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betajet
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All Students Take Calculus
betajet   11/28/2013 1:52:50 PM
Since I still solder and program in assembly language, perhaps I'm biased but here's my opinion:

1.  An expert needs to know how things work one or two (or more) levels below the level at which he or she normally works, so that misbehavior is not mysterious and things don't happen because of Magic.  Dilettantes are not subject to this restriction.

2.  An EE who cannot solder cannot build things for himself or herself.  IMO most engineers are engineers because they want to know how things work and delight in building things that work.  If I were to meet an EE who could not solder, I would wonder why that person became an EE unless there's a physical disability.

3.  A computer programmer who never learned ASM does not know how computers really work.  To me, it's a thrill to be working at the ASM level (perhaps using C as a portable ASM) because you have full control over the computer, rather than working though several layers of condoms.  To me, a computer scientist definitely needs to have mastered ASM as it's a fundamental part of the Science.  As with an EE who cannot solder, I would have misgivings hiring a computer programmer who didn't enjoy ASM and ask myself "why did this person become a computer programmer if he or she doesn't like computers?"  If you just want to be a "coder" with an operating system and an abstract interpretive language between you and the hardware, this is not necessary.  However, if you want to be an embedded programmer you'd better know ASM because a lot of the errors you see can only be understood at the machine language level.

JMO/YMMV

KB3001
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CEO
Re: it never was...
KB3001   11/28/2013 1:24:42 PM
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We are all inflicted Duane. I too find soldering therapeutic!

Duane Benson
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Re: it never was...
Duane Benson   11/28/2013 12:26:38 PM
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Dennis - You have a very good point. The industry (and world) has evolved.

A lot of people think that knowing Assembly language is dreadfully important. I used to know a bit about Assembly in a Z80, 6502, CDP1902 and 8086. However, I've long forgotten that knowledge. I just don't care about it.

I use a lot of Microchip PIC processors, but have never bothered to learn the least bit about PIC assembly. If I need more code space due to my C code, I spend an extra nickle and double my memory. If I need more performance, I'll pull up a ARM chip for the same price (or less).

I suppose we all choose our skills to hang onto. Soldering is just that chosen skill for me. I work my day job in a company that has massive pieces of incredibly cool machinery for soldering all kinds of surface mount and thru-hole parts.

Those machines do a great job and I love to watch them in operation, yet, one of my most enjoyable past times outside of work is to try to do a good job of hand soldering tiny parts.

It's probably a sickness. Maybe there's even a medical term for it: "et bonum stannum et plumbi verum amentia"

 

 

Victor Lorenzo
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Rookie
Re: it never was...
Victor Lorenzo   11/28/2013 4:28:44 AM
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It all depends on what the engineer is supposed to do and what he is working on. I'm able not only to solder 4x4 mm QFN chips or 0.2mm pitch OLED connectors, I can also make near-zero tolerance pieces with a lather and work with CNC Fanuc milling machines and work with many wood tools and that makes me feel like my hands are usefull. I can imagine, conform in my mind, design and 'manufacture' 'somthing' and, at the end, see it in my hands. A now retired collegue of mine used the term 'real-engineer' (he has even more, far more, skills).

Not because of that I think my new collegues are useless or under-skilled, they have other also valuable skills, but as we need to make working prototypes that imply not only electronic but also mechanical (complex in some cases) parts we have a shorter reaction time to our customers requirements. When subcontracting the real production I know the exact amount of work required and that is an advantage.

Anyway it is sometimes disappointing to see new engineers who are almost completely unable to fix anything (even devices they have designed) or even to solder a simple wire in a cable that you need in that precise moment and you can not wait for the two/three days delivery time that buying a new one implies.

 

Denis.Giri
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Manager
it never was...
Denis.Giri   11/28/2013 3:32:53 AM
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"Like so many things in the modern world, hand-soldering is no longer a required skill"

Like so many things in the modern world that tend to get replaced by other (better?) stuff, soldering was never required for everyone. Only for people who needed to know that skill.

Now, more than ever, we get products entirely built in a non-fixable SiP, connectors are as standard as can be, most analog systems get replaced by digital systems, and people get a status of electronic engineer for writing verilog code instead of soldering transistors on a board.

The industry evolved.

Thus, my answer to the question "What? electronic engineer cannot solder anymore?" is: "Mu. The question is wrong"

zeeglen
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Re: Other lost skills coming back
zeeglen   11/27/2013 4:30:33 PM
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@Duane

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_electronic_color_code_mnemonics

and look at the last entry

David Ashton
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Re: Other lost skills coming back
David Ashton   11/27/2013 4:04:54 PM
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@Duane - "Violet is ingreained because for some reason, 47K is a very common value for me."

Exactly my point - a lot of people only use 10 / 22 / 47 values - for things like pullups where the exact value is not important you'd get away with just stocking those values.   Although (theoretically) E3 values have a 50% tolerance and are no longer used, their values live on as the most used resistors

Duane Benson
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Re: Other lost skills coming back
Duane Benson   11/27/2013 3:45:30 PM
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David - Blue sometimes makes me double check too, but Violet is ingreained because for some reason, 47K is a very common value for me.

Duane Benson
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Blogger
Re: Other lost skills coming back
Duane Benson   11/27/2013 12:47:18 PM
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Zeeglen - The mnemonic apparently isn't well-enough know, because I don't know it. Of course, that's more a stament about my brain than about the mnemonic.

zeeglen
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Re: Other lost skills coming back
zeeglen   11/27/2013 9:37:49 AM
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For some reason, I still (and always have) need to look up and double check blue, grey and white. Those three never managed to stick in my head.
@duane   Just think of the last 4 words of that well-known "bad boys" mnemonic...

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