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Electrical Engineer Or Computer Engineer Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 6th February 2008
  #31
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So then, this thread begs the question: What school to choose? Can anyone recommend specific schools that give an education in both EE / CS and are acknowledged by those in the field as the best degree programs? Can any hiring managers speak to the quality of certain colleges? Is there a top-ten list?
Old 6th February 2008
  #32
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UAH in Huntsville has good science and technical programs. They are mathematics and natural science-based. They have an even better location if you want to get into heavy technical stuff (hence, non-commercial audio related). There are several big time engineering firms right out the back door. Boeing, Adtran, Intergraph, and countless others are kinda clumped here, we also have a government test facility (NASA) and military base. Since hardware and software are often inseparable in high technology areas, it is a safe bet that the demand for bith EE's and CE's is high here.

Of course..this is Alabama

There's bound to be other technology mecca's around.

However, I would venture to say that to a certain degree, it doesn't matter where you choose to go if you devote yourself to learning and mastering the subject matter. IOW, (cliche') you get out what you put in.
Old 6th February 2008
  #33
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If you can get in, places like MIT and Stamford really standout, especially for **** on the front edge like Robotics. I can't personally vouch for the program itself, I would check out the CS/EE program at the University of Florida. Because of the Gators, Gatorade, and the UF alumni, that school is financed to the hilt, the town is great, the chicks are hot, and if you move in and live in the state for a while, in state tuition is sickenly low!

On the "lower" end, I know a bunch of Georgia Tech guys and they turn out some real good people.

If you are really just looking for a field with great promise for the future, forget computers and electronics - go into nanotech - besides, the future of the both the former are tied to that anyhow.
Old 7th February 2008
  #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overdose View Post
Currently in school completing all my bull classes, trying to decide on what option to choose. I want to design music equip in my spare time, but will probably try to get a job with the Gov. I want to make sure we don't miss.
For those of you that are engineers what would you suggest? Both are considered BSEE degrees.

I would love to Co-op with a company like Manley, Aurora Audio, or any top notch equipment maker. I love music gear. I'm a slut with no money to buy.
Why not do Electrical Engineering, but take some Computer Engineering style courses as electives? Learning to program is a very good thing to do in school, because once you get the fundamentals of one language, it is easy to transition elsewhere (thus opening up your skillset greatly, and being a very valuable tool). Also, being an Electrical Engineer who opted for many computer electives myself, I can tell you that it is A LOT of fun playing with Microprossesor Systems (which are integral parts of many modern DSP solutions). heh Either way, your skills will be applicable towards audio equipment engineering.

Do what you have the most fun doing!
Old 7th February 2008
  #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benzilla View Post
Why not do Electrical Engineering, but take some Computer Engineering style courses as electives? Learning to program is a very good thing to do in school, because once you get the fundamentals of one language, it is easy to transition elsewhere (thus opening up your skillset greatly, and being a very valuable tool). Also, being an Electrical Engineer who opted for many computer electives myself, I can tell you that it is A LOT of fun playing with Microprossesor Systems (which are integral parts of many modern DSP solutions). heh Either way, your skills will be applicable towards audio equipment engineering.

Do what you have the most fun doing!
While I have enjoyed a career in all 3 - electronics, software development, and audio, I have not formal training. So I am curious. Other than perhaps the software/firmware aspect of it, who does a Computer Engineering course prepare one for working with audio equipment which at input and/or output is always analog electronics? Perhaps I have this CE thing all wrong or this completely different from a Computer Science degree?
Old 7th February 2008
  #36
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I think most people have a misunderstanding of what CE is really about. It's a relatively recent field (maybe 30 years), and most ppl are more familiar with EE and CS. The way I see it, CS deals with SW, EE deals with HW, and CE deals with the gray area (intersection) in between. In my school the CE program included the fundamental analog stuff like: circuit analysis, lti systems, feedback theory, electronics, but also theory of computation, O/S, networks, logic design, electromagnetics, microprocessors, vhdl, discrete math, computer architecture, OOP, software engineering, Databases, and you could take stuff like power and other more hard-core EE stuff as technical electives. Overall I would say ~70 percent of the core courses were HW related.

My question is who can actually design/integrate analog/digital circuitry from scratch with just a bachelor's degree or no experience anyway? I think that's something that would take many years to master. Personally, having "designed" several vacuum tube preamps and power amps is easy, but once you get into high gain, high bandwidth circuits, the layout of components, impedances, understanding of EM fields, coupling, RFI, group delays, and the millions of parameters/characteristics, designing from scratch can get very complex very fast. Integration of digital components might be a little bit easier though. I'm sure there are many simulation tools that make designing easier these days, compared to the pen a paper and trial-and-error approaches ppl used decades ago.

Personally, I found myself attracted more to the SW side from a paying-the-bills perspective, but I do find stuff like DSP and FPGA very interesting, especially for emulating/reproducing that mojo sound that is so alluring about tubes and vintage equipment. Btw, I also love to build stuff like speakers and mic preamps for fun. The AES convention from last year was very eye opening for me. God I wish I could work doing r&d in audio tech for a living. Maybe some of us can get together and start an audio company.
Old 7th February 2008
  #37
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Its all maddening and perplexing to me at the same time. As a software developer, I sometimes get pissed that the field get full of people with engineering degrees. Its like working hard to be be killer rock guitarist and finding Berklee grad jazz players at the audition. You know you can out rock them, but they get the gig cause they are really impressive with what the know.


At first you just think "this guy can't really be worth a **** if has as an engineering degree and he sitting here with me coding". The you wonder how much engineering work is left in America. When we were talking about that "giant sucking sound" of jobs running away from America, I think we may have been right.
Old 7th February 2008
  #38
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I can shed a little light on the CS versus CE/EE as coder question.

The things that separates a CE degree from a CS degree is the level of software engineering. Whereas I can't talk for universities around the world, when I was involved in teaching this stuff we were preparing a CE degree. Nobody builds a new 4 year degree from scratch. Mostly the the course is made up from pre-existing subjects, and you impose a defined path, and add a few more specialist subjects.

Something that separates engineering from science is the level of process and risk management involved. This comes from a long history of engineering. Engineers have been avoiding bridges falling down for centuries. The ones that do fall down teach them a lot. And they don't let it happen again. Engineering isn't science. Sometimes it isn't even really applied science. But it is pragmatism, and an ethos of getting the job done within the design constraints.

The core question I used to love asking. What constitutes a quality product? I used to stir the class up with a comparison of a Rolex and a Casio G-Shock. The actual answer is that the quality product is the one which best met its requirements. In many ways that is the core of engineering. The requirements may include, price, performance, safety, regulatory requirements, maintainability, and so on. We talk of functional (what it does) and non-functional (attributes like safety) requirements.

So surprisingly, for many jobs, ability to code is secondary. It is the background in engineering, almost any sort of engineering actually, that matters. Virtuoso coders often don't like working in the sort of environment that requires this sort of rigour. This is an environment where the best thing you can do for your boss ,and your customer, is to avoid presenting them with surprises. Of any sort.

Big projects are more about risk than any other thing. Another precept in big projects. You have to plan so that at any time at all, any person at all, can be lost from the project. Because it happens. Again, much of this is engineering management, not coding.

The guitar example? Sure, it is like hiring someone to do a session for a film score. You have a very limited time, the composer has scribbled out some basic scores and the producer is assembling the people needed. You are up against a classically trained guitarist who has an acoustic and an electric in his hands. Sure he may have no ability to improvise, can't swing a beat, really can't rock out at all, and has weedy tone. But he can sight read a score perfectly and keep the time like a robot. The producer knows exactly what he is going to get. Safe, assured, and a known result. Maybe if there was more time, a bigger budget, less pressure, more room to take a risk, you might get the gig. And do a better job. But in real life, a lot of times, well it isn't like that.

Last edited by Francis Vaughan; 7th February 2008 at 01:08 PM.. Reason: small error in terminology.... improve explanation..
Old 7th February 2008
  #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamsmith View Post
While I have enjoyed a career in all 3 - electronics, software development, and audio, I have not formal training. So I am curious. Other than perhaps the software/firmware aspect of it, who does a Computer Engineering course prepare one for working with audio equipment which at input and/or output is always analog electronics? Perhaps I have this CE thing all wrong or this completely different from a Computer Science degree?
Computer Engineering courses get you introduced to Embedded/Microprocessor Systems, which are the basis for DSP parts. More and more effects processors, DAWs, and the like are using DSPs for their signal processing, and fewer analog parts. That is one of the reasons we can enjoy relatively small digital recorders and effects floor units that contain every effect known to man! Computer Engineering courses are not just about programming, but they also pertain to Embedded Systems in general. Not just software/firmware, but how to connect things to the processor, analog to digital converters and the like. Keep in mind too, that the digital world is taught by mostly courses considered "Computer Engineering" in nature - not in standard EE courses. Computer Engineers still learn all of the circuit fundamentals that Electrical Engineers do. However, instead of putting an emphasis on Power, Microwaves, or analog circuits, they focus more on digital circuits, C/C++ programming, microprocessor systems, etc...

Now, I still recommend getting a BSEE degree, because its more attractive to companies on paper (the joke at my school was that I could get hired with an BSEE degree anywhere a BSCE degree could, but NOT vice versa). I think the key is to figure out which courses might pertain to what you want to do in your career, and make sure you take those as electives. For instance, an audio equipment designer would DEFINATELY want to take a course on Analog Transistors. My advice would be to talk to your advisor to see which courses you should take! heh

One of my professors explained the different degrees like this:

Consider a scale of 1 to 10 with hardware knowledge being a 1 and software knowledge being a 10 with varying mixtures on hardware/software knowledge inbetween. An Electrical Engineer would be a 1 on the scale, an Electrical Engineer with Computer emphasis would be a 4, a Computer Engineer would be a 6 and a Computer Science major would be a 10. This is a bit simplified of course, but you get the idea!

It is my personal feeling that Hardware is a bit more difficult to learn than Software, so I ended up doing Electrical Engineering with a Computer emphasis.
Old 8th February 2008
  #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamsmith View Post
Its all maddening and perplexing to me at the same time. As a software developer, I sometimes get pissed that the field get full of people with engineering degrees. Its like working hard to be be killer rock guitarist and finding Berklee grad jazz players at the audition. You know you can out rock them, but they get the gig cause they are really impressive with what the know.


At first you just think "this guy can't really be worth a **** if has as an engineering degree and he sitting here with me coding". The you wonder how much engineering work is left in America. When we were talking about that "giant sucking sound" of jobs running away from America, I think we may have been right.
jamsmith,

You should also keep in mind that all Engineers are required to go through a few programming classes (typically C). Furthermore, Engineers have become accustomed to figuring out stuff through Datasheets and manuals, which makes pretty autonomous.
Old 8th February 2008
  #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benzilla View Post
jamsmith,

You should also keep in mind that all Engineers are required to go through a few programming classes (typically C). Furthermore, Engineers have become accustomed to figuring out stuff through Datasheets and manuals, which makes pretty autonomous.
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing but the highest respect for these people. In fact, I has always planned to get my EE. When my daughter goes to college in a few years I may recreate the role of Rodney Dangerfield in "Back to School" and join her! All I was getting it at that it is a shame that we don't live in a time where we were still an eletronics manufacturing powerhouse of a nation and how sad those so much of what is left gets outsourced. The programming field is getting tighter. In adjusted dollars, I make less than I did 10 years ago.

Of course, my guitar analogy does hold up a little. If the prospective employer let me "play a tune for them" (show them my work), I almost always get the gig. Unfortunately, since the DotCom bust, corporations HR departments won't let me get near the IT directors to even get seen. In the end, those same corps pay us $125 an hour for my time when they could have hired me directly for a quarter of that.
Old 9th February 2008
  #42
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Originally Posted by the scum View Post
Reminds me of an old joke: a good electrical engineer can write FORTRAN (all caps because that's how it's spelled, not for emphasis) in any language.


Ha! That's me! Back in the stone ages when I got my degree, that's pretty much all there was. And it was big burly cro-magnon types in the basement of the physics building huddled in front of a terminals connected to a vax or a cray, with big thick foreheads and hair on our knuckles writing FORTRAN... yet somehow we managed to solve some pretty cool problems.

Back to the original topic though... my input to anyone in school with a desire to pursue engineering would be this:

1. talk to some people who are in the field you think you want to be in. I would imagine some of the rocket ship companies in Huntsville have some kind of a "career day" or other kind of recruitment activity. Consider an internship at your "dream job" kind of place and get some feeling for whether it's what you think it is. The industrial relations / placement center in your college should be able to hook you up or at least get you some leads. If not, stop by the companies directly and talk to the HR people about what your options are for finding out more and gaining some experience (buzzwords are "career day", "engineering day", "internship").

2. Consider beefing up your circuits courses with some fairly fundamental physics/calculus/complex analysis. You will be amazed at the analogous mathematical treatment between mechanical, electrical systems, and abstract systems. Having that broad background is good for you whether or not you ever use it in your career (like lifting weights for your brain... getting big muscles is not a waste just because you never lift anything heavy outside the gym... it's GOOD for you and will pay dividends long after you've changed your mind 5 times about what you want to do specifically).

3. Gov't stuff can be fun, but also consider the commercial space. Try an internship at a gov't place and then do one at a more strictly commercial place (like a cisco or broadcom or EMC or something like that). It is like night and day the difference and it is important to figure out which one is for you. When I started my career I was in govt' labs and think tanks and loved it. But one time I tried a commercial company and never looked back. The time I spent in the gov't sponsored realm was not a waste, but really I'd take the commercial realm any day. I was 5 years into my career before learning that. I would recommend trying to get a feel for the differences through internships if you can while you're a student.


Best of luck with your courses and subsequent career.


Charlie


EDIT: 2 additional comments:

1. whatever you do... build some things while you are in school. It is best if you build things that have to be programmed in order to work. You will learn what you need to know about coding and firmware in that context.
2. make sure you really understand how a semiconductor works. People talk about jobs leaving the US... actually a good part of what's left in the engineering realm is in semi's - know how they work. If you want to be involved at a serious level in making those - that requires graduate school ... whole other discussion but for now make sure you take a solid state physics class as an undergrad and do well in it.
Old 9th February 2008
  #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamsmith View Post
NASA
I was being facetious .
Old 9th February 2008
  #44
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I recommend going with EE over CE. Your background will not only be applicable to just about everything you do, but you'll just continue to build on it over time. I do recommend you get some CE courses, though. Digital control essential these days. (And besides, FPGAs are just plain ol' fun, and anyone can do them at home, too! see fpga4fun.com - Welcome )

I'm not really sure why one would major in CS, other than that they can't cut it in an EE program. (just joking here, but not really! ) What I mean to say is, once you learn how to program in VHDL, Java just doesn't seem all that hard. Your EE fundamentals will carry further in the IT world than CS if you have to go that route, but the opposite is definitely not true.

As an aside, unfortunately, Jamsmith is right. There really aren't a whole lot of straight up EE jobs in the US anymore. If I were to go back into the real EE world, I'd probably have to take some RF classes and would wind up working for some small subcontractor.
Old 10th February 2008
  #45
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Originally Posted by kafka View Post

As an aside, unfortunately, Jamsmith is right. There really aren't a whole lot of straight up EE jobs in the US anymore. If I were to go back into the real EE world, I'd probably have to take some RF classes and would wind up working for some small subcontractor.

I don't want to turn this into an argument... actually I'm sure it depends on the industry and the region of the country, but what I see is quite different so I want to offer a different point of view on that.

What I see is that most of the design work is actually still done in the US for the EE side of things, ESPECIALLY for leading edge tech products where "time to market" matters. I see that this is true in the industries where I've worked (mainly data storage and fiber optic communication systems). In those realms, the manufacturing has been overseas for some time, and the big push over the past 10 years or so has been to get some of the prototyping done there too. But the fundamental design work is normally done here in everything I've seen. I would guess that's true also of the big box makers (hp, dell, etc...) but I don't know that for sure - can only speak for my own experience. Again I'm sure it depends the industry and the region. Design work being done on leading edge tech products in a developing country... I dunno I'm sure it's coming some day, but people have been saying that it's a generation away since the 80's. Sooner or later has to be true I guess. Hard to say when. Not yet though in what I see, although it may very well be that in markets where time to market is not so critical, it may be doable. Mostly in high tech though, we have this very fast pace of "creative destruction" which basically means if you're 6 months late to market, the party is half over by the time you arrived ... and at that point most of the money has been made already on that piece of technology. In that case - you have no time left to recoup the investment before obsolescence kicks in. So the money you saved sending the design work overseas would never be a bargain in an industry like that. Most everything connected with computers has that kind of a creative destruction cycle that sets the pace of its business. So if it costs you a little more to get the design work done in the US, well... it's more than worth it if that gets you to market sooner. Generally it does.

Charlie
Old 11th February 2008
  #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlie_M View Post
1. talk to some people who are in the field you think you want to be in. I would imagine some of the rocket ship companies in Huntsville have some kind of a "career day" or other kind of recruitment activity. Consider an internship at your "dream job" kind of place and get some feeling for whether it's what you think it is. The industrial relations / placement center in your college should be able to hook you up or at least get you some leads. If not, stop by the companies directly and talk to the HR people about what your options are for finding out more and gaining some experience (buzzwords are "career day", "engineering day", "internship").
yeah, ironically one just past on Thursday...

WAFF E and T Job Fair
Old 14th February 2008
  #47
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I majoring in Electrical/Computer Engineering Technologies. Technically its not a double major, its just all the courses i take are involving those two subjects, So i guess you can say im getting the double dosage....
Old 19th February 2008
  #48
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I have been around the EE world from bottom to top... (in that order!)

I would get the EE, and learn how to program, either by yourself or some classes. I would not hesitate to hire a software programmer for embedded systems, that had an EE degeree, due to the knowledge of circutiry which you WIL NOT GET, in the CS department....

My parting advise:

Buy a power supply, an oscilloscope (or some kind a data aq for computer) a soldering iron, some micro processor devlopment kits and START BUILDING STUFF..... as soon as possible.... (You can buy all of this inexpensively, and it will pay off in spades...)

Also, if your are math inclined, study signal processing and algorithm development....

Military and Medical Equipment Devlopment specialties will be in demand for a while (I hope.....)...
Old 20th February 2008
  #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mgarrett View Post
Buy a power supply, an oscilloscope (or some kind a data aq for computer) a soldering iron, some micro processor devlopment kits and START BUILDING STUFF..... as soon as possible.... (You can buy all of this inexpensively, and it will pay off in spades...)

Also, if your are math inclined, study signal processing and algorithm development....
Agreed. Real engineers make stuff. They can't help it. They'd do it even if there were no money in it. Sometimes they make stuff because there's no money in it. They do it because sometimes stuff just isn't the way it's supposed to be. But they all look at the world, and at some time go "Pfft. I could do that".
Old 20th February 2008
  #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
But they all look at the world, and at some time go "Pfft. I could do that".
Better.. dfegad

JR
Old 21st February 2008
  #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A27Hull View Post
UAH in Huntsville has good science and technical programs. They are mathematics and natural science-based.
I'm in Huntsville. I earned the very first bachelor's in CS that UAH ever awarded, in 1983. If your choices are EE and CE, and if you plan on staying in this area, my advice is: Take whichever one you'll enjoy the most. There's plenty of work for both, and will be for the foreseeable future.

Quote:
Of course..this is Alabama
Well, yeah... on the other hand, here I can afford a great house in a great location, and with plenty of room in the basement for a future studio. In California, I couldn't do that. And besides, anytime I get bored, Nashville's right up the road.
Old 22nd February 2008
  #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornutt View Post
I'm in Huntsville.
I hear ya!

Huntsville/North AL is a lot less saturated when it comes to recording engineers and producers who know there stuff.

I love the south. Even when they make me wear shoes..
Old 1st March 2008
  #53
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Great Thread!

I was in the same place about two years ago. I got into EE because I wanted to design audio equipment. I was actually surprised when I figured out I wasn't going to learn about tubes at all.

I'm doing a double major in EE/CPE and I haven't had to learn anything that seems irrelevant. Well, I'm not a fan of Java, but Its just making a little more work for me to learn C on my own time. I notice I have a knack for math and physics and Circuit Analysis, but the Programming does not come naturally to me. That is why I am taking the CPE major. Its only going to help me if all i'm doing is writing HDL and Matlab.

Even if you are only doing EE, take a digital systems class. I thought this was required for both majors at most schools XOR I misunderstand what people are talking about here.
Old 4th March 2008
  #54
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Electronics or Software

Quote:
Originally Posted by overdose View Post
Currently in school completing all my bull classes, trying to decide on what option to choose. I want to design music equip in my spare time, but will probably try to get a job with the Gov. I want to make sure we don't miss.
For those of you that are engineers what would you suggest? Both are considered BSEE degrees.

I would love to Co-op with a company like Manley, Aurora Audio, or any top notch equipment maker. I love music gear. I'm a slut with no money to buy.
Hey There,
I'd say it depends on what you like to do. If you like writing software and you want to get into DSP go for the CE. If you want to design hardware and analog circuits keep it straight EE. I'm got a BSEE with focus in Computer Engineering. I now work for Lexicon/Mark Levinson doing high-end audio/video processors. Here I do software engineering, which entails low level real time drivers and high level app stuff. But I only got the job cuz I have a EE. A computer science guy who cant look at circuit schematics and use a scope can't get this kind of job. If yer not sure make sure you take classes in software and hardware (definitely some in embedded software) so you come out with a variety of skills. Good luck. In general the audio and especially pro-audio is difficult to get into. Small operations with high-end products like Manley have only a handful of highly skilled guys that do the design work. They tend to be very selective with they hire, and in general most of these companies aren't hiring now cuz of the economy.
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