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'[EE] Top ten things engineering school didnt teach'
2006\06\13@061205 by Gökhan SEVER

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>From the Jack Ganssle's Embedded Muse Issue 6 (Sep 4, 1997)


10. There are at least 10 types of capacitors.

9. Theory tells you how a circuit works, not why it does not work.

8. Not everything works according to the specs in the databook.

7. Anything practical you learn will be obsolete before you use it, except
the complex math, which you will never use.

6. Always try to fix the hardware with software.

5. Engineering is like having an 8 a.m. class and a late afternoon lab every
day for the rest of your life.

4. Overtime pay? What overtime pay?

3. Managers, not engineers, rule the world.

2. If you like junk food, caffeine and all-nighters, go into software.

1. Dilbert is not a comic strip, it's a documentary.



Mostly for young EEs and candidates...Probably Prof EE designers of the
list have more advices for us...

2006\06\13@064924 by Russell McMahon

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> 7. Anything practical you learn will be obsolete before you use it,
> except
> the complex math, which you will never use.

FWIW: One of the first jobs I was given after leaving university
involved some complex maths :-). It involved investigating the audio
transmission losses caused by the paralleling of telephone line
"stubs" and how effective the use of isolation diodes would be in
reducing or eliminating these losses. The diodes proved worthwhile.

This situation occurs frequently in rural telephone exchange
pre-upgrade situations when old and new circuits are connected
simultaneously. Also applicable in rural party line situations.
Especially relevant in rural situations due to distances involved.

And, of course, FFTs just wouldn't be the same without them.



       RM


2006\06\13@070457 by Steven Howes

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11. The design spec you were just given is now hopelessly out of date

12. Which is brighter out of Hyper, Ultra, Mega, Super, Very and Extra bright LEDs?

{Original Message removed}

2006\06\13@071142 by Xiaofan Chen

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On 6/13/06, Gökhan SEVER <spam_OUTgstr2005TakeThisOuTspamgmail.com> wrote:
> >From the Jack Ganssle's Embedded Muse Issue 6 (Sep 4, 1997)
>
>
> 10. There are at least 10 types of capacitors.
>
> 9. Theory tells you how a circuit works, not why it does not work.

But you should have finished some electronics projects if you are
in the electronics/electrical engineering...

> 8. Not everything works according to the specs in the databook.
>
> 7. Anything practical you learn will be obsolete before you use it, except
> the complex math, which you will never use.

Not true. The analog electronic couses still applies after 15 years...

> 6. Always try to fix the hardware with software.

Not true. Quite a lot circuits do not involve software/firmware.

> 5. Engineering is like having an 8 a.m. class and a late afternoon lab every
> day for the rest of your life.

???

> 4. Overtime pay? What overtime pay?
Huhuh...

> 3. Managers, not engineers, rule the world.
Do not know about this. Actually it is not easy to be a manager as well...

> 2. If you like junk food, caffeine and all-nighters, go into software.
Is this for novelists and artists? I am not doing software so I do not
really  know.

> 1. Dilbert is not a comic strip, it's a documentary.
>
>

2006\06\13@074952 by Wouter van Ooijen
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> 7. Anything practical you learn will be obsolete before you
> use it, except
> the complex math, which you will never use.

In retrospect I think the Mathematics classes (calculus, statistics,
matrix, etc) were the most usefull classes for my later career.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


2006\06\13@081810 by Dave Lag

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Russell McMahon wrote:
> It involved investigating the audio
> transmission losses caused by the paralleling of telephone line
> "stubs" and how effective the use of isolation diodes would be in
> reducing or eliminating these losses. The diodes proved worthwhile.
>
> This situation occurs frequently in rural telephone exchange
> pre-upgrade situations when old and new circuits are connected
> simultaneously. Also applicable in rural party line situations.
> Especially relevant in rural situations due to distances involved.

First Jobs huh? Speaking of first jobs...
When I trotted out my dolly load of equipment and installed the
high_speed_modems_of_the_day I would run phase and freq sweeps.
A half tap manifests itself as a bad ass freq notch IIRC.
How did a diode fix that? Loaded or non loaded pairs?
D

2006\06\13@115814 by William Chops Westfield

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On Jun 13, 2006, at 3:12 AM, Gökhan SEVER wrote:

> 8. Not everything works according to the specs in the databook.

Hmm.  I think ANY attention paid to reading specs from databooks would
be a good thing.  It wasn't in any of MY classes...
>

> 7. Anything practical you learn will be obsolete before you use it,
> except
> the complex math, which you will never use.

Don't agree.  The best practical info is backed up by theory and doesn't
go obsolete any more than pure theory; it's just more immediately
useful.

>
> 6. Always try to fix the hardware with software.

If your EE degree program included software as anything other than an
offline analysis tool, you're younger than I am...

>
> 5. Engineering is like having an 8 a.m. class and a late afternoon lab
> every
> day for the rest of your life.

Ditto any 8-5 "normal workday" job, right?  Except that you get paid
instead
of having to pay for the privilege, and you probably learn more...
>
>
> 3. Managers, not engineers, rule the world.
>
Engineers frequently become managers, though.

BillW

2006\06\13@130931 by Vasile Surducan

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This Jack Ganssle it's a joking writter. I like it.
In "The Art of Designing Embedded Systems" one of it's stories is about how
some thiefs have stolen all the computers from his office, and how he
was so smart that he save the compilers and all the written software
before the event...

greetings,
Vasile

On 6/13/06, Gökhan SEVER <.....gstr2005KILLspamspam@spam@gmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

>

2006\06\13@132532 by Peter

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Imho, a few small corrections:

> 10. There are at least 10 types of capacitors.
There are exactly N+M types of capacitors, and you have data for N.

> 9. Theory tells you how a circuit works, not why it does not work.
Theory tells you how a circuit should work, not how it really works, no
matter whether it works or not.

> 8. Not everything works according to the specs in the databook.
Very few things work according to the specs in the datasheets.
Exceptions confirm the rule.

> 7. Anything practical you learn will be obsolete before you use it, except
> the complex math, which you will never use.
You mean, <gasp>, they taught you something practical ? EVER ? You don't
mean, like, in school ? I don't believe you !

> 6. Always try to fix the hardware with software.
More exactly: Always use the remedy that is liable to introduce the
largest possible number bugs per unit of debugging time used.

> 5. Engineering is like having an 8 a.m. class and a late afternoon lab every
> day for the rest of your life.
Yes, except days are 24 hours and work time is >25 hours/day.

> 4. Overtime pay? What overtime pay?
What is pay ?

> 3. Managers, not engineers, rule the world.
A***es rule the world. The one immediately above you is the largest.
Climbing to the top of the foodchain implies descent towards
bottom-feeding species and decrease in IQ. The pyramid is well-ordered.

2006\06\13@133313 by Peter

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On Tue, 13 Jun 2006, Dave Lag wrote:

> First Jobs huh? Speaking of first jobs...
> When I trotted out my dolly load of equipment and installed the
> high_speed_modems_of_the_day I would run phase and freq sweeps.
> A half tap manifests itself as a bad ass freq notch IIRC.
> How did a diode fix that? Loaded or non loaded pairs?

One puts diodes (four, two pairs in antiparallel) in series with the
side tap. If there is no phone connected to the tap the tap line is
coupled to the main line through the diode's capacitance (say 5pF). This
makes it disappear electrically (almost). If one additionally does not
want to listen to radio stations then the tap must be terminated with an
ac coupled Z.

Peter

2006\06\13@155824 by Richard Prosser

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IMHO

> 3. Managers, not engineers, rule the world.
3. Managers, not engineers, rule the world and accountants tell them
what to do.

RP

2006\06\13@162535 by Wouter van Ooijen

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>> 8. Not everything works according to the specs in the databook.
>
> Hmm.  I think ANY attention paid to reading specs from databooks would
> be a good thing.  It wasn't in any of MY classes...

I definitely do that in my classes. I also like for instance to give the
students two webpages that describe the .mid file format, and point out
(or let them find) the inconsistencies.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


2006\06\14@042645 by Yigit Turgut

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> 10. There are at least 10 types of capacitors.

> 9. Theory tells you how a circuit works, not why it does not work.

> 8. Not everything works according to the specs in the databook.

+1

> 7. Anything practical you learn will be obsolete before you use it, except
> the complex math, which you will never use.

depends on your position

> 6. Always try to fix the hardware with software.

> 5. Engineering is like having an 8 a.m. class and a late afternoon lab every
> day for the rest of your life.

no doubt

> 4. Overtime pay? What overtime pay?

depends on your contract

> 3. Managers, not engineers, rule the world.

what do they know without engineers ?

> 2. If you like junk food, same women, caffeine and all-nighters, go into software.

+1.Because you will not have the time to meet new ones.

> 1. Dilbert is not a comic strip, it's a documentary.

this one is quite funny.

2006\06\14@084305 by Gerhard Fiedler

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Yigit Turgut wrote:

>> 3. Managers, not engineers, rule the world.
>
> what do they know without engineers ?

An engineer who doesn't manage (at least him/herself) isn't worth much,
usually. (The occasional "crazy genius" not withstanding :) This whole
"silly manager" stereotype is just as silly as the portrayed manager, and
liable to cause more harm than good. Possibly a result of most engineers
never hearing much about proper managing -- at least not before they all of
a sudden find themselves in the position of having to manage a team or a
product :)

It's usually managed engineering results that get to change anything, not
the raw idea on a scrap of paper in the back of a drawer.

Gerhard

2006\06\14@084720 by Gökhan SEVER

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Thanks for the valuable comments and additions..

The topic can be broden much wider with Mr Ganssle's other articles.

Such as an article titled "Do you need a degree?"

Also i've found a very good article for novice EEs named "DOs and DONTs for
young EEs" on IEEE-Spectrum magazine.

If you can supply a space for that pdf article i will upload it and start a
new thread .

Besides, i will invite Mr. Ganssle and other talented and experienced EEs to
discuss more detailly the subject.

Gökhan SEVER.

2006\06\14@103435 by Russell McMahon

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>> 1. Dilbert is not a comic strip, it's a documentary.

> this one is quite funny.

What's funny about the Dilbert Documentary?


       RM

2006\06\14@140343 by Gus S Calabrese

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On 2006-Jun 14, at 08:32hrs AM, Russell McMahon wrote:

>> 1. Dilbert is not a comic strip, it's a documentary.

> this one is quite funny.

What's funny about the Dilbert Documentary?  <--- you have failed the  
test for replicants


        RM

2006\06\14@192041 by Dave Lag

picon face

Gus S Calabrese wrote:
> On 2006-Jun 14, at 08:32hrs AM, Russell McMahon wrote:
>
>>>1. Dilbert is not a comic strip, it's a documentary.
>
>>this one is quite funny.
>
> What's funny about the Dilbert Documentary?  <--- you have failed the  
> test for replicants

>          RM

I suppose one has to ask if you have worked for a large corporation
in an office environment.

All the "jokes"  are disturbingly much too close if not bang on the
truth. Cry and laugh at the same time.


2006\06\14@193313 by Xiaofan Chen

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On 6/14/06, Russell McMahon <apptechspamKILLspamparadise.net.nz> wrote:
> >> 1. Dilbert is not a comic strip, it's a documentary.
>
> > this one is quite funny.
>
> What's funny about the Dilbert Documentary?
>

I do not understand this either. So google points me to this page.

www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/news_and_history/html/working_in_dilberts_world.html

2006\06\15@043022 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>> 8. Not everything works according to the specs in the databook.
>
>Hmm.  I think ANY attention paid to reading specs from databooks
>would be a good thing.  It wasn't in any of MY classes...
>

This one seems a bit way out ---- until you have read the datasheet from
cover to cover and still cannot get your chip to work. We see this every so
often here with PICs, especially new chips as they come out.


>> 6. Always try to fix the hardware with software.
>
>If your EE degree program included software as anything other
>than an offline analysis tool, you're younger than I am...

<VBG> anyone who deals with spacecraft after launch knows this one ......

2006\06\15@043516 by Alan B. Pearce

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>> 7. Anything practical you learn will be obsolete before you use it,
except
>> the complex math, which you will never use.
>You mean, <gasp>, they taught you something practical ? EVER ? You don't
>mean, like, in school ? I don't believe you !

We had a gap year student come from Uni who didn't know about supply bypass
capacitors and why they are needed ... And this was just before his final
year ...

2006\06\15@051103 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
>>>> 1. Dilbert is not a comic strip, it's a documentary.

>>> this one is quite funny.

>> What's funny about the Dilbert Documentary?  

>  <--- you have failed the test for replicants

Nonsense, I have all my childhood photos still!


       RR



2006\06\15@100313 by Mike Hord

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> >> 7. Anything practical you learn will be obsolete before you use it,
> except
> >> the complex math, which you will never use.
> >You mean, <gasp>, they taught you something practical ? EVER ? You don't
> >mean, like, in school ? I don't believe you !
>
> We had a gap year student come from Uni who didn't know about supply bypass
> capacitors and why they are needed ... And this was just before his final
> year ...

That was never mentioned to me, either.  I took two classes which SHOULD have
mentioned it- one where we built up intricate counters and adders on breadboards
with CMOS logic chips and one where we were using PICs (actually, make that
three- two involving logic chips), and never once was the concept of
supply bypass
capacitors mentioned.  NOT ONCE.

Thank the PICList for teaching me the importance of that item.  But it DOES make
me wonder what other important things they should've mentioned but
utterly failed
to.

Mike H.

2006\06\15@100807 by Gerhard Fiedler

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Alan B. Pearce wrote:

>>> 7. Anything practical you learn will be obsolete before you use it,
>>> except the complex math, which you will never use.

>> You mean, <gasp>, they taught you something practical ? EVER ? You don't
>> mean, like, in school ? I don't believe you !
>
> We had a gap year student come from Uni who didn't know about supply
> bypass capacitors and why they are needed ... And this was just before
> his final year ...

I don't think I ever heard about supply bypass capacitors in any of my
university courses (that was EE in Germany); I'm not sure. (I know I knew
about them, but that was since before university, so I may not remember
having heard there also about them.)

But OTOH, at least in Germany, there are other institutions that offer
courses where you do hear about them -- you don't hear as much about
differential equations and such though. If you go to university, you are
expected to be interested in the subject and "do your homework" -- not only
the assigned homework, but the proverbial one. The courses give you the
necessary background to be able to understand trade magazines, hobby
magazines, manufacturer literature and other interesting material, but they
don't do the reading and experimenting for you :)

Whoever complained that he didn't learn enough practical while going to
university probably did not really look for it... It's there if you want it
-- not necessarily in form of a course, but as part of the rest of the
world. Which doesn't cease to exist just because you're at university and
it's not required for the degree :)

Gerhard

2006\06\15@102154 by David VanHorn

picon face
On 6/15/06, Alan B. Pearce <.....A.B.PearceKILLspamspam.....rl.ac.uk> wrote:
>
> >> 8. Not everything works according to the specs in the databook.
> >
> >Hmm.  I think ANY attention paid to reading specs from databooks
> >would be a good thing.  It wasn't in any of MY classes...
> >
>
> This one seems a bit way out ---- until you have read the datasheet from
> cover to cover and still cannot get your chip to work. We see this every
> so
> often here with PICs, especially new chips as they come out.



I have had some fun experiences with parts where one or two critical little
points aren't in the data sheet, wasting days in playing "hunt the error".

In some cases the data sheets contain deliberately misleading information.
Always beware when buying components when the vendor also markets finished
products using them. (like a printhead vendor who also sells printers)
It really isn't in their best interest to tell you everything, is it?

2006\06\15@110710 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>In some cases the data sheets contain deliberately misleading
>information. Always beware when buying components when the
>vendor also markets finished products using them. (like a
>printhead vendor who also sells printers) It really isn't in
>their best interest to tell you everything, is it?

No, but sometimes the best way really is reverse engineering ....
and they want to outlaw it, at least as regards software protection ...

2006\06\15@111756 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> I don't think I ever heard about supply bypass capacitors in any of my
> university courses (that was EE in Germany)

I dunno about Germany, but in the Netherlands we have a distinction
between University, which is supposed to learn you theoretical science,
and HTS (translates ~ Technical Highschool, but for maximum confusion
that name is used for technical universities!) which is supposed to
learn you applied science. I got my degree on a Technical Highschool,
and never learned about bypass chips. No wonder, I did Informatics (our
higher education system is mono-subject, very different from the USA
system), so I learned about logical gates, not about actual chips. But
now I teach on an HTS, and be assured that I tell about bypass
capacitors!

Note: a PIC being programmed defintely needs a bypass capacitor - this
is one of the common sources of problems for customers using my Wisp628!

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


2006\06\15@201804 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Wouter van Ooijen wrote:

>> I don't think I ever heard about supply bypass capacitors in any of my
>> university courses (that was EE in Germany)
>
> I dunno about Germany, but in the Netherlands we have a distinction
> between University, which is supposed to learn you theoretical science,
> and HTS (translates ~ Technical Highschool, but for maximum confusion
> that name is used for technical universities!) which is supposed to
> learn you applied science.

That sounds very similar to what exists in Germany.

> I got my degree on a Technical Highschool, and never learned about bypass
> chips. No wonder, I did Informatics (our higher education system is
> mono-subject, very different from the USA system), so I learned about
> logical gates, not about actual chips.

Right... :)  I went to university, so I don't really know, but from what
I've heard, I assume that the education at the more technical oriented
branch is much more hands-on and practical.

My point was that it's up to the individual to get that part of the skills
of the trade -- and the resources are there, even for broke students, and
even if not offered by the university. People should see the university for
what it is: an opportunity to learn some interesting things you may not
have a chance to see elsewhere (exactly because they are not (yet?)
economically viable), and to get a degree. It's not a place that gives you
everything you may need when trying to make money or create professional
designs. An engineer has to be autodidact to some degree... and that starts
at university :)

Gerhard

2006\06\16@011921 by Xiaofan Chen

face picon face
On 6/15/06, Gerhard Fiedler <EraseMElistsspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTconnectionbrazil.com> wrote:
> I don't think I ever heard about supply bypass capacitors in any of my
> university courses (that was EE in Germany); I'm not sure. (I know I knew
> about them, but that was since before university, so I may not remember
> having heard there also about them.)

I heard about supply bypass capacitors in the analog electronics lab and
digital electronics lab. I built a function generator for the electronics
design project (a compulsory one in the summer). I did not do well then...

> But OTOH, at least in Germany, there are other institutions that offer
> courses where you do hear about them -- you don't hear as much about
> differential equations and such though. If you go to university, you are
> expected to be interested in the subject and "do your homework" -- not only
> the assigned homework, but the proverbial one. The courses give you the
> necessary background to be able to understand trade magazines, hobby
> magazines, manufacturer literature and other interesting material, but they
> don't do the reading and experimenting for you :)

I met quite some attachment students from Germany when I was in the
previous company. Some of them were from the technical university stream.
All of them are very good at both theory and practical aspect of engineering.
Maybe they sent only good students to the company ... Again I have
met students from some other European countries (Italy and France)
as well and they are all quite good in my opinion. Maybe some of them
are stronger in the theoretical side but at least they are okay with
the practical aspect of engineering.

> Whoever complained that he didn't learn enough practical while going to
> university probably did not really look for it... It's there if you want it
> -- not necessarily in form of a course, but as part of the rest of the
> world. Which doesn't cease to exist just because you're at university and
> it's not required for the degree :)
>

There can not be "enough" practical experience from the university or even
the first couples of years in the job. But they are enough to get one started
as an engineer.

I think in many universities, electrical and electronics engineering
students will have a final year project which does require quite some
practical design. There are quite some universities which have industrial
attachment program as well. For example, the engineering students
here in Singapore will have a 6-month attachment in the industry.

Regards,
Xiaofan

2006\06\16@073255 by Gerhard Fiedler

picon face
Xiaofan Chen wrote:

> I think in many universities, electrical and electronics engineering
> students will have a final year project which does require quite some
> practical design.

Sometimes. The thing is that EE is such a wide field that you can't do
everything. For example, at my university control theory was part of EE,
and some did their final year project in control theory. (I participated in
a biotech project; no electronic development involved whatsoever.)

Gerhard

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