Note: This is a vent post more than anything, and as such it won’t have much relation to the other things I write. If you want to stick to my main content, feel free to skip this blog post.
Now that school’s getting back into gear, it also means that I’m going into what I hope to be my last year of my electronics engineering college program. However, because of some screwups in the very first year (I am terrible when it comes to mathematics; I barely passed the first math course and flat-out failed the calculus portion), I was unable to complete this program in the typical two-year span.
The second year was pretty uneventful… well, more like a calm before the storm. I had only two classes related to my college program (radio communications and ARM microcontroller programming), with a third one being a “filler” course (structured cabling). It was the first time I had actually gotten a semester average near an A. But because there was such a huge gap between the concepts learned in the first year and what is now the third year, much of the information I had previously known was gone, apart from Ohm’s Law, maybe.
The first week of school this year has just wrapped up and I already have a sense that I will not be walking the stage on graduation day; there’s going to be a failure, and it’s going to be spectacular.
Cue the typical workbench lab class. The prof had just gone over the basics of op-amps, and was discussing the operation of comparators and soon enough we were working away at our lab benches.
Easy enough, just build the circuit and go, right? Nope. In the field of engineering, it’s as much about the theory as it is about the construction of the circuit. As the prof was working with another student (the student went the way I go, which is to build the circuit and test it from there), and he was having difficulties getting his circuit to work. The prof was not pleased, to say the least.
One of the things the prof said really resonated with me, and not in a good way.
“You know what the difference between a hacker and an engineer is? The hacker just throws a circuit together and tries to debug it from there. A hacker is not an engineer. Hell, they’re not even what you could consider a professional.”
Oof. Those words left one hell of a bruise. He’s got a point though.
Can a hacker-hobbyist even do an engineer’s job? Can they even coexist in the same work environment? That notion has had me seriously question the applicability of my hobby and (limited?) skill set in the electronics industry. Given how engineering is a combination of a large amount of mathematics and theory before an idea of the circuit layout is even thought up, is it even worth continuing down this path?
I’ve already had to retry taking two calculus courses to compensate for the snafu in the first year, and considering the disconnect between what I can recall versus what’s being required for the last lap in this college program…
… at what point does one consider it a ‘permanent fail’ and leave that path? Well at least I have until the middle of November to make that decision as that’s where the withdrawal deadline lies.
… I don’t know. Maybe it’s my depressive side talking again.