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Microcontroller tech vs. Computer-aided engineering

  1. Oct 21, 2016 #1

    MacLaddy

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    Hello folks,

    This is a bit of an "academic guidance" question, but I feel it is most appropriate here.
    What are your thoughts regarding the usefulness of the two subjects listed? I have a choice going into my final semester between these two, and it is turning out to be a difficult one. Microcontrollers has more interest for me, but the class-schedule will be brutal. The computer-aided engineering course is only one night a week, but it doesn't seem like it would be very useful.
    I already know my way around Solidworks and Ansys, although I don't really know the theory behind FEA and CFD. I've taken other automation and robotics courses, and microcontrollers aligns itself well with those subjects.
    I guess the question really is this. Which one is more useful, and which one is easier to learn on my own?

    Thanks,
    Mac
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 21, 2016 #2

    Mech_Engineer

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    Both are useful in their own way, it sort of depends on the path you're imagining you want to go in your career. With modern engineering going the way its going, automation and robotics are a big push in industry.

    [Socratic Method] Do you have any feeling for which of the two classes you will learn more from? [/Socratic Method]
     
  4. Oct 21, 2016 #3

    MacLaddy

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    Thank you for the reply.
    Gut feeling? I should take the microcontrollers course because it stays on track with my mechatronics path, I find it more interesting then anything Ansys (I'm not a fan), and I believe it would be more useful.
    Unfortunately, I'm not a typical student. Full time work and school--as well as being a father of two--tends to make my time extremely limited. I have to thoroughly vet any decision I face and get the best information available. It isn't only about what I want, but also how it will affect my future.
    I appreciate your answer though. It is--I suppose--what I wanted to hear. I just need to make sure nobody screams "you'll rue the day you didn't learn FEA!! You'll never go anywhere without CFD!!"
     
  5. Oct 21, 2016 #4

    Mech_Engineer

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    So, what's wrong with taking both classes a semester apart? FEA is a very useful tool for anyone designing parts for robotic systems, but control electronics are important too.
     
  6. Oct 21, 2016 #5

    MacLaddy

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    Well, to put it mildly, I've had enough of this educational adventure. I've been working on this bachelors for--what will be--seven years, and I'm not going any further then I need to. I'm pretty sure my wife would not only divorce me if I took extra classes, but curse my soul for eternity.
     
  7. Oct 21, 2016 #6

    JBA

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    If you are pursuing the mechatronics route, I would definitely recommend you go with the microcontrollers. In order of importance both of those are step behind, with FEA next and CFD and long third. For both of those, more likely or not any organization that depends heavily upon either of them is going to either have or seek out people that specialize in those technologies.
    FEA is a good tool , but its correct application requires a deep understanding of the methods of constructing models to get accurate results and I have seen more erroneous results than good ones. An engineer with a basic FEA course is not really prepared to effectively use this technology without considerable practice and standard stress analysis verification.
    As for CFD, that falls in the same category and actually is only required and effective for a very small and specialized range of flow analysis situations.
     
  8. Oct 22, 2016 #7

    MacLaddy

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    Thank you, that is what I was starting to suspect. The computer-aided engineering course is only a single night a week anyway, and I don't believe it would provide me with anything more than an introduction to the subject.
    I'm pretty sure that I will choose the microcontroller course, and then after I graduate I will attempt to teach myself CAELinux. Maybe get some good reference material on FEA theory.

    Thanks everyone for the replies.
    Mac
     
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