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Some Electrical Engineering Help?

  1. Jun 27, 2012 #1
    Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    I'm majoring in engineering beginning next semester and have always heard good talk about electrical engineering. Could anyone explain to me just WHY electrical engineering is so cool? I don't know much about it, and if there's already been a thread started on this topic please redirect me. Thanks!
     
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  3. Jun 27, 2012 #2
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    I don't know about the "cool" part, there is nothing cool about it. The important thing is whether you like it or not. It is always challenging, things change very fast and you always have to learn new things. This is a double edge sword, you can look at it as interesting......or you can look at it as a drag that what you are good at 5 years ago might not mean anything anymore. That you have to constantly learning. It is one thing to learn when you are fresh and young, it's another thing to have to learn when you are old and grey.

    Also, you pretty much expected to work 50 to 60 hours week in this career. It is not as rosie as people think. That's the reason my first question is whether you like it or not, everything else is secondary. I love it, still here talking after almost 30 years in the field.
     
  4. Jun 27, 2012 #3
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    I agree with Yungman about the always-learning part and the you-should-love-it part. But the 50-60 hours a week depends on where you work. I have never had to do that.
     
  5. Jun 27, 2012 #4
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    You don't necessary be in the company. 45 hours is given. It is not like you work like this all the time. There will be times you work 7 days and long hours, there will be days you are not as busy. But all in all, it's a lot of hours. Also you still think, work on the problem at home. That's what is bad about the internet. I worked for a company they gave everyone a laptop the first day...........So you can take it home, check email, response.........

    Remember just because weekend, vacation don't mean the work disappear or be pushed back.

    I quit working since I was 54, if I can find a job that guaranty me 40 hours week, I would have work till 70!!! If I can find a job that I work 20 hours week, I'll work until I walk into the grave!!!:rofl: I still have a lot of passion in electronics after almost 30 years, I still studying 3 hours a day in the pass 6 years, still come here and talk. But I just don't feel like being a slave anymore.

    I might make this sound worst than what it really is. I love it, so sometimes I can't stop thinking about it either. If I have a challenge, I think about it day and night until I conquer the problem. It is not as if I am dreading it all the time. Lots of time I even feel a natural high when something click. But there is always too much work all the time!!!! The thing is, if you do it for the money, and you are stuck with the job, that would be bad. So the first and the most important question is whether you like it enough.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  6. Jun 27, 2012 #5
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    Engineers aren't cool, actually quite the opposite. Prepare to get beaten up on the playground and get used to never having a date.
     
  7. Jun 27, 2012 #6
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    :rofl::rofl::rofl:

    Now now, I did not mention this, I didn't want to scare him off!!! But it's true.
     
  8. Jun 28, 2012 #7

    psparky

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    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    There are always exceptions to any rule. I am construction worker turned engineer. I am still a 42 year old playboy-partyier. I date several woman and have as many dates as I like. I am still the one kicking other people butts. I work 35 to 40 hours a week when I feel like it.

    Doing 10 years of hard labor in construction before school builds character....and muscle. And one more thing....I am extremely humble:)
     
  9. Jun 28, 2012 #8
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    That's the general rule, not apply to everyone. I myself was a guitarist, long hair hippie in my days. I didn't have girls left and right, but I have my share of dates, but nothing like those in Big Bang Theory!!! Well, women are out for me as I am happily married for 25 years. But as I age, I start turning into one now.....and I am proud of it!!! You look at those musician in the 70s and 80s, most look like Chit as C=S!!! They look just as dorky particular when their hair turn grey, half bald and still having long hair.

    Well, I was being picked on when I was very young because I was over weight, but I lost the weight and became popular in the music field and had my share of followers. Nobody try to beat me up since, I still goes to the gym doing weight lifting and I have been into martial arts for years. I still do rounds on heavy bags twice a week in the garage as aerobics. Since Royce Gracie came in and eat strikers for breakfast, my training can only become aerobics!!!:cry: body getting too old and injured to learn the new ground game.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  10. Jun 28, 2012 #9

    jim hardy

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    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    EE deals with a lot of stuff you can't see - current in wires, magnetic forces, which one has to imagine.
    The ability to imagine yourself inside a circuit is very helpful and is, i believe, attractive to thoughtful or introverted personalities. So a lot of "nerds" are attracted to it.
    I was a world class nerd and to this day carry a slide rule in the car for tracking gas mileage. The heat doesn't fry the battery like in a calculator.

    there's a LOT to be said for that.
    Where i worked, management recognized the value of practical experience. They alternated levels of management, placing engineers between fellows whose degree was from "The School of Hard Knocks". So an engineer might work for a manager who never set foot in college who in turn worked for an engineer etc all the way to the top. It gave a blend of common sense and formal education , and IMHO that's a healthy mix whether for an individual or corporation..
    The formula worked well enough, that company's stock has enjoyed a reputation as excellent long term investment ever since end of WW2.



    old jim
     
  11. Jun 28, 2012 #10
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    In junior high & high school, that happened to me. Beaten up on playground in junior high, few & far between dates in HS. I was very very much one of the premium "class nerds". My theory goes like this.

    Getting through engr college (full engr, not tech/trade/vocational type curricula) requires natural ability & long hours of hard work. Even a bright student does not "coast through" engr college. Students that are very popular & good looking have a lot of options socially. Joe quarterback & Suzy cheerleader are smothered w/ attention 24/7/365. Young people love to have a gf/bf. Even though they know it consumes time, they feel they can balance their limited time. Going out on dates on a steady basis sure beats always having to hunt & scrounge for a date.

    The cool ones have these options & eventually their time is spent having a good time, & studying usually (not always, there are exceptions) suffers. As a result, I don't remember Joe & Suzy graduating from engr college. But Myron Nerd, Phil Dweeb, & Judy Geek didn't have those many options. They got occasional dates, & if their luck was really strong, an occasional second date. I did go out, but to a limited degree. Get this.

    I went steady for the first time when I was - hold on - 22 years old!!! That's not a misprint. My 1st steady gf happened at age 22! Embarrassing as it is to admit, I'll bet some of you reading this had similar history. It's ok. I'm Joe Average, I am not Brad Pitt. Whether I like it or not, that's the way it is, I've accepted it & made peace with it. I believe that this helped get me through engr college & grad school as well.

    Most of my engr fellow classmates had limited success with dating. One guy in our class was really popular. He flunked out, got re-admitted, & barely graduated, at the bottom of the class. There is truth to the nerdish stereotyping of engrs. I have natural math & science ability for sure, but that alone did not get me through. I studied for sure, but would I have studied if I had Cheryl Tiegs or Farrah Fawcett walking arm in arm with me on campus? I think not.

    Am I crazy, spot on, or in between? Comments are welcome.
     
  12. Jun 28, 2012 #11
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    Hey Claude How are you?

    Well, life is fare, like you said, how many of the Joe quarterback & Suzy cheerleader ended up going nowhere in their life. HS is only a few years in the whole life span, it comes and goes. Case in point, I married my wife with two teen age sons, they were the leader, hip and bully type. They thing they had it all and not struggle to be better. Now they are in the 40s, not doing that hot. I still hang out with them and their friends, they sure don't look like when they were young. Gaining weight, getting bald, some still live with their parents or renting a baseman. Notice girls are at their prettiest when they were in the teens and early 20s? then the weight, wrinkles kick in.................Live is fare!!! A blink of an eye, you are already 40 or older, everybody's looks gone down hill.....way down, don't mean much anymore. I am actually proud to be a geek. I am so glad I quit music in 1979 and never regret it. I've been on both side, I definitely choose this side.

    Looking back, from very young to 20s is just a very short period of time, you can either have the rest of the life regretting or enjoying it.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  13. Jun 28, 2012 #12

    jim hardy

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    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    Have any of you aging egineers watched this 1999 movie "Blast from the Past" ?

    I found it a delightful caricature of us.

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0124298/
     
  14. Jun 28, 2012 #13

    psparky

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    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    Funny conversation.....

    Point is....you don't HAVE to be a geek to be EE....if you are fine...but it is not a pre-requisite.

    I did fail out when I was 18.......but by age 30 I was more than ready to go back.....and I learned 10 times as much as I would have in the early years.

    Hitting the gym is the best way to avoid "geek-ism". And they make it so easy these days....you don't even have to go to gym....plenty of great work out CD's for your TV or computer for you super-introverts. "P90X" or "Insanity" are among the best in my opinion. Not to mention....this is SO important for your health. Sitting in front of computer all day is SO bad for you....you will need the release! Stay trim, healthy and muscular.....not too many geeks fit that description!
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  15. Jun 28, 2012 #14
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    Ha ha!!! Trim I am not!!!:rofl: I was made fun of because I was over weight, I lost over 50lbs when I was 16 because of a girl. I stayed thin until I turn 50. Now I am only worry about being in shape rather worry about the weight. I love to eat, and it is not important how I look anymore as long as I am healthy. I like to do weights, problem is I am starting to have issue with my joints. I can't do bar bell bench press because of my shoulder. Even with dumb bell press, I still have to limit to 80lbs dumb bells and do more reps instead. Looking at the young kids benching 225 to 315lbs, I feel really old. I don't have the genes for being strong, but I did worked hard, hitting the gym like 4 times a week before, but that's what cause the down fall as the joints start wearing out. I had MRI on my shoulder, the doctor said there is nothing wrong with my should, just wearing thin!!!:cry:.

    Sometimes, it's better to be like you and me that started out with something completely different, then find what you passion is and pursue in the older age. I thought my calling was music, I got into electronics in 1979 when I was 26. My degree is Chemistry and never worked one day in that field. My grades were not that good in my degree either, I only get A's in Chemistry and did badly in almost everything else. But since I got into electronics, the few classed I took, I got straight A's. But mostly I studied on my own. I am too cheap to go to a good private school.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  16. Jun 28, 2012 #15
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    I think EE is really cool. It opens the doors to understanding not just how human made things work, but also how nature works. I had no idea how complex the world was, and am always being amazed as I get insight into all of the hard work and genius ideas that so many engineers and scientists have done. A really important benefit from studying EE is that you learn to think about things in very different ways than you used to. To me, the idea of filters is almost universal now - not just applied to electronics, because the transfer function math defines the idea. It is cool to see hidden relationships among different parts of physics, math, and reality. It makes your brain think critically in almost everything, even with things outside of work. I will question almost anything people say that doesn't make sense logically now, where before I would often take things for granted. I think EEs tend to have good BS meters. EE is complex and logical, so that is cool to me too.

    There is always something to learn, and something to push you to your intellectual limits. Its very much a constant struggle for me to get to the next level. You can do and make all kinds of interesting things too, and EE ties into just about every other professional field since they all use electrical technology and since electrical technology uses math and science to work. I had a lot of satisfaction seeing a motor (controller) I designed automatically change how hard it works to maintain a constant speed when I pushed on its rotor. To know that all the work and analysis and abstract ideas manifests into an almost magic trick that you can intuitively experience as a human is really cool.

    As far as perception goes, there are different groups of EEs and some from one group will be stereotypical and make you roll your eyes every time you have to interact with them, and then others who are not stereotypical can inspire you. This isn't unique to just EE, but STEM professions in general.

    There's cool physicists like Feynman who you can tell had other interests outside of science and just acted "cool" and then you have scientists who are less "normal" like Ed Witten, who is still cool to most of us here, but would be considered a weird nerd to outsiders because of his mannerisms.

    Read about Bob Widlar's personality, he was a wild alcoholic (not that that's necessarily cool, but not nerdy either). One of my professors was really cool and into extreme sports, and I had a lot of classmates into rock and guitars, or other fun+technical hobbies. A mentor of mine builds 1000+ hp cars in his spare time, and I don't see Milton from Office Space doing that. I think the general public has warmed up to engineers beyond just thinking of them as smart nerds in the past 10 years because kids are growing up with computers, cell phones, and the internet these days.

    Honestly, the most uncool things about EE are that you will find yourself being driven crazy by not understanding some things, you will have to put in a lot of hours of study from time to time, and EVERYONE who is not an EE, including family and friends, will ask you to fix their computers or printers or tvs or phones, and it gets old really fast. Have you ever found yourself in a stranger's living room on a Saturday morning trying to setup a printer for a mac computer, even though you never use a mac, because your grandpa has a friend from church whom he told that you would be able to help him set it up since you're an EE?
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  17. Jun 28, 2012 #16
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    I was destined to be an EE. In June 1964, at the end of my 3rd grade school year, I was 9 years old. I had to go to the hospital to have on operation on my throat glands. While recovering, my mom asked if she can bring me any books to read. Instead of comic books, or sports magazines, I instead requested a book on --- magnets!!!

    How does a magnet pick up a paper clip? That astounded me, then, as it still does now. Mom went to the library, asked the librarian for a magnet book at the 4th grade level and brought it to the hospital. I read it cover to cover and was fascinated. Then is when I learned that a magnet is a bunch of tiny little domains randomly oriented, until magnetized when they align. I got hooked. From that day forward, ca. June 1964, magnets & electrical science had me hooked, as well as math. Math was my forte, I excelled in it.

    Claude
     
  18. Jun 28, 2012 #17
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    Did psparky ever knock your magnets book out of your arm in the hallway and then walk away with his girlfriend laughing at you?
     
  19. Jun 28, 2012 #18
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    That remind me of winding my first electromagnet around 9 or so, taught by my brother. I remember I cut the christmas lights and hook them up in banks so I can connect one way and make one bank light up and the other way to make the other light up. Thinking back, I was quite into these until I turn 15 or so, then I turned to the dark side into the world of music for 10 years. I started coming back to electronics in 1977 mainly because I want my guitar amplifier to sound better. Then I started reading some books, did overdrive modification on my amp, even use a pedal to do channel switching even before Mesa came out with the true channel switching. I actually got so into electronics that I quit music all together.
     
  20. Jun 28, 2012 #19
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    Cabraham (and others), thanks for sharing your stories. I'm very glad to hear that you're an actual human and not some kind of wizard as I was mislead to believe after reading your brilliant posts on PF over the years.

    I always smile at this Dilbert clip, but stereotypes--whether it's Joe Quarterback or Judy Geek--are too simplistic to describe people in a meaningful way. Curiosity and hard work are the defining traits of a successful (electrical) engineer imo, and these traits are not mutually exclusive with being 'popular' or whatever it is people want to be.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2012
  21. Jun 28, 2012 #20
    Re: Some Electrical Engineering Help? :)

    That Dilbert clip actual touches me. When I was young, everything I touched I torn apart. I was scolded by my parents, calling me a destroyer and other put down terms. They never understand that was a learning process, I didn't know that either. I almost forgot all about this until my sister told my wife a few years back that I was a destroyer, all of a sudden I actually felt the anger and told my sister off. I told her where I am today was all due to the experience I torn down everything to find out how they worked.

    In 1978, after my first marriage, I knew I hate Chemistry and didn't want to find a job in that. I started to realize music was not going do it as the days of good guitarist was over. Nobody care if you play a good solo, I lost audition to people that can sing and play. I actually became a pizza delivery for a little while. I started to discover my passion of electronics but had almost no knowledge. I got my first real job as field service for office micro cassette recorder ( Dictaphone type). I remember I had to go to training class how to disassemble and adjust the recorder. When the person was showing that, I was thinking to myself:" you mean you pay me to take things apart where I was being called a destroyer as a kid?!!" That's how my real career got started.

    It must be particularly bad as I was from Hong Kong, my father was business major and my mother was not educated. I don't think they have any idea how to deal with a kid that is different and give the me a label that I had been carrying for many years.
     
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