Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Just out of curiosity - school material used in your job?

  1. Oct 21, 2013 #1
    Hello Physics Forum,

    I just wanted to hear from some experienced Electrical Engineers on how much of the material covered in school are actually used in a real job. I am currently a junior in EE and have heard mixed responses from my professors pertaining to the issue. To make it less broad, the classes I have taken so far includes: linear systems, switching systems, electronics, electromagnetics and C++/Assembly. How much of the material from these classes will be applied or has been applied to your job? To be more specific, aside from C++, which of these/other courses will be useful if I were to pursue a career in the field of robotics?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 22, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I would say all of them, especially in robotics. Linear motion control theory (closed loop systems), electromagnetic motor and sensor theory, switched mode motor drivers and power supplies and especially programming skills. In fact, a large part of what you are learning is where to go to begin to solve the hard problems to come.
  4. Oct 22, 2013 #3
    I prefer to break questions like this into thirds -
    1- If you go into a specific field, you may use this education almost daily. ( However I am often shocked by how specalist seem to have lost or never understood other, but related common principals)
    2- In applications work, or a more practical (hands on position) the broad base of knowledge will be very helpful, you will (should) be surprised about how often one field or technology crosses over into another. Also when faced with a new problem - the education is the foundation of an approach. You could go ten years and not need some nugget of knowledge, but when you need it, you can go back review, and develop an understanding that would not be possible with out the formal engineering background
    3- If you leave the field entirely, very few education paths are as challenging as engineering, so by completing you have demonstrated to employers, and yourself, that you are capable of understanding advanced and complex problems, and apply theory, logical reasoning and methods to develop solutions. ( Very few accounting majors can calculate compound interest- they use a table, EEs are capable of understanding the math and programming it)
  5. Oct 22, 2013 #4
    Thank you for the responses. It is reassuring to hear that I will actually be applying these concepts and not just learning them for the sake of getting a degree.
  6. Oct 23, 2013 #5
    As a related note - I am working with a few universities now, and the lack of hands on, practical education is astounding. There really can be two tracks - practical ( think bachelors degree -> get a job) and academic ( Graduate school track ) --- MIT seems to have this much better figured out, with much more REAL labs and projects - so I am not talking about 2 year trade / tech school type program, while still valuable.
  7. Oct 24, 2013 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I am an EE - have been in industry for more than a decade now. I can say that you will be using pieces of your education; which pieces depends upon what kind of work you end up doing and in what industry. The important thing is to have a strong enough foundation in a broad enough set of topics that you can readily teach yourself the new stuff you will need for your job. If you stay in engineering for a career you have a lifetime of learning ahead of you, which keeps things interesting.

    I agree with Windadct - some EE educations are quite theoretical and some are more geared towards producing engineers that will be useful right out of undergrad. Of course MIT does both, but most of us could not have handled their program (myself included). The department I was in explicitly stated in our junior-year orientation that their goal was to prepare students for grad school. So while it was possible to get plenty of hands-on experience, it was also possible to get a BS while mostly living in theory land.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook