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New Technology Old Technology and Learning Fundamentals
GSKrasle   8/19/2014 11:53:31 AM
When I was in school, not too long ago, there was a dearth of equipment on which to study and observe some fundamental principles; we were studying analog signal processing like filters, amps, mixers, and resonant circuits. In short, radio. Available commercial products are not amenable to lab study, as, at best, signals are on SMT components, and at worst, not accessible at all, and the devices are oh-so-fragile. So I donated some old tube and discrete transistor radios, wireless phones and the like, so that there was less waiting in the lab. You'd be surprized how easy it is to get schematics for some of this stuff that was made back when things were repairable! Of course, it's wonderful to learn how to use all the whiz-bang new technology, but not if it interferes with learning the fundamentals! And the latest technology is not always available: a few years ago, I was on a trip to a foreign manufacturing facility, and when I needed to debug something on the line, all they had on-hand was a 465B. It's all well and good to know how to program a microwave, but everybody should also know how to start and use a campfire.

Dale Shpak
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Professorial Mindset
Dale Shpak   8/20/2014 11:38:30 AM
The willingness of a professor to keep courses relevant to the needs of industry is a huge factor in the quest for engineering excellence.  A significant number of profs consider their research program to be paramount since it has the greatest effect on personal profile and advancement and may treat their teaching duties as a burden.  Some examples:

Teaching data structures in C# as the key programming course in engineering.  Why?  The prof had written the book.

Teaching a very obscure programming language.  Why?  "Industry relevance (and the ability to obtain employment) is not my concern".

Engineering professors need to be engineers first and academics second.  Could you imagine a litigation professor who had never been inside of a courtroom or surgery being taught by someone who has never made an incision?  As in these professions, engineering profs should have considerable practical experience but, unfortunately (and to the detriment of students), this is not a requirement in academia.  Engineering is no place for the "ivory tower".

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Re: Professorial Mindset
Anand.Yaligar   8/20/2014 2:29:06 PM
I second that. Professors have to be engineers themselves. Most computer engineers have so many other subjects in their syllabus, and hardly their syllabus changes, so most of the students have to take extra courses in Python, CSS, Lua etc. 

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The mismatch
prabhakar_deosthali   8/21/2014 7:34:33 AM
The mismatch occurs bothways.

The students who learn new technology tolls in their colleges land up in the companies which are still using the older generation technology

and vice versa


As the engineering manager , I have experienced this. My company was always at the trailing edge of the etchnology and the new recruits many times had to unlearn  some of the things , to be able to contribute productively. Naturally they would not stay long with the company.


David Ashton
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Engineering teaching tools
David Ashton   8/21/2014 4:48:14 PM
Your picture shows the NI VrtualBench which is VERY nice but costs an arm and a leg.  I have the NI MyDAQ which is fairly versatile (2 analog in, 2 out, 16 digital IO plus a virtual DMM, comes with Labview student edition plus a whole bunch of software instruments) for $99 to students or academic use.  This is something that students can afford for themselves and use on any PC.  BUT it is severely limited in bandwidth (200 KSPS, not much good above 20 KHz),

Digilent offer the Analog Discovery - similar specs but no DMM, and no labview (but works with Matview), but much better bandwidth (105 MSPS - 10 MHz or so) also $99 student price.   

They also offer the Electronic Explorer for $199 student - this has a 4 channel scope, 32 digital I/O but only 40MSPS - 4 MHZ bandwidth) but with a breadboard included.

All of these are pretty tasty and offer a range of instruments that you'd never be able to afford or find space for in student rooms.  I wish I had been able to get things like this when I was learning, about all I could afford was a DMM, a scope was just a dream.  These offer bode plotters, spectrum analysers, data logging, etc for a really affordable price - yes they are limited comared to the real thing but for the price they are really good value, and ideal for learning the basics.

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Re: implementing technology might be beneficial
zeeglen   11/4/2014 2:52:50 PM
@KatyJordan environment in the classroom...

Only digital?  A nephew currently in high school told me he was not interested in analog because his teacher had told him it was old fashioned and obsolete.  (Duuhhh!)  I showed him LTspice to get him to change his mind. Parts Search

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