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I am VERY interested in Electrical Engineering where do I start?

  1. Mar 21, 2012 #1
    Hello, I have been VERY interested in electrical engineering for a few years now but I don't have the slightest clue where to start. I am 15 and I did have a careers adviser come into my school and she gave me a bunch of information on different types of electrical engineering but none of them was what I was looking for they were more the kind of thing the cable guy doe's. I want to do things like developing electrical equipment from design to programming.

    When I leave school I leave school next year I won't have a great education so it probably won't be possible to get a college course in this stuff.

    So all I really want is to know what sort of electrical engineering it is I want to do and then where to start to learn how to do that sort of stuff. I already know how to solder and I can solder pretty well so that is no problem.

    I did start search google for things like "how to make a keyboard from scratch" but nothing really came up.

    I also would prefer the "cheap skates" way of learning as I don't really have much money to spend. I have been trying to save £700 for quite a while so I could buy I BGA reballing station so I could repair consoles to generate a income to aid me in learning this sort of stuff so I don't have to keep cheaping out.

    Thanks in advanced to anyone that can help me out here, FreaKe.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 12, 2012 #2
    the best place to start from would be: www.allaboutcircuits.com i read all the four books, and it gave me a strong fundations about electronics, afterwards you'll be able to take a more complex texts, i got some interesting basic texts i could send to you, when i was your age i was as excited as you are about electricity, and i took that way, 14 yrs later i consider it the best choice i took
     
  4. Dec 13, 2012 #3
    A BGA setup is relatively "deep", I guess OK if some types of repair (perhaps?) - Knowing how to solder - even knowing how to repair, is not really engineering. I have to thnk there are many more good targets for your pounds.
    There is so much available today in this field it is amazing, after the HAM Radio market died - there really has been little in the way of groups and hobby projects - but today here in the USA - even the much maligned Radio Shack is carrying Arduino. IMO... pick a project to build, something fun , build it, understand it = "own" it. ... another thing that even other engineers do not understand EE is comprised of a number of major fields of study ( Analog Circuit Design , Digital Circuit Design, Power Systems, Signal Processing (this is often listed Comp sci (but really only EE's "get" it - as with most true algorithmic programming), Computer Architecture, and Solid State Physics ( think IC / Silicon), Electro-Magetics - etc...
    So - my not so quick advice - build and learn. I am thinking much cheaper than investing in repair tools.
     
  5. Dec 13, 2012 #4

    turbo

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    I learned electronics by buying, refurbishing, and re-selling electric guitars and tube-driven amps. It kept me in money during college. Eventually, I got pretty good at it.

    Rebuilding electrical gear might not qualify as "engineering", but it paid the bills.
     
  6. Dec 13, 2012 #5
    Get a job as an entry level technician or even an electronic assembler. Use the money to take classes.

    Depend on how far you want to go, what you mentioned is just for technician on repairing, soldering. But if you want to be an engineer, you should start with good math and physics background. I don't know your country, in US, these are the classes you can take in community colleges that cost very little. Math and physics are the foundation that you can't go beyond the second year college without them.

    If you just want to be a technician and happy with repairing and building, then any technical school is good.

    As one that started the career with almost no knowledge in electronics and run on pure passion and learn along the way, My advice is you should concentrate on math, calculus before you worry about anything else. You are young, get the most difficult part out of the way when you have the brain and memory!!! You get good at these, everything else become easy.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012
  7. Dec 13, 2012 #6

    Evo

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    You might want to look into a degree in Computer Science.

    http://www.usnews.com/education/bes...-science-continues-growth-on-college-campuses

    http://www.ncsu.edu/majors-careers/do_with_major_in/showmajor.php?id=22 [Broken]

    My oldest daughter is a CS major, and she's already been hired by a computer graphics and design company for a position that would require her to have the degree, but they didn't want to wait and risk losing her. Great job prospects.

    In essence, they're paying her school expenses while she's gaining work experience.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  8. Dec 13, 2012 #7
    This is excellent. Too often in this field I see people in school on track to a solid degree and a good career take an internship and then fall prey to a less than honest recruiter or HR department, who convinces the person to *leave* school to join full time. As often as not they get lowballed a salary that they almost have no choice but to take, or they end up working for The Next Big Thing(tm) that goes belly up in three months and are left with no job, no degree, no real experience, and a mountain of debt.

    So congrats to you and your daughter, and a respectful nod to whomever has her on the hook with the job.
     
  9. Dec 13, 2012 #8

    rbj

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    and it sounds like fun.
     
  10. Dec 13, 2012 #9

    rbj

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    if you feel comfortable with math (whatever math you get at age 15, my daughter of the same age is taking Algebra 2, but the book says it's college algebra) then you might be good for electrical engineering. you need to be comfortable with physical science, essentially physics. and lastly you might need to be comfortable with computers and programming.

    if math, physics, and computer programming sound good to you, i think you'll do fine majoring in electrical engineering.
     
  11. Dec 13, 2012 #10

    Evo

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    But it's not engineering, it's learning some basic "hands on electrical wiring" for doing odd jobs like being a handyman.
     
  12. Dec 13, 2012 #11

    Evo

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    It's her dream job. Great work environmemt, great people. She got lucky.
     
  13. Dec 14, 2012 #12

    rbj

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    it's not the same as a handyman. i'm 56 errr 57 years old. i remember fixing people's TV back in the late 60s early 70s by simply switching out tubes and looking for broken connections. i didn't understand everything but i understood the concept of a CRT and raster scan and high voltage and the sound and potentiometers and such. and, given the symptoms, there were good places to look for problems and not-so-useful places.

    understanding crept in enough that i eventually became a ham radio kid. but i took math and physics in school and went to college where i really learned how these things worked.

    learning to solder is one thing. knowing the difference between a hot connection and what ground is, is another thing.

    i think fiddling around in a guitar amp might teach you alot about basic stuff, like the stages in an amplifier. i'm sure this guy knew the difference between a pre-amp (where the guitar gets plugged into) and the final amp (where the transformer and loudspeaker get connected to) and that there might be stages in between. that's conceptual.

    i remember getting to my communications theory class as a college senior and, just from my ham radio days, having an understanding of single-sideband (SSB) before we even got into it. now i didn't understand the relationship with the Hilbert Transform and SSB as a high-school kid, but i understood spectrum and sidebands and the relationship and difference between SSB and AM. and i understood how slope detection could work for FM when i was in high school. this is from building Heathkits and my ARRL Handbook.
     
  14. Dec 14, 2012 #13

    Evo

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    But turbo's post is still off topic in the context of the thread. I know many engineers that used to take things apart as kids, and it's that curiosity that benefited them as engineers. But telling about learning amp repair as a way to make a few dollars when it has nothing to do with getting a degree isn't really of help in looking for a major.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  15. Dec 14, 2012 #14

    rbj

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    it doesn't replace learning real electrical engineering.

    but, if you gotta work while you're in school (because you need the money), this sounds better, for an EE student, than working at McDonalds or for the Buildings and Grounds department of your college (college work-study).

    and the other thing is that, both as a student, as a grad student, and (very briefly in 1989 and 1990) as a prof at the U of Southern Maine, i would run into someone with all these "book smarts" but they were useless in lab. they learned all this math, but they didn't seem to have a clue about how it applied to real things. i must confess that i thought sometimes it was statistically coupled to gender, but i have always thought that as an issue of opportunity. learning how to connect up parts, how to solder, how to breadboard, how to connect disparate things (like your circuit to a connector to an instrument or computer), that stuff, is very very useful for an EE.
     
  16. Dec 14, 2012 #15

    chiro

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    Hey FreaKe and welcome to the forums.

    In addition to suggestions mentioned here, I would suggest you learn some mathematics up to differential equations in your spare time.

    If you have conceptual problems (or even homework problems) then post the appropriate questions in the homework or math sections of these forums and you should get an answer provided you put in the effort when writing the question.

    Math is a language used in science and engineering so once you are familiar with it, it will make learning other science and engineering concepts a lot easier.

    The first assignment I would give you is to learn single variable calculus and if you need to learn things before this then do so.

    A lot of engineering is math and the intuition to put the math into context and doing this means getting to the point where the math is not the focus, but the engineering and this means getting to a point where you don't have to struggle understanding the symbols but what they are telling you on a higher level.

    Its like driving: when you start driving your focus is on the gear stick and the wheel instead of the navigation when you become an experienced driver.

    Your job is to become the navigator and see what the math means in the context of engineering and not focus on the wheel and the gear-stick which are the symbols and the concepts of the mathematics itself.
     
  17. Dec 14, 2012 #16
    Math is the utmost important thing. When you are 15 or 16, don't need to concentrate on one field, don't even necessary decide what major or career. Just build up the foundation. Math is the language of science.....just like English for anything thing else. If you are good in math, it is so easy to switch to different major if you decide down the road. Believe me, more people than you think switch career and end up working in the field nothing to do with their degree.

    I for one graduated as chemistry major, I end up in electronics. I started out as a guitarist that want to have a good sounding amp. I started modifying my amp and learn a little electronics. Pretty soon I found myself so in love with electronics I quit music all together in 79. I started out in Chemistry, then decided to be a musician, and changed to electronics. You never know where you end up. And even at that, you might change after years in the field. So back to what I want to say...........FOUNDATION!!! Math, physics, learn programming, be good in English. Sort out the rest later. You like electronics, learn some on the side. If you have a solid physics and math background, electronics is quite easy. Do both at the same time, get a job as technician, repair etc. to get your hands wet, learn some basic skills in electronics. Then concentrate in school studying math. Yes, calculus, differential equations at the minimum.

    Believe me, I had been in the field for almost 30 years, had a successful career at a senior design engineer and manager of engineering. I took the short cut not button down to study math, I kept hitting the ceiling. After I retired, I decided to make up all the math, studied until I finish partial differential equation. I really feel how much I missed. That's the reason I feel so strongly about being good at math. I can tell you, it's not easy, math and electromagnetics are about the hardest in EE. AND electromagnetics is pretty much an extension of vector calculus, differential equation and even partial differential equation.........math!!!!

    Lastly, with good math, it is so easy to switch major, you can easily switch to physics, mechanical engineering, physical chemistry, programming etc. This will give you options in life. You should learn one programming language, but that's really easy. You learn one, learning the second one is piece of cake.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  18. Dec 14, 2012 #17

    turbo

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    It's really not off-topic. We are responding to a 15 year-old who has an admittedly sub-standard education and would like to get into electrical engineering. What better way to learn the basics of electronics than to troubleshoot and repair consumer-grade electronics?

    I'm not talking about simply swapping out tubes or subbing solid-state components with more appropriate values, because any tyro could do that. Dig in with a multimeter and figure out if there are imbalances that might impair the function of the amp or limit its ability to accurately reproduce the input signals.

    I practically stole a Deluxe Reverb many years ago. The owner insisted that we meet in the parking lot of a shopping mall. That was a huge warning sign if I hadn't the confidence that I could troubleshoot it and fix it, but the price was right. Got that little sucker home and ran through it from the power transformer, filter caps, gain stages, output trannie and fixed everything that was problematic. I took it to a guitar show in Portland, along with a 5E3 clone that I had built, and the owners of every large music store in southern Maine approached me at one time or another during the show when I was not playing through one of my amps and was letting others audition them. I could have lined up more restoration/rebuilds than I could ever have comfortably handled.

    If the OP is serious about getting into an EE program, some practical experience might be valuable. It can be quite tedious troubleshooting an electronic device, but if he actually likes digging into the bowels of such circuits, and can cope with the calculations involved in properly troubleshooting them, it's a good sign that he might want to upgrade math skills, etc to qualify for entrance into an EE program.
     
  19. Dec 14, 2012 #18
    Looks like I started something of a debate - I meant nothing about repair not being worthwhile activity for learning, but more intending to say that investing L700 esp at 15 - seemed like a lot. The reballing process is pretty specific and if all you do it that type of repair, because that is what you invested in, you may be missing out.
     
  20. Dec 14, 2012 #19

    turbo

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    Not a really empty debate. Not all paths to professional careers start and end at universities. As an example, I would point to Cuba, where there are fleets of 1950's vintage cars serving as taxi fleets, despite decades of embargo from the US. Those mechanics may not be "engineers", but they are really good at working with what they have.
     
  21. Dec 14, 2012 #20
    Ask any engineer or experimental physicist if they ever need those "handyman" skills...
     
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