No matter vast size of learning materials on the Internet, I doubt people will take advantage of it. Most engineers I run across tend to learn only when absolutely necessary. So, unless forced, no one will learn. Which is where school comes into play. It forces students to take a "well rounded" curriculum. Where, as my post here suggest, learning just what you need to know is not an option. Few are disciplined enough to learn on their own.
Once you have the education, learning the software in this post will take you to another level.
Good point. I recently read an article entitled "Do We Need Teachers Anymore". The thesis was basically what you mentioned. With the Internet explosion, sources of information are readily available; even tutors that can and will aid efforts towards understanding the material. At one time the classroom was the only way to go because it was the only vehicle in play now, online education is so available it would be a real error for working engineers not to take advantage. I still think there are courses of study that require "being there" and interaction between peers is a valuable learning tool also, but half-life, maybe no longer appropriate.
Half-life isn't an measure anymore (only an award winning video game series). Many adept "engineers" I know do not even have a degree. They instead learn on their own. Like my post shows here, you can learn anything you want, rather quickly too.
The tech is there to hold your hand all the way through.
Relevancy all depends on the engineer's needs and ambitions, these days.
Great post Cabe. I remember years ago when I was a senior in Mechanical Engineering, my advisor indicated the half-life of an engineer was about five (5) years. This, of course, was based upon changing technology and not really the digital age. We had not entered that age as yet. I have absolutely no idea as to half-life now but it can't be much more than two or three years IF you wish to keep up. I just took an assignment on developing a vortex tube for a specific application. Had to go back to school on this one. As a consulting engineer, I find that to be the rule and not the exception. One of the very best vehicles for "keeping up" is Design News Daily. I find this web site to be extremely valuable for guys like us. Again, great post.
This isn't necessarily a guide, but a record of what I had to do to stay relevant in the ever evolving embedded engineering career world. It's for the generalist, more so. Most jobs I get, the company has only a vague idea of what they need. That need often changes at a drop of a hat, then I have to switch gears.
I sometimes wish I could just sit there and write highly complex Java programs all day. Be the master-level expert at something and go home. Instead I have to design a PCB.. then the enclosure for it.
Here is a breakdown of the programs I use, so you can get to those tutorials! -
I have used a slide rule for design work, and still can, except that the calculator does provide more exact figures, which are critical for verifying fits and clearances. I do sketch freehand but my sketches are ugly, but that is OK, the drafters assure me. Job security for them. Modeling is done using the cad program because of the tight clearances. The rest of the modelling, and the visualization, is ALL done inn my head. Good 3D rendering and very high resolution.
So not all engineers are dependant on the tools to make stuff happen. BUT the cad drawings certainly do look nicer. And the CAD system certainly makes it easier to pull off details for manufacturing to make.
FEA is all done by experienced estimates, while for CFD, it is all visualized. Much faster and not as accurate, except for sometimes.
I cannot use a sliderule. I cannot draw a print by hand - surely not a 3d presentation. I understand blueprints were blue. I cannot optimize without a program. Lost without FEA, math by hand? Come on now! etc. etc.
Without the computer, software, internet, etc., this versatile engineer is obsolete.
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Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.