1. Not finding help here? Sign up for a free 30min tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Get ready for electrical engineering

  1. Jul 3, 2011 #1

    I'll be studying electrical engineering in September and I would like to know how can I get a step ahead. How to get ready? Should I review my physics (electricity and magnetism) notes? Or should I start reading new material(can you tell me which books to read).

    Can you please tell me what do to.

    Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 3, 2011 #2
    If you can get the course list for the next term, and the textbooks that are assigned for those courses, I would recommend finding those books and read ahead. Even better, do some of the exercises at the end of each chapter.
  4. Jul 3, 2011 #3
    I only have the course list without the textbooks :
    Fall 2006 1st year
    ENGR213 Ordinary Differential Equations
    COEN231 Introduction to Discrete Mathematics
    ELEC273 Basic Circuit Analysis
    ENGR233 Advanced Calculus
    ENGR201 Professional Practice and Responsibility

    Winter 2007 1st year
    COEN243 Programming Methodology I
    ELEC261 Complex Variables for Electrical and Computer Engineers
    ELEC251 Fundamentals of Applied Electromagnetics
    ENCS282 Technical Writing and Communication
    COEN312 Digital System Design I
  5. Jul 4, 2011 #4


    User Avatar

    The math is likely going to use the biggest share of your time, so that may be the thing to concentrate on. It's crucial to have some intuitive understanding of what you are doing rather than just shuffling symbols, but I can't really help you there. For in intuitive understanding of electricity and basic circuits, though, it's worth going through http://amasci.com/ele-edu.html"

    If you are really interested in electrical engineering, I suggest getting "http://frank.harvard.edu/aoe/" [Broken]" by Horowitz and Hill (AoE). It is considered the bible of the field - I have almost worn my copy out. Get a decent free or low-cost circuit simulation / SPICE program and learn to use it by setting up the circuits in AoE. It would be best to use whatever software will be used in your later classes. Find out about other software that you will be using such as Matlab as well - that may also give you a leg up if you already know how to use it at a more advanced level.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  6. Jul 6, 2011 #5
    As EWH said, SPICE would be helpful. In my classes, we used ltSPICE which is a free version provided by Linear Technologies. You can find it here:


    If you don't want to pay for Matlab, I've heard people call this thing call Octave a free alternative:

    http://www.gnu.org/software/octave/ [Broken]

    Do you remember your complex number (some books call them imaginary numbers) arithmetic from high school Algebra? Most people don't and are kind of scared by it. I suggest going over it, it will show up in a lot of you classes. (It's actually useful! Who knew!?)

    Going over your basic E&M will definitely help, though you will get it all beaten into you sooner or later as an electrical engineering major.

    Maybe you can figure out what language you are going to go over in your programming course and go over it instead? EE at my school is merged with CS so EE majors take programming courses other engineers often don't. Most engineers learn things like Matlab/C/C++/Fortran. In my introductory circuits course, we used C to program microcontrollers. EECS majors at my school also learn Java.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  7. Jul 6, 2011 #6


    User Avatar

    Specifically, complex numbers are used to calculate the phase relationships of quantities such as voltage, current, power, and impedance in AC circuits (usually ones with a single frequency). (Impedance is a generalized form of resistance using two dimensions - resistance is on the real axis and capacitance and inductance point in opposite directions on the "imaginary" axis.) It's basically just converting from rectangular components (real and imaginary axes) to polar coordinates (amplitude and phase).

    See "[QUOTE[/URL] for a pretty good introduction.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  8. Jul 6, 2011 #7
    If you're desperate to study, study your math, as people have suggested. Things like logarithms, trig identities, and complex numbers which may have seemed kind of pointless in high school will show up just about everywhere. I find it a little odd that you're taking differential equations in the first semester, that's a second year course at my school, where two calc courses and a linear algebra course are prerequisites. You might want to make sure you're solid with your calculus (especially integration techniques) for that.

    Honestly though, you're probably best off just relaxing. Engineering school is going to be stressful enough, and I don't think that the benefit you'll get from studying ahead will be better than some good down time. It's great to work ahead, but I would focus more on enjoying your free time while you still have it, and do no more than some light studying. Spend some time with friends and just try to have a good time. You'll do a lot better if you can go in with a clear, refreshed head. I think the hardest part of first semester for me was actually having the mental fortitude to keep pushing until the end of the semester. Studying ahead probably would have just worn me out and made that even harder.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook