engineering graduate school question

Joel Kolstad wrote:


He didn't really say what his main interest was, so it is hard to tell...
20 years ago, when I went for my Masters, I picked UCSB for two reasons - one, the great location, and two - they were doing free electron laser research there, and I had an interest in laser launch systems for space travel.
Now, when I got there, I found out that one - you couldn't afford to live there, and two - the laser research was all going on in the Physics department, not the EE department, and the only faculty member in EE that had worked with them retired last year... ;-)
Charlie
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Nice. I was in the microwaves department (part of the "school of electrical engineering and computer sciences"), and ended up doing circuit modeling. It happened to involve components at GHz frequencies, but at least in the research I did the frequencies were pretty irrelevant -- they could have been 1-3Hz or 1-3THz rather than the 1-3GHz they were and my thesis would have been the same. (Much of the time, for numerical accuracy reasons, you ended up normalizing a lot of the data to, e.g., 1Hz or 1 rad/s anyway...)
There had been some early discussion of doing some cool RFID stuff, but unfortunately we weren't able to get funding for it. Circuit modeling was funded, so there I was...
What *did* you end up researching?
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Joel Kolstad wrote:

AH, well, I didn't... ;-)
I took the oral exam route, so no thesis needed. You see, I didn't have a BSEE going in, just a BS Psych, so I wanted all the course work I could get.
First thing I learned - If you had a choice between Course A in the undergrad classes, or course B in the grad classes, ALWAYS TAKE COURSE B! The material was more interesting, the grading was easier, the coursework more practical, and it was more fun. I almost flunked out before learning that...
Of course, it helped that I had been a hobbyiest and technician for a few years before doing this...
Charlie
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wrote:

Nobody learns on the job any more - not even technicians. How would you learn basics like Fourier Series,FFTs etc on the job? You need a firm mathematical background to be a professional engineer. As for IC designers, at the Analogue end you do learn a lot on the job but that's after a good honours degree. It would be unthinkable for say Analog Devices to take somebody right out of school. The apprentice scheme is gone forever, we are professionals.
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Some companies (especially larger ones) have plenty of formalized in-house training. And of course there are always those things called books... (and these days, the Internet).

Depends on what you want to be a "professional engineer" in. There are plenty of microcontroller/digital guys out there who are quite good at what they do but could no longer tell you much of anything about Laplace or perhaps even phasors. Look at the articles written in, e.g., Circuit Cellar Ink -- most of the authors are "professional" engineers -- and notice that many of them require no more of a formal academic background than that provided in high school to understand.
I'm not at all against continuing education -- I've taken *far* more college credits than I ever had to, because I enjoyed learning. But I also reject the whole "ivory tower of academy" myth that says that you need a degree from a standard four-year university to be a "professional engineer." Look up Jeri Ellsworth sometime -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeri_Ellsworth -- she barely managed to get out of high school, and while she did later take some college courses, she certainly didn't take the "standard" approach to becoming an engineer.
---Joel
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I saw her video from a Stanford lecture. First of all, she's vastly overhyped. She didn't teach herself anything post-childhood. She in fact learned the best/easiest way of all, by spending lots of time around the best in her field.
---Matthew Hicks

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It depends on your perspective; she's no more "over hyped" in the field she's in than Microsoft's Windows Vista is in the realm of operating systems.

Not true.

That certainly is true -- "learning on the job," right?
Jer i deserves a great deal of credit for being able to create a reasonably complex "product" starting out with no formal background in the field; many (perhaps even most) of the EEs coming out of today's university system don't demonstrate nearly the tenacity and work ethic that she did.
---Joel
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So she has, "tenacity and work ethic." Applaude her for that, not some fallacy the she is SELF taught. Electronics is so complex nowdays that no one could teach themselves enough to do anything complex. Let's say that I have work ethic. I bet that if I had worked with the best in the CS/EE field on the job working like the food on my table depended on it I would be much better off. The only problem is there is no security in that path, it's either work hard and get good fast or starve.
---Matthew Hicks

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OK, I guess when I say, "self taught" I mean learning from experimentation, reading books, talking to other people informally, etc. -- Jeri did plenty of that.

You mean from "first principles?" Yeah, sure, I agree with you there, but its been hundreds of years since any significant number of people were then truly "self taught." I think my definition above is what most people now consider "self teaching," and there are many people out there today designing programmable logic devices, radios, software, etc. who took this route. I agree with you that it's generally not as "secure" of a "career path" as the traditional college route is.
I suppose I rant about this a little because I think parts of industry does itself a disservice by requiring a sheepskin just to get a job interview; many talented would-be designers remain underemployed due to this practice, and as a country it makes us less competitive.
---Joel
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Matthew Hicks wrote:

The fundamental fallacy that no-one can learn from books and acquaintances is too ridiculus to even be discussed. Walking is a very complex motion, and babies do it. Robots have only recently been created that can do it at all and then only in benign environments.

You ought to browse the web a bit more, there are too many shit sites designed by CONsultants who got paid for it. Some of the authors are high school kids and some have post-graduate degrees. Education does not seem to have any correspondence to quality of result.

And how many engineers in these NG are able to duplicate the product?

Just the same i would like to meet her.
--
JosephKK
Gegen dummheit kampfen die Gotter Selbst, vergebens.  
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I dropped out of college, and later (when I wanted to get married and running the service department in a Hi-Fi boutique didn't seem to have an adequate future) I got a technician certificate (T-3) from RCA institutes. Not only did I learn to design transmitters and class-B plate modulators, but harmonic analysis (both algebraically and graphically) and Laplace transforms. Schwartz-Christoffel transformation anyone? I carried a lot of credit with me when I went back to college.
Jerry
--
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Jerry Avins wrote:

An interesting technique, but no more difficult than Laplace or rotations of the Complex Reimann Sphere. All are extensions of analytic geometry (in the form that includes projective geometry), a nominal pre-calculus course.
--
JosephKK
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panfilero wrote:

Years ago this same question faced me. Research showed the answer is clear! GET THE MSEE!!! Believe me the year or two (you should have asked this question LONG ago Bunky! Many schools have programs that let you get a BSEE and MSEE at the same time.) spent getting the master's degree MORE than pays for itself. This is true in all engineering fields, but especially in EE. Your starting salary will jump-start and the BSEE guys who graduated with you will never catch up!
For what it's worth, getting a PhD. is NOT worth it! The extended time needed to get that degree, means that you fall back behind the MSEE guys who are working and getting promoted. You NEVER catch up! Hence the bottom line is one gets a PhD ONLY for reasons where it is required, like say teaching but never to try to fast track your salary.
And there is more. Once you hit industry and the job scene, you'll find that although everyone makes a huge fuss about how important it is to get on the job training and how nobody teaches anything in college that is useful in a job setting (well except for bureaucratic politics, of course), Fact Is, that the company you chose to work for will invariably advance the guy with the MSEE sheepskin over the smartest BSEE with all the company training they have to offer. Trust me on this!
Get those forms in!
I hope this helps.
Benj
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This is utter nonsense. You're not actually in the workforce, are you?
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larwe wrote:

True. They will actually promote the guy who wears a suit. I've seen smart people wear a suit every day from graduation, and I've seen idiots do it. I've never seen anyone wear a suit every day and fail to make rapid progress, though.
Steve
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Steve Underwood wrote:

For 25 tears, I wore jeans and flannel shirts (with a sports jacket for the pockets) most days at work. I wore a suit when I had to attend a meeting with outside people for the first few times, and I kept a necktie in my bottom drawer "just in case". I several times turned down offers to become a manager. For me, the extra pay wasn't worth the hassle, and I would have hated giving up my soldering iron. I was much better off doing what I enjoyed.
Jerry
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Jerry Avins wrote:
...

For 25 *years*, I wore jeans
Jerry
--
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Thanks-- for a second, I though Question Mark (of The Mysterios) might have reemerged!
--
Scott
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On Tue, 19 Jun 2007 12:31:20 -0400, Jerry Avins wrote:

Paging Dr. Freud, Dr. Sigmund Freud....
;-) Rich
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Jerry Avins wrote:

Whether or not you can get away with all that depends highly on the firm and position you occupy. I was lucky, in that I never needed many clothes. Or at least that is how I remember it. (US and Canada).
--
<http://www.cs.auckland.ac.nz/~pgut001/pubs/vista_cost.txt
<http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/423
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