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I don't think I like Circuits and I'm an EE major

  1. Sep 16, 2011 #1
    I just finished the 4th week of my Circuits I class and I'm a little worried. Not only is the class ridiculously fast but I don't really like it. All of my classmates love this the class and I'm just not seeing it. After this semester I'll have 2 more Circuits classes and I'm worried that I'll get deeper into EE then start hating it. The specialties that looked interesting to me were Photonics, RF, DSP, and as of late some of the programming ones like Embedded Systems. But the only reason these specialties looked interesting was because I heard they do a lot of computational work.

    I know this question is obvious but I'll ask anyway. Is this any indication that EE might not be a good fit for me?

    I really like math and physics but I don't think I would want to major in them because I want to work in industry and probably won't go to grad school, if I do at most a Master's. I was kicking around an Applied Math major with some CS classes because my programming class (C) this semester has turned out to be very interesting. By the way, I have a meeting with my adviser next week.

    Will not liking circuits now just get worse over time?

    Thanks for any input.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2011 #2


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    I don't see how you can do RF and DSP without doing circuits...
  4. Sep 16, 2011 #3
    I'm only 2nd year so I have no idea what is about to come that's why I'm wondering. Those specialties sounded interesting but it's just words on paper to me. I don't have to pick my specialties for another year but my adviser gave me the list so I can start thinking about them.
  5. Sep 17, 2011 #4
    During my EE bachelor, I also disliked circuit analysis.

    Not liking it should not mean not studying it properly, so find a textbook which suits you and study it. Once you're confident with the subject, the hate will be gone, as its partially caused by confusion, lack of knowledge and the feeling of not being able to catch up.

    Some subjects like circuit analysis, also require a lot of practice e.g. solving problems.

    You don't have to be concerned with what your fellow classmates think, what they say need not be true.

    Finally, this is no indication that you are fit or unfit for EE (and don't expect the adviser to know whats best for you at all).

    p.s. don't worry about the specializations now, you have plenty of time to decide as more things clear up along the way. Focus on what you have at hand.
  6. Sep 17, 2011 #5
    I know plenty of EEs that dont' do much work with circuit analysis. In recent years I don't do much of it myself, although I'm good at it and like it.

    Anyway, you don't need to like circuits to be a EE (although it is unusual), but you do need to know it. Also, EE is so broad that you can easily position yourself into an area that you like and enjoy.

    What is your feeling about electromagnetics? That's a field that is falling out of favor in the EE curricula. To me EEs should also be good at EM, even if they don't like it, but I've seen EEs graduate with only 1 EM course, and lately have met a few that had 0 EM courses. I don't get it, and it breaks my heart. Anyway, my rant has a moral. If people can be EEs without EM, then surely they can be EEs without circuits.
  7. Sep 17, 2011 #6
    Apart from the class being ridiculously fast, what is it about circuits that you don't like?

    I've talked to several MEs who started out in EE but switched to ME because they couldn't get a mental picture of how the circuit worked.

    You need to determine if what you don't like is something fundamental about circuits or if it's more superficial and something that you could work past. I used to hate statistics because I thought it too dull but gradually discovered how it would help me design better circuits and developed a real interest in it.
  8. Sep 17, 2011 #7
    I go through spells when I don't like circuits either (I'm 2nd yr EE). I think that it is the way it is presented. In my physics book, the perspective is more interesting to me than in my circuits book. I therefore focus on the fundamental physics of the circuit. Maybe that is your problem as well. I am not looking forward to signal processing, however. I am in it for the applied physics.

    Good luck.
  9. Sep 17, 2011 #8
    Why is EM on the decline in the EE curricula? It is basically the reason why I am doing EE. My curricula only has a Field THeory course, an Electromagnetics proper course, then upper electives in MW engineering and RF circuits. There is also a Photonics course, but that is it. Is there more at the undergrad level that a good curriculum should have?

  10. Sep 17, 2011 #9
    I don't know why EM is seeing less and less emphasis in many curricula. To me that subject is too fundamental to ever be left out. There do seem to be some dividing lines in EE. For example, there are the physics types that love EM. There are the math types that focus on signals and systems and really don't have much interest in it. And, there are the computer types that don't like too much math or physics, but like digital systems and programming.

    I was surprised to find that a local University has a biomedical electrical engineering program with no electromagnetics course required - not one. This shocked me because back when I was studying electrical engineering, the biomedical engineering program was new and was being spearheaded by the resident EM guru in the department. I took 4 EM courses with him. I guess the emphasis has changed - I'm not sure what is going on.

    My own personal view is that an undergrad EE program should give all of the fundamentals in circuits theory, EM theory, systems theory, control theory, analog circuit design, digital circuit design, semiconductor/quantum theory and of course as much hands-on practice and practical problem solving as possible in that environment. Then, each person should take more electives aimed at their preferred field of specialization.
  11. Sep 17, 2011 #10


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    If you are now in simple DC circuits (volts/amps/resistance) using Thevinin and Norton and you don't like that, then I'd say yeah you might want to reconsider your major.

    I remember I just LOVED those circuits but they were really easy. When it started getting more complicated, with OP AMPS and things, I really hated it, but I studied it hard anyway because a fair amount of that stuff is needed if you want to be successful in digital logic circuitry, which is what I DID want to do (and did do). Although I really love math in general, I really disliked some of the EE math such as Fourier Analysis and Laplace Transforms but again, I studied it hard for the same reason. You can do the LOGIC of digital electronics with no knowledge of circuit analysis, but as soon as something goes wrong and you start getting weird stuff happening in the real world (and that's WAY more common than we would all like) you're lost without it.

    So it's wise of you to be aware of what you're getting into.

    I would NOT want to discourage you. I LOVED EE even though I hated parts of it (antennas were the WORST for me) but it helps enormously, I found, if you have a clear idea of (1) you want to do in EE, (2) what you will have to go through to get there, and (3) what you're willing to put up with.

    Good luck, whichever way you go.
  12. Sep 18, 2011 #11
    EE is almost all circuits, even things like DSP and RF will be about building circuit filters; finding the right book and teacher made learning the material enjoyable. One thing that I don't particularly like about EE is the fact that they skimp alot of mathematical and physical rigour; I completely agree with stevenb when he says more and more EEs graduate without knowing much EM which is why I'm going to take the physics majors EM before I graduate. If you like physics, math, and programming you might try computational E&M which some EE departments still do research in.
  13. Sep 18, 2011 #12
    I'm not exactly sure but it might be because the professor doesn't really like to cover the why aspect at all. It's mostly a plug and chug class. From day one, KVL, KCL, and Ohm's were threw at us and the lectures consist of watching the professor do a bunch of problems on the board. It's pretty unfortunate to say but if I don't drop this class I'll feel that I haven't learned much at all. Everyone in the class is just treading water and trying to keep up with the workload let alone understanding what the heck we're even doing...
  14. Sep 18, 2011 #13


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    Huh? :confused: Please explain...
  15. Sep 18, 2011 #14
    Some people can enjoy a class even though it's very difficult :P!

    To answer the OP: I don't have much experience with EE but my dad has a BS in EE and his job is all circuits and chips (He works on hard drives).

    I've looked at a few books of my dads and one that caught my eye was signal processing because it looked like it had a lot of math. I don't know if you've had a class in that yet, but you say you like math so that might be something to look forward to if you stick with EE (since my post didn't answer that directly, I think you should stick with it).

    Good luck.
  16. Sep 18, 2011 #15
    A lot of my class mates like the material but dislike the pace and presentation; I should have been more specific from the start. I feel like I might not like the material though, which is why I'm worried.
  17. Sep 18, 2011 #16
    The stuff you learn in a basic circuit analysis class is very important (at least while in school), you'll use all those techniques on a regular basis for many classes. It basically amounts to doing problems, theres really not much theory. In fact my circuits 2 prof teaches by just doing HW problems. Thats prolly why you dont like it, not much into the physics of the problem. Early on the math is basically set up a matrix and solve it so its not very interesting.

    Later on you'll use more differential equations, complex numbers, laplace transforms, and fourier series to do problems if that sounds better lol. Though it amounts to the same stuff (KVL/KCL) usually with just a few new quirks (ODEs or different domains).
  18. Sep 19, 2011 #17

    I think you need to just be more patient (which can be scary). Everything builds on the something formerly learned. Kind of like drivers training. You sit and learn all the rules, then one day, you actually get to start driving (perhaps a bad analogy, but the point is clear). The basic laws (OL, KCL, KVL, etc) are your basic tool set. As you progress, you should begin (if not already) simulating and building actual circuits. If you are not simulating circuits now, do it on your own accord. Download free circuit simulation software (MultiSim Demo, Orcad Demo, etc) and simulate the circuits in your class. This helps tremendously in doing homework problems (you can check your answers), as well as beginning to understand the circuit. Put a virtual scope on your virtual circuit and find out what happens when you start changing circuit parameters. Also, if your school textbook is sub-par, get another (this is what I did). In short, unfortunately the onus is on us sometimes as students to bridge the gap from what is taught in class to what we would like to extract from the class.

    FYI, I really like "Fundamentals of Electric Circuits" by Alexander and Sadiku.
  19. Sep 19, 2011 #18
    I second that book rec. My school is really stupid and I had to buy two different books for my two circuit classes (each book covers both classes). The first book was awful (can't remember the title, it had a tesla on the front) but the second book is the Alexander/Sadiku book and its much easier to use.
  20. Oct 11, 2011 #19
    At lot of good things have been said already, but I'll add my own personal experience....

    I was an EE major and I hated my intro circuits class. In fact, I went through the IC design sequence at my University without ever liking circuits or caring about them. Later I got a job doing board level circuit design, then everything started making sense. Unfortunately I wasn't paying much attention in school so I've had to go back and re-learn everything while on the job.

    You don't want to wait until that point to "get it" or get excited by it. I like what niehaoma said. You're learning basic skills that will allow you to do more interesting projects later. It's like a lot of other things, like learning to play an instrument. You need to practice your scales, chords, fingerings, sight-reading, all very boring—but if you stick with it, everything will come together and you'll be able to make beautiful music! Or elegant circuits.

    I think the best way to get excited about this stuff is to go out and build something. Go hang out at a local hackerspace, find a research or competition group on campus, buy some electronics kids from SparkFun or Adafruit. If you're not building anything, you have no context for what you're supposed to be learning, and University isn't going to push that on you. The point is to be an engineer, yes? Then go build something!

    Also read http://calnewport.com/blog/" [Broken]. He has a lot of smart things to say about academic success and breaking down popular notions of passion.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  21. Oct 11, 2011 #20
    I disagree with Newport's ideas about passion, I don't think he's really done anything other than state his opinion in that regard. In many of his article like the Zen Valedictorian he says to pick one major that you love. Where does that love come from? I think he's really just playing with words when he says ignore passion but pick something you love.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
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