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Electrical engineer who doesn't like to program

  1. Apr 19, 2015 #1
    How common is it for electrical engineers to not particularly like programming very much? A bit more background: I go to a school in which the electrical engineering and the computer science department are very much intertwined, and so there's a big focus on computers in the EE curriculum (microcontrollers, etc.). In fact, many EE students here end up taking on a computer engineering concentration that involves courses in operating systems, etc.

    Now, I need to be more specific. I do not hate programming in its own right. What I hate is programming close to the computer. I don't like programming in C, I don't particularly enjoy spending my time working on microcontrollers. What I do like is computational programming. I love working with MATLAB and using my code to perform calculations, but when it comes to low-level programming, I just get remarkably frustrated and bored.

    In other words, I hate getting "intimate" with the inner workings of a computer when I code. I like computational stuff using high-level languages, not C or assembly and whatnot.

    I plan on going to graduate school, and the fields that interest me the most right now are RF engineering, optical communications--the more physics-oriented fields of EE as opposed to the computer aspects.

    Is it possible for me to be a good engineer in these fields? Or is low-level programming and the likes ubiquitous in electrical engineering? While I understand a knowledge of low-level programming and microcontrollers is valuable to any EE, I can't help but feel my viewpoint has been warped by my school's focuses (for a while, I convinced myself I hated EE, but I realize now what I hate is computer-engineering-focused electrical engineering).
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  3. Apr 20, 2015 #2


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    Technically, C is a high-level programming language, so maybe you just don't like programming in C.
  4. Apr 20, 2015 #3


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    so to start, there are a LOT of opportunities away from the computer side of EE. You can find an RF, optical job where you don't need to program quite easily.

    That being said, there are quite a few situation where as an engineer or physicist you will need to write programs in C, C++, python, etc to enable you to test your products or ideas. It isnt all you will need to do, but make sure you can do it.
  5. Apr 20, 2015 #4
    I'm an EE major and I don't particularly like programming, though I'm the opposite in that I like the lower-level stuff more (assembly is awesome).

    I think you'll be fine if you aren't the strongest programmer, though it's a very useful skill to have...whether it helps you achieve your own hobby/project goals (not having to find a coder to do some small trivial part) or helps you interact with the coders at your future job.
  6. Apr 21, 2015 #5
    This is really what I was looking for. I do have a feeling I was concerned about this because of my department's disproportionate focus on Computer Engineering. Probably another reason is that the research I'm doing right now with one of my professors is more along the lines of computer science than EE (his research is in computer engineering, but I work on the less physical side of things).

    I don't have a problem with this. It's not that I can't program. It's just that, whereas many of my classmates enjoy debugging code and whatnot, I just find it painful and frustrating. I can, however, grind through it when I can see direct applications to a physical design.
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