Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

From technician to EE

  1. Mar 27, 2006 #1

    Right now I am (almost) a telecommunications technician which I have taken a 2 year course for at my local university. We have studied many things such as analogue, digital, microprocessor, and wireless circuits. We've built and designed BJT & mosfet amps, worked with arrays of digital logic chips and programmed microprocessors including building small computers (with intel 8085) from the ground up. Basically the course has given me a great fundamental understanding of electricity and various circuits and their applications. We have done a small amount of cicuit design and real world implementations. Recently I have been thinking about all I have learned and I would LOVE to bring it to the next level. During my breaks I do fun things such as building PCB's and other design things that we were not taught at school. I have been reading many books and articles and learning things on my own. As an example I just finished a digital car starter circuit that uses a keypad and a 4 pin password that will start, warmup, and run a vehicle with all kinds of neat features. I have a big drive to do things like this instead of repairing local radio towers everyday.

    What I really want to know is; since I am currently a technician, is it easy to get into an engineering course? Also, is there such a thing as a "transfer" course where I wouldnt have to start at day 1 since I have some basic understandings of electronics? I have taken courses like calculus and physics before I did my technician diploma, so I hope this would help. Any other information that would help me get into an EE course or atleast help me learn more about what an EE does would be great!

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 27, 2006 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Each school will be different, but the biggest difference is in the calculus (you are typically 1/2 or more a math major) and physics (again maybe 1/2 or more a physics major) level and the circuit classes reflect that calculus and physics based calculus more than anything else. You can find many undergrad EEs who cannot hook up a BJT, even with their BS, but could answer a homework problem about the damping in an RLC circuit involving an integral in short time.

    It sounds like you should find a university with an Electronics Engineering curriculum and be prepared to spend the first couple years completing the calc and physics before you'll get into much circuit design. You may be able to CLEP out of some of the requirements and also fufill some general credits like english or art that you may not already have. But be prepared that you're not going to find an awesome circuit design curriculum at any school, most assume your first employer will handle most of that and teach you with only the basics from a math standpoint and establish the scientific viewpoint. my opinion anyways....
  4. Mar 27, 2006 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I came out of the Navy with 4yrs experience as an Electronics Technician, using the GI Bill I started my Physics degree at the local University. I thought I knew about Electromagnetism until I started the Junior level E&M course. Very early on we covered Capacitance, it was like a foreign language. The way I see it now, I knew a lot about capacitors, but I knew NOTHING about capacitance.

    You will find many topics like this, the technical school teaches you how to use a concept but does not always teach you the fundamentals of the concept. It is amazing just how big a difference there is.

    I would encourage you to presue that EE, but do not think it will be a piece of cake. Your experiance will give you a leg up in many ways but in others it may be a barrier you must overcome.
  5. Mar 27, 2006 #4
    The above advice is correct. The majority of work involved in getting a BS degree is "non-practical" in the sense that you know it. A lot depends on curriculum, but about 20% of your classwork will have nothing to do with EE (English, electives, gen-ed requirements, basket weaving, etc). About 50% will be the math and physics that generically preps you for an engineering curriculum. And the last 30% is the engineering work, which is mostly theoretical application of the math and physics. The dirty little secret of college education is that it doesn't prepare you to do very much.

    The good news is that you already have the real-world experience that so many undergraduates lack and must learn on the job. Presumably, having an intuitive understanding of circuits will help you when it comes to the equations and coursework. And when you go to a job, a smart employer will recognize that you're much better prepared than the typical graduate.
  6. Apr 3, 2006 #5
    Thanks for the responses guys. What I am going to do is work in the field for a couple years, make money and get experience. Then when I am ready I would love to get an EE degree. Hopefully I can upgrade my physics and calculus via corropondance while Im working to help me get a head start.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook