What is done in the electronics classroom these days?

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
25,231
The intro electronics course I took in the Physics department as a sophomore had us build up circuits one layer at a time. First we started with quad NAND gates and built all of the basic gates. We had to design them, build them, and test them. Then we could use ICs of any circuit that we had already built and from that we built basic adders, muxes, decoders as well as basic latches and flip flops. Then in the next layer we could use those to build larger circuits such as counters, shift registers, and memory banks. By the time we were a few weeks into the course we were using pretty sophisticated ICs and we knew exactly how each of them could be implemented all the way back to nothing but NAND gates. I think I learned a LOT more valuable stuff from that approach than if we had been given and FPGA and shown how to write the few lines of a behavioral description for a counter in Verilog on day one.
 

KL7AJ

Joined Nov 4, 2008
2,225
I graduated from high school when public education (at least in California) still worked. Realizing that the government isn't doing the job any more (not that it ever WAS government's job) there's a wide open door for some entrepreneurs to create some great electronics schools.
 

Thread Starter

hp1729

Joined Nov 23, 2015
2,304
when the first 741 op amps came out...they were about $15....
Very true. Now for $15 I can get more computing power than I worked on in the military.
The military used to be a great place to get an education. What is that like these days? I started schools right out of boot camp and was over two years in before I finished education and saw my first duty station. Again, that was the sixties.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
25,231
I can see engineering without touching parts. Are there technician courses available any more?
The most common result of that is "engineers" who know how to repeat what they have been shown how to do and to be able to get it to work on paper. Getting it to work in the real world is simply beyond them.

I can't count the number of engineers, some with masters degrees, who on a job interview couldn't design a voltage divider (even a basic voltage divider, let alone one that had to meet any kind of tolerance specification).
 

Brevor

Joined Apr 9, 2011
297
What would be needed to get electronics back in high school? Is it just money? Would we have to be on our way to Mars? Do we need another JFK to push education like he did when we were on our way to the Moon??
Electronics education has dried up here because there are very few electronics jobs left in the US. Of the jobs that are left, many don't pay very well.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
25,231
Electronics education has dried up here because there are very few electronics jobs left in the US. Of the jobs that are left, many don't pay very well.
I think it's quite a bit more subtle than that, although that is part of it. Mostly it has to do, IMNSHO, with being victims of our own technological success. The kinds of math and reasoning skills needed for a solid electronics education, particularly an engineering education, simply are needed by the vast majority of people in order to get along in a modern society with all of its calculators and computers and appliances that do that stuff for you. So the public schools, whose (historical) major mandate is to equip the majority of students with the skills that the majority of them will need to function in society, have deemphasized having a strong foundational understanding of math and reasoning skills.
 

KL7AJ

Joined Nov 4, 2008
2,225
I would say that if us old geezers have failed, it's in that we've failed to convey how much FUN this stuff is! Regardless of the economics, twiddling Ohm's law never ceases to amuse. I've been at this for 50 years and it never ceases to amaze.

eric
 

Sinus23

Joined Sep 7, 2013
245
I think it's quite a bit more subtle than that, although that is part of it. Mostly it has to do, IMNSHO, with being victims of our own technological success. The kinds of math and reasoning skills needed for a solid electronics education, particularly an engineering education, simply are needed by the vast majority of people in order to get along in a modern society with all of its calculators and computers and appliances that do that stuff for you. So the public schools, whose (historical) major mandate is to equip the majority of students with the skills that the majority of them will need to function in society, have deemphasized having a strong foundational understanding of math and reasoning skills.
Yep one guy in his 20's which I was working with last summer had a hard time understanding when I used an example that one of my teachers used to teach us binary. And that is how telephones here worked when he was a kid which is they were all interconnected you just had recognize the "ring tone" which could be short. short. long. It was so far from his own experience of telephones that he barely could think of such an abomination;)

And everybody in the providence could listen in on it. That blew his mind:p
 

Sinus23

Joined Sep 7, 2013
245
What I'm trying to say with that is that most of the people growing up now have a hard time understanding the underlying logic to our devices which we take for granted.

And the further we go I can't really blame them much.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
25,231
What I'm trying to say with that is that most of the people growing up now have a hard time understanding the underlying logic to our devices which we take for granted.

And the further we go I can't really blame them much.
It's what I call the Cash Register Syndrome. As cash registers (or replace it with any tech item you want) get more and more sophisticated, the fraction of people that can USE them gets larger and larger because the skills needed to operate them get less and less. But the fraction of people that UNDERSTAND them gets smaller and smaller because the skills needed to design them get greater and greater. Since schools prepare people according to what they envision as being the skills that MOST people need, the handful of students that have the skills that will allow them to, someday, understand and design the next generation device keeps getting push further and further out into the tail of the talent distribution.

At some point we will have cash registers that a newborn baby can operate but that only one person in the world understands how it works. When that person dies, civilization collapses.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
10,003
At some point we will have cash registers that a newborn baby can operate but that only one person in the world understands how it works. When that person dies, civilization collapses.
I've found that a lot of cashiers can't make change without a cash register. I can't count the number of times I've given cashiers an amount that would give me a round amount back (e.g $5, $10, etc, because I don't want change or a bunch $1 bills) and they hand me back the excess like I'm stupid. Then I explain it to them...

Kids and calculators without basics is like students and simulators without basics; they don't understand the underlying concepts and can't do much/anything without an aid...
 

Sinus23

Joined Sep 7, 2013
245
I've found that a lot of cashiers can't make change without a cash register. I can't count the number of times I've given cashiers an amount that would give me a round amount back (e.g $5, $10, etc, because I don't want change or a bunch $1 bills) and they hand me back the excess like I'm stupid. Then I explain it to them...

Kids and calculators without basics is like students and simulators without basics; they don't understand the underlying concepts and can't do much/anything without an aid...
I've worked with a cash register and quickly became faster to subtract 2 numbers in my head than to punch them in...
 

panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
1,821
very interesting topic.

i was introduced in electronics in grammar school (late 70s and early 80s, primary education was an 8 year program, last two years had some elective courses and guess what i took). secondary education was 3-4 years depending on program and could be 'general' or 'technical'. again i went to technical with tons of courses about electronics. i remember being excited at all new things presented and frustrated (so long to move onto another topic). in university (4-year program), first two years are pretty general, lat two years have some mandatory courses and quite few elective. i hated with passion (and still get wound up) about the damn dummy courses (aka 'complementary'), so engineers don't turn sociopaths. because they are all apparently at high risk of harming themselves or others just because they enrolled into university programs. for some reason those stuppid ass courses are required for accreditation (WTF!? give me math, or anything else useful..). i had to sacrifice few interesting courses to those duds.

as a kid i used to love to experiment and take everything apart. i am a firm believer that there is no substitute for practice - regardless of carrier path.

sure you can be glued to TV as well and watch every golf game and know every statistic, but if you step on the field, there is no guarantee that you can hold the club or estimate distance or correct for wind or whatever... this is why i am amazed at some scientific fields such as psychology etc where 5 different experts will give 5 contradictory evaluations and next thing you know, another dangerous lunatic is loose.

in my book, if you cannot do quantitative evaluation and put number on it, it is not a science. same goes for my doctor. what the heck is "you weight/blood pressure or whatever is normal /low/elevated"? give me a god damn number...!

end of rant... :)
 

Thread Starter

hp1729

Joined Nov 23, 2015
2,304
Not necessarily. Although we had plenty of unused components to work with we also had to de-solder a bit of parts if they weren't "in stock" sort of speak so for an example if all the 10nF capacitors were gone we had access to 5-10 bins of misc boards and old students projects which we could find plenty.

Also taught us troubleshooting since the salvaged part could be faulty;)
Wow! I remember our school electronics program getting a lot of support from local industries. We always had bad TVs to work on. Components were never a problem if we didn't mind surplus parts.
 
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