[time-nuts] modern electronics education/jobs (was:

Ray Xu rayxu123 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 14 18:43:43 EST 2015

Hi guys,

Your mostly-lurking EE (and, recently, also physics) undergraduate student

You guys make me feel nostalgic for my young age of

I wish I can reply to all of you one by one but I'd rather not clog the
mailing list with more off-topic discussion.  (Feel free to email me

I just have to say I have a deep appreciation for the previous generation
of electronics and technology and engineers (you guys).  I personally feel
like I've been born into the wrong generation, or at least "conflicted"
between the two generations of electronics.  I still enjoy hands-on
DIY-building, soldering, dead-bug style prototyping, and etc at home but it
definitely is starting to become obsolete and antiquated.  On the other
hand, I also enjoy working in research labs with the cutting-edge.  In the
former, time slows down and its just a matter of mostly applying
knowledge.  In the latter, time passes by quickly and its all about
intellectual growth.

When I was younger, I frequently interacted with engineers that used to be
involved in the defense industry during the Cold War/Viet/Korean War era.
They are now mostly retired.  They were my main source of knowledge, and as
a consequence, I grew up learning analog electronics by actual
breadboarding, hand-soldering, playing with oscilloscopes, and reading The
Art Of Electronics during my free time.  It wasn't until relatively
recently I started using LTSpice.  I have never touched an Arduino or
Raspberry Pi and I probably never want to*; I learned microcontrollers on
my own using the PIC platform and in a few of my courses on the ARM and
"LC3" platform.  Perhaps the biggest contributor towards my passion and
desire to learn about electronics is my family.  My father bought me a
brand new Tek oscilloscope during ~7th grade and made it clear to me that
he will spend money for my hobby if it meant I will have the opportunity to
learn.  (This was significant, because from where I grew up, the Asian
parents were stereotypically notorious for being frugal and only cared what
their son's/daughter's GPA and test scores were)

In the research (the "cutting-edge") world, I actually find my past and DIY
experience useful in gaining an intuitive understanding of a problem or
design challenge at hand.

In the classroom, I heavily agree that most of my peers need more hands-on
experience.  Seriously, some people still can't explain why knowing the
power dissipation of a resistor is important.  Or how much current is
flowing through a pull-low or pull-high bias resistor.  Or what happens
when you have a simple RC circuit (without having to write a transfer
function).  It's kind of disturbing.  Maybe after I've obtained my PhD, I'd
like to propose serious changes to the undergraduate EE curriculum of my

Keep it up guys.  If any of you are in the Austin, TX or Dallas, TX area, I
am willing to meet up in person.

On Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 8:14 PM, Richard (Rick) Karlquist <
richard at karlquist.com> wrote:

> On 11/12/2015 1:01 PM, William Schrempp wrote:
>> has failed. I hear old machinists complaining about new machinists who
>> can't
>> drill a hole if the drill-press isn't computer-controlled. And in my work,
>> nurse education, I see students who can't be bothered to learn how to
>> take a
>> manual blood-pressure, because a machine can now do it (sort of). Much to
>> ponder here. . . .
> Bill Schrempp
> This reminds me of a summer job I had as a lab assistant between my
> freshman and sophomore years at college.  There were a couple of
> journeyman machinists with Bridgeport mills.  They didn't let me
> use them, but they did patiently teach me how to use the drill
> press, taps, hacksaw, etc to make simple parts that didn't require
> their skills.  They told me that, in Germany, a kid training to be
> a machinist would start out by being given a file, a pair of calipers,
> and a rough block of metal.  His task was to make a perfect cube with
> sides of exactly 1 cm by 1 cm.  Only after mastering that, would
> he be allowed to move onto more advanced equipment.  Fortunately, the
> machinists just told me this story to scare me, but they didn't make me
> file a perfect cube.  They did tell me I needed to learn to drill holes
> with 0.005 inch accuracy using a machinist's scale and a center
> punch to lay them out.
> Rick
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Ray Xu

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