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'[OT]Useless classes was: USB to contact closure'
2009\06\19@233429 by solarwind

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On Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 3:53 AM, AGSCalabrese<spam_OUTagscalTakeThisOuTspamgmail.com> wrote:
> And I guess they really aren't forcing you to take
> anything
> since you can go to another institution or skip university altogether.

Well skipping the technicalities, it's pretty much forcing when you
have no choice. It's forcing when you go to their university.

2009\06\20@004135 by AGSCalabrese

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>
> On Jun 19, 2009, at 9:34 PM, solarwind wrote:
>
> On Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 3:53 AM, AGSCalabrese<.....agscalKILLspamspam@spam@gmail.com> wrote:
>> And I guess they really aren't forcing you to take
>> anything
>> since you can go to another institution or skip university  
>> altogether.
>
> Well skipping the technicalities, it's pretty much forcing when you
> have no choice. It's forcing when you go to their university.

Why would one skip the technicalities ?   You have a choice of  
universities.
Gus

2009\06\20@012948 by William \Chops\ Westfield

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On Jun 19, 2009, at 9:41 PM, AGSCalabrese wrote:

> You have a choice of universities.

It seems ALL the "good" universities insist on students taking classes  
outside the boundaries of their major.  The tend to claim bullcrap  
like "communications skills" and "well rounded education", but I think  
it's a conspiracy to justify PhDs in useless disciplines!

BillW


2009\06\20@015006 by Sean Breheny

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Although I disagree that a "well-rounded education" is bovine
scatology, I can say that not all "good" universities insist on a wide
range of courses.

At Cornell, there is no "core curriculum." EE majors are only required
to take two specific non-technical courses (besides phys-ed), and both
of those are writing skills classes.  They are also required to pick
(if I recall correctly) 6 courses additional outside their major, of
which only 2 must be non-technical. Typically EEs will take four
additional technical courses (like math, physics, other engineering
disciplines, etc.). This means that they graduate having taken only 4
non-technical courses, typically. That's only 10% of the total number
of courses.

I'm pretty sure that MIT, Stanford, Columbia, CMU, Caltech, and UIUC
are similar, as well as WPI, RPI, RIT, and most other major schools
known for engineering programs. Harvard is probably an exception,
although it is not known for a strong undergrad EE program.

I *do* think that everyone who goes to a university should be exposed
to at least the following:

serious math (not "how to balance your checkbook 101")
physics
some additional science elective
world history
some additional history elective
a language (unless they can place out of it)
philosophy (especially logic)
psychology
literature

I also think that EE should largely be learned through the "thought
experiment" of real-world problem solving. There are some more
abstract basics, but beyond that, I think almost everything should be
introduced by coming across a design situation which requires it. For
example, you teach someone about LC tank circuits and then tell them
to build an oscillator. Along the way, they would have to "discover"
(both by thinking and looking it up) active devices, semiconductors,
small-signal analysis, feedback, etc.

Sean


On Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 1:29 AM, William "Chops" Westfield
<westfwspamKILLspammac.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

>

2009\06\20@055644 by Chris McSweeny

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On Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 6:50 AM, Sean Breheny <.....shb7KILLspamspam.....cornell.edu> wrote:

> I *do* think that everyone who goes to a university should be exposed
> to at least the following:
>
> serious math (not "how to balance your checkbook 101")
> physics
> some additional science elective
> world history
> some additional history elective
> a language (unless they can place out of it)
> philosophy (especially logic)
> psychology
> literature
>

Well I seem to be a fully functioning human being working in an engineering
job (I'd actually argue I have a far more rounded and broader knowledge than
a lot of the people I work with), despite only having studied serious maths
and some physics (quantum stuff you get as an EE) out of that list. IMHO
there's plenty enough you need to learn in an engineering degree without
going near all that other stuff (engineering degrees were notoriously one of
those were you had a lot more work to do - as opposed to say history or
english where the students seemed to have a lot more free time). Here in the
UK I don't believe it is normal to have any courses outside the core
engineering ones. I am very glad though that I did a general engineering
course which gradually specialised - the other universities I applied to
would have been electrical/electronic engineering and specialised from a
much earlier stage thus depriving me of the broad base I have.

Really not sure what benefit I'd have got from studying history, psychology
or literature. A language might have been useful - I do after all still just
about manage French and German on holiday despite stopping studying them at
16.

There have however been mention in this thread/threadlets (I use Gmail, and
this strand has now separated into at least 3 in the automatic threading) of
courses I would consider a core part of engineering. Marketing, business,
management, maybe even business ethics. Again maybe things are different in
the US, but here in the UK an engineer should not only be capable of
technical stuff, but also be able to look at things from a business
perspective. I've certainly studied marketing, sales, management etc.

Chris

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