Semi OT: engineering education

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I never went through a "proper" engineering education as I did my  
undergraduate work in a different area. My question for those that have  
more familiarity with such things: What percentage of American EE  
graduates actually end up supervising the design of original products  
(or at least components of systems at a junior level) that go into  
production and are used in the field, what percentage end up working for  
an engineering company but in a more paper pushing/support type role,  
and what percentage end up working in another area entirely?

Any ballpark guesses on those statistics?

Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On Wed, 10 Feb 2016 20:16:25 -0500, bitrex wrote:

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I can't speak to the ratio of "gets design work" vs. "flips burgers", but  
in the engineering departments that I worked in there was maybe a 2:1  
ratio between software developers and software QA, and maybe one or two  
outside support staff who were of engineering but not actively working in  
new designs.

And the 2:1 developer:QA figure in software is deceiving: the Software QA  
guys are generally doing exceedingly important work, and in a perfect  
world there'd probably be a 1:1 ratio and product design would probably  
be cheaper overall if you did it that way.

--  

Tim Wescott
Wescott Design Services
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Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On Wed, 10 Feb 2016 20:16:25 -0500, bitrex

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My guess (based on close to 57 years in the biz) that 99% can't find
their ass without a GPS, a flashlight, and an assistant to hold the
flashlight.

1% know what they are doing and actually design things.

I'm this close to dumping on a client whose engineers can't even
comprehend what a spec says... reading comprehension = big fat zero.
        
                                        ...Jim Thompson
--  
| James E.Thompson                                 |    mens     |
| Analog Innovations                               |     et      |
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Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On 2/10/2016 5:35 PM, Jim Thompson wrote:
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I think your estimates are generous.
You can find people who know how to do stuff.
The problem is finding people who can figger out WHAT to do.
Even rarer is the manager who can appreciate what his brightest
engineers are telling him.

I had an excellent engineering education.
Even more important was that my first industrial position presented
me with a really good mentor.  I learned more practical stuff the
first week on the job than in 5 years of college.  He taught me
how to create an electrical solution from three transistors,
a water polo analogy and some lemon pudding.
MacGyver had nothing on him.

When I interviewed applicants, I learned to quickly verify what
they knew, the proceeded to investigating their capacity for
extrapolation.  I'd let them tell me about their favorite
design.  Then, I'd introduce a twist and asked how they
would have changed the design to accommodate it.
Most fell flatly on their face when presented with something new.

Some percentage (in any field of endeavor) know how to operate
an appliance, like a simulator,
but have no clue what to simulate.  They can't extrapolate what they
know, or create anything new.

Those same people become customers.  They think they know what they
want, but can't put it into a useful format.

I want to see the acceptance criteria and complete test specifications
that they are going to use to verify the design meets their expectations.

If it's a product, I want to see the user manual. YES, you CAN write
the user manual before you build the product.  And that process works
extremely well to constrain the task.

If you know what the end user wants to see and the test criteria
for the design, you have half a chance of making it work.


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Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On Thursday, 11 February 2016 01:35:51 UTC, Jim Thompson  wrote:
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I'll never forget when asked to do the first design in labs as an undergrad, only 2% of us knew what to do and got on with it, the rest looked like rabbits caught in headlights.

How much and in what way people understand the course material given that shortcoming in understanding real world physicals I don't know - I'm inclined to be doubtful but who knows.


NT

Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On Wed, 10 Feb 2016 22:17:54 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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I had the benefit of growing up in a Radio/TV repair shop... with
attached hardware store ;-)

So, by the time I got to MIT, I knew what I didn't know, and what I
needed to know to understand how those kits I built were designed.
        
                                        ...Jim Thompson
--  
| James E.Thompson                                 |    mens     |
| Analog Innovations                               |     et      |
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Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On 02/11/2016 09:45 AM, Jim Thompson wrote:
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I got my start with electronics via model trains. We weren't  
particularly wealthy, and if my power pack went on the fritz, well, I  
couldn't just bug Dad for a new one. Someone was on the hook for  
replacing that bad electrolytic...

Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On 02/11/2016 09:49 AM, bitrex wrote:
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Nowadays with trains you have all sorts of cool technologies, like  
digital command control that lets you operate some absurd number of  
locomotives on the same piece of track independently with no special  
wiring. When I was 10, if you wanted more than one train on the same  
layout it required a complex arrangement of block switches and relays.

Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On Thu, 11 Feb 2016 09:52:45 -0500, bitrex

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And fiber pins connecting rail sections ;-)
        
                                        ...Jim Thompson
--  
| James E.Thompson                                 |    mens     |
| Analog Innovations                               |     et      |
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Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On 02/11/2016 11:18 AM, Jim Thompson wrote:
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Yeah! I remember that. You had to gap the rail junctions on the blocks..

Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On Thu, 11 Feb 2016 11:58:10 -0500, bitrex

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When I was a kid my bedroom was the attic... with a built-in 4'x8'
model train layout.  It was Lionel O-gauge... couldn't afford any of
that fancy HO stuff.

When I got to MIT they had a model train club, layout occupying
several rooms in Building 20... you crawled under to get to operating
stations.
        
                                        ...Jim Thompson
--  
| James E.Thompson                                 |    mens     |
| Analog Innovations                               |     et      |
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Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On 02/11/2016 12:37 PM, Jim Thompson wrote:
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I think MIT still has the model train club. At least, they did last I  
looked. They did it in a very MIT way (i.e. extremely technologically  
sophisticated.)

By the time I got into trains, HO was the standard "consumer" grade  
(along with the somewhat less popular N scale.) At that point O gauge  
Lionel was (and still is) the gauge for collectors and enthusiasts with  
big bankrolls.

The third power rail down the center never appealed to me.

The Franklin and South Manchester railroad is one of the best examples  
of what can be accomplished with HO scale in a relatively small space:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0vY2-EBuZE


Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On Thu, 11 Feb 2016 13:10:34 -0500, bitrex

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Nice layout!  And nice videography!
        
                                        ...Jim Thompson
--  
| James E.Thompson                                 |    mens     |
| Analog Innovations                               |     et      |
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Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On 02/11/2016 01:24 PM, Jim Thompson wrote:
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Even at HO (1/87th) scale, the big issue with modeling is always space  
compression. Even large basements can barely accommodate much more than  
a couple scale miles of track, and forget about accurately doing 3%  
grades on hills...


Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On Thu, 11 Feb 2016 13:44:32 -0500, bitrex

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I like the German HO setup with the programmed cars.
<
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eD5tXTAZtvY


There's even crime scenes!

But your right soething like N scale is smaller to work with at home.

Cheers


Re: Semi OT: engineering education

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When I was a kid growing up, there was a yearly show in my town of
Stamford CT. with O scale trains. We always looked forward to going. It's
still going 40 years later. The layout is 45' x 145'

http://stamfordmodelrrclub.com/HISTORY.html

LAYOUT STATISTICS

Trackage: Over 6000 ft
RR Engines and Rolling Stock: 1,700 and growing
RR Passenger Stations: 13
Commercial and Residential Buildings: 124
RR Track Switches: 244
RR Yards: 11
Vehicles: 366


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjL6d5KA85c


Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On Thu, 11 Feb 2016 09:52:45 -0500, bitrex

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Just like real trains.  ;-)

Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On 12/02/16 01:52, bitrex wrote:
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The most difficult project that Melbourne University set its Computer  
Science students in my year (1980) was to write software (in assembly)  
for an Interdata 7/16 controlling a track like that, which had been  
constructed over previous years by postgrads.

The HO trains received a 200KHz carrier over the power line which was  
frequency modulated with an RS-232 data stream. One bit of direction,  
three of speed, three to address one of eight trains, and one parity  
bit. It was quite a fair achievement to have got that decoder and  
controller into an HO scale locomotive at the time.

Each of 20-ish track sections had a current sensor that could be set to  
interrupt once on every increase (i.e. *constantly*, given the quality  
of the contacts) or once and latch until reset.

You needed to ensure you didn't lose a single interrupt to safely use  
the latching mode.

On the final day for the project when everyone had been competing for  
time to test their software, we came in to find that someone had stolen  
the only working loco. The buggers! Lucky I had my program working  
already - others had to test their logic by dragging a key along the  
tracks to simulate the current draw.

Ahh, the days when a CS degree meant more than just poking at a  
graphical IDE with no idea what was underneath it...

Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On Thursday, 11 February 2016 14:45:14 UTC, Jim Thompson  wrote:
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there is no fairness in the world. Still, I was let do things at a young age that, had folks known better I would not have been allowed to do at twice the age.

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NT

Re: Semi OT: engineering education
On Thu, 11 Feb 2016 10:58:27 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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Yep.  I exploded various concoctions in the basement of our house ;-)

At around age 16 my father provided me an account at the local
electronic parts wholesaler and I was off to tinker land.

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                                        ...Jim Thompson
--  
| James E.Thompson                                 |    mens     |
| Analog Innovations                               |     et      |
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