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PLC programmin relevant to circuits/digital computing?

  1. Oct 28, 2011 #1

    I am a senior EE student who just got an internship for a Control Systems Engineer position. The position's main task is PLC programming. However, I would like to ultimately go into computer hardware using technologies such as VHDL, Labview, Verilog, etc.

    I don't know much about PLC programming, but I'm wondering whether it will help me advance my career in the direction I want to go.

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 28, 2011 #2


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    Welcome to Physics Forums.
  4. Oct 28, 2011 #3
    PLCs were developed not only to replace banks of relays but also to make it easy for electricians to troubleshoot the control systems. They do that by representing logic statements with normally open or closed relay contacts in series or parallel. I found learning to program PLCs remarkably easy.

    To be honest, I don't see how programming PLCs will lead to designing computer hardware but that doesn't mean you won't learn anything valuable. It may not be the best internship for you but it is better than nothing.
  5. Oct 28, 2011 #4

    jim hardy

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    control systems are the cogs on the gears of industry.

    go for it.

    learn those plc's.
    more important - learn as much as you can about the processes they control.

    g/(1+gh) is where it's at............
  6. Oct 28, 2011 #5
    Thanks for all the replies guys!

    To give more detail, I'm considering between this and an Apple software development job. This seems closer to what I want to do (plus I've done quite a bit of software in the past), but how much do you guys think branding matters since the control job is at a much smaller company?
  7. Oct 28, 2011 #6

    jim hardy

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    it's for the summer, right?

    back about 1965 i was in college looking for a summer job.

    finally got 2 offers-
    to be a solderer in an electronics factory
    or to be a mechanic's helper at a boat yard.

    in the boat yard i saw a kid about my age standing at the bow of a huge wooden yacht in the drydock. He was sanding by hand on a spot where the stem met the keel and had just got through the bottom paint. The boat looked a block long and i recoiled at the thought of all that tedium if he had to sand its whole length, not to mention the summmer heat outdoors ...... so went to work in the air conditioned electronics factory.
    a decision i regret to this day.

    when one gets old the things he regrets are the ones he didn't do.

    So contemplate five years down the road - which summer job will give you a wider inventory of life experiences to look back on?

    old jim
  8. Oct 28, 2011 #7


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    Hello. You need a real physical hardware controller if you want to see whats happening in real time for your process; whatever that may be.

    YES INDEED. :approve:
  9. Nov 3, 2011 #8
    Generally speaking, no.
    Specifically, it depends on the company. If the control systems company is doing some research on newer/faster controllers then you might need to develop a custom PLC, which would need FPGAs, may be labview etc.
  10. Nov 4, 2011 #9


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    I don't think you will learn much about "real" computer hardware if the work just involved programming off-the-shelf PLCs using ladder logic. The whole point of ladder logic is that it is easy to use (especially if you use some graphical IDE) and "hides" all the complicated stuff. It is quite easy to learn, at least if you have some background in programming.

    So the answer is that it depends.
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