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Topic: As a currently on-break college student who just discovered arduino.. (Read 3 times) previous topic - next topic


My graduate course was mechatronics engineering, which envolves CS + Electronics Engineering + Mechanical engineering. Honestly, in all 3 fields math is a very strong requirements.

Once can be a good programmer without being good in math, but that is all. Forget about the "science" part of computers, because math is all there is to it.

Engineering is nothing but applied mathematics, be it mechanical or electric/electronic.

There is a XKCD comics that illustrates very well what I mean:

Just imagine that we have : engineering ---> physics ---> math
Learn to live: Live to learn.
Showing off my work: http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php/topic,126197.0.html


I agree that any formal training will nail your face to the wall with math, but I am not an EE or have even been a formal electronics student since high school, where I talked my way into 4 years of a 2 year class (starting as a freshmen).

I have a CS degree, a hand full of microsoft, linux and various database certs, Apple and A+ technician cards, and did rather ok considering I am not the best or fastest programmer ... I mostly did network management and design. Got laid off, bounced around various jobs, got laid off again ... but during this time I started to get back into electronics (bout 4 years ago) and started tinkering and reading a LOT, it got to the point where I would come home and sit at the bench or in the books for hours.

Eventually I had posted enough (interesting) crap on instructables and submitting stuff on hack-a-day I got a writing gig with hack-a-day.com, and when I got laid off that second time (just over a year ago, not from hack-a-day) I wanted to get back into a more serious IT position, though a position with electronics would be quite awesome IMO, but not really realistic.

Working with Randstad at this point, just to keep money coming in, I got a semi frantic call from my agent almost begging me to go do a 1 day only manual labor job. I usually dont play that crap, but something kicked me in the head and I ended up going to this place. As soon as I walked out onto the production floor I got a big ass smile as this place was jammed packed full of electronic production machinery, I watched every stupid machine on my breaks, and acted very eager to get my hands on them.

By the end of the day I was telling anyone who would listen "I would LOVE to work in a place like this", and eventually got sat down in a room for a short interview, then had a long interview, then got a trial period, and have been fully employed by the company for 5 months in the engineering department as a "technician" (cause they wouldnt let me put "super awesome hacker" on my card), and doing just as well as any of the CS/IT related jobs I have had in the past.

Whats the point of this book?

Any knowledge you have is not useless: After I was hired I was notified that six other people were trying for the job I didn't even know was available, and that most of them did not even know the basics of office, or if they did, it was the 1 class 10 years ago they didn't remember. I know office well, I know computer hardware well, I know how to program in a few different languages and systems, I know how to make a 1024 LED matrix on a radio shack board (its a LED lighting company) and I was able to show them in a confident manner.

Just cause you have a degree in something, it doesnt mean the rest of your life will always follow that path: and likewise if you have an interest in something, just start doing it. Life changes, go with it, if you want to get into electronics, and embedded systems, go for it, maybe you will have fun with it, maybe you will start a career with it. If you decide you need a degree in it, its never too late to get one.

Lastly in the real world, math is not really that hard: We know electronics pretty well as a planet, theres always a formula to follow, and its often right there in the datasheet. realistically you need to be able to understand that formula, and plop in your variables. Even some of the brightest people I have met will take a big nasty formula, plop in XYZ and let excel deal with it. Most of my time programming now is just making widgets that span gigabytes worth of data to do 4 function math and basic algebra on it.


Sep 29, 2012, 03:44 am Last Edit: Sep 29, 2012, 03:46 am by Graynomad Reason: 1
I didn't finish school and never went to tech or uni or anything, and my maths ability is about non-existant.

Despite that I spent 20 years working as an EE and SE for some major companies.

In my case I worked in fields that were 98% logic with a little arithmetic thrown in, maths per sa was not required. I worked mostly in building controls, you don't need maths to tell a lift to go up when someone presses a button, or to apply an override based on the time of day. OTOH if you are hell bent on joining the team for the next mars probe or working on the USB4 physical spec that would be a different story.

I admit I founder when faced with problems that are more maths in nature, but normally one can find an algorithm or equation somewhere and make it fit.

So I don't think your lack of maths ability should be a show stopper, it may stop you getting a degree but not from working in interesting IT/electronics-related fields.

It sounds to me more a case of you not being focussed on what interests you. If you spend all night tinkering with uCs designing circuits and writing code because you are dead keen and really interested in that stuff it will show through at an interview. If you then go knocking on doors you will find companies that do not require a degree but are happy to accept aptitude and enthusiasm.

Without those last two attributes your degree is not worth the paper it's printed on anyway.


Rob Gray aka the GRAYnomad www.robgray.com


As a current college student in electronics. the math is mainly right angle trigonometry and calculus and some basic math


I also think that strong math is just must have for electronics. At least at European universities :P

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