ES dilemma

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I have a computer systems degree and I've been working as a systems
administrator for more that 2 years, the interest in embedded systems
has been growing in the last few months to the point that I am
considering changing career in that direction.

I found some good MSc in ES that I could attend in order to get some
knowledge in the subject and in order to present something to the future
Some people are telling me that there is no need to spend money and time
on a master cause I could study and practice on my own while still working.

What do you think? Which is the best way to learn and to eventually find
a job? And how easy do you think it is to switch from computer science
to embedded systems?

Thanks a lot to all that will be so kind to respond.

Thank you.


Re: ES dilemma

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Getting some EE education under your belt would be a good thing.  If
this is part of the MSc in ES then don't knock it.  The place that the
system is embedded is in the middle of some electronics, which is
further embedded in a product.  Your job is usually to read real-world
values and make real-world things happen, so you are _much_ closer to
the hardware.

When I have been involved with hiring someone for an embedded software
position we always made sure that the candidate knew how to get
information out of a schematic, even if it was by asking for help, ditto
for hooking up an oscilloscope (but you have to be able to read it and
say what's going on).

Be prepared to take a temporary cut in seniority and pay:  systems
administration and even writing application software is a different
world than embedded systems.  This would be a minor problem, except that
a lot of people who write applications for desktops aren't aware of the
fact and assume more competence than they actually have.  This problem
is compounded by the fact that management often doesn't realize that
someone who can write killer networking apps doesn't naturally fit in
with a team making motors move from credit-card sized boards.  An
over-confident desk-top applications engineer with management support
can make huge nasty messes of embedded software that take years to clean
up.  I would recommend that you take the attitude that you're a beginner
with some special knowledge, that you expect to learn and advance
quickly, but that you're not going to assume that your current knowledge
means much.

Don't let all this stop you, though.  Get a copy of "what color is your
parachute".  It drives a lot of people up the wall, but it's meant as a
guide for career changers, which is what you are, and should have some
useful information.


Tim Wescott
Wescott Design Services
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Re: ES dilemma
Hello Davide,

Tim summed it up nicely. I'd like to add one thought: Get yourself a few
prototypes, a programmer and software (compiler/debugger). For the
MSP430, as an example, this won't cost more than about $100, with the
basic software being free. Then experiment to your heart's desire, the
more the better.

Whenever I interviewed people I paid less attention to their credentials
but more to hands-on skills. Like Tim mentioned, I'd place a problem in
front of them and then let them talk, sketch, draft, suggest.

Regards, Joerg

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