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Why do electrical engineering students have to study computer programming

  1. Jul 5, 2011 #1
    Is it just to make it more likely that their creativity will make use of what computers can do? Am I correct in thinking that programming computers is not part of an electrical engineer's job description?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 5, 2011 #2
    Programming knowledge is often necessary to function as an EE. A lot of times this involves writing tests and simulations. Almost every simulation of an electrical network relies on some programming language (SPICE included).

    Are you correct? No. I am an EE and I've seen many EE job descriptions (even IC designers) that prefer some programming experience.
  4. Jul 5, 2011 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Good answer, KingNothing.
  5. Jul 5, 2011 #4


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    Basic programming, (the language or the word basic taken at face value) is quite valuable for an EE if they go on to develope firmware. Having learned BASIC on a Commodore machine way back when was definately an advantage when learning how a microprocessor does what it does.
  6. Jul 5, 2011 #5
    "Am I correct in thinking that programming computers is not part of an electrical engineer's job description?"

    From my experience the number of EEs who will program at some time during their career outnumbers those who will not.
  7. Jul 5, 2011 #6
    They are inseparable in the real world of the EE. If you are doing circuit design but don't program microcontrollers then your EE skills in todays market are incomplete.
  8. Jul 6, 2011 #7
    I think it depends which area of electrical engineering you want to concentrate on. Let's say that you are interested in solid state devices, then you might not ever use traditional HLLs like C or python, but you would definitely need good programming skills with mathematical software like Mathematica or preferably MATLAB to create your own simulations. On the other hand , if you are into FPGAs, Microprocessors, etc. it would come in handy if you know how to program them to extend their functionality.( VHDl/Verilog for FPGAs, Assembly, C for Microprocessors, etc.). So base your choice on the specific field you are interested in , rather than EE field as a whole. Though it never hurts to be proficient in couple of programming languages.
  9. Jul 6, 2011 #8
    Also, even if you don't "do computer programming" as part of the job description there are a lot of situations where you need to do a quick analysis using MATLAB here, or a quick Perl script to format data there, or even a bit of VHDL or Verilog for FPGA programming. You'd be surprised how much programming the average EE does each month.
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