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MS Electrical Engineering (Electromagnetics, RF and Microwaves)

  1. Oct 2, 2011 #1
    I was looking at the MS (non-thesis) in EE with a focus in Electromagnetics, RF and Microwaves.
    I realize jobs in military and commercial sector for communications, radar, etc. What else is out there?
    What kind of security would this degree offer me?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2011 #2
    Study if you like it and you have the passion in this. This is the hardest of EE, you don't want to base you decision just on job availability and wages.

    This subjects are very very hard to master as I am working on it right now after 30 year of a successful career as an EE and manager of EE. Other subject are so much easier to get into but they change with time. You might have it easy to get into, but you have to constantly updating your knowledge. EM, RF don't change nearly as much, they are very hard to get in, you need a lot of math. But once you get in, you don't have to study nearly as much and competition is not as great as most of the EE stay away from this for very obvious reason...........They just can't get it!!!!

    But if you enjoy the challenge and you have what it takes, go for it. There is always a demand of RF engineer where is hardware engineers( digital, embedded, FPGA) are a dime a dozen, every Joe Blow know how to design some.

    Lastly, security is how good you are. If you are good, people beg you to work for them. If you suck, then............................ Don't go in for the money, go in for you passion.
  4. Oct 3, 2011 #3
    Thank you for the response.

    Having a passion for a subject I can always count on as a requisite.
    But I have to be realistic and look at the career paths ways as well.
    Both should be taken into account and weighted.

    I realize that EE in RF/Microwave is tough. However, I have taken Graduate
    courses in Mathematical Physics; a lot of the math is used in E&M. Also,
    I have sat in a graduate E&M course. I feel that I have a good preparation.
  5. Oct 4, 2011 #4
    If you are good at it, then go for it. People are always looking for a good RF engineer. I personally know two top guys that always look for RF engineer. There are so very few people manage to master the EM which is an important part of RF that most run far away from it. Yes there are 10 times more jobs in hardware etc. But there are endless supply of candidates too. People learn a little bit of embedded, FPGA etc. are calling themselves an engineer, really a dime a dozen competing for those jobs. You have all the math background, you are way ahead of the game.

    As I mentioned, digital hardware or even digital IC might be easy, but they change so fast you have to constantly update your knowledge. You are young and have to mind and time to learn. Wait until you are 40, with kids, your mind is slipping, then we'll see how well you keep up with everything. RF EM moves slow, takes a lot of overhead to get in, but once you are in, it does not change fast, what you learn 30 years ago still apply. Yes, you might change from board design to IC, but the concept is the same. I remember only took me like a month to get into IC design because I was good with transistor circuits. But digital stuff change so much in a few years. 10 years ago, Firewire was the "sexy" thing. If you spent the time learning about all the Firewire protocodes and hardware, it is almost useless. Today USB might be big, but what's tomorrow? I remember in the early 80s, I was so good in programming 8085 I can even type test programs mechine code directly to run. That died fast!!! Also the life cycle of computer hardware are very very short, you are always under the gun to produce result........YESTERDAY!!! Go ask people designing CPU mother board or ask people working in Intel and other hardware companies, ask how many hours they are on the job. I can tell it is much easier to find a relatively relaxing job in analog RF field...........At least it's my experience.

    I think in RF, it is a steep price to get in. But once you are in, things get easier, not harder. Also, you avoid a lot of conflict in RF because you work more on your own rather in a group environment where there are always conflict when something don't work and everyone point their finger at others. Maybe not quite as bad as software, but there are quite a bit of this in my experience. I started out as a CPU hardware design heavily into programming, after two years and a big successful project, I got the hack out!!!!

    You might want to combine RF/microwave with PLL and RFIC also.
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011
  6. Oct 5, 2011 #5
    Thank you yungman.

    I am very confident in my mathematical ability. My minor was in Math and Computation.
    I have only had 2 EE courses: analogue circuits and digital circuits. Will this limit me? I have personally been buying my own circuit equipment, building, and self-learning.

    I know that I can learn RF through grad school. But is there anything I can do outside of that to get ahead?
  7. Oct 6, 2011 #6
    Electronics is not that hard. Buy books on different topics and work through them. I am a self studier, I buy a lot of books. Here are the ones I found very good.

    1) For EM, get Intro to ED by David Griffiths and EM for engineer by Ulaby or Field and Wave by Cheng. Get either one of the last two.

    2) For RF, get book By David Pozar. It is the best.

    3) PLL, I like book by William F Egan.

    4)CMOS integrated circuits by Behzad Razavi.

    5) You should get a network theory book for basic things like super position, nodal analysis, Thevenin etc. I don't have any suggestion as I studied this long time ago.

    6) If you have more time to kill, get the Antenna Theory by Bananis. I am currently studying this book.

    If you are good in math like PDE, Laplace Transform etc., you'll find it relative easy to understand.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
  8. Oct 6, 2011 #7
    Do NOT get the EM for Engineers by Ulaby, it is a horrendous book for anything except the very basics. Griffiths is far better in my opinion.

    The microwave engineering book by Pozar is very good, recommended.
  9. Oct 6, 2011 #8
    If you haven't taken a course in microelectronics, then study first half of Sedra/Smith. Other than that, RF Circuit Design by Ludwig and Bretchko is great resource. The difficulty level is somewhere between undergrad and graduate. It should get you up to speed. The book covers topics ranging from transmission lines, network theory, filters, active devices, and builds up theory all the way up to amplifiers and oscillators.

    Also, get the latest ARRL handbook.

    In addition to that, there are many simple projects you can do. You can build an RF power meter using a cheap IC, a swept signal source using a cheap VCO, a broadband MMIC amplifier, a ham radio receiver, etc...
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
  10. Oct 6, 2011 #9
    I have 8 EM books, I would say Ulaby explain best on phasors. Yes, it is very simple, it is not good enough for study EM by itself. It is used by San Jose State which is just a so so public college. That is the reason I said get Griffiths and one of the two other. Griffiths give you good foundation on EM, Ulaby give you a good introduction in Lossless Transmission Line. It is better than any book I'v seen and believe me, I have a lot.

    Cheng is actually the best if you using only one book because it cover Transmission Line and phasor that Griffiths don't cover at all. Griffiths is really not for EE, but there is no EE book that explain the physics side of EM like Griffiths.....not even close. But Griffiths is not complete, it miss the whole section of phasor, Transmission Line and Antenna that is so important for EE. You really need both. Look at it this way, Ulaby is the supplement for Griffiths. In this point of view, I say Ulaby is the best because nobody present the basic phasor and transmission line like Ulaby. Skip the first 6 chapters as it is useless. The last few chapters earn it's keep.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
  11. Oct 6, 2011 #10
    I have the Ludwig and Bretchko, I studies from cover to cover. It is a very good book. The only reason I named Pozar because it is a step up from Ludwig more for graduate level with good math background. It cover EM that Ludwig missed. Yes, for introduction to RF, Ludwig is a very good book, might be better than Pozar for beginners.

    Again, being a self studier, I have many RF books, I found they present the materials a little different from each other, you really need a few to study a subject. Particular these books are not as popular as the basic EM or math books and they do have errors. I often question the equations and the only way to confirm is to look up other books to confirm. It fact in the subject of PLL, there are so many mistake in the three books I study I even wrote to two of the author and they responded!!! One author Roland Best even wrote back and offer to sent me the correct manuscript of the corrected one and few years back. He responded on Amazon to my comment but I did not read his offer until a year later and when I wrote back, he never responded anymore.....my loss. So is the book be William Egan, I corresponded with him and he gave me a website with the corrections. So you really have to be careful, never trust one single book.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
  12. Oct 6, 2011 #11
    I didn't mention Pozar because it was already mentioned a couple of times. It's indeed, one of the best books on the subject. The non-EM approach in Ludwig and Bretcho serves as a great step up platform from upper undergrad to grad while picking up valuable theory along the way, especially in chapters on active devices and beyond. If that's something the OP would be interested in, then go for it. But as said before, to really stay ahead of the game, you need to study from multiple sources: books, journals, magazines, google.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2011
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