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'[OT]: Job Interviews'
2002\04\22@110530 by Lawrence Lile

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Well it is time to turn the tables.  I've been on the hat-in-hand , small
end of the microscope end of job interviews for years.  But I've never had
to be on the big end of the microscope.  Frankly, in most of the job
interviews I have had, the interviewer was not very good at it.  Many of
them, the interviewer talked the whole time, and I got the job by being a
good listener.  Others, the interviewer focused on irrelevant information,
or asked dumb questions.

So what do you folks ask a prospective candididate for an electronics job?
(Don't get too excited, it's just a part-time summer internship, and my boss
hasn't approved it yet, and it's in the middle of nowhere in Missouri.
Fortunately there is an engineering college in town where we will look for
candidates.)

I am thinking about open ended questions like:
   What hobby electronics projects have you designed or built?
   How did you decide to go into electronics?
   What computer languages have you studied?
   Do you have any familiarity with microcontrollers?  PICs?
   Which of the following software packages have you used?
       Excel
       Word
        PC board layout CAD
        Compilers
       MPLAB
       AutoCad
       Pro-Engineer
       Other CAD, electronics, compiler, computer languages?
   What are your long-term goals?
   Have you held any electronics related jobs before?
   Have you done any large projects, senior projects or extracurricular
projects in college that relate to engineering?

The problem is, the qualities that will make an intern a good one are:
   Patience with detailed work
   Interpersonal skills
   Ability to concentrate and focus
   Manual dexterity and fine motor skills (surface mount soldering)
   Ability to learn a variety of mental and manual skills quickly
   Creativity

None of these are easy to measure, nor are any of them measured with my
admittedly lame list of questions.

Also , toungue in-cheek:
   Here are 32 pens and pencils.  How many of them does it take to do your
job? (Answer: All of them)
   What is the advantage of wearing natural fabrics?  (Answer: Trick
question! If the candidate knows the answer, he/she is not an engineer)
   Have you ever tried to fix a $5 radio, toy or clock?
   Do you have more than two computers?  How many of them are routinely
operated with the case off?  How many of them are taken apart or in need of
repair? How many run on Linux?
   Have you ever repaired anything with duct tape?  Do you consider duct
tape to be as essential as bailing wire, sheet rock screws, solder,
plumber's epoxy or electrical tape?
   Are you overweight, unkempt and have a scraggly beard?


-- Lawrence Lile
Sr. Project Engineer
Salton inc. Toastmaster Div.
573-446-5661 Voice
573-446-5676 Fax

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2002\04\22@112043 by uter van ooijen & floortje hanneman

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> So what do you folks ask a prospective candididate for an electronics job?

- what is the most difficult problem you ever solved (one you are realy
proud off)
- hand him/her a circuit diagram/program source/CAD drawing with something
subtly wrong and ask something (don't ask "what is wrong", maybe "what does
this do" or "what should this cost", "how long would it take you to draw
this")
- to test initiative you might leave the sheet on the table in the waiting
room instead of handing it over

Wouter van Ooijen
--
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Jal compiler, Wisp programmer, WLoader bootloader, PICs kopen

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2002\04\22@112636 by Micro Eng

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Being that I went thru several job interviews......some ranged from just
interpersonal communications to a REAL test of knowledge.  Asked simple
questions on circuits....given this schematic, what does it do?
Why are these parts here...what is thier function (termination resistors,
bypass caps, etc)

All of your open ended questions are good ones, IMHO.  I was asked a few
similar to those.

>Also , toungue in-cheek:
>     Here are 32 pens and pencils.  How many of them does it take to do
>your
>job? (Answer: All of them)
>     What is the advantage of wearing natural fabrics?  (Answer: Trick
>question! If the candidate knows the answer, he/she is not an engineer)

huh...and why not??

>     Have you ever tried to fix a $5 radio, toy or clock?
I hate the fact that I have and do....
>     Do you have more than two computers?  How many of them are routinely
>operated with the case off?  How many of them are taken apart or in need of
>repair? How many run on Linux?

My family hates it when I have the case off....but love it when its running
better


>     Have you ever repaired anything with duct tape?  Do you consider duct
>tape to be as essential as bailing wire, sheet rock screws, solder,
>plumber's epoxy or electrical tape?

thats a no brainer....duct tape is the essential building block of life.


>     Are you overweight, unkempt and have a scraggly beard?

We have several software engineers that sorta fall into that catagory, and
are geniuses as well...only cuz they have no wife to feed them healthy food,
clean thier cloths and make them shave, right?


Bottom line....you have to get a feel from them.  The most brightest
scholastic star sometimes makes the worst practical engineers...but not
always.



_________________________________________________________________
MSN Photos is the easiest way to share and print your photos:
http://photos.msn.com/support/worldwide.aspx

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2002\04\22@113510 by Sergio Masci

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----- Original Message -----
From: Lawrence Lile <spam_OUTllileTakeThisOuTspamTOASTMASTER.COM>
To: <.....PICLISTKILLspamspam@spam@MITVMA.MIT.EDU>
Sent: Monday, April 22, 2002 4:02 PM
Subject: [OT]: Job Interviews


<snip>

> So what do you folks ask a prospective candididate for an electronics job?

<snip>

{Quote hidden}

<snip>

Hope this helps.

Ask your candidates to bring along a few samples of their work (SW & HW) and
ask them to explain it to you. Also ask them about any challenges or
pitfalls they had to deal with when building the HW and writing the SW. Get
them to show you interesting parts of the SW listings and explain why they
are interesting. Look at the HW, change one of its goals (e.g. drive a relay
instead of a LED) and ask the candidate how they would do the change or go
about finding out how to do it.

Regards
Sergio Masci

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2002\04\22@120703 by Alan B. Pearce

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>So what do you folks ask a prospective candididate for an electronics job?
>(Don't get too excited, it's just a part-time summer internship, and my
boss
>hasn't approved it yet, and it's in the middle of nowhere in Missouri.
>Fortunately there is an engineering college in town where we will look for
>candidates.)
>
>I am thinking about open ended questions like:
>    What hobby electronics projects have you designed or built?

In view of the likely source of candidates, this is probably one that will
get you down to a short list fairly quickly.

A past colleague of mine had the job of interviewing school leavers for a
possible apprenticeship. This was one of the things he ended up
incorporating into a short tick the box type questionnaire to see if they
had doe things like play with crystal sets and the like to see if they had
some basic electronics knowledge.

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2002\04\22@121310 by Sid Weaver

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Sirs, how pray tell, does "Job Interviews" relate to PIC ??

Sid Weaver - W4EKQ

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2002\04\22@121320 by Lawrence Lile

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Tricky, Wouter!

> - hand him/her a circuit diagram/program source/CAD drawing with something
> subtly wrong and ask something (don't ask "what is wrong", maybe "what
does
{Quote hidden}

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2002\04\22@122334 by Lawrence Lile

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>some ranged from just
> interpersonal communications to a REAL test of knowledge.  Asked simple
> questions on circuits....given this schematic, what does it do?

I have been on interviews like that.  I tended to choke when they asked
detailed technical questions.  They'd ask something I knew, and I could not
recall the answer, or could not think of the correct term.  I am not
interested in people who think fast on their feet, those types make good
salesmen but hte characteristic isn't usually required of engineers.  I like
the idea of a test, but would want to make it a take-home, or send the guy
into a room alone so there is less pressure.  I guess I am trying to select
for the qualities that I possess myself, and don't feel the need to stress
out potential candidates.

I have been thinking about questions for a test, that is a good idea.

--Lawrence

{Quote hidden}

of
> >repair? How many run on Linux?
>
> My family hates it when I have the case off....but love it when its
running
> better
>
>
> >     Have you ever repaired anything with duct tape?  Do you consider
duct
> >tape to be as essential as bailing wire, sheet rock screws, solder,
> >plumber's epoxy or electrical tape?
>
> thats a no brainer....duct tape is the essential building block of life.
>
>
> >     Are you overweight, unkempt and have a scraggly beard?
>
> We have several software engineers that sorta fall into that catagory, and
> are geniuses as well...only cuz they have no wife to feed them healthy
food,
{Quote hidden}

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2002\04\22@124627 by Dale Botkin

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It doesn't, specifically, hence the readily usable [OT]: topic tag...

http://www.piclist.com/techref/piclist/listfaq.htm#topics

Dale
(the list admin)
--
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curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly."
         - Arnold Edinborough


On Mon, 22 Apr 2002, Sid Weaver wrote:

> Sirs, how pray tell, does "Job Interviews" relate to PIC ??
>
> Sid Weaver - W4EKQ

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2002\04\22@124637 by Chris Loiacono

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Unfortunately, the most important questions are now illegal to ask in the
U.S..
A few good ones are still OK, such as: How will you get to work, do you have
reliable transportation?

My absolute favorite, especially for interns, is the 25 question written
test that has as Q#1: Read all instructions before proceeding with this
test. Q#2 gives detailed instructions as to how to mechanically write in the
answers - such as - on the back of this sheet, in the spaces provided, in
ink, not pencil, etc...etc..
Q#'s 4 through 24 ask all sorts of meaningful questions mixed with
absolutely meaningless directions that appear to be meant to help determine
the candidate's ability to follow directions, like: "write your name and
address upside down in one square inch at the lower right corner of this
form." and: "number the 7 remaining corners of this sheet of paper in
whatever order seems most logical to you. write your explanation of your
logic at the top of the back side of this paper.." and so on and so on.....
Q# 25 simply says something like: "Disregard all questions other than #1 &
#25. This supercedes all other instructions and questions. Please hand the
interviewer your completed, blank test paper so it may be used by the next
candidate...."


If they can't get this one right, they rarely get anything else right.
It's also fun to watch people do these - especially if you include the
instruction to fill out the answers with the pencil provided, then see that
these have no erasers.
It's also a good way to see who has a measure of humility (a must for an
intern, IMHO) and who will scrap and rant and rave, or quit & give up. You
can use the results to discern any questions of work ethic, motivation, etc
that you really want to look for...

I used to put a micrometer on the table with a couple of small parts when
interviewing for new machinists. When askingthem to simply give me a simple
dimension from one of the parts, I could see if they really knew how to hold
and handle the mic with one hand. if not, they just did'nt have the
experience they put on the application & in their resume. Likewise, for
technicians, a CMOS chip on a piece of conductive foam beside a circuit
board allows for a "show me how you would insert that chip manually.." lets
you see how aware they are of ESD issues and what tools might best be used.
If you leave out any kind of ground strap or the like, you should expect a
question about proceeding without ESD protection. Chances are they are
experienced and knowledgeable to not even need the rest of the little test
at this point.

Even more seriously, I look for candidates that want to ask me questions -
not so much as the 'what's in it for me' type questions, but the ones who
are trying to discern for themselves if this would be a good stable company
to work for, what the work environment is like, how he/she could expand
their skills while working there, and what future is there for successful
interns....If they don't ask questions like these, chances are you are
interviewing another schmo who will just be there waiting for paychecks as a
main goal.

Have fun. I've done both ends of this for about 25 years, and I still can't
decide which side of the interview is more fun....

You seem to have a handle on what not to do, so I think you'll do well.
Perhaps my ideas will let you enjoy the process.

Chris

{Quote hidden}

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2002\04\22@125654 by Lawrence Lile

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Certainly a valid question, sir.  I am going to hire an electronics intern
at some time in the future, and PIC is what he/she will live, breathe, eat
and sleep while under my tutelage. The job description will be thus:
o{ Code, solder, test, code, solder, test, eat, sleep, code, solder, test,
code, solder, test, eat sleep }While(1);   Many of the people on this list
are in small consulting firms, or are heads of departments, and have hired
and fired a number of people.  Interviewing someone for an electronics job
is certainly more on-topic than cows, H2O2 powered helicopters, or some of
the other wacky ideas on this list.  All of those, BTW, I found pretty
interesting.  Of course, the [OT] tag also marks it as not-directly-PIC
related.

My apologies if you don't agree that this is a good use of PIClist
bandwidth.

--Lawrence


{Original Message removed}

2002\04\22@133141 by M. Adam Davis

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As an interviewer you ought to be asking many of the same questions you
will likely be fielding from the candidate:

1.  What do you understand our company does?
2.  Describe your ideal position.
3.  What do you believe you'll be doing if you are hired here (ie, what
position are you trying to get hired for)
4.  What skills do you have which apply to this position?
5.  Do you have all the skills you feel are necessary to fulfill the
positon, and if not what do you think you'll need to learn?
6.  Do you enjoy learning?
7.  What makes you ideal for this position?
8.  Name two or three skills you fell inadequate in, and what you have
done/are doing to improve them.

And /most/ important:

9.  Do you have any questions for me?

The interviews I've attended have been more of a good, thorough, and
frank discussion.  For this purpose it's best to avoid yes/no questions
(unless you don't want details - but most yes/no's ought to be on the
application)  It is important to put the interviewee at ease, and answer
these own questions for yourself:

1. How does the candidate express themselves (succint answers,
expressive, meandering, etc).
2. Is the candidate focussed on the discussion at hand (eyes wandering,
frequent pauses or requests to repeat a question)
3. How much thought are they putting into their answers.
4. Do they appear genuinely interested in the work and/or the company?
5. What kinds of questions are they asking?
6. If you didn't offer or give a tour previously, do they ask for one now?
7. If they toured the company how do they introduce/present themselves
to others?

-Adam

Lawrence Lile wrote:

{Quote hidden}

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2002\04\22@133559 by Lawrence Lile

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Very thoughtful!
--Lawrence
----- Original Message -----
From: "M. Adam Davis" <adampicspamKILLspamUBASICS.COM>
To: <.....PICLISTKILLspamspam.....MITVMA.MIT.EDU>
Sent: Monday, April 22, 2002 12:29 PM
Subject: Re: [OT]: Job Interviews


> As an interviewer you ought to be asking many of the same questions you
> will likely be fielding from the candidate:

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2002\04\22@135020 by uter van ooijen & floortje hanneman

picon face
> Tricky, Wouter!

And it is not even an original idea of mine, it was suggested on this list
some time ago....

Wouter

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2002\04\23@152321 by Peter L. Peres

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>Unfortunately, the most important questions are now illegal to ask in the
>U.S..

What do you mean if I may ask ?

Peter

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2002\04\23@165452 by Peter L. Peres

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Why not set up a small exam that involves tasks the interviewee would be
asked to perform in his/her job and deliver it orally instead of wasting
time to find out what the person does in its free time ? You would choose
tasks that would not require previous knowledge of the specific equipment
you are really using. Like 'how would you make and test a 5% 30 miliohm
shunt given 0.5 ohm/meter resistance wire, a common DVM that is only
accurate to the nearest 0.1 ohm on the 200 ohm scale, a 10R 10W resistor
and a laboratory power supply'.

The oral exam allows you to cut it short if the candidate is not so
promising. If it would be in writing he would trundle through the whole of
it and someone would have to read it.

I would write down 20-30 common tasks like this and then see what happens
in real time (giving 3-4 of them to each).

All the stupid questions I have been asked in interviews invariably had
nothing whatsoever to do with the job, and made me feel like talking to my
future in-laws, with special emphasis on glances, smiling when appropriate
etc. Several times similar interview strategies (applied by others) have
landed me with co-workers who were very nice, with high potential, and a
bear to train on the job (sometimes for months) with which they had no
affinity. Niceness is what you need to prevent fist-fights and unbearable
persons - and it will take a major crisis under pressure to find out about
who is really nice, hobbies are what you do when you go home, work is what
you do at work. Oh, and find out if they can read and write tihnical
inglis ;-).

Peter

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2002\04\23@172824 by Douglas Butler

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When I used to do this I had a sheet with several small schematics on
it.  On the same schematic I could ask anything from "What is this
part?", to "How would you know if this circuit was working?", to "How
would you calculate the HF roll off?" depending on what position they
were applying for.  I had some RC circuits with switches and batteries,
a transistor amplifier, a differential op amp, a filter, an odd current
driver circuit we used,... and a pentagrid converter to detect real
whackos!

On the flip side I had a memorable interview where I was asked to design
a simple amplifier, then they wanted it temperature stable, then wide
band, then low noise, then lower current, etc.  The guy wanted to see
how long before I stopped working and asked him what he wanted it for
and how much they were willing to pay for this miraculous amp.  I got
the job.

Sherpa Doug

> {Original Message removed}

2002\04\23@181727 by Lawrence Lile

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Me too - what questions are illegal to ask?

For instance, I would guess you can't ask too much about disabilities.  We
hired a technician and put him to sorting resistors by color code the first
day.  It wasn't till the second day that he told us he was colorblind.  Now
If I had known that, I would still have hired him, but would have found
something else for him to do the first day!

--Lawrence

{Original Message removed}

2002\04\23@182709 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
> On the flip side I had a memorable interview where I was asked to design
> a simple amplifier, then they wanted it temperature stable, then wide
> band, then low noise, then lower current, etc.  The guy wanted to see
> how long before I stopped working and asked him what he wanted it for
> and how much they were willing to pay for this miraculous amp.  I got
> the job.


(Very) Important rule of engineering (and life) -

   Tell us what you need and we'll give you what you want

Too many people express their requirements in terms of how they think the
task is liable to be solved. Establishing what they are actually trying to
achieve allows YOU to then providing an appropriate solution rather than
fill a wishlist which may well not meet the real requirement.


       RM

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2002\04\23@232938 by Dale Botkin

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On Tue, 23 Apr 2002, Lawrence Lile wrote:

> Me too - what questions are illegal to ask?

How old are you?
Are you married?
Do you have any kids?
Do you have a car? (but you can ask if he has a way to get to work)
Are you from <fill in geographic location here>?
Anything to do with ancestry, national origin, etc.
Are you a citizen of the US? (with certain exceptions.  You *can* ask if
they can legally work in the US.)

There are many, many others.  Anything that might possibly be used to
determine a person's age, race, sex, marital status, parental status,
ancestry, nationality, damn near anything.  It's really kind of ridiculous
when you get all teh way into it, like pretty much anything that lawyers
and/or Congresscritters have been meddling in.  As a manager, my company
requires me to take a four-hour interviewing class once a year.
Interviewing can be a legal minefield.

Dale

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2002\04\23@233745 by Sean H. Breheny

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Hi Dale,

I can see the part about being married or having kids, but what if the job
requires you to use your own car? What if it requires you to be over 18?
What if it requires you to obtain security clearance (and so you would have
to be a U.S. citizen)?

Sean

At 10:25 PM 4/23/02 -0500, you wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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2002\04\23@234630 by Dale Botkin

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In cases where these specific factors are valid requirements of the job,
you can ask those questions.  In general, though, it's a big deal with the
HR types not to.

Dale
--
"Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that
curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly."
         - Arnold Edinborough


On Tue, 23 Apr 2002, Sean H. Breheny wrote:

> I can see the part about being married or having kids, but what if the job
> requires you to use your own car? What if it requires you to be over 18?
> What if it requires you to obtain security clearance (and so you would have
> to be a U.S. citizen)?

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2002\04\24@005303 by cdb

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Of course discrimination exists, choice,  if one thinks about it is a
form of discrimination in itself. However I have always thought it
short sighted with the questions that are not allowed to be asked
especially when they could be very relevant.

Here in Australia (about to upset a few here) one is not allowed to
ask about marital status etc, though most interviews I've attended
they've asked those very questions. England may have changed its laws
since I've been out of the country, but I used to work for a company
where the do you have children and are you married questions were
(legally then) on the application form, mainly because experience had
shown that women who were returning to the workforce or had children
tended to be more conscientious in their work took less time off on
phantom sick days. So the company actively searched for this kind of
person and gave them contracts/hours to suit there domestic
requirements.

It also strikes me as counter productive to employ someone and then
find they are physically unsuited to the job because only a very
narrow field of employers are allowed to ask such questions.

Like most things in life things work both ways and what can be seen
by a vociferous lobby group as discrimination could be just the
things that get that very group of people the job and if the employer
is sympathetic (yet to work for one of those out here), if someone
has a mild hindrance to there working abilities companies can then
make allowances for performance levels or lack thereof.

colin
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2002\04\24@012305 by Vit

picon face
<snip>
> Anything to do with ancestry, national origin, etc.
<snip>

Dale, if you were interviewing me, you would know right away that I am:

a) Caucasian
b) Russian (noticeable accent)
c) Married (wedding ring)
d) Male

So I agree that the rules are ridiculous, unless the interviewer is deaf and
blind.  There are plenty of ways to discriminate, even without the need to
ask these "prohibited" questions.  :)

Vitaliy

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2002\04\24@035856 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>On the flip side I had a memorable interview where I was asked to design
>a simple amplifier, then they wanted it temperature stable, then wide
>band, then low noise, then lower current, etc.  The guy wanted to see

In the interview for my current employment I was asked to sketch the basic
circuit for an inverting op amp amplifier. Also some questions on what
occurs when you feed a fast pulse down a coax with the far end open circuit.

This is somewhat above the level of experience you are dealing with, but my
employers were getting people with masters degrees who could not deal with
these basic things.

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2002\04\24@040918 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>c) Married (wedding ring)

However this could be read two ways. In the western world the wedding ring
is normally worn on the left hand, and sometimes transferred to the right
hand after a divorce. However when travelling in Russia I talked to people
who are married but wore their wedding ring on the right hand. I do not know
what the convention is for this within Russia, but the possible cross
cultural differences may cause the interviewer to make invalid assumptions.

Just an observation on your comments. :)

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2002\04\24@054505 by Quentin

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My favourite:
"Tell me how much I should pay you and why?"
I actually did it once, the candidate nearly fell of his chair.
(It was meant to be a joke. :) )

Quentin

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2002\04\24@080601 by Dale Botkin

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On Tue, 23 Apr 2002, Vit wrote:

> So I agree that the rules are ridiculous, unless the interviewer is deaf and
> blind.  There are plenty of ways to discriminate, even without the need to
> ask these "prohibited" questions.  :)

I think so too.  Next thing you know we'll be prohibited from interviewing
people in person...

Dale

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2002\04\24@083823 by Jim Morash

picon face
> Date:    Tue, 23 Apr 2002 22:26:59 +0300
> From:    "Peter L. Peres" <plpspamspam_OUTACTCOM.CO.IL>
>
> [...]
> tasks that would not require previous knowledge of the specific equipment
> you are really using. Like 'how would you make and test a 5% 30 miliohm
> shunt given 0.5 ohm/meter resistance wire, a common DVM that is only
> accurate to the nearest 0.1 ohm on the 200 ohm scale, a 10R 10W resistor
> and a laboratory power supply'.
> [...]

Forgive my ignorance, Peter, but how do you do this? Maybe I'm just not
clear on the vocabulary - what exactly is a '30 milliohm shunt'?

Just curious,
--Jim
@spam@jmorashKILLspamspammit.edu

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2002\04\24@090621 by Douglas Butler

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Here is a link from a new article today;
http://editorial.careers.msn.com/articles/illegal/

Sherpa Doug
{Quote hidden}

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2002\04\24@090630 by Dmitriy A. Kiryashov

picon face
Hi Peter.

What is precision of that DVM in voltmeter mode ? ;)
Do you have sharp cutters and precise ruler as well? ;)

WBR Dmitry.

PS.

(Also I think it's better to cover shunt ends with solder
so that length is extra)




"Peter L. Peres" wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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2002\04\24@092052 by Lawrence Lile

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One time on a job interview, the guy seemed pretty satisfied he would hire
me, so he asked his killer question.

"Do you have a knife?"

I fumbled around and produced a pocket knife

"Any good man carries a knife.  You start next Monday. "

--Lawrence

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2002\04\24@094328 by Lawrence Lile

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I guess I am hearing a lot of complaining about rules against
discrimination.  I guess I have seen the ugly side of it too often to have
much sympathy.  Though slightly inconvenient for the people who have to
follow the rules,  discrimination is serious, frustrating and life-changing
for those who have to bear the yoke:

Consider a 35 year old woman, recently widowed, with impeccable credit,
being refused a loan to get a house because "we only consider the husband's
credit rating, and since your husband is dead, he can't pay now can he?"
This woman happened to be my mother, who was out on the street with my
sister on her hip and me tagging along behind.

How about a well paid electronics technician whom I used to work with - who
calls a car company and makes a deal over the phone to buy a new Toyota.  He
shows up, they take a look at the color of his skin, and tell him he can't
afford the payments prior to any credit check.  He got mad and walked off,
bought the same car from a dealer 50 miles away, and made every payment
promplty, of course.

How about a handsome, tall, debonair young white guy who worked down the
hall from me, who was totally and completely incompetent to do his job, but
boy he really looks good with that big square chin!  The guy can hardly
operate the big orange switch on his PC, let alone get any use out of it,
but doesn't he cut a fine figure?  This useless paperwieght was hired over a
very competent black guy, not so handsome, who had been doing the job very
smartly as a temp and thought he had an inside track.  The black guy didn't
dress so sharp, except on interview day, and that was cited as a reason.
The handsome new guy? He shows up in the slouchiest rags, but being
handsome, he can get away with it.

These stories happen every day, and not just years ago, they happen now.
People into rationality like Engineers should be on the forefront of hiring
because of qualifications, not looks, color, gender, and other irrelevant
criteria.  We engineers are into results, not appearances, rationality, not
emotional impressions.

--Lawrence




>Like most things in life things work both ways and what can be seen
>by a vociferous lobby group as discrimination could be just the
t>hings that get that very group of people the job and if the employer
>is sympathetic (yet to work for one of those out here), if someone
>has a mild hindrance to there working abilities companies can then
>make allowances for performance levels or lack thereof.

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2002\04\24@094957 by Jon Baker

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> One time on a job interview, the guy seemed pretty satisfied he would hire
> me, so he asked his killer question.
>
> "Do you have a knife?"
>
> I fumbled around and produced a pocket knife
>
> "Any good man carries a knife.  You start next Monday. "

At my last interview I'd answered all their questions including a verbal
exam and they seemed pretty happy so they asked if I had any questions. I
asked (my future boss) if he enjoyed the job and if he found it particularly
stressful. He answered that he did find it enjoyable, although a little
frustrating at times, and that yes indeed both his and my future position
were both fairly stressful ones. For some reason I blurted out and asked him
"Oh, is that why you lost all your hair?" :) Oops. He thought it was funny,
said it was his wife and kids, commented on a good sense of humour being
essential for the job and hired me.

--
Jon Baker

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2002\04\24@110759 by Ray Gardiner

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Having a ruler would make it too easy, (just measure 60mm of wire)
judging by the way the question is phrased I assume that you have to use
just the equipment supplied. Wire, DVM, power supply and 10R resistor,

So,
1. hook up the 10R resistor in series with the resistance wire and
apply power from the laboratory supply.

2. Put the DVM in it voltage mode, to measure 1V as accurately as possible.
(since it is 0.1 in 200, we can assume it is 0 to 1999 in voltage mode)
Connect the DVM across the 10R resistor, so we now calculate the current
flowing through the wire, for ease of calculation we can choose a current
value that makes the maths easier. Say 10 volts, this means we have 1A
flowing through the wire. (This is as much as we want with a 10W
resistor anyway)

Now move the DVM to measure from the junction between the wire and the
resistor, and slide the other meter probe up the wire to measure 30mv
0.030 = 1 * 0.030.

Now we have a problem, the accuracy required is 5%, if the 10R resistor
is only 10% and/or the multimeter doesn't have a good millivolt range we
are in trouble with guaranteeing the 5% accuracy.  So reel off enough wire
to make the voltage 8*0.03= 240mv and fold in half 3 times.  (side benefit
is that will increase the current handling capacity of the shunt.)

I would crimp the wire ends into a ferrule, so a correction needs to be
made to allow for the length inside the crimp.


I was once told by a client, that when looking for employees for embedded
development work, he looked for candidates that had a "twitch" and a little
bit off the wall. His reasoning that you needed REALLY crazy people for this
kind of work.


{Quote hidden}

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2002\04\24@114508 by Bob Barr

flavicon
face
On Wed, 24 Apr 2002 07:04:20 -0500, Dale Botkin wrote:

>On Tue, 23 Apr 2002, Vit wrote:
>
>> So I agree that the rules are ridiculous, unless the interviewer is deaf and
>> blind.  There are plenty of ways to discriminate, even without the need to
>> ask these "prohibited" questions.  :)
>
>I think so too.  Next thing you know we'll be prohibited from interviewing
>people in person...
>

The San Jose Symphony here in California conducts "blind auditions"
where the applicant plays a piece of music behind a screen. The
selection board can't see the person; they can only hear their
performance.
The orchestra is under fire for having 'insufficient minority
representation'. Even that extreme doesn't necessarily keep you out of
trouble with the professional victims and their advocates.


Regards, Bob

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2002\04\24@120542 by Peter L. Peres

picon face
>We hired a technician and put him to sorting resistors by color code the
>first day.  It wasn't till the second day that he told us he was
>colorblind.  Now If I had known that, I would still have hired him, but
>would have found something else for him to do the first day!

Imho color blindness is not a handicap in this problem because the colors
used on el cheapo resistors (***) are *that* kind of colors. A DVM with a
fixed plug-in contact pair is indispensable.

(***): Is it red ? Is it brown ? Is it dark violet (what kind of color is
that). Maybe gray ? No ? Oh well ...

Peter

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2002\04\24@144237 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 07:19 PM 4/24/02 +0300, you wrote:

>Imho color blindness is not a handicap in this problem because the colors
>used on el cheapo resistors (***) are *that* kind of colors. A DVM with a
>fixed plug-in contact pair is indispensable.

There's a nice project for a student. Take a DVM with RS-232 port, Visual
Basic or some other similar programming language and make it pop up a big
font resistance value and color code pictorial of a resistor. You tell it
whether the resistor is a 1% or 5% (additional tolerances optional) and
the system does the rest. Personally I just look at the resistor and think
4.7K (or 4K7 if I'm having brioche and/or cappuccino). You just have to
avoid designing in those few values that are confusing.

Best regards.


Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
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2002\04\24@175255 by Peter Barick

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Bob says,
>>> RemoveMEbbarrTakeThisOuTspamCALIFORNIA.COM 04/24/02 10:35AM >>>

The San Jose Symphony here in California conducts "blind auditions"
where the applicant plays a piece of music behind a screen. The
selection board can't see the person; they can only hear their
performance.

The orchestra is under fire for having 'insufficient minority
representation'. Even that extreme doesn't necessarily keep you out of
trouble with the professional victims and their advocates.


Regards, Bob

---------------------------------
Ahem, Bob, there is a problem. Most  likely the orchestra isn't playing
on an even playing field to begin with. Note that symphony orchestras
have historically been Euopean and male in complexion. Many now are
seeing women join their ranks. However the issue of other minorities
being missing from symphnoy ranks may need a jump start by giving some
applicants "special" consideration to climb onboard. That's not asking
too much and only to break into the club.

Will they likely perform at the top notch? I doubt it. But once in they
have a chance perform and experience being with others to learn and--who
knows--possibly some day to teach and grow professionally from it.

I say give 'em a break just like the one that many of us had when we
were getting started or making that big change. Ha, can any of us claim
we were the "Best" when we last got hired? I can't; merely that I wanted
to try.

Peter,  who sometimes reflects on what got him to the here and now

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2002\04\24@183650 by David J Binnington

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face
> This is somewhat above the level of experience you are dealing
> with, but my
> employers were getting people with masters degrees who could not deal with
> these basic things.
>

Talking of basics, here are a few more simple practical tests for someone
who claims to have electronic/mechanical knowledge and workshop skills:

1.) Give them a DMM or moving coil multimeter and an unmarked bipolar
transistor (to be fair it should be working!).  Ask them to test it and
identify the leads as b, c and e and whether it is NPN or PNP.

2.) Get them to solder a few basic components to a PTH board. Check for
clean, bright joints with good solder penetration and no damage to the PCB.

3.) Now ask them to de-solder and remove the same components, without
damaging the PCB.  Check for damage and clean solder free holes.

4.) Get them to solder insulated wires to component tags without creating
dry joints or burning the insulation.

5.) Ask them to re-grind a blunt 1/4" (6,3mm) drill with the correct cutting
angles for use in brass.

6.) Ask them to identify a number of different types of small capacitors -
ceramic, polycarbonate, mica, X2, Y2 etc.

7.) Ask them to put one turn of wire on a ferrite toroid or bead.

8.) Supply them with a typical 3mm Red LED and a number of different value
resistors (1M, 470k, 100k, 47k, 10k, 4k7,1k, 470R, 100R & 47R) and a +5V
power supply.  Ask them to choose one resistor that they think would be the
most appropriate and connect it to the +5V to light the LED with reasonable
brightness.

9.) Test them on the use of basic instruments - DMM, DSO, LCR bridge etc.

The list is endless...

It is surprising and a little worrying how many young and sometimes not so
young engineers have trouble with the most basic skills.

David

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2002\04\24@183705 by Dwayne Reid

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At 04:50 PM 4/24/02 -0500, Peter Barick wrote:

>Ahem, Bob, there is a problem. Most  likely the orchestra isn't playing
>on an even playing field to begin with. Note that symphony orchestras
>have historically been Euopean and male in complexion. Many now are
>seeing women join their ranks. However the issue of other minorities
>being missing from symphnoy ranks may need a jump start by giving some
>applicants "special" consideration to climb onboard. That's not asking
>too much and only to break into the club.

You can't be serious!

I've been taught all my life that discrimination OF ANY SORT is wrong.  You
appear to be saying that under some circumstances, discrimination is OK.

I don't agree with you on this matter.

dwayne


Dwayne Reid   <spamBeGonedwaynerspamBeGonespamplanet.eon.net>
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2002\04\24@185131 by Herbert Graf

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> >Ahem, Bob, there is a problem. Most  likely the orchestra isn't playing
> >on an even playing field to begin with. Note that symphony orchestras
> >have historically been Euopean and male in complexion. Many now are
> >seeing women join their ranks. However the issue of other minorities
> >being missing from symphnoy ranks may need a jump start by giving some
> >applicants "special" consideration to climb onboard. That's not asking
> >too much and only to break into the club.
>
> You can't be serious!
>
> I've been taught all my life that discrimination OF ANY SORT is
> wrong.  You
> appear to be saying that under some circumstances, discrimination is OK.
>
> I don't agree with you on this matter.
>
> dwayne

       I'd have to agree with your disagreement. To discriminate in order to bring
in more people of what is currently the minority (who are possibly lesser
qualified) is just foolish and bizzare in my mind. The worst example is
people in the fire service. There was a discussion recently of forcing the
department to hire more minorities, using some "percentage" system. It
frightens me to know that possibly lesser qualified people will be fighting
fires in my area, choosen because they were the right colour, while people
of the "wrong" colour were passed over. Please understand that I'm not
suggesting certain groups aren't as qualified.
I agree that the distribution of people should be more equal, but forcing a
percentage is insane. The problem should be fought earlier in the game, get
more children of minorities interested in careers that have the unbalance.
TTYL

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2002\04\24@191414 by Martin Baker

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I can only comment that when California voters eliminated " Affirmative
action " policies for the State Universities, minority
APPLICATIONS    decreased by something like 35 % if I remember correctly..
Not admissions,  applications. I am afraid I must see that as representing
an attitude that if the applicant won't have a guaranteed advantage over
the other applicants, they won't even try.

This is painful and sad. I hate to think that these applicants feel that
they deserve a university slot without the basic skills and qualifications
that everyone should have.

Oh well, it is after all, a brave new world.

Martin

> dwayne

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2002\04\24@194107 by Bob Blick

face picon face
I find it quite interesting that so many white males don't see
discrimination based on sex or skin color. They just don't think it
exists, or if it does, it's wrong but no remedy should be applied.

-Bob

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2002\04\24@195352 by Jon Baker

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----- Original Message -----
From: "Dwayne Reid" <TakeThisOuTdwaynerEraseMEspamspam_OUTPLANET.EON.NET>
> You can't be serious!
>
> I've been taught all my life that discrimination OF ANY SORT is wrong.
You
> appear to be saying that under some circumstances, discrimination is OK.
>
> I don't agree with you on this matter.

Thats something that everyone is having to get used to now. Negative
discrimination- against minorities, whether they are races, sexes, ages or
disabilities is seen as bad by everyone, so they counter balance it with
positive discrimination, essentially discrimination against the people
accused of discriminating in the first place.

I always thought the saying was "2 wrongs don't make a right", but it doesnt
seem to apply in this case.

--
Jon Baker

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2002\04\24@200750 by Uri Sabadosh

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face
But this discussion is not about individual discrimination but about policy. When a policy says "hire the best" it is not discriminating. When the policy says "hire the disadvantaged" that is discrimination on purpose that recognizes and compensates the disadvantaged.

Uri

 {Original Message removed}

2002\04\24@202546 by John Ferrell

flavicon
face
I spent a career hearing I was either too young, too old, white or male to
be promoted. I made a practice of leveling with management about how I felt
about their explanations. In return, my compensation was generally pretty
fair. My observation was that those who passed me by in the pecking order
did not fair as well. Especially those who were uprooted from dual career
(income!) families.

A lot of enterprises choose to promote for reasons other than reward or
getting the best qualified. I am sure I saw people placed in positions they
were sure fail -- making it easier to dispense with them down the line.

Politics have always been ugly.

By the way, I feel that over all, I won the game...
Retirement is great!

{Original Message removed}

2002\04\24@211409 by Herbert Graf

flavicon
face
> I find it quite interesting that so many white males don't see
> discrimination based on sex or skin color. They just don't think it
> exists, or if it does, it's wrong but no remedy should be applied.

       I don't find that surprising at all. I live in Toronto, Canada, a
relatively large city with quite a diverse population. However, if I venture
only 30 minutes north of here the diversity dissapears, so it doesn't
suprise me that those people don't think there is a problem, they've never
seen the problem outside of movies.
       For the record I'm a white male and I have actually STOOD on the other side
of the fence! There is a store near the university I attend that is owned by
people of a certain ethnic background. Everytime I go into that store he
quotes me a price that is higher then the prices quoted to my friends of
that ethnic background!! (in one case $20 vs. $15) I've now made it practice
to simply bring one of them with me to get the lower price! Sure, this is a
small thing, one probably not even worth mentioning given the horrors that
some races have gone through, nevertheless I am a white male and see the
discrimination, sometimes applied to me! TTYL

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2002\04\24@215608 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 05:00 PM 4/24/02 -0700, you wrote:
>But this discussion is not about individual discrimination but about
>policy. When a policy says "hire the best" it is not discriminating.

Any kind of selection process is discriminating, by definition. Unless you
do it randomly (well, maybe that's discriminating against the unlucky). ;-)

>When the policy says "hire the disadvantaged" that is discrimination on
>purpose that recognizes and compensates the disadvantaged.

To a business it is like a kind of tax, because it forces them to hire
employees that contribute less than the ones they would prefer to hire.
This may or may not be in the best interests of society as a whole or
indeed those it is supposed to help (like anything else imposed by
government). I've been told that it detracts somewhat from the achievements
of those disadvantaged who "made it" without the proactive policy.

Best regards,

Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
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2002\04\25@031837 by Quentin

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Lawrence Lile wrote:
>We engineers are into results, not appearances, rationality, not
> emotional impressions.
What big orange switch are you talking about?

;-)
Q..

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2002\04\25@040710 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
> You can't be serious!
>
> I've been taught all my life that discrimination
>OF ANY SORT is wrong.  You appear to be saying that
>under some circumstances, discrimination is OK.
>
> I don't agree with you on this matter.

I don't agree with your response, either.

What is being suggested in this example is no more than is given to some
high school students of poorer backgrounds, in the form of a scholarship to
get them further education. I am sure you could find some people in your
neighbourhood , who given the opportunity, could improve their lot. In many
cases that is all that is being asked for, is the opportunity to prove or
improve ones lot in life.

There are a number of high profile people in the world who are in that
position, simply because other people recognised the ability of the person,
and gave them the chance to use that ability.

{Quote hidden}

Well this is a sad situation, where you try and give people a helping hand
and take the whole arm, but if you insist that they play on a level playing
field then they won't play. The other important thing to remember with this
situation is that the opportunity is still there for the minorities to
apply. Just because there is no positive discrimination does not mean they
will not get a place.

When I moved to the UK I went looking at positions and found I was being
discriminated against because I did not have a degree. So I changed my tack
and emphasised the time I had been working in the industry, and the breadth
of experience I had from that. This allowed me to demonstrate my experience
and beat applicants that had masters degrees.

But then having this discussion here is a bit of a case of preaching to the
converted. :)

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2002\04\25@042405 by Jon Baker

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face
----- Original Message -----
From: "Alan B. Pearce"
> When I moved to the UK I went looking at positions and found I was being
> discriminated against because I did not have a degree. So I changed my
tack
> and emphasised the time I had been working in the industry, and the
breadth
> of experience I had from that. This allowed me to demonstrate my
experience
> and beat applicants that had masters degrees.

I totally agree, in the UK its difficult to get a job in engineering, or IT
which is the area I work in. I got so frustrated that I was being turned
away without even an interview because I didn't have a degree that I pretty
much had to say "look, I'll proove it to you- I'll work for you for a week
to demonstrate my experience" becuase I don't think the qualifications I
have on paper do me justice. The number of people coming out on university
with degrees in IT, who couldn't even use a computer without a mouse is
amazing.

I never thought of it as discrimination, more a mis conception about what a
degree really means, but in the end it really has the same result.

Jon Baker

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2002\04\25@091213 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
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> 1.) Give them a DMM or moving coil multimeter and an unmarked bipolar
> transistor (to be fair it should be working!).  Ask them to test it and
> identify the leads as b, c and e and whether it is NPN or PNP.

Is that a DMM WITHOUT a transistor test function ? :-)
Yes, it can be done but it tends to require a little cheating.
(Equipment: device under test, DMM (amps, volts, ohms) without transistor
test, no other electronic parts)

While you are at it give them several nominally identical transistors but
preselected for a range of Betas and ask them to sort them into hi medium
and low beta.


       RM

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2002\04\25@093908 by Douglas Butler

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Different brands of multimeters have different polarities on the probes
for the resistance function, so I always have to compare to a known good
part.  Even still it is hard to tell the BE junction from the BC
junction.  Do you have a trick I don't know?

I am appalled by how many "engineering" candidates can't add 1/8" to
0.05" in their head.

Sherpa Doug

> {Original Message removed}

2002\04\25@102909 by Lawrence Lile

flavicon
face
Agreed, Bob.  Mostly we try very very hard to ignore it.  I am glad to have
gotten close enough to several people to hear them open up and tell me how
they have to struggle daily for things I assume as a right.

--Lawrence
{Original Message removed}

2002\04\25@103117 by Lawrence Lile

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<Evil SNickering>
The one on the wall that turns the lights off for the whole office.  Go
ahead and pull it, and I *promise* you will get a promotion!  </Evil
snickering>   ;-)

{Quote hidden}

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2002\04\25@104604 by Lawrence Lile

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There are several great suggestions for tests!  The job I am posting is for
an intern, with at least two years toward an engineering degree.  Basically
this is a guy who has passed a few basic math courses, Physics courses, and
hopefully is awake enough to have taught himself to solder.  Any practical
skill I test will probably test his/her own initiative rather than training
in any school.  I am mostly looking for an extra set of hands with a
minimally funcitoning but awake brain attached.

So tell me, what test could you have passed when you were 19 years old or
2nd year in a university program?  Here's what I could have done:

Solder through-hole components
Design and construct a basic unregulated power supply
Repair CB radios, Audio equipment and TV's
Design and construct a basic Op Amp circuit with '741's
Read the resistor color code with the old style consistent colors
Use an analog oscilloscope, analog multimeter (digital wasn't common yet!)


So I am thinking about tests like this:

Stuff and solder a simple PC board
Read the color code on some resistors and use a DVM to check the answer
Read some C code that implements a basic counter and tell me what it does.
Take a pre-drawn but unrouted simple schematic and route it.

I am usually not fond of "trick" questions, unlike some of the question
posers here.  I lean more toward straightforward tests with straightforward
answers.

--Lawrence

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2002\04\25@111557 by uter van ooijen & floortje hanneman

picon face
> I am appalled by how many "engineering" candidates can't add 1/8" to
> 0.05" in their head.

I can, the correct answer is of course "standard violation: use of
prohibited representation" (at least on this side of the waters).

Wouter van Ooijen
--
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Jal compiler, Wisp programmer, WLoader bootloader, PICs kopen

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2002\04\25@114003 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>> I am appalled by how many "engineering" candidates can't add 1/8" to
>> 0.05" in their head.

>I can, the correct answer is of course "standard violation: use of
>prohibited representation" (at least on this side of the waters).

I always used to confuse people by telling them my property was an acre plus
10 sq metres. You should have seen the confused look on their faces.

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2002\04\25@115940 by Dal Wheeler

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----- Original Message -----
From: Lawrence Lile <KILLspamllilespamBeGonespamTOASTMASTER.COM>
> I am usually not fond of "trick" questions, unlike some of the question
> posers here.  I lean more toward straightforward tests with
straightforward
> answers.

I'd have to agree.  Why test a candidate out on something that'd get him
fired later if you caught him/her doing it while on the payroll?  If I saw
someone dinking around with dmm's, psu's and wire because he didn't want to
use a $.25 ruler; I'd can him, not congradulate him for independant
thinking.

If there's to be a test, why not test them on things that would be required
of them while on the job?

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2002\04\25@120349 by Mitch Miller

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>I can, the correct answer is of course "standard violation: use of
>prohibited representation"

Not being an engineer, can someone briefly describe "standard violation:
use of prohibited representation" ?

-- Mitch

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2002\04\25@120402 by Lawrence Lile

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Human resources has probably put the kibosh on soldering tests.  They say
that all candidates must have exactly the same test, and the results must be
quantfiable.  They hire the candidate with the highest score on a
quantifiable list of objectives.  I suppose I could put together such a
test, but they lean toward written tests, if possible, with discrete
answers, no essays please. They discourage tests in the lab.

In general they don't do tests at all, they simply have two interviewers
score the candidate on several defineable qualities, such as knowledge of
the job duties, relevant experience, and so on. One interviewer is from the
department hiring, the other is from HR.

--Lawrence

{Original Message removed}

2002\04\25@122257 by Dal Wheeler

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face
We here in the USA still insist on using english units; while the rest of
the world has moved on to metric.

----- Original Message -----
From: Mitch Miller <spamBeGonemitchspamKILLspamMDMILLER.COM>
> >I can, the correct answer is of course "standard violation: use of
> >prohibited representation"
>
> Not being an engineer, can someone briefly describe "standard violation:
> use of prohibited representation" ?

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2002\04\25@145718 by Peter L. Peres

picon face
The electrically correct answer was given by Ray Gardiner but the purpose
of the question is to find out what the candidate would do. Asking for a
ruler is legit. Assumption that the mV scale is not accurate can be made.
You could ask for a ruler and just measure 60 mm of wire and crimp with
+/-0.75 mm precision. You could say that you need a 4 wire shunt for this
(you don't really) and show how to do it. You could ask whether there is a
more accurate ohmmeter available. You could ask whether there is a lower
value precision resistor available. You could notice that the current must
be switched for short times in the 10W resistor to avoid creep and that it
should be checked before and after since it is used at max spec power.

You could say that this job is best done by buying a $5000 shunt-testing
instrument or a $5 'post office loop' (this is an old shunt used by
British phone technicians I think - I got it from a book, not sure about
the name). You could ask how many shunts will eventually be needed, and
whether they could be outsourced if many (and why).

The question is not a math skills test, in that there may be several
answers, and maybe giving the elaborate and correct electrical solution is
not the answer that will give the highest mark. Seeing 'sideways' and a
certain amount of nonlinear thinking is the kind of skill that makes
co-workers co-workers and not co-drags imho.

Peter

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2002\04\25@151243 by Jeff DeMaagd

picon face
The truth is somewhere in between on the USA.

A lot of industries have switched to metric, at least in design and
specification, such as furniture, aircraft, automotive and a lot of
government related work too, for internal design and manufacturing use.  The
units get converted to "imperial", "English" or whatever the hilf it is
called for general public use.

Besides, wouldn't the violation be called a "nonstandard violation"?

Jeff

{Original Message removed}

2002\04\25@152923 by Al Williams

flavicon
face
There is the old story about the three engineering students taking
thermo. They are asked how long it will take the interior temperature of
a 9 pound roast in a 475F oven to reach 300F.

Student 1 doesn't get an answer, but outlines a series of experiments
that will provide the result.

Student 2 does his report while eating a roast beef sandwich.

Student 3 called his mother and asked her.

###

Of course, there is another old story about the physics students who
were told to use a barometer to determine the height of a building. One
student dropped the barometer from the roof, timed its fall, and did the
math. Another student found the building superintendent and said, "If
you tell me how tall this building is, I'll give you a cool barometer."

###

I used to work for a company where we administered a 3 question "test"
on C programming. It was amazing how many people who seemed OK became
obvious flakes upon taking the test. The ones that used to amuse me were
the ones that would try to bluff an answer. As though we didn't know the
answers and were really asking him because we were baffled. The test was
tricky (and no, I won't divulge the questions) and only a few people
every got all the right answers. But how they approached the questions
was the real test, not the concrete answers. Of course, if you got them
all right that was impressive too. I did get them all, and the guy who
interviewed me was shocked because he had not had anyone do that before.
In all the time I was there, I had exactly one interviewee who answered
them all correctly for me.

On the degree issue, I do think this is a form of discrimination. When I
was younger, I learned a lot from a fellow who had the "wrong" degree (a
BSEET instead of a BSEE). He was relegated to second class jobs because
he had been sorted by his degree. Yet he was one of the best engineers
I've ever known. I've hired people with degrees and without degrees.
I've had good and bad people in both cases.

The problem is a classic one of metrics. When I worked for "a big
semiconductor firm" (no, not one that is discussed on this list) I took
apart microprocessors to see why they failed (and hopefully to stop them
from failing again). We were judged on how many reports we turned out in
a month. It was OK if they were all "unknown", "unknown", "unknown". An
analyst who did 50 parts/month with 80% unknown would win praise. An
analyst t who solved 25 cases/month would be reprimanded because he only
did 25 cases and the other guy did 50.

The problem is one of metrics. When we can't figure out the right thing
to measure, we often use the most obvious metric -- in this case, the
number of parts. Never mind that fixing one problem might save the
company $1 million/year or more. That metric is too hard to measure.

With hiring there is a tendency to use the degree as a metric. I see
people every day with CS degrees and EE degrees that I personally would
not hire. I also see technicians who have been promoted to "engineer"
when, in fact, they are actually just skilled in whatever it is they do
(a metric of time in service). On the other hand, I've been lucky enough
to know several very talented people and I've learned a lot from them.
One had a physics degree. One had the BSEET degree I mentioned. A few
have had EE or CS degrees and a few have had no degree at all.

Meaningful certification is probably the answer to this, but too often
certification programs are really about inhibiting people from entering
the market (PE), or promoting some particular agenda (vendor
certification). Not that having a certification or degree is bad -- It
is a good thing and should weigh heavily in your favor. But when it is
the only consideration, then it is discriminatory. There was a time when
having a ham license was a good metric for electronic folks, although
not as much as it used to be. It is still a good metric for interest,
though.

Oh well, I'm sure no one has read this far. I've been reading the
interview thread for awhile and all these thoughts have been building up
in my mind. So I figured I'd dump them all at once.

Al Williams
AWC




> >
> The electrically correct answer was given by Ray Gardiner but
> the purpose of the question is to find out what the candidate
>

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2002\04\25@155533 by Dale Botkin

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All very true in every respect.  Also all a bit much to ask of a two-year
undergrad intern candidate, who will probably be a little awestruck and
probably pretty nervous is it is when you ask the question.  The OP is
looking for a college student (read "lab grunt"), not a chief of
engineering.  And the poor grunt is 99% likely not going to know anything
about post office loops, shunt testers or any of the rest.  That comes
with experience, which said starry-eyed applicant will lack.

Just my own humble opinion.

Dale
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         - Arnold Edinborough


On Thu, 25 Apr 2002, Peter L. Peres wrote:

{Quote hidden}

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2002\04\25@173928 by Sean H. Breheny

face picon face
At 02:53 PM 4/25/02 -0500, you wrote:
>All very true in every respect.  Also all a bit much to ask of a two-year
>undergrad intern candidate, who will probably be a little awestruck and
>probably pretty nervous is it is when you ask the question.  The OP is
>looking for a college student (read "lab grunt"), not a chief of
>engineering.  And the poor grunt is 99% likely not going to know anything
>about post office loops, shunt testers or any of the rest.  That comes
>with experience, which said starry-eyed applicant will lack.

Unless, of course, said starry-eyed applicant has been reading the PICLIST
for a while :-)



{Quote hidden}

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2002\04\25@182553 by Lawrence Lile

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If he's been on the PIClist, he's hired.

Unless, of course, he is on it because he can't figgur out how to
unsubscribe!

--lawrence

{Original Message removed}

2002\04\25@205938 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
> >> I am appalled by how many "engineering" candidates can't add 1/8" to
> >> 0.05" in their head.
>
> >I can, the correct answer is of course "standard violation: use of
> >prohibited representation" (at least on this side of the waters).
>
> I always used to confuse people by telling them my property was an acre
plus
> 10 sq metres. You should have seen the confused look on their faces.


My vehicle has a fuel economy of about 0.08 millimetre on the open road.
Anyone care to convert that to more normal units? :-)




       Russell McMahon

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2002\04\26@041216 by Peter L. Peres

picon face
>Different brands of multimeters have different polarities on the probes
>for the resistance function, so I always have to compare to a known good
>part.  Even still it is hard to tell the BE junction from the BC
>junction.  Do you have a trick I don't know?

The junction area is different thus the forward voltage drop at the same
current is lower for BE for most transistors (thos that do not use any
funky emitter doping tricks at least). This is not a rule of thumb afaik.

>I am appalled by how many "engineering" candidates can't add 1/8" to
>0.05" in their head.

I can't in inches. Only in mm ;-).

Peter

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2002\04\26@060420 by Peter L. Peres

picon face
>>We engineers are into results, not appearances, rationality, not
>> emotional impressions.
>What big orange switch are you talking about?

Ah, you run Linux too ? ;-)

Peter

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2002\04\26@060436 by Peter L. Peres

picon face
>In general they don't do tests at all, they simply have two interviewers
>score the candidate on several defineable qualities, such as knowledge of
>the job duties, relevant experience, and so on. One interviewer is from
>the department hiring, the other is from HR.

You will have one helluva intern I guess. Good luck.

Peter

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2002\04\26@061900 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
> Different brands of multimeters have different polarities on the probes
> for the resistance function, so I always have to compare to a known good
> part.

I'll stick my neck out and say that all analog multimeters have positive on
the black (negative) terminal for ohms and ALMOST ALL DMMs have positive on
the red (positive) lead. (It is unlikely that this will not be the case for
analog meters without electronics (draw a picture) and for DMMs it is
possible to use either polarity but makes sense to match the labelling.

The truly competent engineer could add salt to a glass of water, insert the
probes and watch the bubble formation to determine which was the positive
lead :-). I must try this to see how well it works !

> Even still it is hard to tell the BE junction from the BC
> junction.  Do you have a trick I don't know?

Yes :-)
If one assumes one knows the DMM polarity (as above) one proceeds as
follows.

- Assume a base lead.
- P (positive DMM lead) on base. N (negative DMM lead) to other two
terminals in turn. If both conduct it is an NPN.
- Repeat prior test for other two leads. If none pass test it is a PNP.
- Repeat prior two tests with N lead as the reference and moving the P lead.
Two conductions reveal a PNP base.

In above tests where you get degress of conduction the test that gives the
lowest two readings together reveals the base.

Now the harder part - find thr collector and emitter and determine the beta.
It helps to be ambidextrous for this or to have 3 hands :-)

For an NPN:
- Place on assumed collector
- Place N on assumed emitter
   No great conduction will occur.
- Lick finger lightly and apply moistened finger between known base and
assumed collector
   Conduction will occur. Note resistance.
- Swap assumed collector and assumed emitter and repeat as above.
   Note resistance again.
The CORRECT collector/emitter combination will give yuou a MUCH lower
resistance. This is because the wet finger is providing forward bias to the
transistor. The proper CE orientation has a MUCH higher beta than the
reverse one but the reverse one has SOME beta.

Measuring relative beta is easy if you can lick your finger consistently
:-).

Substituting a high value resistor (say 10 Mohm) for the wet finger will
bring greater consistency to the results.

I have used the above trick on quite a few occasions over the years in
situations where more appropriate equipment was not available. Nowadays the
availability of a transistor tester on many DMMs makes the test fairly
redundant. I haven't used it now for some years AFAIR.



       Russell McMahon

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2002\04\26@064658 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>My vehicle has a fuel economy of about 0.08 millimetre
>on the open road.
>Anyone care to convert that to more normal units? :-)

Shades of an article I saw in an HP journal back in the 70's where they
talked about a chip with an area measured in nano-acres.

But I do have to ask, millimetres/what? I assume millilitres, but it could
be gallons (well it might be the space shuttle or something) :)

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2002\04\26@074136 by Kevin Blain

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I'm not quite there either Russell.....

Efficiency is the ratio between work done and fuel used

If the work done was measured as an area, such as mm^2

The the efficiency could be expressed as

Mililitres per Millimetres squared

Or mm^3 / mm^2

Which cancels out to mm.

Therefore an efficiency of 0.08 mm would be like saying

0.08 millilitres of fuel per square millimetre

1000 mm makes 1 metre

So multiply by 1000 x 1000 and again to get it in square metres

80 litres per square metre

A teffibly inefficient lawnmover?

Regards, Kevin


> {Original Message removed}

2002\04\26@082854 by Russell McMahon

face
flavicon
face
> I'm not quite there either Russell.....

I blew it in an attempt to be smart !!!! :-(

I SHOULD have said

   My vehicle has an economy of 0.08 SQUARE millimetres

It goes like this.
Normal measure here is litres per 100 kilometres.
Litres are a measure of volume.
Kilometres are length.
Volume / length is area.
So area is the units of fuel economy.

Now lets convert the l/km into an area with consistent units

1 litre = 1 l x  1e6 mm^3/l = 1E6 mm^3

1 km = 1 km x 1000 m/km x 1000mm /m = 1E6 mm

so 1 l/km = E6 mm^3 / E6 mm = 1 mm^2

So l/100km = 0.01 mm^2

My vehicle does about 8 l/100km = 8 x 0.01 mm^2

           = 0.08 mm^2        QED  :-)

In the good old days the standard measure was miles per gallon - the inverse
of the current measure.
We used to express our fuel use in "per acre".



       Russell McMahon

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2002\04\26@091039 by Douglas Butler

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face
> I'll stick my neck out and say that all analog multimeters
> have positive on
> the black (negative) terminal for ohms and ALMOST ALL DMMs
> have positive on
> the red (positive) lead. (It is unlikely that this will not
> be the case for
> analog meters without electronics (draw a picture) and for DMMs it is
> possible to use either polarity but makes sense to match the
> labelling.

I find amplified analog meters are pretty random in polarity.
Fortunatly they are rather rare these days.
>
> The truly competent engineer could add salt to a glass of
> water, insert the
> probes and watch the bubble formation to determine which was
> the positive
> lead :-). I must try this to see how well it works !

It might be easier to put two different coins in the salt water, measure
their cell voltage, and see if it adds or subtracts from the ohms
reading.
{Quote hidden}

{deletia}
>
>         Russell McMahon
>
I hadn't thought of doing an actual 3 port test with a wet finger.  It
ought to work.  I'll try it today.

Sherpa Doug

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2002\04\26@170038 by David J Binnington

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> Different brands of multimeters have different polarities on the probes
> for the resistance function, so I always have to compare to a known good
> part.  Even still it is hard to tell the BE junction from the BC
> junction.  Do you have a trick I don't know?
>

Meter polarities may be different but the tongue can be used to great effect
to quickly detect the positive lead on a DMM or MCM.  Just don't try this
method with high voltages!

As for discovering BE & BC, just use a process of elimination.

First identify B by finding the BE and BC junction diodes. This tells you
whether it is PNP or NPN and which pair of leads is C & E although not which
is which.

Connect the meter across the unknown C & E leads. Use a damp finger between
B and the C & E leads in turn to provide a small base current of the correct
polarity (-ve to B for NPN, +ve to B for PNP).  Reverse the connections to C
& E if necessary.  Once you have conduction between C-E with a small base
current between B and C you are there.  A past colleague used to be able to
give a pretty good estimate of gain this way as well.

David

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2002\04\27@014226 by T.C. Phelps

picon face
Lawrence, I was reading your e-mail about tests for
applicants and just had to comment...

> So tell me, what test could you have passed when
> you were 19 years old or 2nd year in a university
> program?  Here's what I could have done:

> Solder through-hole components
> Design and construct a basic unregulated power
supply
{Quote hidden}

I don't know what it's like in the States, but here at
the University of Calgary in Canada the first
two / three years of EE is mostly theoretical stuff.
Now that everything is designed, emulated, or
simulated on computer, you mostly learn general
science, C/C++ and some assembly programming (MIPS in
our case -- 68K in 3rd year), elementary digital
design, computer architecture, and analog circuit
analysis tools. There are the obligatory labs of
course, but second year labs are mostly just
demonstration of principle; measuring frequency
response, testing a two level combinational network,
Matlab, Linux, and C programming. Next year I'm going
into 4th year, and the only soldering required of me
so far was building a small 3-transistor radio. Never
had to manually route anything either ("Route? Isn't
there software for that?"), and any repair jobs would
have to be pretty minor problems. For our classes,
whenever you have to actually put something together,
everything is carefully labelled because few people
know how to read component values or which pinouts are
which, even on the simplest ICs. In fact I've only met
one person besides myself who knows the resistor color
code -- we were in a lab together wondering how people
remembered it. The prof was walking by at the time and
muttered under his breath "Bad Boys Ravage Our Young
Girls But Violet Goes Willingly -- and I didn't say
that." I laughed and laughed, but we both remembered
it.
Even the fourth year team projects (in Canada it is
mandatory to do an 8-month-long project in your final
year) mostly involve programming and Matlab
simulations. Only one or two of the projects involve
building something. I like building projects and
whatnot, but for the most part if you want to build
anything you have to do it on your own time. That's
why I love the PICList -- whenever I have a
"practicality gap" in my knowledge, there's someone on
the PICList who knows all about it.

So anyway, the tests I'd probably be able to do by the
end of second year:

- Interpret/program a fairly complex C/C++ program
- Interpret or program a MIPS assembly program that
can run on the SPIM emulator (real world, who knows?)
- Draw stack/memory diagrams or activations records
for C/C++ or assembly code
- Analyze a (somewhat simple) circuit with
Fourier/Laplace techniques
- Design a circuit based on a simple transfer function
- Analyze or design simple combinational or sequential
digital circuits
- Use DMMs, oscilloscopes.
- __Maybe___ solder something simple together, but
don't expect a great job.

Anyway, my two cents. Sorry about the length of the
e-mail, guess I got carried away. :)

T.



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2002\04\29@104321 by Lawrence Lile

flavicon
face
> I don't know what it's like in the States, but here at
> the University of Calgary in Canada the first
> two / three years of EE is mostly theoretical stuff.

Which is the big problem with college engineering courses.  Virtually every
skill I use in my job I learned by doing things in the lab, by grappling
with PCB layout software, by teaching myself assembler and C, and so on.  I
learned a lot more about electronics in a two-year high school electronics
course and in five years on a T.V. repair bench then I ever did at an
engineeering college.  My BSEE did give me the theroetical background and
the math to understand how electronics really ticks, but that and a diploma
were all I got out of it.  All chalk talk, no actual design, no hands-on, no
practicality.

Many people say that a recent BSEE grad has just enough knowledge to *start*
learning electronics.

I guess I will really be looking for someone with enough interest in
electronics to take it up as a hobby, to teach themselves to solder, to
spend two hours trying to fix a $5 radio, to spent whole weekends trying to
build a robot, and so on.  If they just are a sharp student in school, and
that is all, they won't be any use to me.

--Lawrence

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2002\04\29@113352 by michael brown

flavicon
face
> I guess I will really be looking for someone with enough interest in
> electronics to take it up as a hobby, to teach themselves to solder, to
> spend two hours trying to fix a $5 radio, to spent whole weekends trying
to
> build a robot, and so on.  If they just are a sharp student in school, and
> that is all, they won't be any use to me.
>
> --Lawrence

It's becoming quite obvious, that you are in search of me.  ;-)))

michael brown

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2002\04\29@115700 by Peter Barick

flavicon
face
Listers,

Someone wrote disparagingly of the computational acumen of Engr
candidates (can we assume student applicants for education?). I too have
heard such "revelations," starting with the convenience store clerks not
comprehending the math to make proper change for a $1.00. Possibly
there's more to it ...

If one were asked this fractional and decimal summation problem in a
casual setting, possibly the proportion of good answers would be
different and correct than if in a more charged situation that
admittance to a job, position, or program depended upon.
In the latter case I think I might opt for pencil and paper (1)
thinking the test is *also* of my procedures and past level of training,
(2) there is a greater chance of error due to, say, a decimal shift on
conversion in a mental process, and (3) it can reasonably be expected
that this is but the first of yet other pending questions, then a
notepad is the means of choice.

So, gentlemen, 'tis not what at first seemed a dumb process. You will
typically find this writer with note paper & pencil in his upper
pocket.

Peter B., who has other challenges to meet
-----------------------------------------

>>> .....plp@spam@spamEraseMEACTCOM.CO.IL 04/26/02 02:48AM >>>
>I am appalled by how many "engineering" candidates can't add 1/8" to
>0.05" in their head.

I can't in inches. Only in mm ;-).

Peter

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