Electronic Design Magazine: DIY Electronics Kits Turn Hobbyists Into Engineers

Tom Azlin N4ZPT tom at n4zpt.org
Sun Mar 4 09:17:00 CST 2012

Interesting discussion.

When I graduated from engineering school in 1976 we had a program that 
included analog design classes with labs where we built things. Everyone 
had to take the same classes their first two years across all the 
disciplines.  Then our final 2-3 years we focused on something specific. 
I chose communications/information theory. But still had to take 
rotating machinery labs as well as had to use analog computers as part 
of circuit design classes. Did parametric analysis to figure out what 
quality parts had to be used to make the circuit work with stock parts, 
and so on. And was not an engineering school that awarded BSEEs rather a 
more general BSE degree. I would argue that being an "electrical 
engineer" has many aspects beyond circuit design. That knowledge of 
limits of performance was just as valuable as being a electronics design 
engineer. But I could still be a project engineer building real things 
and many times knew just as much or more as the contractors we hired to 
build stuff.

I did really well in the design classes and labs anyway, perhaps by 
perseverance alone.  Many of the 4.0 students had no clue how to build 
real circuits but could pass exams and homework really well.

Some of the interviews I had were like those André described. Way I 
figured it I could find better fitting places to work than those. And I 
did. Having practical experience in ham radio, practical experience in 
the analog design/build classes, AND knowledge of theoretical limits of 
communications systems prepared me very well. In some cases ended up 
being in charge of projects contracted out to those very companies that 
had such obnoxious interview practices. Was delighted. Especially when 
they offered me a job and I told them they had already rejected me 
(twice in once case).

Did not have a clue on a GFI nor did I care about power electronics. Had 
I cared, might have been able to invent one.

Did not have a senior project.

73, tom n4zpt

On 3/4/2012 12:28 AM, Chip Fetrow wrote:
> This was not my experience in school. We had practical labs where we had
> to both design and build things.
> We even had a senior project where you designed something, then build it.
> I was really good at building stuff, and helped out many classmates.
> --chip
> On Mar 3, 2012, at 8:35 AM, tacos-request at amrad.org wrote:
>> Date: Fri, 02 Mar 2012 12:42:57 -0700
>> From: Joseph Bento <joseph at kirtland.com>
>> To: andre.kesteloot at ieee.org
>> Cc: tacos at amrad.org
>> Subject: Re: Electronic Design Magazine: DIY Electronics Kits Turn
>> Hobbyists Into Engineers
>> Andre,
>> I am not an engineer. I do have over 30 years experience as an
>> electronics technician, however.
>> What has amazed me is what today's new engineering graduates don't
>> know. In school, they apparently do not handle any physical components
>> nor do they breadboard any circuits to observe electrical laws in the
>> real world. They do not handle a soldering iron, and it seems that they
>> can scarcely read a schematic, nor understand the use of common test
>> equipment. Old-school engineers were completely different. They could
>> wear both hats as a technician and engineer.
>> I enjoyed a previous job where I got to build the engineering prototypes
>> and helped to troubleshoot when something didn't work as expected. They
>> could design on paper, and I got to prove their concepts with prototypes.
>> Joe, N6DGY
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