What is a career in electronics engineering?

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  • Thread starter sloan13
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  • #1
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My dream job would be working on things like developing smart phones, tablets, smart windows, and Google Glass. If you have a job like that, what are the everyday tasks? What are the non-conventional tasks? Lifestyle? Work hours? Vacation time? Even if you don't have a job like this, input is much appreciated. I am torn on whether or not I want to continue with premed and go into medical school. I want time for a family one day, and I think being a doctor would make that next to impossible.
 
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  • #2
analogdesign
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I used to work for a large company designing integrated CMOS transceivers for wireless basestations and optical communications. Now I work for a national lab designing analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits for scientific imaging and implantable medical devices. I have friends from graduate school currently at Apple and Google designing displays and a friend who works on touchscreens and gesture recognition at a semiconductor manufacturer. The jobs are out there.

I mostly spend all day sitting in front of a computer designing circuits, simulating them, using Microsoft Office for scheduling, reports, and making presentations. I also write code to model circuits and digital systems, and do a good bit of math using MATLAB for modeling. I have a few hours of meetings a week. Every time a chip comes back from the fab I typically spend the first couple of weeks in the lab bringing it up, then I hand off the evaluation to another engineer. I prefer working on the computer to working with my hands, but different strokes for different folks.

When I was in industry I worked 50 hours a week on average but every nine months or so we would have a big deadline where I would have to work 12 - 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. This would sometimes be as short as a couple weeks like that, but once I had to work every day in a row for 6 weeks. It was really, really hard. At the national lab it is still 50 hour weeks but the deadlines are not as bad. Every nine to twelve months I have a deadline where I have to work a couple of weekends and maybe two or three weeks of late nights. Much more sustainable.

I get three weeks of vacation a year and I use it! I like to use a vacation right after I go to a conference. I got to go to Spain a few years ago and Chicago last year.

I love, love, love my job. I'm totally obsessed with my mission and work. I love analog circuits and it's amazing to keep learning and growing day by day. I'm doing more management than I used to but I'm still working on detailed technical problems and it is amazing. I jump out of bed every morning to get into work. I can't imagine doing anything else (except another type of engineering).
 
  • #3
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I'm roughly in the same boat. Just like you, I find the work to be very fun, challenging and exciting. But do you ever wonder about the terrible lifestyle of sitting in front of a computer all day? Sure,you could exercise in you spare time but we cannot deny that the job eats up A LOT of time and currently I am seriously questioning whether one should continue this road for the rest of the life.

Basically, it is the same reason I don't eat fast food or refined sugar for breakfast/lunch etc. on a regular basis. The taste is good, yet harmful.
 
  • #4
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Well for me, I want to either go to grad school for software and electrical engineering or med school. I am worried about family time. I want to either be an engineer or doctor. It sounds like either way I would end up working about the same amount.
 
  • #5
analogdesign
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I'm roughly in the same boat. Just like you, I find the work to be very fun, challenging and exciting. But do you ever wonder about the terrible lifestyle of sitting in front of a computer all day? Sure,you could exercise in you spare time but we cannot deny that the job eats up A LOT of time and currently I am seriously questioning whether one should continue this road for the rest of the life.

Basically, it is the same reason I don't eat fast food or refined sugar for breakfast/lunch etc. on a regular basis. The taste is good, yet harmful.
Yeah you make a good point. Lucky for me I'm quite fit because I work out or go running most days and I have a mile each way walk to the train to get to work. But yeah, sitting around all day isn't great for health. I think as long as you're getting up every few hours it should be ok... at least I hope!
 
  • #6
analogdesign
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Well for me, I want to either go to grad school for software and electrical engineering or med school. I am worried about family time. I want to either be an engineer or doctor. It sounds like either way I would end up working about the same amount.
To whom much is given, much is expected. I don't think there really is a professional-level job out there that expects normal hours anymore. Too bad but I think it's a fact. Around here the only people who work 8 hour days are the hourly technicians.

Just based on my personal friends and acquaintances, I think being a medical doctor is more stressful than being an engineer, but it depends on your interests and situation for sure. Also, I graduated from a Ph.D. program debt free and typically people graduate med school with six figures of debt (my friends certainly did!)
 
  • #7
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I think as long as you're getting up every few hours it should be ok... at least I hope!
Yeah, that's exactly the thing. If it reaches so far that one says "as long as you're getting up every few hours it should be ok", then you've already passed the limit. Unfortunately I don't see a solution to this dilemma. I think one probably needs to change career if health is priority. I was just curious of the thoughts of other in the same position.
 
  • #8
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This is actually one reason to why I've looked into ways to become very efficient in your work and life in general. Because if one could shorten 8 hours a day to the equivalent to, say, 4-5 hours a day, then it is totally doable. I should probably open a new thread about it but as a question to you: Do you think you can become much more efficient in your work? Or are there many things that distracts you or factors that are out of your control?
 
  • #9
AlephZero
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I think being a medical doctor is more stressful than being an engineer, but it depends on your interests and situation for sure.
That rather depends what you are working on. Doctors only tend to kill one person at a time with their mistakes. Engineers don't have that limitation :smile:

Anyway, "stress" isn't a problem IMO. A bit of stress be a good thing. The problem is "more stress that you can deal with."
 
  • #10
AlephZero
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I should probably open a new thread about it but as a question to you: Do you think you can become much more efficient in your work? Or are there many things that distracts you or factors that are out of your control?
Sure, everybody can become more efficient. But if you do that, you get to do more work with more responsibility, and you probably work more hours, not less.
 
  • #11
analogdesign
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This is actually one reason to why I've looked into ways to become very efficient in your work and life in general. Because if one could shorten 8 hours a day to the equivalent to, say, 4-5 hours a day, then it is totally doable. I should probably open a new thread about it but as a question to you: Do you think you can become much more efficient in your work? Or are there many things that distracts you or factors that are out of your control?
Hi there,

Actually I'm very efficient in my work as it is. I really don't think I could get as much done as I do in a 4-5 hour day. One problem with a shorter day is a larger percentage of it would be taken by less-efficient activities like meetings.

It just isn't really possible to work part time in this business. If you work 4 days a week, you'll still end up working more than 40 hours because of the pressure.

One idea is the stand-up desk. We have a couple of people who use them here. I don't.
 
  • #12
analogdesign
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That rather depends what you are working on. Doctors only tend to kill one person at a time with their mistakes. Engineers don't have that limitation :smile:

Anyway, "stress" isn't a problem IMO. A bit of stress be a good thing. The problem is "more stress that you can deal with."
You're right about mistakes, haha.

In my personal experience, management loads you until you're just about at the breaking point, then backs off a bit. So in my career, the stress level has always been too high, but not "heart attack" high. If you find your work getting to be low stress, that's a signal a layoff notice may be forthcoming.

Tough business.
 

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