You're right about communications skills, and not just for getting the credit you're due. Today, with design teams, customers and vendors working together around the globe a lot of communication is via email. All too often I get an email where someone has a problem or needs something, but from their description I can't tell what they need. If they're on the other side of the globe we can waste several days emailing back-and-forth until I understand the issue. That can have a real impact on schedule!
I also agree. Analysis and simulation tools can (to grossly oversimplify) tell you things about the design you've told it about, but they can't come up with the design and they can't tell you how to fix it when it doesn't work like you thought it would. Inovation, design, and debugging still require a solid understanding of the fundamentals.
When I was doing on-campus interviews a few years back, I was stunned at the EE students who could tell me all about their use of Matlab, but could tell me nothing about a simple RC circuit. To them it was all math, and I don't think understood the underlying principles. In a lab that doing high-performance, deep-sub-micro integrated circuit design you have to have both: a gut feel for how this stuff works, and the ability to run the tools to get the design out the door.
Another thing: The analyzer or simulator may tell you a bald-faced lie. The tools and models are limited, reality is not. If you don't understand the fundamentals and how the design is supposed to work you won't be able to tell when the tool is lying to you.
In addition to all of the technical engineering skills I also took classes in technical writing and public speaking and discussion leading. Then, after I started working I realized that I also needed to study management techniques. I wound up getting a set of textbooks from an MBA student who felt that he would never want them for reference use. So I studied management techniques and business plan development, and also some customer relations topics.
In the opposite direction, I learned to operate most of the machines in the shop so that I would understand a lot of manufacturing processes. It would have taken me a whole lot of years to learn that all at a school, and I probably would not have learned it as well.
I still need to develop a better understanding of organic chemistry, and I ought to learn C programming a bit. But there is only so much time.
I don't understand the point here, is this a wish list, an explanation of the profession geared toward high school students, or something else? It seems to be a bit of filler on the website. We electrical engineers know what skills we have and how important the field is to technology and progress in general. I just don't think this blog adds any value to an engineering-centric website.
I will point out one comment in particular that is patently untrue, however. the second paragraph talks about what electrical engineering students learn, and goes on to say "And they're trained to manufacture and design safe and economical products that can enhance the lives of humans."
That's just not the case. I've been hiring engineers for many years, and oh yeah, I am one, and I can tell you that no EE school I am familiar with teaches students much (if anything) about manufacturing, and nothing at all about safety or designing-for-cost. These are topics we teach in industry, partly because the definitions and objectives change depending on the particular business.
Well! we learn everday, next time, I intend to cover all necessary points and areas in my writing.
Talking about the ability of speaking up and writing stuff, I think its not just a matter of engineering, its a general issue. If you can't speak up for youself, then you might end up not getting full credit.
Steward, you left out physics and, as Battar mentions, programming. These are essential skills these days.
As Battar also mentions, the ability to communicate one's ideas is also important. My father worked in an electronics lab and always stressed that to me. He pointed out many of the engineers ended up not getting full credit for their ideas because they had to get someone else to write them up.
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