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Old 3rd March 2009, 10:22 PM   #1
Element138 is offline Element138  United States
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Question education


I, like most people on this forum, love audio. I am getting very tired of the rat race and would really like to go back to school. In the end, I'd love to have a job building and/or fixing and/or designing various audio components.

I'm wondering what type of formal education I might need to get started down this path. I realize that a huge part of my education would be in the practical application of said education; however, my bottom line is to just get started. I really don't know what specific job I'd ultimately want but my immediate goal is to simply get started roughly down the right path.

Any advice as to what type of school I should look into, what major, etc. would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks and Regards,

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Old 4th March 2009, 01:20 AM   #2
Jeb-D. is offline Jeb-D.  United States
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Go to a JC that has an associates electronics engineering or similar program. Try to set it up so that you can get your associates, but also so that you meet transfer curriculum to a university.

Once you have your associates, transfer to a university and work towards your BSEE.

-If your in a financial situation to where you don't have to work and can go to school full time. Practice electronics/audio as a hobby(read info, build stuff, ect.)on some of your spare time.

-If your in a position where you need to work part time and go to school full time. You can find a job as an electronic tech once you have an associates. Work part time as a tech, or pick up some temp work in the seasons when school is out. Working as a tech will expose you to the industry and give you some practical experience that most new engineering graduates won't have.

-If you have to work full-time while going to school. Prepare for a very long and tough journey. One which I could not endure

You really should go to a university and not a tech-trade school (if you were considering one). You may learn a lot at the trade school, but a university degree is more expandable and holds much more weight in the industry. Trade schools will typically cost more money too.

The sad thing is that with most companies, it does not matter how much you know or how good you are. If you don't have that piece of paper, you will never have the same opportunities as the ones that do. There are some companies that may be willing to look past it, but they are few and typically pay poorly.
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Old 4th March 2009, 12:26 PM   #3
SY is offline SY  United States
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It's a dying field, with too many players chasing a dwindling customer base. Any real work has been outsourced to Asia. Put your talents and energy toward something useful and remunerative.
"You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I'll tell you what his 'pinions is."
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Old 4th March 2009, 01:55 PM   #4
kevinkr is offline kevinkr  United States
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I learned the hard way that taking a hobby you love and turning it into a small business or even a full time day job (I did both) is a recipe that can lead to massive disillusionment and a profound loss of interest in the hobby that started the whole thing. (I've obviously recovered, but it took a few years.. )

Also unfortunately being an EE is proving quite daunting in this environment, most of our jobs are now getting outsourced to India or China. (Moderately high level engineering is going to India, product design to China.) These days I am freelance or contract consulting because it seems that that is the only opportunity left out there. I think this might be a trend, naively I keep hoping someone will wake up to the folly of sending all your skilled jobs overseas along with everything else, but I am not too hopeful at the moment.

My recommendation: Law School....
"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead." - Thomas Paine
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Old 4th March 2009, 03:43 PM   #5
Element138 is offline Element138  United States
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Thanks everyone.

Even considering the dismal economy, 2, 4, 6 years down the line might be a better climate for an EE to thrive...maybe not. I'm not super concerned with making tons of money, I've done that before and it was largely not worth it.

I'm going to do it, it's one of the only things I can see myself doing passionately and if spending 8 hours a day Monday-Friday doing something remotely stimulating is how it's gonna be, then I'm happy. Maybe I'll work up to the point where I'm able to run one of these Asian factories via satellite...haha. Or not. In any case, thanks for the advice and for the genuine cynicism, this dreamer needs the cynic to tell it like it usually is.

If anyone else has gone through what I described in this thread, please iterate your experience so that I might learn more.
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Old 4th March 2009, 04:58 PM   #6
Gordy is offline Gordy  United Kingdom
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If you want to design audio equipment then just design audio equipment. You don't need a degree to do that.

Remember that pure electronics design is only one quarter the battle towards successful equipment design, the other parts being psychoacoustic considerations, pragmatic development (i.e. systems integration, long-term design-integrity, etc.) and financial return on investment.

Having an Electrical / Electronics Engineering degree just means that you will end up working for some corporation where you work on equipment with irrelevant specifications and irrelevant gimmics just so the marketing types can brag in their irrelevant advertisements. Then you will become annoyed that everyone keeps banging on about tooling costs, Bill-Of-Material costs, shortened timescales, corporate standards, etc., etc., and the management will force compromise after compromise into your designs and prevent you building the best possible piece of kit.

On the other hand if you want to flood the world with more gimmics (another disc format, another compression algorythm, etc.) then you need to learn digital, but be advised that it is likely to become no more than just a job and hardly a fulfilling vocation.

Alternatives to consider? Could you get interested in Software Engineering / programming? It certainly has a future, and can be both creative and technical at the same time.

As for the audio... start by reading up on the net, buy some electronics books, read a little on sound system design and psychoacoustics, take an evening course in basic electronics, build a couple of kits, hang around this forum, then start to design and build amps. Build it up in your spare time, and after a couple of years of learning and building you might have something specialist you can sell, and that might be the start of a lucrative small business...

Good luck.
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Old 4th March 2009, 05:24 PM   #7
Jeb-D. is offline Jeb-D.  United States
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What they say is true. Especially in consumer electronics. If you wouldn't be able to enjoy electronics outside of audio, you should probably re-consider. I've seen a lot of jobs go over seas as well, but there is always something open (at least here in LA & Orange county). Both in audio and not. Some companies still design here, but manufacture over seas. Some companies design and manufacture over seas, but do product verification here.

It does suck, but I, like you, aren't even remotely interested in anything else (except maybe living in a van down by the river ).
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Old 4th March 2009, 06:26 PM   #8
Wodgy is offline Wodgy  United States
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Don't let people get you too disillusioned. There is no job that's certain or dependable any longer (except perhaps medicine, and the salaries there will contract). Electrical engineering is reasonably solid and a lot better than many choices you could make, particularly if you're willing to relocate and aren't wedded to any particular subfield (this would include consumer technology).
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Old 4th March 2009, 07:15 PM   #9
Miles Prower is offline Miles Prower  United States
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Default Re: education

Originally posted by Element138

I, like most people on this forum, love audio. I am getting very tired of the rat race and would really like to go back to school. In the end, I'd love to have a job building and/or fixing and/or designing various audio components.

I'm wondering what type of formal education I might need to get started down this path.
So far as "formal edumuhkashun" is concerned: FUGGEDABOUDIT!, it ain't worth the expense or bother. Believe me, I've been to EE school, I got the degree, and I can assure you: we didn't learn one GD thing about audio design that actually counted. Oh sure, we were handed the schemos for various SS audio amps, and we went through the whole thing, picking component values. However, we learned nothing that would impact the sonics of the final product. Not one thing about harmonic distortion, or IMD, or transient IMD (which has long been the biggest bugaboo in SS designs). Those terms did not even show up once in the texts or the classroom, let alone what to do about them. Nothing about how gNFB impacts sonics. Not. One. Word.

Take a listen to just about any Big Box system, and the results are quite obvious. There are so many designs out there that sound like Click the image to open in full size. because their designers did not learn how to do it right in their EE classes.

You want an education in audio design? You'll find the best course material right here in these forums. The best part: it's FREE!
There are no foxes in atheistholes
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Old 4th March 2009, 07:40 PM   #10
boywonder is offline boywonder  United States
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The posts above sound like a bunch of battle-scarred Engineers, and boy do they ring true!

Have you repaired/modified/built much gear? Turning your hobby into a full-time job can be a quick way to dreading the hobby, although some folks continue to love it and thrive, no matter what the hobby is.

My advice is similar to Kevin's above, and if you can't stand law school there's always sales/marketing

Seriously, There are also people that are destined to become technicians/engineers, and if you are one of those folks, go for it, as there are aspects of the profession that can be very satisfying.

You'll (hopefully) figure out if you are one of those people quickly.

A few years ago, I had an engineering co-op student from the local university working on my design team and she lasted about three weeks before quitting, telling me that engineering was not for her. I told her that her 3 weeks of misery was actually a blessing, since she could now go back to school and change her major before it was too late.

Keep in mind that the world needs zillions of engineers and technicians to keep all of the technology functioning and progressing. Virtually everything these days consists of hardware, electrical, and software so the world will always need ME's, EE's and Software Engineers.
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