Life as an Electrical Engineering Student – Ask an Engineer | Part 1


Welcome to Ask an Engineer, a series where
non-engineers ask an engineer something we think that we might know the answer to. In this particular episode, we’re going to
be talking about the college experience. So this is probably more specifically for
non-engineers who wants to change that and become engineers. This is going to be my opinion and my viewpoint. So yours might be completely different. Okay, so let’s jump right into this. Why choose electrical engineering over other
engineering majors? The easiest and most straightforward answer
to this is that electrical engineers are the best. Now, that might might sound egotistical. And the fact is that it is. So, basically the joke is, is that mechanical
engineers are electrical engineers that couldn’t cut it and civil engineers are mechanical
engineers that couldn’t cut it. In all reality, that is just a joke. I think it’s interesting, my background, I
actually worked with a lot of civil engineers when I got straight out of college. And so I was one of the few electrical engineers
and it gave me a lot more interesting perspective on how everything works. Electrical engineering for me, the reason
why it is the best is because it’s the one that interested me the most. It allowed me to do those things that I thought
were most fascinating. The the ability to create things that had
intelligence and were able to respond to their environment. And don’t get me wrong. I’ve worked on several projects. I’ve worked on mechanical projects when I
was in the Navy. And those were interesting. I felt like you’re doing important things
I mean, civil projects, that’s how you drive around, you build bridges, you’re making it
so people can drink clean water. And that is great, fantastic work. Mechanical projects, those are super important
as well that was working with HVAC systems, designing cars, a lot of those sorts of things. So really what it comes down to, all kidding
aside, and making fun of people, even if there’s just a kernel of truth in those jokes, electrical
engineering is what I was passionate about and if that’s what you’re passionate about
– the ability to… even if its power distribution, which does not interest me that is what you
think is wow, that’s fantastic. I enjoy more of this small systems, I don’t
like anything above 120 volts and I like the idea of creating robots or or small interesting
Embedded Systems because that’s just what’s interesting to me. So why choose electrical engineering over
other engineering majors? Because that’s what you’re interested in. Next question. Why does everyone say studying electrical
engineering is so hard? Is it just the math? No, the math is a huge part of it. Math makes things more complicated. Now, I know a lot of engineers that went in,
like, I’m good at math, I should be engineer. And that’s fantastic. I was not one of those engineers. And so the math for me was always a challenge. I think one of the things about electrical
engineering in particular, is with civil engineering and mechanical engineering, you can see what
you’re doing. It makes more sense intuitively, whereas with
electrical engineering, there’s a lot of hand waving. And it’s something where it took me years
to understand current and voltage to a very intuitive sense where it just kind of clicks
to me for the longest time is more of a just a mathematical model, or it’s a “Oh, well,
there’s that resistance.” And I’d have to think that voltage, let me
do the math here really quick. Okay. Whereas now I can just look at it and think,
yeah, it should be something like that. And that just took a couple of years to do
intuitively. Now, that’s also something material science
engineers, nuclear engineers, they’re gonna have the same problem of it’s not going to
be something visible that they can see. And that’s probably going to be the challenge
for them as well. But particularly with electrical engineers,
it’s a challenge because you can’t see it. It’s not intuitive. You start hearing things about imaginary numbers,
you start hearing about negative frequencies. I still don’t understand how in the world
and negative frequency works, because one over the period, how do you have a negative
period because… it’s just a challenge. So that to me is just as challenging as the
math. For me, those were equally challenging, the
understanding intuitively what’s going on and the math but if you have a great grasp
of the math probably will help the other stuff be a little bit easier, because you can focus
on that more. Next question. Do you have to be naturally good at math? No, no, no, it it helps. Oh, boy. It definitely helps. But you don’t have to naturally be good at
it because I am not naturally good at it. It’s almost a sliding scale where… there’s
a cut off, and if you are below that ability in math, it probably just isn’t going to work
out for you. Now where that line is? I don’t know, I knew somebody I saw him when
I was a freshman, and then I saw him again as a senior. And I saw him, “Hey, how you doing? It’s been so long.” Found out he had taken every single math class
three times and only passed the math class on the third attempt for all the calc one,
calculus two, calculus three, differential equations, all of that sort of stuff. So here I was, in my last semester ready to
graduate, and he was plugging away. He was still doing it. And, and kudos to him, because oh, my goodness,
I wouldn’t have had that much patience. But even though he wasn’t naturally good at
math, he was still plugging away at it and being good and probably having done it so
many more times, I would hope that he has an even better intuitive understanding, and
a better mechanical understanding of how all of the the math works. And so long story short, it’s not necessary,
but it helps. Moving on. What is the square root of two to the negative
nine plus three to the third power, so the square root of two is 1.4. To the negative nine, I don’t…. That’s 1.4 over… Moving on! What are some examples of courses you take
in college? So in college as an undergrad, you have to
take a wide variety of classes. Communications, English, obviously a lot of
math if you’re gonna be an engineer, and then your engineering courses. So some people do it forward/backwards. The way I did it, I actually did most of my
engineering classes in math classes up in the front. And then my last two to three semesters were
a lot of history and I think I did a military fitness class because I knew I was going into
the Navy and I am not a fit person, and things like that. But there’s a wide variety of classes that
you have to take. Now, particularly the engineering classes
as an undergraduate they’re trying to make you have a broad understanding of electrical
engineering, not a deep understanding. If you’re going deep, that’s where you get
into your master’s degree and things like that. And that’s where you focus more on one thing,
but people think, “Oh, electrical engineering great! He wants to be an electrical engineer.” But once you get into it, there are a lot
of different sub fields. And they’re very tenuously related between
the different types of electrical engineering, you have RF and microwave design, which is
something that I’m not very good at, you have your embedded systems, which is more of your
microcontrollers, and your electronics, and your circuit design, and your microelectronics,
which is basically your semiconductor devices. And then there’s a lot of other stuff that
I’m not mentioning here. But all of these things, you can get your
PhD on and spend an entire career on these tiny, little things. So it could be all over the place, from circuits
to embedded systems to microwave design, whatever, there’s a lot. Moving on! What are some of the best electrical engineering
schools in the world? I do not feel like I am qualified to answer
this question because I have not done a thorough review. But I will go back to the one that my answer
would be, it is the one that you can go to. Somebody like me, I got decent grades in high
school, I was relatively intelligent. I still don’t think I would have made it into
MIT or that one down in California that’s also known for being all hoity toity and super
smart. I don’t think I would have made it into those. However, I went to Boise State University,
it was relatively close to where I grew up, it was in-state tuition. And they had a good solid program, one that
I could afford to go to and one that I was able to actually physically go to and learn
everything I needed to. Now would I have become a better engineer
going to a more prestigious school? Probably. But if I couldn’t have made it to that, then
if it were between that and working at a fast food restaurant, I’m glad that I went to Boise
State because I feel like it prepared me and got me ready for my career, and gave me all
the tools that I needed. So, while I’m sure there are magazines and
websites dedicated to the best electrical engineering schools in the world, I’m going
to stick with mine that it’s whichever one you can go to and that you can take advantage
of it. If you are passionate enough, you will be
able to learn as much as you need to. If you’re not passionate enough, even the
best schools will not change that. Moving on. Is it important to go to prestigious school? No. Moving on. How feasible is it to work part time and go
to go to school full time? Oh, that’s a challenge. It really depends on you and your class load
and basically… if you have that drive and are able to balance things, I read an article
a couple years ago that said that people that worked a little bit and paid for a little
bit of their school did the best. Because they weren’t working so much that
it detracted from their studies, but they had to invest enough in their education that
they saw the value of it. But in general, it really has to go down to
you and what you can handle. I’m auditing a class right now. And yesterday, we were in class. And I was talking to the professor afterward
and she said, Ah, there’s this one gentleman. He couldn’t come to class today because he
was he had to work and he has to pay his bills. And so that was affecting his ability to go
to school and to learn, and that’s unfortunate. When I did my MBA, not engineering related,
it was an online, whenever you can, you just had to get assignments. done by certain times of the day, and I was
working full time, and I just did it at night. And it didn’t really affect things. And so I was able to go to school full time
and work full time. But if I had been required to go to multiple
classes during the week, and still go to work and pull all that off, I don’t think I could
have. And so just look at yourself giving a realistic
overview of yourself. How motivated am I? Am I going to be able to figure this out? And if you’re not, it’s probably better to
be realistic and take a little bit more time going to school, maybe add on another semester
to and take less classes rather than failing and getting demotivated and just wasting money,
and still taking that long anyway. So it’s really a personal question. Moving on. Does being an electrical engineer help you
with the ladies in my personal experience? Yes, my wife told me specifically…. So this is running a bit long. I think we’re going to cut it off right here
and we’re going to come back later and do the second part of Ask an Engineer college
edition. If this has been interesting or useful, let
us know. Subscribe to our channel. Like this video. All that sort of stuff and if you have any
additional questions for us, please send them to us. Take care. We’ll see you in the next video.

10 comments on “Life as an Electrical Engineering Student – Ask an Engineer | Part 1”

  1. Chuck Patten says:

    It was a way to solve practical puzzles like "why can't I plug a 12 inch speaker into the wall socket and hear what power sounds like?" That answer came sometime later… Note: the circuit breaker may trip after the loud noise is set permanently free.

  2. Garrett Scott says:

    Junior studying EE right now.

    Electric power generation/distribution is a great industry to be involved in. I've interned with my local power company since May and have had a ton of fun modernizing existing circuits. Lots of hands on opportunities. But as you said it all depends on what interests you.

    The math definitely sucks. Don't take breaks between the classes because it builds upon the prior classes. Also, the ECE courses are just math classes in disguise. Have a very good foundation in algebra, because 90% of calculus is just algebra.

    I would highly recommend doing your first 2 years of college at a community college. The classes will be smaller and you will learn more, plus you will save a ton of money.

    Back to working part-time. I work 20 hours a week while going to school. This is great opportunity if it is an EE internship, that way you are building experience. Thankfully my internship has flexible hours so I can drop my hours down the week prior to exams so that I can study.

  3. H S says:

    Very helpful!

  4. Shemsy says:

    I liked it! I would like to ask a question how do I?

  5. aleryani ahmed says:

    Will I have time to practice my hobbies

  6. Logry Mad says:

    Moving on is always the answer 4:55 😆

  7. Samantha Estock says:

    I’m a junior in photonics and electronics engineering taking 5-6 classes a semester and there is no way I can work. I’m blessed to have an awesome hubby to help me while I finish up!

  8. ha kha says:

    Great info sir. 👍

  9. Armenian Ararat says:

    thank you

  10. Nike INC. says:

    I am starting my second semester studying Electrical Engineering Monday! Most of the things you said of how you chose your major I related to. I do have one question, next year will be my sophomore year in my local community college, and I will be taking two sciences (Physics and Chem) at the same time with two other EE classes. Any tips to help me survive?

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