Matt Tuley loves knowing how things work and making things work. Having taught high-school physics and digital electronics courses, Tully decided to give up teaching and become an electronics engineer. Why do that? To find out, I spoke with Matt after first finding his comment about LTspice for the Mac.
Martin Rowe: What made you decide to go back to school for electrical engineering?
Matt Tuley: I taught digital electronics as part of a program called Project lead the Way. It's a program designed to get middle school -- and especially high school -– students interested in engineering as a career. I was teaching digital electronics as part of the program and loved it. I had a lot of fun teaching it, which made me realize that I should have gone into engineering in the first place.
I had given up teaching physics seven or eight years ago. After several years of talking to my wife about getting an EE degree, she suggested that I get enroll in a degree program. She works at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. There's a substantial discount for spouses so I decided to take advantage of that. I really like the idea of studying something where at the end of the project you can say "I designed that, it works, and it's cool."
Martin Rowe: What did you do after you were no longer teaching physics?
Matt Tuley: I spent some time being self-employed as a muralist, then I did some copyright work editing technical manuals. Both let me I could work at home, but the work wasn't very satisfying. So now I'm working towards the EE degree that I should have done years ago.
Martin Rowe: Given that you have a degree in and have taught physics, are you able to complete your EE degree without taking four full years of classes?
Matt Tuley: My program is shortened because I entered as a second bachelor's degree. Therefore, I could skip many of the non-EE courses. Western Michigan has a few specific areas that are required so I have had to take some of those classes. No amount of arguing could get me out of them. But, I had met all of the math and science requirements for the degree. Overall, I can get through the program with the equivalent of about two and half years of courses. I've taken classes both full time and part time.
Martin Rowe: When do you expect to complete your degree?
Matt Tuley: At the end of the Fall 2014 semester, a year from now.
Martin Rowe: What areas of electrical engineering are you focusing on and what to you hope to do after you complete your degree?
Matt Tuley: I want to focus on digital embedded systems after graduating. The southwest part of Michigan seems to have fared better economically than other parts of the state. This part of Michigan has a more diverse economy than other areas of the state, an economy that's not so dependent on the automotive industry. I'm starting to research potential employers now.
— Martin Rowe, Senior Technical Editor