feel it is beneficial to have a diverse background with lots of knowledge in various subjects. It is good for your brain. It also increases your ability to solve problems and increases creativity. I have an EE degree but have written software in C, C++ for microcontrollers. C# for PC applications. Java-script for internet web pages along with CSS and HTML. I have written a lot of VHDL for FPGA applications. I have designed digital circuits as well as analog circuits. I do not agree with the 'Jack of All trades master of none'. I think that is just an excuse to be lazy with your mental powers. You can learn a lot more than you realize. When we push ourselves the brain is up to the challenge. It is like the muscles in your body the more you challenge it the more powerful it becomes. Set your goals high. Always be learning new things, new technologies and be willing to learn things even way outside your normal expertise. I took up metal working, welding, carpentry. I like the idea of getting my hands dirty as well. Now at the same time, you are an individual with specific gifts. God grants everyone specific gifts. I think it is good to concentrate especially on your gifts but that is no reason not to stretch your brain some and learn a lot of other things as well. Also, enjoy everything you do and enjoy life! Enjoy the journey!
Thank you dcbingaman
 
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