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UG EE. Anything valuable I can learn this summer?

  1. May 31, 2014 #1


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    Hello. :)
    I am an undergrad EE student at the end of my fourth semester. I have to take a couple of courses in the summer semester to improve them. So a full time internship might not be possible.

    Are there any small things I can learn along the way in the summer, on my own?
    Any new software or hardware? Learn to use any new microcontrollers maybe? We have only studied 8051s and as for the software, we have used a little bit of Multisim, OrCad and Proteus (just the bare basics).

    What about learning to use Python libraries for different math, science calculations? (as an alternative to MATLAB, although I am going to study MATLAB next semester)

    Or anything else you think would be useful.

    Thanks in advance. :)
    Last edited: May 31, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. May 31, 2014 #2
    I advise against randomly learning skills independent of learning them as a necessity while working on a project. The information retention will be low. This is my experience as I tried to learn various statistical packages and graphics programs on my own as a ME/physics student over the past 4 years. I quickly forgot everything as I had nothing to apply the skills to.
  4. May 31, 2014 #3


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    So any small, one man projects/hacks or anything that I might be able to work on and learn through experience?
    So far I have studied the following courses that might be somewhat directly applicable (other than the basic sciences and math):
    1. Programming (OOP and basic Data structures and algorithms)
    2. Linear Circuit Analysis (mostly circuit analysis techniques), Electrical Network Analysis and Electronic Devices (Diodes, BJTs, MOSFETs, their applications)
    3. Digital Logic Design
    4. Microprocessor Systems (8086/8088 and then the 8051)

    How useful would it be to learn about other microcontrollers? Start with arduino? Bare AVRs?
  5. May 31, 2014 #4


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    Learning a particular microcontroller will probably not be very useful until you need it in a course/project. It would be better for your resume to get involved in a group project / research of some kind. Self-motivated projects tend not to produce much, although there are exceptions.
  6. Jun 3, 2014 #5


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    There are plenty of things you can start learning that will help you develop projects later. A programming language like C or Python or Tcl/Tk would be good. Learning basic Verilog and experimenting with a Xilinx FPGA or CPLD is a great skillset to get early, to help with projects that you may want to do. Experimenting with a PIC or other microcontroller (uC) board is also valuable.
  7. Jun 3, 2014 #6


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    Python would be a very useful tool to learn.

    One thing I did in undergrad that helped my development was buy an arduino. I then made a digital motor controller. That helped me learn more about dc motors, feedback control, PI controllers, BJTs, etc.

    I highly recommend you do that. Just buy a $5 motor from radio shack, buy the ardunio starter kit that comes with a breadboard, and go to town. It doesn't have to be a motor driver, but pick a goal that you think you can obtain, then set out and obtain it. If you solve that problem, think of ways to make it better.
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