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Author Topic: Do they...  (Read 2692 times)

Offline JimIO

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Do they...
« on: September 02, 2018, 1613 UTC »
...teach kids how to solder any more?

Offline ChrisSmolinski

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Re: Do they...
« Reply #1 on: September 02, 2018, 1636 UTC »
...teach kids how to solder any more?

Way back when, when I was manager of a tech department, we had a written test to filter out the chaff applicants. And boy was there a lot of chaff. Basic questions on how diodes and opamps work. Both 2 year tech and 4 year EEs often had troubles with these kinds of questions. Some schools worse than others, I will not name any, to protect the guilty.

I used to joke that I wanted to add another test, throw a (preferably hot) soldering iron at the applicant, and see which end they grab. HR would not allow this. Eventually we got bought by a major large corporation and their HR department made us completely stop giving tests. I guess they were unfair to the chaff.

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Offline Rob.

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Re: Do they...
« Reply #2 on: September 02, 2018, 1729 UTC »
They don't.  In public education the don't because irons are hot and fumes are bad. Suddenly all kids are unable to do basic things that other kids could do decades ago. I know several HS "engineering" teachers that have never soldered before yet they teach electronics. It is dispicable what positive things society forbids kids to do yet promotes so many negative life altering decisions
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Offline BoomboxDX

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Re: Do they...
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2018, 1857 UTC »
What are they going to solder? Most modern electronics now are throwaway. And the call for radio, stereo and TV repair people is pretty limited.

At colleges they prefer to teach people other stuff they'll never use in real life, especially in retraining. A lot of retraining is a merry-go-round. Retrain and retrain and retrain. It's not always that way but it happens more than people think.
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Offline ThElectriCat

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Re: Do they...
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2018, 0140 UTC »
I am a broadcast engineer with no college degree, yet am constantly surprised by how many people I meet with a masters degree or better in EE, that don't really understand fundamentals. They know how to set up Analog Devices eval. boards, write python scripts, use LabView, GNUradio, program an FPGA to do fft, etc. An absolutely staggering number of things, all of which depend on an absolutely staggering volume of infrastructure. Take away their computer, programming environment, or proprietary software, and they cant do anything. The most common means of servicing broadcast equipment, is to call the manufacturer, and order a new part, or for smaller stuff. a whole new unit.  I am lucky that I was raised with a father who is an electrical engineer, and understands the importance of fundamentals (also sans college degree). 

Sorry for the rant, but I firmly believe that the best way to promote the radio hobby, ham, pirate, or otherwise, is to get someone half your age interested in electronics, real electronics.

ps. I am twenty four, and owe thanks to those twice my age, who provided the knowledge that was inaccessible elsewhere.
In another life, I could have been a telephone engineer.

Offline BoomboxDX

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Re: Do they...
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2018, 1135 UTC »
^^^^fascinating take on it, ElectriCat.

I am not a tech or even hobbyist by any stretch, but I remember talking to and watching the broadcast engineer that used to fix the tape machines, CD players, etc. where I used to work back in the 1990's. He could troubleshoot stuff, solder, tinker, and probably even rebuilt some stuff.

That was when things started getting more computer-centric and modular, and surface mount by then was becoming the norm.

I think a lot of the problem is the technology itself. It lends itself a bit less to repair, and more to replacing boards, modules, or entire devices. A lot of broadcast companies are on a budget, and I'm sure it's more cost effective to order new parts, modules, devices, than it is to pay some guy to fix something -- a task which could take a few hours to troubleshoot, etc.

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Offline ThElectriCat

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Re: Do they...
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2018, 1508 UTC »
I think in broadcast engineers also get away with a lot because the people running the radio station are usually not engineers. They often dont really understand what it takes to repair something. If the engineer says "It will cost $1000 to fix it" they find the money, even if that same engineer could have fixed it cheaper.
I have the blessing/curse of working in a small market without much money. My most current project is rebuilding the final in a 1KW PDM am transmitter, for which the power mosfets are no longer made. The suggestion from other engineers was to buy them for a ridiculous amount of money, from new old stock. my solution was to buy up to date parts, and modify the transmitter to accept new packages.

long story short. my radio station can't afford to fix it the other way. but unless someone told them otherwise, it would be the only way the non-engineering staff knew.
In another life, I could have been a telephone engineer.

Offline Josh

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Re: Do they...
« Reply #7 on: September 11, 2018, 1810 UTC »
Swap the lytics while you're in there.

:D
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Offline KaySeeks

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Re: Do they...
« Reply #8 on: September 11, 2018, 1844 UTC »
They know how to set up Analog Devices eval. boards, write python scripts, use LabView, GNUradio, program an FPGA to do fft, etc. An absolutely staggering number of things, all of which depend on an absolutely staggering volume of infrastructure.

However, that is by and large how industry in general is going and what young graduate engineers are asked to do in their jobs so it makes sense they actually know how to be productive when they get out.  Everything has an embedded controller in it now so it makes sense that they know how to work with those.

I was fortunate to have been raised goofing around in my parents' basement making, breaking and fixing radios and computers, got a formal education in the age of Intel 8085/8086 and Motorola 6800/68000 processors and have been able to integrate my hand-on background with other things to make a career. Even with that, my lack of attention to things like the emergence of microcontrollers like, for example, Raspberry Pi, Arduino, associated software and that whole "ecosystem" around this sort of stuff is starting to impact me professionally. I mention this not really as a lament, more just to point out how important these things are now.


Take away their computer, programming environment, or proprietary software, and they cant do anything. The most common means of servicing broadcast equipment, is to call the manufacturer, and order a new part, or for smaller stuff. a whole new unit.  I am lucky that I was raised with a father who is an electrical engineer, and understands the importance of fundamentals (also sans college degree). 

Yup, it's true that there is less knowledge of these things in industry (in my experience anyway). I went to a university with a massive lab course requirement, requiring a fair amount of experience with instrumentation (but not so much with soldering) but even if you soaked up all that knowledge, there still was a lot to learn. I was a geek about working in the lab, instrumentation and the practical implications of the theoretical shit we talked about in class, because that's how I started in this whole process and I continued to be interested and found work employing those skills.

But not everyone is like me and now people are being introduced to electronics in different ways than they used to be - without a soldering iron and probably with Raspberry Pi or something. That's the way things go. I bet that people were bitching 90 years ago that "kids these days don't know how to turn an automotive driveshaft on a lathe anymore" or some such. The world is moving on.
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Offline pinto vortando

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Re: Do they...
« Reply #9 on: September 11, 2018, 2002 UTC »
...teach kids how to solder any more?

Way back when, when I was manager of a tech department, we had a written test to filter out the chaff applicants. And boy was there a lot of chaff. Basic questions on how diodes and opamps work. Both 2 year tech and 4 year EEs often had troubles with these kinds of questions. Some schools worse than others, I will not name any, to protect the guilty.

I used to joke that I wanted to add another test, throw a (preferably hot) soldering iron at the applicant, and see which end they grab. HR would not allow this. Eventually we got bought by a major large corporation and their HR department made us completely stop giving tests. I guess they were unfair to the chaff.


HR departments prefer to hire incompetent individuals...   they don't have to pay them as much as qualified individuals. 
« Last Edit: September 11, 2018, 2003 UTC by pinto vortando »
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Offline Rob.

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Re: Do they...
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2018, 2341 UTC »
My experience has been that because I can solder well I have had numerous opportunities to engage in many part time employment activities. These activities have generated quite a bit of extra money for me simply because the people who hired me didn't have anyone on staff that could solder. I get it that most commodity consumer items are not going to get repaired but there are TONS, and I mean TONS of specialized equipment out there that a) can't have extended down time, b) are likely out of warranty, and c) no longer supported by the manufacturer any more

Manufacturing has quite a lot of this type of equipment for example. Being able to quick fix at the component level... yes, SMD, too... is worth a lot of money to someone who is losing thousands of dollars per hour being down. Since I don't drink coffee (no hand shaking), I can still solder a significant number of SMD parts. Sometimes the repair is as simple as resoldering a cable to get things working again.

So, I agree, consumer items are not hot on the workshop repair list but outside of that arena there are many, many opportunities for a man with a hot iron. The world is much bigger than just the latest iPod or Alexa device. Bottom line is I'm glad I can solder. :)

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Offline JimIO

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Re: Do they...
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2018, 1542 UTC »
The good thing about the technology today is that the hardware, Arduino, Raspberry pi, Orange pi, ESP8266 is very cheap and the software and documentation is free and easy to find on the web. I remember when it cost hundreds of dollars for a book and a C compiler.
One thing I don't like is that most Arduino tutorials start out by showing how to blink a LED. Why use a microcontroller to do something you can do with a 555 timer I.C..
You already have what you need to do it from the keyboard of your computer using 'serial begin (9600).

Offline Token

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Re: Do they...
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2018, 0410 UTC »
At our company we historically have tried to hire people with existing electronics experience and skills.  This typically includes soldering qualifications to various levels.  For technicians positions, vs engineering positions, we have leaned heavily towards people with past military experience.  Military schools taught what was needed, basic electricity and electronics, tube based electronics, component level troubleshooting, soldering skills, etc.  Some civilian training programs also covered these tasks / skills, but typically the majority of our work force has been past mil.

However today fewer and fewer military schools teach these things.  The military has gone more to LRUs and less to local level component level maintenance.

We are finding it difficult to acquire the personnel with the requisite technical skill.  Dare I say "loss of skill set in the US"?

So recently we have started to hire inexperienced, but promising, individuals and training them ourselves.  For example we hired a kid right out of highschool, his only electronics background was two semesters of high school level electronics, but he interviewed quite well.  Now, 2 years later, he is one of our more promising techs.

Yes, there are certain existing courses, both online and on-site, that can be done.  However these just tend to build the most basic skills.  We then have to take that basic knowledge and build it into the skill set we need.  There are real problems with this though.  We have to develop training programs ourselves, put together training facilities, and invest significant corporate revenue towards this effort.

One of our engineers has built a small radar system in the lab just for training purposes.  Full on, pulse-Doppler, conical scan, auto tracking radar with servo control loops, low power transmitter (it is in a classroom, after all, can't fry the techs just as we get them partially trained), receiver, indicators, processors, etc.  We can put a small class of 4 to 8 techs in the room a couple times a week for a couple hours per day between their normal duties, teach theory, inject failures, and practice troubleshooting and repair.  I am in the process of building up a small scale phased array (in this case AESA) radar for the same purposes.

(edit)  Let me be clear, we prefer to higher qualified and experienced personnel, we just find that harder and harder to do.  For example we currently have multiple openings for entry, mid, and experienced electronics techs, and several of those positions have been open for months on end.  And we pay fairly well, on WD or more, the pay is very good when you consider the local cost of living.  Of course, part of our issue might be not only finding the correctly skilled people, but also people with the right skill set willing to move to the desert.

T!
« Last Edit: September 15, 2018, 0418 UTC by Token »
T!
Mojave Desert, California USA