How can electrical engineering be self-taught?

  • Thread starter Success
  • Start date
  • #1
Success
75
0
Besides learning how to solve problems through textbooks, how can electrical engineering be self-taught for the labs? Do you buy the materials? What are the necessary materials that you must have?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
tridianprime
102
1
I'd probably say buy the materials. I'm no expert but I hear 'element 14' sells the required materials. Correct me if I'm wrong.
 
  • #3
yungman
5,624
226
If you are not going to school and you want to get into EE, get a low level job. I don't know what's your knowledge level, try get a technician or even an assembler position and study at the same time.

I never have a degree in EE, I had an AA from Heald that I never even advertized as it is not very useful nor would I recommend. I studied everything on my own. I started as a field service technician for Norelco office dictator equipments. Job was just cleaning recorder heads, belts, motors etc. Then I studied the schematics, I studied text books at the same time. I even got fired because I rush through the job so I can stay in the car to study!!!! Then I landed onto a production tech in a satellite transmitter company. Then slowly move into engineering tech. Then got promoted to be a designer engineer. I had been an engineer and manager of EE for 30 years since. Other than I stayed home and studied 18 hours a day for 3 months after I got fired from the first job, I never stop working. I gained broad knowledge by keep switching companies of completely different technologies after I mastered one technology. I went from designing data acquisition( oscilloscope type), to linear integrated circuits, to ultra sound imaging medical equipments, mass spectrometers, RF military equipments. All just to gain knowledge. Use the job, maximize return of your time!!!!

Point is try to use the job as an experimental ground to learn. Once you get your foot in, you are surrounded by people in this field and you learn from them. Just the fact you are in the environment, it rub off on you. You'll be surprised how much designs you can do with so little knowledge to start with. I did studied along the way, but nothing to get a degree. After I retired, I spent 8 years studying everything required for BS and way beyond now. But that's after I retired. I don't know the job situation now a days, it worked for me. You have to be hungry, you have to work hard, put in lots of hours, be aggressive to get result.

I did do some experiment at home, you can buy breadboard like on ebay:http://www.ebay.com/itm/70pcs-Breadboard-Jumper-Cable-Wire-PCB-Protoboard-Test-Circuit-Board-400Points-/360667847168?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item53f97a9a00 to build circuits. Get some experimental books and build the circuits. I went to a electronics surplus store and bought a used oscilloscope and function generator for cheap and use it at home.

If you have more specific question, post back.
 
Last edited:
  • #4
yungman
5,624
226
My other post is getting too long. Another thing is to learn computer programming. It's a lot easier and you can do it at home with a PC. A lot of jobs are embedded processor and digital type that is a lot easier to do compare to analog. Use that to get your foot into the door. I started with one class of Fortran at the time, then got into designing simple digital and programmed some test software to start and move from there.
 
  • #5
Success
75
0
But at MIT, do students use 2 textbooks (1 per semester) for 1 year for electrical engineering? Or 1 textbook for the whole year? And how can I find the names of those textbooks?
 
  • #7
yungman
5,624
226
I thought you want lab and experiments, what are you asking? You want text book or you want experimental experience? What class are you talking about?
 
Last edited:
  • #8
Success
75
0
I'm just curious about the textbooks, never mind. Also, what's a vocational school? Is that similar to college? Does it offer Bachelor's degree? In how many years? What are the tuitions and financial aid? What are the requirements?
 
  • #9
yungman
5,624
226
Regarding to text books, you have to be specific on what subject. Also even more important, what is your level of knowledge?

Vocational school is like Heald College type that teaches you nothing but the main subject. They are usually not accredited.......that is you cannot transfer to a real college. I gone through Heald College to get an AA degree. I do not suggest that. It will get you in the door as a technician faster, but you are learning nothing towards a BSEE if you even want to enroll in a real degree. Vocational school tends to be heavy on hands on type rather than prepare you with the math and theory needed for you to advance in the future.

They are usually 2 years, you have to call the school to find out the financial aid stuff. I really don't suggest this route being through Heald myself. It is good IF your goal is only become a technician.
 
Last edited:
  • #10
Success
75
0
So how can I get Bachelor's degree in Electrical engineering without going to college? Can you study for the PE exams?
 
  • #11
yungman
5,624
226
I have no idea, what is PE exam? Someone might be able to answer this, maybe there is an online school or something.
 
  • #12
johnqwertyful
397
14
PE=professional engineer

My dad has been working as an EE for 20 years now, and is very well respected (he has standing offers for work at at least 5 companies, and has recently gotten a job shift to do something no one else has done). He dropped out of high school, and took a few classes at a JC, but never any real math/physics.

He's been doing RF for awhile and the reason why he can do it, and does it well, is that he truly cares and is passionate. He was into radios as a kid. First CB radios, which turned into ham radios, which turned into a career of working in RF for a living.

He didn't really study from books, or learn any math/physics or anything (he has no idea what a limit is, or a derivative, and can't even graph y=mx+b. He knows extremely little math), he just played with radios...a LOT. He's worked with radios so much and for so long. Hours and hours. He was interviewed by a major cell phone company and wasn't expecting to get the job (he went in with absolutely no relevant work experience and a GED). They tried intimidating him, but he wasn't expecting to get he job, so he was totally calm. They liked that (along with his knowledge) so they hired him, and he has been working there since. Since then, he's won countless awards, has been told he's irreplaceable, and recently has been assigned to a newly created job basically solely created for him. He has no boss, no spending limit, no one checking in on him, authorization to hire/fire/buy/spend/whatever he wants. He's very good at what he does, simply because of all the countless hours he put into messing with radios. He started when he was 10 years old, now he's almost 50 and even to today he'll come home after working on radios all day to play with ham radios. He's just obsessed.


Anyway, I don't know if this is irrelevant or not. But I thought it was a good story.
 
  • #13
thegreenlaser
525
16
So how can I get Bachelor's degree in Electrical engineering without going to college? Can you study for the PE exams?

What is your background? Why do you want to get a bachelor's without actually getting a bachelor's? I think that's something you need to answer if you want good advice.

Incidentally, where I live, you CAN'T become a professional engineer without taking an engineering bachelor's degree from an accredited school. You can certainly work as an engineer without the degree if you can get hired (it happens all the time), but you can't call yourself a "professional engineer" without going to college first. Also, I think the cases of people who get hired as engineers without any sort of college-level education aren't very common. You'll notice both of the examples given in this thread were people who spent a lot of time and effort learning stuff on their own; they didn't get to skip out on all the work of learning to be an engineer, they just did it differently.
 
  • #14
Naty1
5,607
40
Success:
Have you considered taking,say, one EE course, say, evenings? That will expose you to the learning environment, other students, and if an evening course, other people already working in the field.
 
  • #15
yungman
5,624
226
PE=professional engineer

My dad has been working as an EE for 20 years now, and is very well respected (he has standing offers for work at at least 5 companies, and has recently gotten a job shift to do something no one else has done). He dropped out of high school, and took a few classes at a JC, but never any real math/physics.

He's been doing RF for awhile and the reason why he can do it, and does it well, is that he truly cares and is passionate. He was into radios as a kid. First CB radios, which turned into ham radios, which turned into a career of working in RF for a living.

He didn't really study from books, or learn any math/physics or anything (he has no idea what a limit is, or a derivative, and can't even graph y=mx+b. He knows extremely little math), he just played with radios...a LOT. He's worked with radios so much and for so long. Hours and hours. He was interviewed by a major cell phone company and wasn't expecting to get the job (he went in with absolutely no relevant work experience and a GED). They tried intimidating him, but he wasn't expecting to get he job, so he was totally calm. They liked that (along with his knowledge) so they hired him, and he has been working there since. Since then, he's won countless awards, has been told he's irreplaceable, and recently has been assigned to a newly created job basically solely created for him. He has no boss, no spending limit, no one checking in on him, authorization to hire/fire/buy/spend/whatever he wants. He's very good at what he does, simply because of all the countless hours he put into messing with radios. He started when he was 10 years old, now he's almost 50 and even to today he'll come home after working on radios all day to play with ham radios. He's just obsessed.
Anyway, I don't know if this is irrelevant or not. But I thought it was a good story.

I think your story is very relevant. Yes, it is important to get an education and it helps you in your career. BUT good education does not guarantee you to be a good worker, that you can design. I've seen one guy that has a degree and absolutely cannot design even if his life depends on it. He desided to go back to school to get a PHD to teach. Good luck to the students he'll be teaching. I worked with two people, one from UC Berkeley and other from Stanford. If I were their manager, I would fired them. I think the key ingredient is PASSION.

I never had a EE degree, been an EE and manager of EE for 30 years also. Well I did have a little bit over one class of calculus. I started out as a guitarist that want to have a perfect amplifier that can produce the optimal sound at any volume level as most amp only produce the best sound at full blast. I succeeded in doing it, but also along the way, I realize my true passion in life is electronics. I eventually quit music all together and concentrated on EE. I did studied along the way, but never pass the second year of BSEE because I did not have the calculus background.

You'll be surprised how little design and creativity has to do with education. Even with the little formal education I had, I published two articles of my own ideas in the AIP, Review of Scientific Instruments and also own a patent on a detector for semiconductor metrolysis equipment. A lot of times, I design, then I listen to my body, even when everything looks right, if my body don't feel right, I kept looking. Most of the time I found the problem.

All those years, I felt insecure because my engineers have more formal education than me. So after I retired, I decided to study back all the stuffs in the college. The more I studied, the more I see there is a big gap between education and achievement.

I am very different from your father, I go for broad knowledge by changing jobs. From RF, IC design, analog, embedded processor, FPGA programming, power electronics, signal integrity high voltage power supply and circuits etc. In my early days, I even did programming.

Actually I am writing a patent application in music electronics. I am writing on my own without a lawyer. That's the hard part as there are a lot of "technical" aspect of writing a patent I am stumbling on. I survived the Claims, looks like if I clean up the language, I can pass the examination of the claims by the USPTO. But I am hitting road blocks on writing the Specification as they have milestone that I am restricted on what I can change after that. I am fighting with the USPTO right in this few days. You know those big government bureaucracy of crossing every "T" and dot every "I"!!!
 
Last edited:
  • #16
Dembadon
Gold Member
654
89
So how can I get Bachelor's degree in Electrical engineering without going to college? Can you study for the PE exams?

It depends on what state you live in. Most states will not allow you to sit for the FE or the PE without an engineering degree from an ABET accredited program, while others will let you do so after some years of experience working under the direct supervision of a licensed engineer. You should contact your state's licensing board for more information.

Here is a link that should help: NCEES list of state licensing boards.
 
  • #17
yungman
5,624
226
I am in Silicon Valley, never heard of PE and never had one. Nobody cares about PE.
 
  • #18
analogdesign
Science Advisor
1,150
368
I'm in Silicon Valley too. It is almost impossible to get a PE in a company here if you are working on products. This is because you must work under a PE for your required experience, and no one here has a PE.

For electrical engineering the only people with PEs are people who do wiring and power for construction or consulting firms.

I took the EIT (engineer-in-training) test and passed, but I'll never get a PE because I have never had a supervisor with a PE.

To add on to what everyone has said, I come from the opposite side of the fence (I have a Ph.D. in EE). I think that what really matters at the end of the day is how good you are. It is much more difficult to get the needed skills on your own, but yungman's experience shows it is quite possible. It is much harder to get your foot in the door without the academic degree, though. You'll always be hustling.

If I were to do it all over again I would do it exactly the same. If you know you want to be an EE it will be much easier if you get the degree.
 
  • #19
Turion
144
2
I'm in Silicon Valley too. It is almost impossible to get a PE in a company here if you are working on products. This is because you must work under a PE for your required experience, and no one here has a PE.

For electrical engineering the only people with PEs are people who do wiring and power for construction or consulting firms.

I took the EIT (engineer-in-training) test and passed, but I'll never get a PE because I have never had a supervisor with a PE.

To add on to what everyone has said, I come from the opposite side of the fence (I have a Ph.D. in EE). I think that what really matters at the end of the day is how good you are. It is much more difficult to get the needed skills on your own, but yungman's experience shows it is quite possible. It is much harder to get your foot in the door without the academic degree, though. You'll always be hustling.

If I were to do it all over again I would do it exactly the same. If you know you want to be an EE it will be much easier if you get the degree.

Wow. That's a shock. Looks like it's a flaw in the requirements in order to become a PE.
 
  • #20
russ_watters
Mentor
21,863
8,829
Wow. That's a shock. Looks like it's a flaw in the requirements in order to become a PE.
No, it isn't. It just means a PE electrical engineer is different from a non-PE and it works both ways; someone who works for a construction engineering firm and gets a PE will not be qualified to be a chip designer. The PE is for specific jobs. It isn't a label that says you are qualified for any EE job.
 
  • #21
Turion
144
2
It isn't a label that says you are qualified for any EE job.

I wasn't implying that.

A PE with an EE degree is qualified for an EE job and a PE with a Civil degree is qualified for a Civil job, right?

The issue is that there aren't any people that have both an EE degree and a PE license in Silicon Valley which to me sounds like a flaw because the entire point of the PE is a proof of competency.
 
  • #22
ModusPwnd
1,255
119
The issue is that there aren't any people that have both an EE degree and a PE license in Silicon Valley which to me sounds like a flaw because the entire point of the PE is a proof of competency.

A PE is not a proof of competency. Its license for liability. If you are very competent and are in a field with low liability you dont need one (like in the semiconductor industry). If you are doing something with liability to the public then you do need one.
 
  • #23
Turion
144
2
A PE is not a proof of competency. Its license for liability. If you are very competent and are in a field with low liability you dont need one (like in the semiconductor industry). If you are doing something with liability to the public then you do need one.

So essentially, the P.ENG. is useless to Electrical Engineers or more specifically, Computer Engineers.
 
  • #24
Dembadon
Gold Member
654
89
So essentially, the P.ENG. is useless to Electrical Engineers or more specifically, Computer Engineers.

Not necessarily. As Russ said, it depends on the job.

Here's a comparison from the NSPE:

What makes a PE different from an engineer?

PEs must also continuously demonstrate their competency and maintain and improve their skills by fulfilling continuing education requirements depending on the state in which they are licensed.

- Only a licensed engineer may prepare, sign and seal, and submit engineering plans and drawings to a public authority for approval, or seal engineering work for public and private clients.

- PEs shoulder the responsibility for not only their work, but also for the lives affected by that work and must hold themselves to high ethical standards of practice.

- Licensure for a consulting engineer or a private practitioner is not something that is merely desirable; it is a legal requirement for those who are in responsible charge of work, be they principals or employees.

- Licensure for engineers in government has become increasingly significant. In many federal, state, and municipal agencies, certain governmental engineering positions, particularly those considered higher level and responsible positions, must be filled by licensed professional engineers.

- Many states require that individuals teaching engineering must also be licensed. Exemptions to state laws are under attack, and in the future, those in education, as well as industry and government, may need to be licensed to practice. Also, licensure helps educators prepare students for their future in engineering.

http://www.nspe.org/Licensure/WhatisaPE/index.html
 
  • #25
yungman
5,624
226
but yungman's experience shows it is quite possible. It is much harder to get your foot in the door without the academic degree, though. You'll always be hustling.

If I were to do it all over again I would do it exactly the same. If you know you want to be an EE it will be much easier if you get the degree.

Yes, I belong to the late 70s and early 80s where electronics were like in the wild west days. Now because of the economy, every joe blow has a degree. But the problem is degree does not increase one's intelligence and IQ did not increase in the last 30 years. You just see more incapable engineers with a degree. As a manager of EE, I gave test to engineer candidates only from the Electronic Principle By Malvino.....that was used in Heald College.....a trade school. You'll be surprised how many so called degreed engineer flunk pitifully. Just a simple opamp with summing junction that create an offset and with gain. If you break down the circuit, they all become very simple.

I remember we had a project of a weapon camera that had line noise problem. few engineers work on it for a year and then got drop on my lap. Turn out it was a few of the small Linear Tech switching regulators that oscillating. The circuit were copied from the application notes and single everyone oscillate. Those product engineers did not tame the close loop feedback. It's shameful that they supposed to be the expert that produced the reference circuit and they did not know what they are doing. It's just simple closed loop feedback that can easily use Bode Plot to match the poles and zeros.

Now that I spent 8 years after retiring, studied all the math, electromagnetics, various microwave theories, I can comfortably say that education and creativity/design is not that closely relate. I don't think I am that much better a designer. I can explain my designs a lot better with all the theories, but not much better. There are a lot of inspiration involve in designing and creativity that you cannot learn in school. A theoretician don't imply creativity. Ideas just comes.....when you are in bed, doing something else. You then use theory to verify the idea. IT'S NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. Like the biggest discovery of the Benzene ring in chemistry. The person dream of a snake biting it's own tail and goes around and around. Then came the theory and model to proof that it's a ring....and the rest is history.


The hard part is getting the foot in the door. Once you get in, it's all fare game.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes astromatt1
  • #26
analogdesign
Science Advisor
1,150
368
Yes, I belong to the late 70s and early 80s where electronics were like in the wild west days. Now because of the economy, every joe blow has a degree. But the problem is degree does not increase one's intelligence and IQ did not increase in the last 30 years. You just see more incapable engineers with a degree. As a manager of EE, I gave test to engineer candidates only from the Electronic Principle By Malvino.....that was used in Heald College.....a trade school. You'll be surprised how many so called degreed engineer flunk pitifully. Just a simple opamp with summing junction that create an offset and with gain. If you break down the circuit, they all become very simple.

Now that I spent 8 years after retiring, studied all the math, electromagnetics, various microwave theories, I can comfortably say that education and creativity/design is not that closely relate. I don't think I am that much better a designer. I can explain my designs a lot better with all the theories, but not much better. There are a lot of inspiration involve in designing and creativity that you cannot learn in school. A theoretician don't imply creativity. Ideas just comes.....when you are in bed, doing something else. You then use theory to verify the idea. IT'S NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. Like the biggest discovery of the Benzene ring in chemistry. The person dream of a snake biting it's own tail and goes around and around. Then came the theory and model to proof that it's a ring....and the rest is history.


The hard part is getting the foot in the door. Once you get in, it's all fare game.

I agree with pretty much everything you said here. Education and creativity/design is not all that closely related, but to be a good designer you need to have a pretty strong command of the fundamentals. It is entirely possible to do that alone, but it was easier for me to have a degree. Few people have the discipline to learn to be a competent designer on their own as yungman did.

What getting a Ph.D. for me did was provide a great way to get a foot in the door. I had the opportunity to do an entire chip design from concept to design to layout to test and it would be almost impossible to get that experience without the degree.

Personally, I think I am a better designer because of my educational experience. That said, one of the most creative designers I ever met, Jim Williams, didn't have a degree.

I think we can agree that what matters in the end is your ability. However, to show your ability you need to have a chance and a network of people to help you find opportunities. That is for sure easier if you have a degree.
 
  • #27
yungman
5,624
226
It is so true that without a degree, it's very hard to get your foot in the door now a days. The way to do is to start low, prove yourself. I found from my experience that people pay attention to what you do. You do extra, take on things and prove you are capable, then people will give you a chance. Once you get experience, hurry up and change job and continue. then once you get experience, people look at what you can do more.

Don't mistaken that I am advocating not getting a degree. I spent the last 8 years making up what I missed. This is a thread of whether you can do it without a degree. I said Yes. But it's always better to get a degree.

As speed goes up, electromagnetics and microwave become very important subject. It is much harder to design with just common sense. You really need to be good in EM to understand RF and think in terms of S parameters and "dance on the Smith Chart!!".
 
  • #28
yungman
5,624
226
What getting a Ph.D. for me did was provide a great way to get a foot in the door. I had the opportunity to do an entire chip design from concept to design to layout to test and it would be almost impossible to get that experience without the degree.
.

I was designing bipolar linear integrated circuit in 84 with a company called Exar. I don't even know whether they are still around or not. I regret I got out of there after two years. I always like high speed circuits, at the time, the bipolar IC are very slow, fT of NPN was 1MHz and PNP was something like 100KHz!!! It's too boring for me. I went on to design the RF front end of the Ultra Sound scanner for Siemens instead. I never thought one day, IC gets to multi GHz, multi layer metalization, micro inductors etc. I so wish I stuck around, got into CMOS and RFICs.

One thing school never teach, pcb layout. The battle win or loss on the pcb. As speed increase, 40% of the battle is laying out the pcb. By layout, I am not talking about learning Alegro, Power PCB or OrCad. Those are easy stuff, it's the layout of the circuit, placement, control impedance, transmission lines....... I am sure you run into these on IC design as frequency goes up.
 
Last edited:
  • #29
analogdesign
Science Advisor
1,150
368
I was designing bipolar linear integrated circuit in 84 with a company called Exar. I don't even know whether they are still around or not. I regret I got out of there after two years. I always like high speed circuits, at the time, the bipolar IC are very slow, fT of NPN was 1MHz and PNP was something like 100KHz!!! It's too boring for me. I went on to design the RF front end of the Ultra Sound scanner for Siemens instead. I never thought one day, IC gets to multi GHz, multi layer metalization. I so wish I stuck around, got into CMOS and RFICs.

Yeah EXAR is still around, they got a nice building in Fremont you can see from 880. I know a few people who have worked there (although long after you left).

I work in CMOS ICs... I did a 10 GHz ADC for optical comms in 90 nm and a 6 GHz RF front end in 65 nm. Really hard projects. The 65nm process had 9 metal layers including thick inductor metal! You would have really enjoyed it.

Now I'm working on a multi-gig SERDES and PLL IC. I can't imagine doing anything else!

Nowadays, though, you really need a MS to get in the door. It's a shame since a lot of talented people probably aren't getting a chance they deserve.
 
  • #30
yungman
5,624
226
Yeah EXAR is still around, they got a nice building in Fremont you can see from 880. I know a few people who have worked there (although long after you left).

I work in CMOS ICs... I did a 10 GHz ADC for optical comms in 90 nm and a 6 GHz RF front end in 65 nm. Really hard projects. The 65nm process had 9 metal layers including thick inductor metal! You would have really enjoyed it.

Now I'm working on a multi-gig SERDES and PLL IC. I can't imagine doing anything else!

Nowadays, though, you really need a MS to get in the door. It's a shame since a lot of talented people probably aren't getting a chance they deserve.

Yeh, those days, IC was relative simple, the excitements were in discrete designs. Now everything is connecting from one big IC to another big IC. Designs are transmission lines impedance matching of the traces from IC to IC or to external world. Everything exciting is inside the IC.

I worked in SONET related system, all we saw was the transceiver ICs with differential outputs. We just design the differential traces to interface the circuit to another IC!!!! Yes, at 10GHz, pcb material makes a difference, every little kink, every little bent has to be considered. Pads has to be shaved off here and there etc. But it is just a glorified pcb layout! You have all the fun!!! I don't even think you can do a lot of 10+ GHz circuit design in discrete form as the ##\lambda## is just too short and loss is too high to run traces. It is a lot more suitable to be inside the IC where dimension of devices are much smaller.

IT's too bad now the degree is so much more important. As I said before, education does not make a person more creative or more intelligent. I just seen more morons with a degree.....and they are still morons!!!! I hired a student that is in the process of getting a MSEE in San Jose State.....Let's just say.....he got fired after a month.

Well, my days have passed, I had my fun in my days. It's been 8 years since I retired. It's a different world. When I was working in LeCroy in 82, we did a 200MHz 8bits ADC front end using subrange configuration. It was a big big deal. You are doing multi GHz ADC!!! We had hybrids that we put surface mount transistors inside the hybrids!!!
 
Last edited:
  • #31
russ_watters
Mentor
21,863
8,829
So essentially, the P.ENG. is useless to Electrical Engineers or more specifically, Computer Engineers.
A PE is basically useless for anyone not getting government or other permits for their work, yes. It is completely useless for a chip designer in Silicon valley.

Or from the other direction: you cannot become competent at making permit documents unless you work for someone who makes permit documents. A chip designer job won't prepare you for that so it is not a flaw in the PE requirements.
 
  • #32
analogdesign
Science Advisor
1,150
368
Yeh, those days, IC was relative simple, the excitements were in discrete designs. Now everything is connecting from one big IC to another big IC. Designs are transmission lines impedance matching of the traces from IC to IC or to external world. Everything exciting is inside the IC.

I worked in SONET related system, all we saw was the transceiver ICs with differential outputs. We just design the differential traces to interface the circuit to another IC!!!! Yes, at 10GHz, pcb material makes a difference, every little kink, every little bent has to be considered. Pads has to be shaved off here and there etc. But it is just a glorified pcb layout! You have all the fun!!! I don't even think you can do a lot of 10+ GHz circuit design in discrete form as the ##\lambda## is just too short and loss is too high to run traces. It is a lot more suitable to be inside the IC where dimension of devices are much smaller.

IT's too bad now the degree is so much more important. As I said before, education does not make a person more creative or more intelligent. I just seen more morons with a degree.....and they are still morons!!!! I hired a student that is in the process of getting a MSEE in San Jose State.....Let's just say.....he got fired after a month.

Well, my days have passed, I had my fun in my days. It's been 8 years since I retired. It's a different world. When I was working in LeCroy in 82, we did a 200MHz 8bits ADC front end using subrange configuration. It was a big big deal. You are doing multi GHz ADC!!! We had hybrids that we put surface mount transistors inside the hybrids!!!

How interesting! I'm with on you the moron angle... in my experience education and capability are somewhat correlated, but they don't have a one-to-one correspondence at all!

PCB design at 10 GHz or even 40 GHz (!) is possible but very challenging and specialized! You're right that it is primarily connecting highly integrated ICs but getting multi-gig signals across a backplane is tough! There are some good new materials (like the various Rogers mixes) that really extend the bandwidth... you can't just use FR-4 these days! You have to keep the signals balanced and minimize changing layers whenever possible... also you typically have to back drill vias to get rid of the stubs. Very expensive! The SERDES I'm working on right now has an equalizer in it that can compensate somewhat for the board parasitics, but you're right, it's much easier in the IC (and even then not easy!)

The scope front-end designers are always on the cutting edge! That must have been exciting at LeCroy. I have a buddy who does ICs for scopes and they typically use a InP or GaAs S/H amplifier followed by a massively parallel CMOS ADC. Going parallel is the real trick. The 10 GHz ADC I did was eight 1.3 GHz ADCs in parallel. You get all kinds of issues due to timing, gain, and offset mismatches but you can fix those in DSP. Fun stuff!
 
  • #33
analogdesign
Science Advisor
1,150
368
A PE is basically useless for anyone not getting government or other permits for their work, yes. It is completely useless for a chip designer in Silicon valley.

Or from the other direction: you cannot become competent at making permit documents unless you work for someone who makes permit documents. A chip designer job won't prepare you for that so it is not a flaw in the PE requirements.

One other thing to keep in mind is that government regulations typically don't favor EEs. In California at least, a Civil PE or Mechanical PE can stamp electrical drawings as well as civil and mechanical drawings, but an EE PE can't sign off on civil or mechanical drawings!

My advice is if you want to work on civil-engineering type projects, be a Civil Engineer!
 
  • #34
yungman
5,624
226
How interesting! I'm with on you the moron angle... in my experience education and capability are somewhat correlated, but they don't have a one-to-one correspondence at all!

PCB design at 10 GHz or even 40 GHz (!) is possible but very challenging and specialized! You're right that it is primarily connecting highly integrated ICs but getting multi-gig signals across a backplane is tough! There are some good new materials (like the various Rogers mixes) that really extend the bandwidth... you can't just use FR-4 these days! You have to keep the signals balanced and minimize changing layers whenever possible... also you typically have to back drill vias to get rid of the stubs. Very expensive! The SERDES I'm working on right now has an equalizer in it that can compensate somewhat for the board parasitics, but you're right, it's much easier in the IC (and even then not easy!)

The scope front-end designers are always on the cutting edge! That must have been exciting at LeCroy. I have a buddy who does ICs for scopes and they typically use a InP or GaAs S/H amplifier followed by a massively parallel CMOS ADC. Going parallel is the real trick. The 10 GHz ADC I did was eight 1.3 GHz ADCs in parallel. You get all kinds of issues due to timing, gain, and offset mismatches but you can fix those in DSP. Fun stuff!

Oh yeh, FR-4 is out of the question. I have been using Roger materials in quite a few occasions already. Changing layers on the trace is the tricky part. That's where shaving pad and all comes in.

At the time in LeCroy, we used the sub-range configuration. We first use a 4 bits ADC that had 8 bits accuracy to digitize the signal, then use a DAC to transform back to an analog signal with only 16 levels ( 4 bits) and sum together with a delay version of the original analog signal. This create the difference signal. Then we digitize the difference signal with the second 4 bit ADC. The first ADC create the M.S 4bits, the second ADC creates the L.S. 4 bits. We had to use RG58 coax lines to delay the analog signal for summing. Matching the amplitude and phase of the delayed signal is very tricky or else the two signal do not sum correctly and you can see the wave form breaking up. Everything was about timing, amplitude and phase compensation. Even big RG58 needed a lot of compensation to match the signal. We did not have any DSP or anything for correction everything was done in analog.

We were in the days even before Comlinear amplifier. We had to design our in house hybrid opamp and sample & hold to get the BW of 200MHz. Those were the fun days that I put in 18 hours a day for a period of time.

The time I left LeCroy, they were talking about "bucket brigade" stuff, which was the idea CCD that digitize the signal fast and spit it out slowly for a slower ADC to digitize the signal. I guess that did not happen. At the time, we even talked a little about driving the analog signal onto a transmission line, then digitize the signal at different taps with a number of ADC, so every time you digitize, you get a few data points closely spaced to increase the throughput.

Writing to memory was not easy either. There were no 100 MHz static RAM. All the gang switching and all.

It was hard to leave LeCroy, but I got the opportunity in Exar, so I had no choice.
 
  • #35
Dembadon
Gold Member
654
89
A PE is basically useless for anyone not getting government or other permits for their work, yes. It is completely useless for a chip designer in Silicon valley.

Or from the other direction: you cannot become competent at making permit documents unless you work for someone who makes permit documents. A chip designer job won't prepare you for that so it is not a flaw in the PE requirements.

I know this is probably a rare case, but wouldn't there be a need for a PE if the chip were, say, to be part of a control system that runs an autopilot system or something similar? Or are these type of chips not developed by electronics companies in Silicon Valley?
 

Suggested for: How can electrical engineering be self-taught?

Replies
10
Views
337
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
378
Replies
22
Views
1K
Replies
5
Views
324
Replies
7
Views
446
Replies
8
Views
312
Replies
5
Views
335
  • Last Post
Replies
5
Views
987
  • Last Post
Replies
7
Views
329
  • Last Post
Replies
9
Views
184
Top