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Topic Title: Electronics Engineers Who Cannot Solder?
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Created On: 09 November 2013 07:39 PM
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 21 November 2013 07:56 AM
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jencam

Posts: 608
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5 Things I Wish I'd Learned at University

http://www.eetimes.com/author...._id=36&doc_id=1318819

Originally posted by: gkenyon
In my University Electrical Engineering & Electronics department, in my year there were approximately 5% who had some REAL (i.e. not school lab or home constructor electronics project) experience at any technical level; the remainder were straight from O- and A-Levels or similar (my year was last to do O-Levels).


As I have previously mentioned, different lecturers have different attitudes towards prior engineering experience. Some value it whereas other prefer a 'clean slate' approach - like many law departments don't want students with an A Level in law - and are more interested in what grade students get for their further maths A Level.
 21 November 2013 09:54 AM
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gkenyon

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That approach may ensure that that the students are well-fitted to the mathematics element of the course as-is, and can more-easily capitulate to the course content.

However, it does not mean that the course is well-suited to producing good Engineers from a student with only those pre-degree qualifications and no experience.

To remove supposition from this, has the IET (or Engineering Council) conducted proper studies to:

(a) Establish how many Engineering / Technology graduates remain in the profession;

(b) Understand from Engineers / Technologists and their employers, precisely what they think of HND and Degree courses in the UK?

-------------------------
Eur Ing Graham Kenyon CEng MIET
 21 November 2013 09:02 PM
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kengreen

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Graham,

You seem to have been wearing your horizontal-reversing spectacles when you read my posts?

On the whole you seem to be reinforcing the remarks that I made. I speak from bitter experience of being denied a job as an experienced and well qualified engineer, which would have left me on the same grade and at the same salary,and so I was relegated as a senior lab-assistant whose major occupation was cleaning up the messes left on the end of my bench by "engineers" who had streamed up a device which they then passed to their lab-assistant for construction and finally dumped it for Ken to persuade it to work. In theory they should have been able to spot either the failure or the mistake in their design. In the end I left boot marks on the boss's blotter, dug myself out of there and joined the engineering training department where I not only received recognition of my professional qualification but also justified it.

In fact I claim to be that very person - the man who had theoretical training plus a great deal of practical experience which was spread across a wide electronic field.

My request, not for promotion but for recognition, was denied purely and simply because I would not join the cult.

Ken Green
 23 November 2013 09:56 AM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: gkenyon
That approach may ensure that that the students are well-fitted to the mathematics element of the course as-is, and can more-easily capitulate to the course content.

However, it does not mean that the course is well-suited to producing good Engineers from a student with only those pre-degree qualifications and no experience.


A computer science professor told my son that the students who are hobbyists, enthusiasts, open source developers, or have much prior reasonably technical experience of computers tend not to get the 1st and 2.1 degrees.
 23 November 2013 10:21 AM
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kengreen

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jencam,

to be honest I thought that this discussion was at the base about the validity of a 1st or 2.1 degree?

were I recruiting I would look first at the man's (or woman's) recent experience and successes.

Ken Green
 23 November 2013 08:25 PM
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gkenyon

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Originally posted by: jencam
A computer science professor told my son that the students who are hobbyists, enthusiasts, open source developers, or have much prior reasonably technical experience of computers tend not to get the 1st and 2.1 degrees.
At least that is called a "Computer Science" degree

Does this mean that those without prior experience are actually better at what they do after their degree? Or does it mean they found the course easier to pass, maybe questioned it less, or maybe also didn't find it way below their capability (and hence didn't get bored)?

Identifying the answer to that riddle is key to this discussion.

Let's not forget, that many of the most famous and accomplished inventors and designers, didn't / don't have an Engineering degree qualification.

-------------------------
Eur Ing Graham Kenyon CEng MIET
 24 November 2013 05:37 PM
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kengreen

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Graham,

The point made in your last paragraph has been presented by me on several occasions. Are you surprised to learn that it has always been dismissed with politicians' disdain.

There is one unavoidable problem with education (as interpreted today) in that it seeks to curb the fresh and curious mind. Like the army sergeant major it insists on learning to do things the "proper" way - the way that WE all do it! In fact it should concentrate on encouraging the curious and straying mind which is an essential talent for any would-be inventor or philosopher?

I suggest this is an evil which has come into being with mass education - coupled of course with a burgeoning population - if only because it depends of necessity on the creation of a mass-trained teachers pool? And who is to train those teachers? My recommendation above is only possible with a one-to-one teacher-to-pupil ratio.

Ken Green
 25 November 2013 02:00 PM
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Maximilia

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I agree that this curbing of the fresh and curious mind is not the best way to educate people. With things like this we are not neccesarrily producing the most capable students. Jus the other day I read about the online education program `udacity´. There were some courses that were conducted simultaneously online and at an elite university. One would assume that the students of the elite university have the best grades: They have an elaborate screening process which is aimed at finding the most capable students. Surprisingly the students in the online course were much better. The first score of an offline student was somewhere above position 105. This gives us an example how the system is failing and how it is not neccesarily selecting the most capable students.

Therefore I think your recommendation with a one-to-one teacher to pupil ratio is wunderful. Unfortuanelty I am afraid it is hardly possible in our present society with the pressure to cut costs and save money...
 25 November 2013 07:30 PM
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kengreen

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Maxi,

Welcome aboard but I think you have answered your own question. For some 4 to 5 years I ran a highly successful correspondence course which deliberately set out to give one-on-one instruction. Does that mean that I am a genius?

Ken Green
 25 November 2013 08:55 PM
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IsaKiwanuka

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Hello All

I came across the title and read a few but not all the replies and I must say as a recent graduate of electronic and electrical engineering and also gaining a first class degree......I must say that when i started my Job recently as a Medical device service engineer I felt embarrased and ashamed as my practical skills were not up to par with my fellow work mates who had far less qualifications..

My soldering skills were not good as I have never worked with small components and could not understand the PCB circuit layout ....

Thankfully my work colleges are kind enough to teach me the tricks of soldering and different techniques....even fault finding to component level......

My degree was fun to do but was not practical to a point were I can get into a job and hit the ground running technically . I think degree are more aim at people who want to be managers or who want to continue and do PhD and research .......

I am a very practical person and enjoy electronics but now realise that I did not need to do a degree my BTEC National Diploma was more than enough......

I have a work mate who has less than a BTEC and he knows the same if not more about electronics, schmatics ,practical skills and I would say his programmings skills are advanced.....and has over a dozen home made electronics projects some that are better than my final year project.....

TBH I feel ripped off and like I have wasted my time in doing a degree, even tho I enjoyed it , if I could go back in time I would of just brought the testing equipment and taught my self..........!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 27 November 2013 07:56 AM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: IsaKiwanuka
TBH I feel ripped off and like I have wasted my time in doing a degree, even tho I enjoyed it , if I could go back in time I would of just brought the testing equipment and taught my self..........!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


You can buy plenty of engineering books and test equipment for £9,000.
 27 November 2013 07:35 PM
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IsaKiwanuka

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lool thats to expensive ....

i got a setup in my house of the basics test equipment and it cost less than £500

all brought second hand
 27 November 2013 09:36 PM
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jencam

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£9,000 buys one year at university.
 27 November 2013 11:29 PM
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kengreen

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my recommendation would be to spend the £500 on good quality electronics equipment and a portion, as required, of the £ 9000 on gaining practical and experimental experience; that kind of learning will stick with you for the rest of your life.

You may have gained the impression that I do not put much store in book learning - it is so heavily dependent on the quality of the authors. Too often people who leap into print suffer confusion which, in turn, has arisen from bad (confused) instruction.

Ken Green
 28 November 2013 08:17 AM
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jencam

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Also download Fedora Electronic Lab

http://spins.fedoraproject.org/fel/
 01 December 2013 07:31 PM
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kengreen

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Sorry Jencan but I can't understand the strange language.

Ken Green
 05 February 2014 12:09 PM
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benmc

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I've had a read through here and its a discussion i feel strongly about also... i'm time served and have went through to my degree part time along side my apprenticeship.

First off my degree... i agree strongly with gkenyon in the fact i have learnt so much more through my apprenticeship through people with very little qualifications over my degree. The knowledge is more transferable from job to job and is held better within your mind i feel! Also my degree was in ELECTRICAL and electronic how ever.... I did find when doing my electrical final year project the fact that it was electrical and a main work based, engineered project I didn't get marked as high as people who done very simple electronic projects such as a lock using flip flops.... simply for the fact the academic route love simulations, little electronic circuits because it appears more technical.... I am not moaning about my grade don't get me wrong but when the other guys in your class actually complain to you that you have been robbed and your project involved a hell of a lot more than theirs there is something wrong. Throughout my whole degree it felt to heavy towards electronics, also hence why i have not done a masters on distance learning, the only option i feel i would find interesting is the course at bath university with power, however i still feel more involvement with electrical machines would be better, the rest of distance learning involves telecoms or networks.....i still haven't come across an "electrical" engineer who look into this with great depth, there must be few compared to the electrical engineers out there who feel it is beneficial, the course should be more electrical is all i am saying.

second my apprenticeship, i found my apprenticeship was the correct way to go studying one day a week part time with college. my apprenticeship was 4 years, year one in training center to get basic skills and to achieve NVQ 2, 3 years on site to achieve NVQ 3 where i learnt a large range of skills and theoretical knowledge. throughout the 4 years i studied 1 day a week part time college ONC, HNC and HND (I found these beneficial to my work!) My apprenticeship was a maintenance based apprenticeship and not an installation however various installations were involved in my work just like every other maintenance role to some extent.

now the part with apprenticeships i disagree with... just like some degrees i feel there is some "micky mouse" apprenticeships, for example i spent a year at a different company from where i served my time, in our squad there were 4 men, 2 from a maintenance back ground and 2 from installation, it soon was made clear the maintenance guys had no issue doing installations as we had done this work before to some extent and picked it up again very quick, how ever when it came to actual systems such as relay logic, PLC logic, how motors work, fault finding, reading drawings etc the slightly more in depth work rather than just power supplies the installation guys really struggled, and couldn't in fact read proper schematics...

I have been lucky with the route I have took maintenance apprenticeship and studied my degree part time along side it. I do not mean to offend anyone in what i have wrote but these have been some of my experience's and felt they should be shared within this!

As to do with the MIET status for a new graduate i strongly feel this should be changed! due to above statements.

A little extra input maybe not relevant is also the whole instrument and electrical thing... a lot of work i have done in the past to me would go to electrical work however in my new role all that work goes to instruments.... I now feel I am in a situation where I am slightly piggy in the middle, I don't do instruments and never have worked with pressures etc how ever i have never worked with heavy heavy electrics I have always been involved with motors (of various size) VFD, PLC, relay logic 24V and 110V, even various electronics i have previously worked with and what i learnt in my electrical and electronic degree is now instruments? this also confuses me slightly does any one have views on this?

again sorry if i offended anyone that wasn't my intention.

PS sorry for the grammar, quickly typed during lunch break.
 14 March 2014 03:49 PM
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seggysegaran

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Very interesting and topical discussion.

I spent 3 years on an Electrical Sciences degree without learning to solder. When I started work I was laughed at by my colleague who had done his sandwich degree at Plymouth Poly. He called it my flick style of soldering.

Nevertheless, I made it through the 'ranks' and can now hold my head high amongst most electronic design engineers.

During my 35 years in electronic product design I have seen many things change. I was lucky to start work in a large company which invested in my training. These have largely disappeared now and many SMEs cannot afford to do this. They expect the Universities to produce graduates 'ready' for work in Industry.

In the meantime, many lectures at Universities seem to have spent their entire time in acdemia and are not really familiar with the requirements of Electronic Product Design 'at the coal face'.

I have recently written a book called "From Prototype to Product - A Practical Guide for Electronic Engineers" covering the sort of information that is required to launch electronic products. Hope this is useful to graduates and SMEs alike.
 14 March 2014 04:08 PM
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Zuiko

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In Britain, there is no clear distinction between fitters, craftsmen, technicians and engineers.

The pros and cons of this can be argued about forever. I personally, have no problem with fitters and craftsmen calling themselves engineers. Contrary to what a lot of self-important engineers might think or want - and it often boils down to social "respect" and parity with professions such a medical doctors - very few engineers are in a role that is comparible to doctors in terms of commitment, skill, knowledge, responsibility and public expectation. Very few.


"Engineers" have a range of skills and work at all levels of industry. Yes, there are engineers that cannot solder; but there are engineers that cannot perform a Laplace transformation. People have different skills and a successful engineering sector encourages them all.

Where these skills are learned is a big question. There is a view that university degree courses should be more vocational. My view is that universities should not be peforming the role of an apprenticeship, nor vice-versa. A degree and a apprenticeship are time-limited, and time is precious. Wasting time waters down the effectiveness of both. If you want both skill sets, do an apprenticeship and go to university.

As the very wise OMS has said in many other threads, back in the day, apprenticeships took 4-5 years because they took in young school-leavers with zero work skills and put out functioning and useful adult engineers. Adults with transferable skills do not need to take that long. Of course, there are very specialist trades that will take anybody a very long time to learn.

Edited: 14 March 2014 at 05:35 PM by Zuiko
 15 March 2014 12:07 PM
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jencam

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Originally posted by: Zuiko
A degree and a apprenticeship are time-limited, and time is precious. Wasting time waters down the effectiveness of both. If you want both skill sets, do an apprenticeship and go to university.

As the very wise OMS has said in many other threads, back in the day, apprenticeships took 4-5 years because they took in young school-leavers with zero work skills and put out functioning and useful adult engineers. Adults with transferable skills do not need to take that long. Of course, there are very specialist trades that will take anybody a very long time to learn.


Very few people question the number of years children spend at school; whether this time is well spent learning useful stuff or whether children are just 'incarcerated' until they are old enough to work; or whether it would be better for them to start learning some trade and life skills at a younger age.

I'm not saying that everyone should be taking A Levels at the age of 10 and expecting A grades, but the fact that a few (and increasing number of) child prodigies do exist brings into question the desirability of delaying the sitting of exams until Y10 in the school system, or whether larger numbers of children have the potential to achieve high grades at a younger age if given the chance.

Another problem is that too few employers look at EOTAS. There are people under the age of 16 who have learned to solder to a high standard outside of formal education and employers should realise this and commend it.
IET » Design and production engineering » Electronics Engineers Who Cannot Solder?

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