Young Engineer asking for Advice | Cypress Semiconductor
Young Engineer asking for Advice
July 02, 2009
I got this interesting e-mail from a reader.
I am writing to you because I am very desperate and don’t know where to turn for advise. After finishing my BS in Computer Engineering, I wanted to do circuit design and ended up in CAD Engineering position. Finally last year I made transition to a Design Engineering position. I wanted to learn everything which will make me good Analog designer. I took an analog design course last year and also started watching some other courses online. But I soon realized that I was not going anywhere. I also realized online lecture is not most efficient way to learn this subject. The speed I was watching these online courses, it would take me years to complete these courses. I have also noticed that I started to forget what I learn in school which made me realized that what is point of learning all these material which I will forget after few months.
My question to you is how you become such an accomplished Analog designer? I am trying to figure out am I too dumb or my approach to learning this subject is completely wrong. Can I meet you in person to discuss this? I live in Bay Area. I will be very grateful if you can help me in any way.
I am not sure were to start. So you are feeling stupid. First I would have to say, have patience. I I first started I felt really stupid that I didn’t know what I was doing. So I studied real hard and sure enough after a couple of years I didn’t mind feeling stupid. I am the point that when I know what I am doing I am getting bored. Still stupid, just at a higher level. I have been doing this for 32 years and I still don’t think of myself as an Analog Engineer. I am just a guy that wanted to solve problems. Many of them were analog. Now Norm Strong, there was a real Analog Engineer. Frankly the digital guys have made it so easy to be proficient in such a short time, you have just gotten spoiled.
You mentioned that you were starting to forget the things you learned at school. I contend that you are only forgetting the stuff they taught you at school. Learning has a much higher cost. You learn by doing and fixing the stuff you built. You become an Engineer in the evenings and weekends trying to repair the damage from wrong choices. It is coping. When I wanted to learn about DSPs, I arranged to work on a project that required a DSP to be programmed. I didn’t try to understand DSPs or why I should use them or which one was best and how do I design filters and ……. Understanding can be a delaying tactic. People that want to swim, jump in the water. People that don’t what to swim want to understand the water before they jump in. Theodore Roosevelt was stated that in a time of crisis that the best thing to do is the right thing the next best is the wrong thing and the worst thing to do is nothing.
Try to learn from others. Most all the cool tricks I have learned, I learned from others. When someone says, “Try this”, try it. Build it, understand it. At every company there is a guy that has schematics of everything they ever made. Buy this guy lunch. Ask him how he would do it and start collecting all the schematics you can. I can make a better filtered DAC better than many. I can’t make one better than all. The more examples you look at, the more you see good practices.
Go to Analog Seminars. Analog Devices puts on good ones, so does National Semiconductor. Cypress is embedding analog on their PSoC. You should buy my book (someone should) Read Darrin Ashby’s Electronics 101 book. Read app notes. They are for people that want to build something.
As for books, I recommend Don Lancaster’s “Active Filter Cook Book”. Also Jim Williams book. Anything by Barry Gilbert is worth reading.
So have patience, hang around with smart people and ask questions. But most important get comfortable about being uncomfortable and oh yeah, have fun.
Comments and suggestions from others would be good. Again the more input the more choices.