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Essential Skills for Electrical Engineers

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William K.
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Re: The other stuff needed to be more valuable.
William K.   1/18/2014 10:54:25 PM
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The required courses were freshman english 1 and 2. I am not sure if the technical writing was an elective or not, although it wasprobably an elective. As an electronic engineer I never had to take a mechanical shop class, I don't think that any of the schools I went to had a shop that students could use. I did have to take both drafting and graphic solutions classes, which is where it became clear that my lettering would never win any prizes. On the job, for real drawings, I had lettering guides, whic I was very good with.

I recall very well the entry of persona lcomputers into engineering. I had to learn both DOS, word processing, and programming in a language called UVOSS all at the same time. Also I leared AtoCad, either 8 or 10, in that job. he learning made up for the poor pay rate, but not really.

bobjengr
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Re: The other stuff needed to be more valuable.
bobjengr   1/18/2014 4:21:56 PM
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William K.  OK--I'm going to show my age here.   Over four years of my university experience, we HAD to take 1.) Public Speaking, 2.) Creative Writing, 3.) Machine Shop Practices, and (last but not least" 4.) Mechanical Drafting.  (I told you I was old a dirt.)  These courses were considered necessary for graduation from our school of engineering.  They were considered necessary for a young engineer entering the profession.  This was long before the Internet.  E-mail was well into the future.  No blogs, no Tweets, etc etc.  I know we benefited from the experience.  I retired in 2005 from GE and presentations were the rule and not the exception.  We were expected to provide numerous PowerPoint presentations as well as take management through descriptive information relative to the slides.  Lousy communication skills would definitely not cut the mustard and we were "dinged" when errors were made.  Of course, this was during the days of Jack Welch and things did get rather tough.

 

JimT@Future-Product-Innovations
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Re: What is the objective of this blog?
JimT@Future-Product-Innovations   1/16/2014 12:26:21 PM
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Chuck, you balked at the same point that got my attention; being a lack of manufacturing & production savvy.  In 30 years and countless (very good) electrical engineer work partners, absolutely ZERO of them ever walked out to the production floor to analyze solder assembly or production issues.  That was always done by the product mechanical engineer, or a manufacturing / industrial engineer, if the staff had one.  After studying product development engineering in college, I learned 100% of my manufacturing engineering skills On-The-Job.

William K.
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Re: The other stuff needed to be more valuable.
William K.   1/15/2014 10:24:00 PM
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Communication skills in general, and public speaking skills as well, are indeed quite valuable, since even the best of ideas need to be passed on to others to have much effect. One other thing is that the majority of upper management often lack the understanding to be convinced by the logic of a presentation, but they will certainly be convinced by an excellent presentation style. Of course, that is also the downside, since a bad plan with a really slick presentation is often approved just because of the slick style. 

Charles Murray
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Re: The other stuff needed to be more valuable.
Charles Murray   1/15/2014 8:44:20 PM
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William K, your story is a common one among engineers. Often, engineers learn the "soft skills" via their own initiative. University curriculums usually have a long list of technical core courses, leaving little room for anything else. I commend you for doing it on your own. Most engineers (myself being exhibit A) could use a course in public speaking.   

William K.
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Re: The other stuff needed to be more valuable.
William K.   1/11/2014 8:32:31 PM
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Charles, I did not get those courses that you mentioned at the same school where I got the majority of my engineering courses, but rather at anothe school that was not quite so sure of exactly what it was. That was in 1968 and 1969. I was quite fortunate to be there when I was, because they changed a few years later, and I probably would not even recognize it now. Much later, quite a few years into my career, I took a weekend course in showmanship, and learned a few things useful in making presentations to large groups. And the machinist skills I mostly learned from a machine shop crew who were very impressed that an engineer wanted to know how to do what they did. Knowing how to run set up and the machines is valuable in that I know what information must be on a drawing for a part to be produced quickly and with a minimum chance for errors, which is a cost reduction skill.

William K.
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Platinum
Re: software tools and packages for Electrical Engineers
William K.   1/11/2014 8:18:33 PM
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John, you are certainly correct about simulations. Remember how Bob Pease used to complain repeatedly that incorrect models were giving incorrect results. It seems that if a model does not contain the correct functions then it can't produce correct results except for in some small area. Much like drawing a curve with a straightedge. The main problem with the use of simulation tools is that it still takes an understanding of the system being modeled to get a correct answer, and getting that correct understanding is not a simple undertaking.

Charles Murray
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Re: The other stuff needed to be more valuable.
Charles Murray   1/10/2014 5:49:54 PM
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It's interesting that your school offered courses in technical writing, as well as in public speaking and discussion leadership, William K. Those are key skills that are virtually ignored in engineering curriculums. I would even argue that lab classes encourage engineers to write in a backwards fashion -- starting with the details and building up to the conclusion, which you'll find on page six. Most practicing professionals don't have time to rummage through pages of details -- they want the point (conclusion) up front, clearly stated. They also want to read things that are expressed in a straightforward fashion, not in passively-written, corporate babble. Humorist Dave Barry, who started his career teaching writing to business executives, said he used to see business letters that started like this: "Enclosed please find the enclosed enclosure."

Mydesign
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Re: Electrical Engineering
Mydesign   1/10/2014 4:11:52 AM
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1 saves
"True! I would never say "HOT". I would say "DEMANDING"."

Sreward, am also correcting it to "Highly demanding"

Mydesign
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Platinum
Re: software tools and packages for Electrical Engineers
Mydesign   1/10/2014 4:10:34 AM
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"Yes, completely agree! But I don't think it may affect skills and abilities of electrical engineers in any way. Things may have changed, as it used to be a decade ago, but, it's not like you just have to learn how to use those packages and software and you became an electrical engineer."

Steward, it can affect seriously. They want just to click one or two tabs, instead of remembering formula and equations. Efficiency, accuracy and speed can attain through such tools, but the user's personal knowledge level is deteriorating and dependency is increasing. 

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