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Who needs career fairs when we have Best Buy?

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george.leopold
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re: Who needs career fairs when we have Best Buy?
george.leopold   2/28/2012 3:05:12 PM
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I suspect the same could be said about the Apple store.

Duane Benson
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Duane Benson   2/28/2012 8:26:18 PM
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I know it isn't the place it used to be, but RadioShack is still a good place. Many of them sell Vex robots and they're starting to sell Arduino's. They still have a smattering of components and, though not the breadth and depth of BestBuy, a good selection of consumer electronics. The only downside to RadioShack is that sometimes browsing seems a little awkward. My local store isn't well trafficked and the sales people tend to watch like lonely hawks, hoping I'll buy something and not just look.

Robotics Developer
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Robotics Developer   2/29/2012 4:59:30 PM
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I have had similar experiences at the local Shack. My sadness arises from them no longer carrying basic ICs like 240 octal buffers. The selection has dwindled down to almost nothing. I hope that the expansion into the Arduino product line will continue. On a related note: one of the best ways to get students interested in science/math/engineering is FIRST (www.usfirst.org) they run a series of programs for students of all ages using robotic competitions. Way too much fun! Check out the current competitions starting this week and running through March. I coach a team and it is more fun than should be allowed.

ischematics
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ischematics   2/28/2012 8:39:17 PM
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Hi! This is great to hear. I am the author of Spicy Schematics (http://ischematics.com), the first and [only] app on iPad that offers real spice simulation ... this is a great story and one of the reasons I wrote the program! The ipad is a great platform, and I think designing circuits should and can be easy and intuitive ... combining spice with a touch-based GUI seemed only natural to me, but it was surprising that noone had done it yet! .. well it has been a year now, and we are thousands of users strong, and the program has grown quite a bit ... there are many advanced features now including one-click sharing, import/export, and more ... in addition, we now have an iphone spice utility that allows you to simulate netlists! (http://ischematics.com/iphone.html) Great to hear and thank you for the post!

LiketoBike
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LiketoBike   2/28/2012 8:57:00 PM
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So, which Best Buy lets a 10-year-old wander in with a screwdriver and take an iPad apart? I need to visit that one :-)

David Ashton
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David Ashton   2/29/2012 9:20:17 AM
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They probably don't need to worry....doesn't Apple use those weird 5-pointed star screws?

old account Frank Eory
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old account Frank Eory   2/28/2012 10:36:49 PM
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As much fun as Best Buy is, if you really want to light up a kid's enthusiasm for electronics, take him to Fry's Electronics. Not only is it enormous and loaded with fun gadgets to play with, but it also has lots of test equipment, components and of course motherboards, CPUs, DRAM, hard drives, PC cases, etc. I fondly recall a trip to Fry's with my son when he was around 10. My old PC was overdue for replacement and I asked him if he would like to help me build a new computer and come with me to Fry's to buy all the parts. It was a big thrill for him, and he asked lots of questions and paid careful attention as we put it all together. He has been building PCs for himself, his friends and also for me, since he was about 12.

junko.yoshida
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junko.yoshida   2/29/2012 12:46:00 PM
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your comment about Fry's reminded me of my late father -- who was an engineer -- taking me to Akihabara. If anyone has ever been to Akihabara in Tokyo, you know what I am talking about. Especially in the old days, the place was crawling with little shops that sell everything from cables to transistors. My father built our own stereo; built his own computer. And that opened my eyes to what you can actually build yourself!

brain_puddle
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brain_puddle   3/4/2012 5:01:31 AM
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I remember something similar, browsing through army-navy surplus shops and small electronics shops in Manhattan. That part of town was mostly razed to make way for the World Trade Center :-(

Amir11
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Amir11   3/5/2012 8:13:21 AM
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Visited Japan about 4 years ago. Went to Akihabara and had a great time. Visited a Japanese Floating Fair (on board a ship-The Sakura Maru, when it docked in Bombay) as a kid in India, and was simply fascinated by all the technology. Saw my face on CCTV for the first time. Built Heathkits in India.

_hm
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_hm   2/29/2012 1:38:29 AM
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Also subscribe to some hobby magazines like Elektor and others. Order kits from this magazine and this works like wonder. Kids will be lost in electronics with Elektor and its kits.

seaEE
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seaEE   2/29/2012 5:31:21 AM
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Yep, I use to go to Radio Shack quite often and scope out their general merchandise, components, and kits. I also looked forward to getting their sales flyer in the mail and leafing through it. I think once you signed up for their free battery club card, you got the flyer. I also like going to Best Buy just to look around. I keep looking at netbooks there but still haven't bought one (Is it my imagination, or is hard drive density in laptops and netbooks no longer increasing at its former rate?).

David Ashton
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David Ashton   2/29/2012 9:27:58 AM
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The trouble is (at least in Aussie) that electronics parts stores are getting few and far between. There used to be a chain here (Dick Smith, started by an ex telecom tech) that wer great for parts and kits. He sold our and the supermarket giant that runs them now has ditched all the electronics bits and only does phones, cameras, TVs and computer stuff, etc. The upside has been that they sold off a lot of nice electronics-related stuff (breadboards, PCBs, scope probes, parts etc) for next to nothing to get rid of them and I got some good bargains. The Tandy franchises here were taken over by the same lot, but the local franchisee has moved to another supplier and still does some electronics stuff, though I wonder how long it's going to last....

ischematics
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ischematics   3/1/2012 12:09:44 AM
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When I was young, I had two parents who were engineers .. we had a "commadore" and later an IBM PC Jr and finally an IBM PC ... i distinctly remember one day my father opening up the back of the computer and telling me to look inside ... my eyes opened wide and i was totally amazed ... throughout my childhood i always had electronic toys ... speack-and-spell, atari ... tons of stuff .. i LOVED taking it all apart .. i would unscrew all of it, take out the PC boards, and just mess with it .. i thought it was all super high tech spy stuff inside .. no moving parts??? amazing ... i used to prpgram the computer in a language called BASIC and BASICA, and we used to love the microsoft flight simulator, well it took me 4 years of wasted college to realize i never lost that amazement, and i am now in my 2nd year as an electrical engineering PHD student after getting a BS and MS in electrical engineering ... it was directly due to those electronic gadgets, video games, and other stuff that i had as a kid.

ischematics
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ischematics   3/1/2012 12:13:21 AM
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actually i just read an article about an MIT program geared toward teaching programming concepts to kids of around 3 and 4 years old .. very interesting . i agree and i think you can learn to program at any age, and in fact for me, although i spent a lot fo time as an electrical engineer working on hardware and embedded systems, my first interest was in programming, and i think it is a great way to start ... you dont need virctually anything (you can program on calculators now), and you can learn a great deal about hardware, math, algorithms, and more ... i have seen some lego products that are based on programming as well which look really great too ..

ischematics
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ischematics   3/1/2012 12:15:12 AM
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oh and by the way, i spent probably thousands of hours in front of the TV and playing atari .. so i would nix that modern argument!

David Ashton
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David Ashton   3/3/2012 2:46:09 AM
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For every one like you who gets inspired by the stuff (and has a dad who points him in the right direction) there are a thousand who just mindlessly play the games.....

seaEE
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seaEE   3/1/2012 5:07:11 AM
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At a previous job in the U.S., I worked for a company that had acquired and Australian company. In reviewing their parts list, I ran into Dick Smith as well as another company you might have heard of, Jaycar Electronics.

David Ashton
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David Ashton   3/3/2012 2:44:34 AM
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Jaycar do a lot of kits as well as things like wireless weather stations, remote control toys and things like that, they also do techie stuff but the stores that actually stock that are few and far between - they can order you anything from the catalogue though. This is the case where I live.

TFCSD
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TFCSD   3/1/2012 4:26:41 AM
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In the 1980's when I studied engineering at a university, an old engineering professor almost broke down and cried (he did tear up and voice cracked) when he talked about how the new students could not even use simple hand tools. He said sadly “What are parents doing to their children by not teaching them to use simple hand tools”. In the 2000’s when I went for engineering at another university, a CS student in a 400 level class (just before graduating) said he never needed to pop the top on a PC because he always bought them new and had others install HW. While I had built 286’s-Core2’s out of spare parts just to do my class work. I guess if these engineers stuck to doing only computer applications and programming, they should have no problems ;-). With everything miniaturized, prepackaged, and sealed even fewer new engineering students will hardly know anything past button pushing.

David Ashton
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David Ashton   3/3/2012 2:49:06 AM
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"...said he never needed to pop the top on a PC" Bit of a closed mindset. And a different mentality form most engineering types. Didn't he ever WONDER what went on under the hood??

Duane Benson
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Duane Benson   3/5/2012 5:47:22 AM
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I can't even keep myself from popping my car's hood and I'm not a mechanic. I don't think my kids could survive my house without knowing something about what goes on inside a computer - both inside the hardware and the software.

dczh716
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dczh716   3/1/2012 3:53:52 PM
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Best Buy wasn't around when I was a kid, and definitely not in my hometown--still isn't. Personal computers did not exist. When my kids were growing up we started with the TI 99/4A and upgraded from there, from dialup to DSL...etc. My son did pursue engineering directly, but he has in a different way, he is competent on a computer and many other things. He has taken a different path. My daughter as well has chosen to be something else altogether--her love is writing. My path to engineering is with a Physics Degree. My grandfather was an old telephone man and had parts leftover from his days with a switchboard. He built a continuity checker using a generator from a crank telephone, the ringer coils, making a buzzer with them. We loved to hold the clamps on the wires and shock ourselves and anyone willing to be a sucker! I still have it. I am in my sixties and my grandfather is long gone, but I still remember the fascination with electrical stuff. That I got from playing with the things he had. When I got to college, I was debating electronics or Physics for a major, my Physics teacher said do you want to make things work or understand how they work, I chose the how and went into Physics studies. the school wasn't big enough to have an engineering school, so I stayed and got a Physics degree. (two years there and two years soemwhere else to get an engineering degree) I have worked as an engineer (title) but haven't done any designing. As a young adult I ordered stuff from Allied Electronics, Burstein Applebee, Radio Shack, etc. I still have stuff I ordered from a place back East in Framigham Massachusetts, that sold IC's and other components at a low price. Kind of a "Harbor Freight" of electrical/electronic parts.

alhertan
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alhertan   3/1/2012 10:15:40 PM
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I do not think that a trip to Best Buy is an ideal place to inspire youth to go into engineering. Most of the items on display at Best Buy are consumer electronics products that are meant to be consumed by users. They're for the user oriented crowds that want to buy new toys to use. Most of those that own iphones care not about how it works. They care only that it does do the things that Apple promised them that it would do. Visiting websites like hackaday and electronics-lab.com/blog, instructables.com are in my opinion the ideal way to getting students excited about electronics / electrical engineering and embedded systems. Other websites that set up exciting demos like controlling a robot over the internet from your phone and then explaining how to replicate this effort e.g. are great.

_hm
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_hm   3/2/2012 12:28:38 AM
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@alhertan: I agree. Another option is to get many parts/kits to children and do some hobby project with them to give them push. Also, volunteering in school or community center for hobby project may find many eager student looking for avenues in science and technology.

daleste
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daleste   3/3/2012 2:07:01 AM
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Great stories here. I agree that Fry's is the best place to go today in the US. But if you ever get the chance, Akihabara is a great place to wander around. The companies in Japan make a lot of products that never go into production and you can find prototypes in Akihabara. That was probably the most fun I have had in my life wandering around electronics stores. Don't you miss the old Heath kits?

JON-design
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JON-design   3/3/2012 8:00:01 AM
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That's exactly how I feel about the Apple Store. As another testament to Steve Jobs' seemingly mystical sense into how to draw in consumers the 'please touch' aura that the Apple Store exudes further adds to the desirability of their devices. I've never heard as many 'wow's and "aahh"s at the circus as I have heard standing around an Apple Store display table. Jon - http://www.evosite.co.uk

agk
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agk   3/5/2012 6:55:43 AM
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My experience with school students make me think and write below my opinion about both the above said ,in the article and the comments. Children are quite different individually. Even as a group we observe them they are different. About 1 to 3 % of children are curious enough to follow their parents profession when induced by their parents in their childhood.Rest of them even tried they do not come in line. later they find their own way of doing things. This is because of father mother characteristics getting embedded in to their children in different ratios for every kind of living situations in their whole life time.So parents can easily identify their children and set a good path for their future. The visits to the variety of places and monitoring the child's emotions at various places ,the parents will be able too identify the ward's interest and capacity.

seaEE
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seaEE   3/6/2012 4:48:38 AM
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With Best Buy, now a kid can become a systems engineer!

phoenixdave
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phoenixdave   3/6/2012 11:42:55 PM
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My future electronics career began by taking apart everything that stopped working (and even some things that didn't) in our house. The great old tube TVs, radios, portable "transistor radios" taught me a lot. And on the rare occasion where I could actually "fix" something, I couldn't wait to show everyone I knew...

seaEE
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seaEE   3/7/2012 6:09:03 AM
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Vacuum tubes out of soda bottles. Now that is cool. Speaking of tubes, I was rummaging through a parts box of mine today and came across a couple 6SN7 tubes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/6SN7

ischematics
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ischematics   3/20/2012 7:40:41 AM
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haha ... yes, i dont know why but i find them fascinating as well .. in the SF Bay area we used to have a shop that everyone went nearby for spare parts .. it closed shortly after i moved there .. but it was pretty awesome .. imagine a junkyeard of parts from 50 years of business, piled 30 feet high ... well, the poor guy who ran the place had to shutdown due to lack of funds, but i made it out of there with new packaged tubes from the 60s or whenever it was when they made those things .. RCA, others .. little cardboard boxes individually boxed ... sooo cool !! i have them in my collection that includes a polaroid from the 50s, a REAL telegraph, old calculators, and other "nerdy" stuff that i love .... :)

phoenixdave
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phoenixdave   3/8/2012 12:51:41 PM
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I also have a few boxes of old vacuum tubes, tube manuals, old service manuals for repairing some of the old tube stuff (certainly was a lot less complicated back then), and even an old vacuum tube tester. Just can't seem to part with these things.

phoenixdave
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phoenixdave   3/8/2012 12:55:23 PM
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I would love to get my hands on some of the new tube-based HiFi equipment. My screwdriver and pliers are ready!!!! (old habits are hard to break).

phoenixdave
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phoenixdave   3/9/2012 12:49:14 AM
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@Rich: the "automatically dispensing pills" caught my eye because I have been in circumstances as a care provider of an elderly relative where I would have paid a lot of money for such a system...

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