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Does it get harder?

by Illuminerdi
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Mar23-12, 06:29 PM
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I'm a bit of an older student for an undergrad (still early 20's, but had some time off), but the EE major can be trivially easy a lot of the time. I've taken courses in programming (high level and assembly), physics, math, circuits, and digital logic, and I'm worried I'll either be bored or there's something higher to go for. I do want to go into signal processing, which my first course in will be over the summer. I've heard it's challenging, but I've already had Complex Analysis, Linear Algebra, and ODEs.

So what really should I be doing?
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Mar23-12, 08:49 PM
P: 3,898
If you have the math background, it should not be too bad. For signal processing, you need Fourier Transform and it is in PDE.

Digital, programming are child's play. If you study some cook book transistors and op-amp design, that is still very easy. Those digital and programming are easy enough for tinkerers to self offense. Even FPGA is easy, only took me three weeks to learn and program a complex system with modular design just like programming. So don't be too smug about it. Get into electromagnetics, RF, transmission lines, wave guide etc. then I would like to hear from you again. Even in more deeper analog design, it's not going to be too easy.

Of cause it depend on the school you get into, if it is some state U like San Jose State particular those junior colleges, yes, it is not that hard. Those are "feel good" colleges.
jim hardy
Mar23-12, 09:00 PM
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So what really should I be doing?
With your math skills,
looking for one of those little "Niche" fields that requires high level maths and practical common sense.

In my career i had the privelege to meet a few such people and get a glimpse into their world.

In EE field one of those niches is power systems. I was on the periphery of it.
Smart Grid is going to create demand for people who understand rotating machinery and computers and feedback systems and rotor dynamics.

See if this paper looks interesting to you,

and if it doesn't , that's fine.

Mar24-12, 11:14 AM
P: 834
Does it get harder?

The stuff you mentioned is pretty much all introductory.

Don't you have professors who specialize in fields? Look at their upper level courses, you will see it gets more challenging. Have you learned quantum mechanics and solid state physics to understand semiconductor components? You need to take it to the level that you become challenged if everything is too easy.

Signal processing
control theory
communications/information theory
EM/RF design
Semiconductor/manufacturing theory

All of these will be more challenging than your intro courses. Also, analog and digital systems can get quite a bit more complicated and in depth. I'm still learning all of the intricacies of transistors and other semiconductor devices.

Do you like the computer science related stuff? You could get into compiler design, operating systems, real time operating systems, networking, etc.
Mar24-12, 12:03 PM
P: 3,898
Oh yeh, I totally forgot the closed loop feedback and Laplace transform, those are not for the weak of heart.

A lot of cook books and intro text books make op-amp and BJT design look easy. In real life, when you get into it, it is a lot more involve than what is shown in those intro books. They don't print 20 pages for each op-amp data sheet just to kill a tree!!! Every line of text means something. I just spent time writing over 30 posts here about transimpedance amp two weeks ago!!! This is only a small facet of op-amp design in inverted configuration. There are so many formulas involved and paper published if one get into the real life design. Nothing like what is in the text book that describes the inverting op-amp with a feedback resistor and a gain resistor!!!!

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