What are some good projects to work on as a new EE graduate looking to get into the industry?

Thread Starter

elec_system_design

Joined Jun 23, 2017
49
Hi, I recently graduated as an electrical engineer. What projects are worth working on if I want to get into the electronics industry?

I am interested in microcontrollers and electronic design. I want a project that can make good use of both those skills, while being somewhat challenging.

Thanks!
 

N11778

Joined Dec 4, 2015
174
Off Grid Solar Controller for the average small home.
----->>>> Off Grid <<-----
If you did around on this site I have posted some of the things I have done.
The recent project is using the excess power during the day to heat the water heater.
Its all run by a PLC.
 

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,217
I am interested in microcontrollers and electronic design.
I believe you are on the right path. Replacing simple, reliable circuits, like a switch and a relay, with microprocessors that can not survive voltage surges and can not be replaced as a single component is a valuable skill right now. I haven't seen an automobile windshield wiper control with a microprocessor and a fancy display that costs $100 to repair, so that might be a good place to start.

I do have a car which routes the door switches through a microprocessor to turn on the dome light, so that opportunity has been taken.:(
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
8,012
I believe you are on the right path. Replacing simple, reliable circuits, like a switch and a relay, with microprocessors that can not survive voltage surges and can not be replaced as a single component is a valuable skill right now. I haven't seen an automobile windshield wiper control with a microprocessor and a fancy display that costs $100 to repair, so that might be a good place to start.

I do have a car which routes the door switches through a microprocessor to turn on the dome light, so that opportunity has been taken.:(
You should ask a mod to change your username from #12 to #snarky
 
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Thread Starter

elec_system_design

Joined Jun 23, 2017
49
Off Grid Solar Controller for the average small home.
----->>>> Off Grid <<-----
If you did around on this site I have posted some of the things I have done.
The recent project is using the excess power during the day to heat the water heater.
Its all run by a PLC.
That sounds neat, but I've never worked with a PLC before.

What would a good starting point be for learning about them?
 

#12

Joined Nov 30, 2010
18,217
You should as a mod to change your username from #12 to #snarky
I think my advice was entirely true and probably useful. Modern cars have several microprocessor based systems that used to run on nothing more than switches, levers, cables, and relays, and they seem to be more ubiquitous every year.

I gave a good example by describing my car as having an MPU control the dome light instead of just attaching the door switch to the dome light. (I still intend to fix that, now that winter has arrived in Florida.) My car also has a fly-by-wire air conditioner wherein mechanically connected air flaps are replaced by variable air valves with stepper motors (and all 4 of them have failed at the age of 12 years old). The transmission is also fly-by-wire. The shift lever does nothing more than connect switches which control solenoids, which control hydraulic valves. There is still room for, "improvement" because a few things remain un-computerized and lacking a display on the instrument panel. If all the standard equipment gets computerized, one can keep adding more functions like an electronic compass, a light sensor to turn on the headlights at night and dim them for approaching headlights, change the reflectivity of the rear view mirror at night, add a, "change oil" nag, a seat belt nag, a tire pressure nag, a lead-foot driving nag, a dirty window nag, fly-by-wire external mirrors...the list is only limited by imagination.

ps, Your missing symbol might be the letter K or it might be a comma. I think you meant, "ask a mod". For a moment I thought you meant, "You should, as a mod...".
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
8,012
.
ps, Your missing symbol might be the letter K or it might be a comma. I think you meant, "ask a mod". For a moment I thought you meant, "You should, as a mod...".
Actually, he did mean that... he was being snarky... :D
No snark, just a cpu-controlled keyboard on my tablet that is acting up. I'm going back to my clickety old IBM keyboard so I can hear I connected. It might keep my wife awake when I use it in bed, but at least the typos go away. I'll have to go open a thread to see if anyone makes a PS/2 to iPad Thunderbolt adapter.
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
7,252
Take a look around and identify a segment of the electronics industry that is interesting to you and can make use of your skills and interests. Design or invent something would be useful to that segment. Then, when interviewing for the job you get points for motivating yourself and you get points for already having practical experience in that segment.

Or, as my mother once told me, "Go with what you love and the money will follow."
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
8,012
Or, as my mother once told me, "Go with what you love and the money will follow."
The girl next door used that philosophy. Still living in her parents basement. She stopped oil painting and does nails at a local salon. 4-year degree from a major university and a fine arts degree.

Another girl I know of has a degree in Comparitive Literature. She works as a bank teller. I didn't know that job still existed.

There is another thread about following passions. I don't recommend it.
 

cmartinez

Joined Jan 17, 2007
7,310
The girl next door used that philosophy. Still living in her parents basement. She stopped oil painting and does nails at a local salon. 4-year degree from a major university and a fine arts degree.

Another girl I know of has a degree in Comparitive Literature. She works as a bank teller. I didn't know that job still existed.

There is another thread about following passions. I don't recommend it.
Here's an interesting article briefly touching that subject:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/advice...e-hiring-3000-people-for-panasonic-this-year/

Steven: OK, this one's for high school and college students (and their concerned parents): Is it OK to major in the liberal arts? Does Panasonic hire philosophy, history and sociology majors?

Tina: Yes! Panasonic is in the midst of a business transformation in which we are becoming a company that provides integrated technology solutions for our [business-to-business] customers. While a specific college degree is important for functions like engineering and software development that relate to solutions building, there are also many departments that will hire talented people with diverse majors.
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
8,012
Here's an interesting article briefly touching that subject:
Tina: ...While a specific college degree is important for functions like engineering and software development that relate to solutions building, there are also many departments that will hire talented people with diverse majors.
Tina continued...
(But was not quoted by the reporter)
We need talented people with 'diverse' majors, GEDs and other useless certifications for positions like: janitor, food service, shipping & receiving, fork truck operator, ...
 

philba

Joined Aug 17, 2017
960
OK, getting back to the TS's question with a serious answer...

If your goal is to make yourself more marketable as a designing EE, I would focus more on finding the right job to do that. Look at companies that are leading in areas that you are interested in. Target them. Look to work on teams designing products that will have an impact. Preferably in areas that are new and/or growing. Network Network Network. Use linkedin and find people at those companies. It helps to be able to end run the "HR recruiting NO filter". Look at the job listings from those companies and teams. Focus on the areas of expertise they list and especially the desired but not required areas. That's what I would focus on learning. Think of your first job as a graduate degree. Consider moving to where the best jobs are located.

The best career move I ever made was to work at a relatively small IC company as my first job out of school. They had this new chip called a microprocessor, the 8080. I will admit it was purely luck, though. Having Intel on my resume opened a lot of doors.
 
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philba

Joined Aug 17, 2017
960
Most people won't admit that luck is a determinant factor in their careers. But that's just the way it is... that makes it even more important to be thoroughly prepared when opportunity presents itself.
Truth. I know a super smart guy who had a number of fantastic opportunities come his way (AKA luck) but, for what ever reasons, failed to take advantage of them. He's just a bitter OF now.
 

DickCappels

Joined Aug 21, 2008
7,252
philba brings to mind one of the things that seems to be very important to a successful career (however one defines success), at least it was for me several times. Get a picture of what you want to be doing 5 or 10 years from now. If you don't know where you want to go you will not know which opportunities to accept or reject.
 
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