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Which university produces good analog EEs?

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by Joerg, Sep 25, 2007.

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  1. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Hello Folks,

    Happens a lot these days, last time an hour ago: Someone is looking for
    an analog/mixed signal engineer (this time low power design). I could do
    it but they absolutely want to have someone on staff. Which I can't do.
    So, I often try to convince them to settle for a youngster who gets
    coached now and then, instead of sitting there a year from now still
    trying to find the perfect candidate.

    Which US or Canadian university lets off the best analog/mixed EEs? I
    know, I know, many can't even solder etc. It ain't like it used to be.
    But there has got to be an alma mater that sticks out. Or maybe a
    particular institute at one. And please, no pissing contests.
  2. Guest

    A friend of mine got his BSEE from UC Davis and got his Master's from
    the University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, and from his Friendster
    profile, it looks like he's an Analog IC Design Engineer at Intel.

  3. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    IC design is not such a problem. Lots of jobs but also many candidates.
    Board level looks very dire. Not nearly that many jobs but the number of
    candidates is almost zilch. One client of mine searched for over a year
    until they found a good one. Along the road we tried out a few but they
    didn't work out.
  4. Tim Williams

    Tim Williams Guest

    *Waves hand*?

  5. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

  6. I work with a couple of good analog cats, but we have a saying that we are
    the dinosaurs of our time...most of us over 60 and getting ready to kick
    back and enjoy the dollars we put into the retirement fund, never knowing
    that some day we would actually use it.

    The problem is chicken and egg...back when we were going to school in the
    50s and 60s, analog was all the rage. Every engineering department worth
    its salt had a ham club and everyone from sophomore year on up had built
    their own tube amp for the newfangled stereo gig. Stereo back in those days
    was the computer geek of today...hammering together this turntable with that
    tape deck, ultralinear 6146s (or 807s if you were poor) in the final and
    speaker cabinets (remember Karlson enclosures??) that needed a forklift to
    place properly. We all came out of there with a lot of analog and a little
    tiny bit of digital.

    Then the computer took over and the old analog professors were shunted aside
    in favor of those who spoke binary as a native language. Analog was shunted
    aside until those who were destined to become professors at that college
    never knew the joy of building micropower transmitters or who learned which
    end of the soldering iron got hot. If you've got no analog talent on staff,
    you won't turn out any talented analog students.

    My advice? Go down the list of ham radio licensees and when you get to one
    that says: "Trustee for the XYZ University Amateur Radio Club" call up the
    engineering department of XYZ and ask them who the faculty advisor for the
    ham club is. Odds are you will get silence or "Oh, that club folded years
    ago" as the answer. If you actually find a working club, talk to the
    faculty advisor and ask how many students are in the club. If there are a
    dozen or more, you've at least found yourself a prospective school.

    My guess is that you won't find enough to count on both hands.

  7. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    That would rule out Oregon State... the typical number of people in the club
    varied between 0 and 10, always dwindling as the year progressed. Part of it
    might have been a lack of "advertising," though -- the first time I found
    their web page and contacted one of the professors involved, the number had
    been near-zero for a couple of years. We eventually started to get a little
    more proactive in letting people know we existed; see, e.g.,
    It's started to dwindle again though -- all the guys mentioned in that article
    have since graduated. One bright spot is that one of the newer (younger)
    professors that OSU recruited from Intel (yeah, a digital guy, but oh well
    :) ) has become interested and mentions the club in his beginning EE classes.

    I think Oregon State turns out some decent chip designers (while I was there I
    knew one guy who it was already clear was going to go far), but like most
    universities they don't really have much emphasis on board-level analog design

    TekBots ( have been quite popular, although they were
    struggling with how to move them out of being heavy on the
    microcontroller/programmable logic emphasis and into somewhat more challenging
    areas, such as control systems and wireless links/communication systems (where
    you're designing, e.g., the radio and the error-correction protocols yourself,
    not just using someone's off-the-shelf wireless module, which is already quite

  8. Guest

    We still have a ham club at the University of Akron, most of the
    members are foreign students, with a small smattering of americans,
    but the analog labs are done with breadboards (sigh) not solder.

    Steve Roberts
  9. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    For lower-level lab courses solderless breadboards are fine... at some point
    then one of the labs should be about, "What are the limitations of solderless
    breadboards and where do you go next?" where you have students, e.g., measure
    the capacitance of the breadboard slots, calculate how that'll make it
    impossible to build reasonably high-speed designs, etc... and then introduce
    them to "dead bug" prototyping on a ground plane.
  10. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson Guest

    Now-a-days, how does a kid build anything of their own? Where do they
    get parts?

    I remember when Radio Shack, Allied, and Lafayette were primarily part
    bins ;-)

    ...Jim Thompson
  11. Mark

    Mark Guest

    Ebay.. it's like an infinite basement, I put all my stuff in there,
    and take out what I need...

  12. Jim Thompson

    Jim Thompson Guest

    My personal part bins include chips from the '60's ;-)

    ...Jim Thompson
  13. I've got a couple of trays full of the original Fairchild RTL buffers,
    gates, and flops.

  14. Nico Coesel

    Nico Coesel Guest

    Any which way they can! There are a lot of fora on internet which are
    used by youngsters to share information and buy parts together from
    companies likes Farnell, Digikey, etc. Same goes for measurement
    equipment. If you buy 20+ brand new oscilloscopes at once (not
    joking!), you can knock quite a bit off the price.
  15. Al

    Al Guest

    Get them the same place I get them now. Take apart discarded electronics.

  16. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Well, since you are probably a professor there, why don't you change that?
  17. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    Wait until one of you needs nursing facility care. Then you hear a huge
    lengthy slurp and all those saving are taostissimo. Gone. I know,
    because we volunteer and much of that with the elderly. Many of them go
    from affluent to welfare within a few years. It's sad.

    Ah, then I must have been rich. Had two 6164. Special edition with
    graphite plates no less.

    And the ones who really know the tricks are probably in emeritus
    standing, meaning >>60. I've tried that route a few times :-(
  18. Joerg

    Joerg Guest


    Man, if we'd had a place like that in the 70's .... but, no, you took
    your bicycle and 5-10 miles later arrived at the local electronics
    outlet. There you had to rummage through what they had and make do with
    whatever was in the bins. I remember when I did 1.5hrs roundtrip for one
    BFY90 RF transistor. They didn't have any. Had to come back the week
    after, another 1.5hrs. Had to fix the chain on the way there because it
    had snapped.
  19. Joerg

    Joerg Guest

    And it's better than ever. I mean, where on earth would we have gotten
    laser diodes back then? Or even big toroid cores? Now you take an old PC
    off your neighbor's hands for free and he even saves disposal fees.
    Inside is a smattering of wonderful parts.
  20. Chris Jones

    Chris Jones Guest

    Actually getting parts is now probably easier and cheaper than it has ever
    been, with ebay and lots of online catalogues. People also discard things
    now that as kids any of us would have been very pleased to dismantle, and
    some of us still do.

    Getting datasheets is also much easier for hobbyists since the internet took
    off. I remember having to make long journeys to a library that had some
    datasheets on microfilm, then paying quite a lot of money to have them
    printed off, and the whole process of getting one datasheet could take a
    day of my time, even if I was lucky and it was one of the datasheets that
    they had.

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