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How to prepare for ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering)

  1. May 27, 2016 #1
    Hello. I've just recently been accepted to an electrical and computer engineering course. I've only been out of school for 2 weeks but I can already tell that my memory is slipping and I can't remember anything I did. My course starts in late august, and I want to prepare for it so that I have an upper hand. What are some useful physics/chemistry topics that I should study for to have an upper hand?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2016 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    The very best thing you can do is memorize this handbook:
    That's what I did before I went to University, and it made all the difference...

    Just kidding. Relax. Do your best when you get there, and you'll be fine.
  4. May 28, 2016 #3
    Haha it seems everyone tells me that. I guess I should just relax :)
  5. May 28, 2016 #4
    Go to Wikipedia, type electric engineering and study every possible article that will return :D
  6. May 28, 2016 #5


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    Gold Member

    First, get outside and enjoy your summer! Do something active if you are able.

    If you really want to do something technical to "prepare", if I were you I would pick something that would actually be fun for you to do - so it would feel like a hobby and not like school. There are many possibilities, like learning how to make an app for you phone, or building something with an arduino, or making an audio amplifier (and download the free ltspice software to simulate it), or playing with Python (is free!), or if you play guitar you could try building a stompbox, etc.

  7. May 28, 2016 #6
    I wonder why nobody advices him to do the proper thing, that's to make some phones on the University/College and find out which are the books that being taught there in the ECE department and buy the books and study them from now? He clearly mentions he wants to have an upper hand...
  8. May 28, 2016 #7
    I think a lot of entering electrical engineers get really confused on Kirchhoff's Laws (KCL and KVL). You could buy one of those cheap Schaum's outline books and practice a few problems; trying 1 or 2 circuit problems a day would give you a competitive edge, stronger intuition, and it wouldn't really be imposing on your summer freedom.
  9. May 28, 2016 #8


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    Fair enough. Perhaps I was too quick to assume that hte OP was overstressed like most highschooler's I know these days (kids are expected to do much more than I did at that age). I found that the first 3 years of my EE curriculum was very heavy on theory and not so heavy on applications; spending time doing some more practical hands-on "playing" with relevant techology is useful, I think, which is why I suggested such an approach. Likewise, I found that summer and winter breaks were wonderful for recovering from stressful schoolwork.

    If the OP really wants to do textbook kinds of work, then focusing on something that strengthens math skills is probably a good choice. My peers didn't seem to have problems understanding how to use KVL and KCL, but they did seem to have difficulty solving a gazillion circuit problems during a 90 minute exam without making a bunch of algebra mistakes.

    Chiner, if you are concerned about your preparation, or if you really want to spend a handful of hours a week doing something academic, then it would help if you give us more info about your background (how much math and physics have you taken, at what level, did you understand it?), your interests, and something about the program you are starting (what country is it in?).

  10. May 28, 2016 #9
    Certainly a book on Circuit Theory and another one perhaps on Logical Circuits should be central in his education as ECE.
  11. May 31, 2016 #10
    If you haven't taken calculus or ODE yet...Just brush up on your algebra and the rest should come easily. Most students seem to struggle early on in engineering from a weak math foundation. No sense learning logic, circuits, and physics if your algebra isn't top notch first.

    If you know your calculus and some physics...I would suggest buying a simple circuit kit (leds, resistors, batteries) to gain some circuit intuition or diving into some Python programming, can't understate the importance of hands on experience/learning in engineering.

    Realistically though, relax and enjoy summer. You have many semesters of studying coming up, take the break while you can.
  12. May 31, 2016 #11


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    Gold Member

    Get some real hands on experience. Buy an arduino.
    Build some small circuits.
    Try out programming at a website like codeacadamy.
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