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From: Vladimir Vassilevsky on 29 Dec 2009 12:46
> I was talking to a power electronics lecturer from a reasonably good
> university in the UK recently. He told me only two courses in their entire
> electronics degree program now have any practical content. For everything
> else, the only lab is Matlab. He said the causes were cost, a lack of
> enthusiasm by lecturers and most especially a health and safety environment
> that massively discourages anything practical. How can you prepare people
> for a productive life like that?
Think of positive implications: British graduates don't know how to
detonate a bomb :-)
From: Eric Jacobsen on 29 Dec 2009 13:03
On 12/29/2009 10:30 AM, Jerry Avins wrote:
> steveu wrote:
>>> dvsarwate wrote:
>>>> On Dec 28, 10:59 am, Jerry Avins <j...(a)ieee.org> averred:
>>>>> I had one guy with a Ph.D. in some electrical branch of physics tell
>>>>> that the curved line on the schematic representation of a 'lytic was
>>>>> "mere visual embellishment". To prove that a polar capacitor was a
>>>>> contradiction in terms, he wrote out the defining equation.
>>>> Oh, shoot! You mean V = IR is all wrong and if I apply
>>>> a gazillion volts to a 1-ohm resistor, I won't get a gazillion
>>>> amps flowing through it?
>>> This fellow was a walking indictment of an educational system. He wasn't
>>> stupid, just uneducated. Once we taught him how to use a soldering
>>> iron (he figured out by observation which end to pick up) he learned
>>> The guy who told me that the power supply I has lent him didn't work
>>> right was also college educated. The supply voltage was adjustable
>>> and the thing had a current limit. His observation was that current
>>> and voltage couldn't be controlled independently. There goes V = IR
>> I was talking to a power electronics lecturer from a reasonably good
>> university in the UK recently. He told me only two courses in their
>> electronics degree program now have any practical content. For everything
>> else, the only lab is Matlab. He said the causes were cost, a lack of
>> enthusiasm by lecturers and most especially a health and safety
>> that massively discourages anything practical. How can you prepare people
>> for a productive life like that?
Man, that's just sad. Sorry to hear that, but I suspect it's a trend
> Wow! I remember the time in power lab that I over compounded a 200 HP
> motor. When it started to run away, I froze. Luckily, the breaker
> tripped before it slung its windings around the room. The noise of the
> arc restored me to consciousness, but too late.
When I was at school the math building had once housed the EE dept. with
the labs in the basement. It was a small school and we spent a lot of
time with the Professors, a fair amount of it just socially. During our
power lab introduction we were being warned about the dangers of DC
motors, and told to go look at the walls in one of the basement rooms of
the math building, where the motor lab was once installed.
It was a concrete basement, the walls were (still) unfinished, and there
was a nice, well-defined line of divots in the concrete walls, floor,
and ceiling where a DC motor had overrun and essentially detonated.
There may have still been pieces of armature embedded deep in the holes,
I don't know.
Naturally we had to ask about the story behind that, and it turned out
my advisor, a well-respected faculty member (and to this day still a
friend I keep in touch with) had done that when he was an undergrad
there. I still chuckle about that.
I can't imagine an EE degree without the hands-on lab stuff. How do you
make people responsible for building stuff safely if they're never
allowed to see for themselves what the issues may be?
It reminds me of the infantry trained without the benefit of actually
using guns...pointing sticks at each other and yelling "bang". I
understand the motivation, but the effectiveness is pretty questionable.
Minister of Algorithms
From: Randy Yates on 29 Dec 2009 13:05
Jerry Avins <jya(a)ieee.org> writes:
> Randy Yates wrote:
>> Rune Allnor <allnor(a)tele.ntnu.no> writes:
>>> [...] "He who thinks his education has finished is not educated. He
>>> is finished."
>> I have found that education exposes one's own ignorance.
> Isn't that its most important purpose?
Good question. I think most people hope it prepares them for a
career. What I was trying to say is that you don't know how ignorant you
are until you get illuminated.
I know I still want to continue to study (e.g., some more math) but it
comes down to time and money. If I won the lottery I'd probably become
a permanent student!
Randy Yates % "Midnight, on the water...
Digital Signal Labs % I saw... the ocean's daughter."
mailto://yates(a)ieee.org % 'Can't Get It Out Of My Head'
http://www.digitalsignallabs.com % *El Dorado*, Electric Light Orchestra
From: Tim Wescott on 29 Dec 2009 13:56
On Tue, 29 Dec 2009 11:52:40 -0500, Jerry Avins wrote:
> Rick Armstrong wrote:
>>> If arguments about capacitor nonlinearities are too subtle, try doing
>>> this with a 1000 ohm resistor, a 1 microfarad, 50V cap, then plug the
>>> assembly into a 120V, 60Hz wall socket.
>>> As a thought experiment, of course.
>> I've done that one, inadvertently. It's a real...blast!
> "Blast" reminds me of the time I wired up a 2000-microfarad 60-volt
> 'lytic backwards. It worked for a while, then it exploded about a foot
> from my head. It was overnight before I could hear normally again.
> (Normal includes tinnitus anyway.) The innards, mostly unrolled foil,
> overflowed a large office wastebasket. Perfect? Who, me?
The one time I blew up a 'lytic I never found the pieces.
From: glen herrmannsfeldt on 29 Dec 2009 14:27
Eric Jacobsen <eric.jacobsen(a)ieee.org> wrote:
(snip, someone wrote)
>>> I was talking to a power electronics lecturer from a reasonably
>>> good university in the UK recently. He told me only two courses
>>> in their entire electronics degree program now have any practical
>>> content. For everything else, the only lab is Matlab.
> I can't imagine an EE degree without the hands-on lab stuff. How do you
> make people responsible for building stuff safely if they're never
> allowed to see for themselves what the issues may be?
I am not so sure how it works in EE, but in physics there are
theoretical and experimental physicists. Many good theoretical
physicists aren't very good at lab work. There is the well known
"Pauli effect" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauli_effect
which causes experiments to fail when Pauli is anywhere close.
It seems to me that as EE (with subfields such as DSP) gets more
theoretical it may go the same way. As I understand it, digital
logic is being taught with computer simulation and no actual
> It reminds me of the infantry trained without the benefit of actually
> using guns...pointing sticks at each other and yelling "bang". I
> understand the motivation, but the effectiveness is pretty questionable.