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Nation of Tool Users? ( ex. Matlab)

  1. Oct 2, 2012 #1
    Sometimes I get the impression that employers want
    a. Experience in a particular software tool AND
    b. Specialization

    and this trumps everything else other than work experience. It wasn't unsual for people with no formal educational background in Computer Science to land programming jobs if, for example, they had demonstrable skills in a language such as C++.

    I ask if there is an analogous situation occuring in engineering with Matlab? It seems that even if you have a masters from a top 10 school, you still get the drilling in an interview that at least partly determines if you are a good fit. So whats the big deal about university if the country is looking for problem solvers utilizing software tools, and not interested in careerists.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 2, 2012 #2
    Engineering is such a broad field it is hard to generalize what everyone does.

    I am an electrical engineer working in aerospace and have worked for two different companies. I would say I used Matlab on about 25% of the projects I have worked. Most of these involved using Matlab for modeling, algorithm prototyping, and simulation of everything from hydraulic systems to digital filters.

    But I would also say I did more Matlab than most anyone at these companies, so that wasn't typical. Matlab experience wasn't a job requirement in either job I have held and I don't think either company has hired with Matlab experience as a must have.

    Where I have seen the scenario you describe more is in mechanical engineering. One company I worked for used a 3D CAD software called Pro/Engineer which was required of most mechanical engineer hires because all of our models were in that format. Exceptions would be made for new graduates or someone with specific experience that was needed.
  4. Oct 2, 2012 #3


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    From personal experience, I know some major engineering and technology firms are concerned about the lack of skills in programming. Proprietary methods are developed in C++ or Fortran (a lot of legacy code are written Fortran and some in C++), and it doesn't help if one only knows Matlab. While knowing Matlad is adequate in some cases, prospective employers are looking for someone who can program as well as understand the physics/engineering. Limiting one's programming to Matlab will restrict one's employment opportunities, and that could mean a loss of several $100K over a lifetime.

    Physics and engineering have become highly specialized. Those physicists and engineers who are sufficiently diversified will have no shortage of job opportunities.

    Many folks I know leave or retire from a full time job with a large company and either consult part-time or start their own company.
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