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Advice For Going Into Electrical Engineering

  1. Nov 28, 2007 #1
    I'm a high school senior at my school and I have decided to pursue a career in electrical engineering. I was wondering what kind of advice you guys would give me to guide me in my path of learning in how to be an electrical engineer.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 29, 2007 #2
    I would say the biggest misconception in electrical engineering is that you have a to be a whiz to be a decent engineer. It's a lie. I'm extremely dumb (not much engineering intuition, not an extremely good high school student, etc), and I always end up knowing more than about 70% of my classmates.

    The point is work. Work really hard and you'll be rewarded.
  4. Nov 29, 2007 #3
    Be prepare to work throughout college. EE isn't a cake walk, but it can be extremely fulfilling.
  5. Nov 29, 2007 #4


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    Like others have said, be willing to put forth the effort. Don't be afraid to ask questions in class if you don't understand somthing!
  6. Nov 29, 2007 #5


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    All good advice so far. Props to you for choosing to pursue EE. I'd add two pieces of advice to what has been said so far. First, buy a copy of The Art of Electronics by Horowitz and Hill, and read it cover-to-cover. You have the math background already as a senior in HS in order to understand most of what is covered in this basic (and practical) textbook, and you will really get a feel for what electronics is about. Second, get in the habit of building kits and other electronics projects, in order to start getting some practical experience and intuition early on. Then as you get into more advanced EE courses, you will find that you are able to "ask the right questions" of yourself and your instructors, because you have seen some practical things in your projects that apply to what you are learning.

    Have a fun ride!
  7. Nov 29, 2007 #6
    Thank you guys ill have to check that book out
  8. Dec 1, 2007 #7
    I'm a little late getting here, but I'd like to add something that I feel gives EE students a real boost.
    Get yourself involved in the industry that you are most interested in. That is to say, if you have interest in electrical power, try to get to know some electricians, linemen, and engineers that work in power. Visit with them regularly and ask for their input. Reading tons of books and building kits/projects are definitely worth while, but these efforts become much more meaningful when you see your "project" actually tied to something real world.
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2007
  9. Dec 1, 2007 #8


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    also check whether Electrical Engineering at your institution really means what you think it is! These days, many universities's EE dept provide courses that could be otherwise known as "communication Engineering" (but still put it under the big name of Elec Eng.) and has minimal components on electronics and traditional power electricity etc. You can imagine why there is such a big focus on wireless communications, information theory, optical fibres, etc. these days....all R&D driven of course...semi-conductor research like microelectronics are usually NOT part of mainstream EE these days (or at least not at uni level in general... there are exceptions of course, so do look through the published course outline and talk to past students about what they do in lectures.) , they are more like material engineering/physics and not elec. eng.
  10. Dec 5, 2007 #9
    Is it a bad sign that every time I try to pickup and skim through a circuit analysis book, I get a headache? I paged through the Art of Electronics and I really felt bored with it... I really enjoy physics and chemistry and I also enjoy making circuits (playing with microcontrollers and stuff) but when I have tried to self study EE based books, I feel bored. I'm about to transfer into an expensive university for EE, but I'm thinking maybe I should just stay at the one I'm at and major in chemistry... I've always found it easier to self-study chemistry, math, and physics than the stuff contained in the AoE
  11. Dec 7, 2007 #10


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    Do you find it boring because it is too easy, or because it doesn't make intuitive sense to you? If it is too easy, please rest assured that the AoE is a very basic text -- meant as a starter text only. There are plenty of other texts that go into much more technical detail about all of the topics in the AoE. For example, have you skimmed through a solid state physics, or a book like "Semiconductor Device Modelling with SPICE" by Antognetti and Massobrio, or Electronic Circuits" by Holt, or "Principles of Communication Engineering" by Wozencraft and Jacobs, or "High Speed Digital Design" by Johnson and Graham? How about the E&M side of EE, like "Applied Electromagnetics" by Plonus?

    If the basic EE texts are too easy, try skimming some texts like these that go into more of the physics details of different topics in EE, and see if some of those sub-areas are interesting. If the basic EE texts just plain are not interesting because of the subject matter, and you have strong interests in physics and chemistry, then by all means pursue what you find interesting and enjoy. Now is the time to be figuring this out, after all. Best of luck!
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2007
  12. Dec 11, 2007 #11
    I find that EE references are boring as a rule--you can't just curl up by the fire and read "Electrical Circuits, 6th Edition" and expect to get anything useful out of it. You wouldn't sit down and read a cookbook or a dictionary--rather, you familiarize yourself with it, then read the parts that you need as you need them. When you want to figure out how to make your Christmas lights flicker in time to "Ice Ice Baby" you read about audio filters and relays. You can leave the chapter on FSK modulation for another time.

    Don't let a boring EE text turn you off to EE. Remember, those texts are written by engineers, who aren't exactly known for their eloquence. Besides, engineering is about DOING, not READING. Reading is part of the job, but at the end of the day you are producing something tangible, and that can be very rewarding.

    By the way, if you do decide to make your Christmas lights flicker in time to "Ice Ice Baby," please, for God's sake, don't do it in my neighborhood.
  13. Dec 11, 2007 #12


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    The dirty truth is that even the deepest, most beautiful subjects can appear completely boring at first glance. Consider: chess, physics, calculus.

    It's human nature: things seem boring when you know nothing about them. As soon as you start to wrap your head around the cornerstones of a subject, though, you begin to appreciate its depth and elegance, and then it becomes absolutely fascinating...

    - Warren
  14. Dec 11, 2007 #13


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    That's a name I forgot about (and am reminded of here). During the Reagan years, I went to Northwestern University for my (incompleted) PhD (I was A.B.D.). Martin Plonus was possibly the biggest dick there (in multiple meanings of the term). He had power and funding, wasn't afraid to use it, liked to have a congregation of grad students to do his bidding, could never accept that anything he thought about anything could possibly be mistaken (issues were pedagogical, not so much technical).

    i finally just had to say, "One of the first things we learned in Driver's Ed. is that the first mistake of a bad driver is thinking he's a good driver."
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