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Do electrical engineering majors typically enjoy hobby electronics?

  1. Nov 17, 2014 #1
    I'm in EE, and it seems that around my department, a huge majority of my fellow students spend a lot of their free time doing hobby projects with microcontrollers (mostly arduino and raspberry pi). I suppose that if I was doing something interesting with them, then I could enjoy it, but I've never been much of an electronics tinkerer, to be honest. Does this say anything about how much I'll enjoy electrical engineering in the long run? I tend to enjoy more physics-based areas of EE (along with math-heavy and computational stuff), by the way. I know every engineer has to, at least at some point, do pretty hands-on work, but I was wondering if I'll have to see a lot more of this stuff in the long run, or if there are plenty of fields out there that align more closely with my interests.

    When I say I've never been much of an electronics tinkerer, I mean I was never one to be interested in an electronics kit (though who's to say I won't in the future?).
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 17, 2014 #2

    Simon Bridge

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    That's my experience - I am not aware of any studies into the hobbies of electrical engineers though.
    Basically, to dedicate your life to something it usually helps if you find it enjoyable - so it isn't surprising to find electrical engineers enjoy electronics.

    However there are many aspects to engineering of any kind - it sounds like you maybe enjoy the problem solving, many people like the organization and logistics side. Check out your hobbies - what you spend your free time on and why - and see how they align with your degree.
  4. Nov 17, 2014 #3
    A lot of EE research involves mostly math and computational stuffs, like control, optimization, machine learning, computer vision etc, but almost all of them are there to make some physical electronic thing perform better. For me the only motivation to work on abstract computational/maths stuffs, is to have some practical application in the back of my mind, i.e. learning them as a part of solving some practical problem. So, if you utterly dislike electronics and stuffs, and love pure maths, then you may hate having to do some pragmatic approximation, like neglecting certain parameters during your maths derivation , because in real world application they aren't significant anyway, If you don't mind doing them, then you can have all the sweetness of maths in EE.
  5. Nov 23, 2014 #4
    I think it can be hit or miss. Some do, some don't.

    My own stance on the thing as an EE major is that I really do enjoy hobby electronics, but for the most part I've got more than enough to keep me busy with my lab assignments. An Arduino kit just seems like such a pointless distraction when we're using AVR controllers for the microcontroller lab assignments. I just kind of translated that hobby into my lab assignments.

    The hobby I do pursue though is music, of all things. I learn instruments very, very quickly, to the extent that I actually originally came to college to major in music performance and minor in physics. And somehow I ended up majoring in EE and minoring in violin performance and physics. Weird. Though it sometimes is interesting to have some physical and technological intuition about how instruments work, that definitely has had a good influence on my technique.
  6. Nov 25, 2014 #5
    in my class many do, but many don't do anything. I don't tinker personally. My interests have always revolved around computers, but not programming in particular, so I wasn't much attracted by computer engineering. I also liked electromagnetics though.

    I'm sure this is a bad thing because if you can program microcontrollers as an hobby, at least you have some practical skills to show. I just know what I learnt doing in the lab activity which isn't much.

    But if you just like electron devices and computational stuff, I think it's not weird not to have a passion for microcontrollers and related applications. It's a big field in electronics. I don't know how possible it is to end up there if you just look for a random EE job though.

    Not to mention sensors and M/NEMS. People go into that field coming from both physics and electronics engineering. Under my impression, that's heavily about physics and simulations and analog electronics.

    numerical analysis is mathematics and is all about acceptable errors. Plus approximation requires understanding the mathematics (e.g. series expansion), and it's done with the understanding that it's impossible to work out a general solution without them, but simulation will come afterwards and then you can torture yourself with statistics and errors. And statistics is a field of maths too. So I think that this is a misconception about maths.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
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