I've seen several variations of the type of people in this community:

  • Programmer who wants to get into electronics
  • Tinkerer who has messed around with electronics
  • Some electronics education, but still towards to tinkering
  • Formal education and has been in industry
  • No Formal education, taught by being in industry
  • Plenty of theoretical knowledge, but never has been applied

So what category do you fall into? How do you think your skill set is benefiting this community. Do you fall into a different category?


migrated from electronics.stackexchange.com Oct 6 '10 at 11:00

This question came from our site for electronics and electrical engineering professionals, students, and enthusiasts.

Doesn't this belong in users' profiles? – endolith Oct 4 '10 at 18:17
I think that this question should be asked in meta: meta.electronics.stackexchange.com – Daniel Grillo Oct 4 '10 at 18:48
I'm voting to close this and move it to meta, because This question is a discussion of this web site or community itself, and is a better fit for Meta. – Kevin Vermeer Oct 4 '10 at 19:23
@Kellen Re: meta site - That's irrelevant. We should have lots of people here, and the community-oriented discussion there. Re: Reputation - I don't think Endolith was advocating abolishing/replacing repuation, he was commenting (as I did) on the location of this question. – Kevin Vermeer Oct 5 '10 at 1:12
Why are you asking? I would often like to know the knowledge level of those asking a question, but just polling everyone's in a separate question is pointless. – Olin Lathrop Dec 5 '11 at 21:18
Pointless question, like Olin says. IMO doesn't even belong on meta. The answers are completely irrelevant. Voted to close. – stevenvh Feb 26 '12 at 9:35
The question was asked when the site first started. The question was very helpful at the time to see the base of users that we had and the direction that the site should be moving toward. It is somewhat irrelevant now. – Kellenjb Feb 26 '12 at 13:03

20 Answers 20

I'm an embedded software guy. CS degree, 10 years in Silicon Fen working for startups making high volume, low cost gadgets.

I know which end of a soldering iron to hold. But, have no formal electronics education.

I really like the know which end of a soldering iron to hold. – Kortuk Oct 4 '10 at 20:51
Maybe I should take note and start teaching what end of the soldering iron to hold in my soldering certification course. – Kellenjb Oct 4 '10 at 21:42
What you really must remember is that a soldering iron is not a pencil and so must not be tucked behind your ear for safe keeping ;-) – ʎəʞo uɐɪ Oct 5 '10 at 7:02
@Joby What else did you do along with your degree in CS to get in to embedded systems? Did you play with programming PICs as a hobbyist? As I have applied to University to study CS but want to be an embedded software developer. Any other tips you could recommend? – Dean May 20 '11 at 21:17
I played with Embedded Linux a bit, which got me a job, from there I learnt skills at work – Toby Jaffey May 22 '11 at 11:22
Ahh thanks will have a little play over the summer when im finished with my exams. – Dean May 22 '11 at 16:19

I did a BS in electrical, and another in computer engineering, and worked in industry for five years as an EE. Then I 'jumped ship' and changed to software engineering for the last 7 years, picking up an MS in CS on the side. Work tends to have a rather narrow focus, so I like to keep my skills sharp with the challenge of trying to be helpful on these stack exchange sites.

well done. Good to keep horizons broad. – Kortuk Oct 5 '10 at 0:59

"Some electronics education, but still towards to tinkering."

I have an electronics lab and I tinker mostly. I am taking Electronics classes at the moment. I have gathered a lot of theoretical knowledge and applied it.


I began thinking about this when I started on a research project that really requires me to focus on the theoretical aspects before I can dive into actual implementation. In the past I have tended toward just wanting to build it and see what happens.

Clarification: I am a MSEE student with some professional experience, but still tend toward being a tinkerer.

You should post this as a comment to your question. It's definitely not an answer, is it? – Kevin Vermeer Oct 4 '10 at 19:32

I've been in the industry for 16 years with a BSEE ad MSEE. I primarily work in embedded software development, and I don't get to tinker with general electronics as much as I would like.

I too know which end of the soldering iron to hold, from my days working on volunteer satellite project in college.


I recently graduated with a MSEE, but my background is mostly in programming and electronics on a theoretical level. So I am here to learn the tricks of the trade, and how to apply the theory as a hobbyist.


"Formal education and has been in industry"

I have been an independent consultant/contract programmer for the last 30 years. Do mostly embedded hardware and software, but I also write desktop applications and do web some programming. Currently involved in quite a bit of wireless stuff (using GSM, CDMA, Bluetooth and ZigBee modules). I do my own board layouts using Eagle.

I have a BSEE and an MSCS. I'm consider myself fairly skilled doing digital design, not as comfortable doing analog stuff. I'm the only real hardware person in the startup I'm working for, but there is another firmware programmer -- he can use a scope but is not a EE. I have seven US patents granted and several more pending.

I try to use my experience to help out others here by answering some of the questions. So far haven't asked any yet. But certainly have learned a lot from other answers.


As my profile reads,

I'm a senior student of Math, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Engineering at Grand Valley State University, and an intern at an embedded system design and manufacturing company.

GVSU is very hands-on, so I've got both lab experience and theoretical knowledge. I'm also working independently to expand my knowledge areas outside of the tools we learn in lab.

I'm not a programmer getting into electronics or an electronics guy getting into programming, I'm getting into both simultaneously.


"Formal education and has been in industry"

MA in Electrical Science from Cambridge University followed by 27 years embedded hardware and software design starting with 8080 and 8085 processors through 80386, arrays of 200+ DSP processors programmed in hand crafted assembler, up to date with MSP430, AVR32 and ARM processors

I must ask, if you remember, why a MA and not a MS? – Kortuk Oct 5 '10 at 14:15
This is Cambridge University with its history going back around 800 years to 1209. All first degrees are BA (apart from the slightly more modern BEd taken at Homerton College) which then lead on to MA after 3 years (no further study required). My contemporaries have MA degrees in Physics, Chemistry and Medicine. If you think about it, it is quite appropriate as there is a lot of art in Engineering. – ʎəʞo uɐɪ Oct 5 '10 at 18:50
I have found that often the university that is very science founded will do MS, one that has a strong arts history will do MA. It is interesting to me. I think MA makes just as much sense at MS, odd to see the world turn. – Kortuk May 21 '11 at 12:08
For Cambridge it is an artifact of history. Cambridge has a very strong science pedigree. It holds the record for the most Nobel prizewinning graduates. – ʎəʞo uɐɪ Jun 15 '11 at 7:36
I think history is the cause for this at almost every university. – Kortuk Jun 15 '11 at 19:48

Information Systems degree. love tinkering and got myself some basic parts and supplies when I entered a contest and needed to use an arduino for reading sensor data and sending info to a cell phone :) Want to take some classes, though, and really know what I'm doing!


Is anyone actually reading all of these? lol

Electronics and Computer Systems Engineer from Monash University Australia. 6 years experience in Electronics design including analog, digital, and high power electronics. I have worked with a lot with unmanned vehicle development, from power systems to the embedded computing platforms. I have a bit of experience with FPGA development, and develop regularly in C, C++, Java, Python, C#, and Matlab... and know a few other less awesome languages like Visual Basic lol


It's good to see the variety of people here, wildly different backgrounds and levels of know-how attained during and after school (if any).

I was nuts about peeping inside the TV, radio, etc since very young. Did very well in electronics in high school - the teacher and principal created a special two hour (or was it three?) block just so I could tinker more. The teacher let me do what I liked, with only occasional guidance. I helped the other students with their work. Won a plaque in the science fair for what today would be an computer engineering project. But I love analog more.

Majored in physics in college, not EE. Taught an electronics lab in grad school, though still in physics. Then left w/o thesis to go into software. That was a bad move!

So, no formal EE education but quite knowledgeable, did some design projects, and love to tinker w analog signal processing, solar powered LED circuits, audio etc. Fixed a big stamping machine in a factory, 'cause the owner knew I knew electronics. Theory and practice! Love the high horsepower math used in design and simulation, and I too know which end of the soldering iron to hold, even before breakfast. But never had luck finding a paying long-lasting job in electronics.

Now aiming for an MSEE at New Mexico Tech, conveniently close to where I now live. (Second choice: a photonics degree at UCF's CREOL.) Software work sucks and I've wanted to get out of it since a week after I started my first software job, while solar power, scientific instruments and millimeter wave technology intrigue me.

I work with quite a few physicists, one of them is very adept at electronics, not all of them, but he is. He does not have the bulk of things EE degrees teach you to memorize, but I think he would have everything if he was tinkering at home. – Kortuk May 19 '11 at 10:12

"Formal education and has been in industry"

3-year technologist diploma program (Canada) plus a continuing education certificate in computer programming for engineering.

I've been dealing with the agony of analog switching power (where failure is always an option) since 2000. I program in C, VB and most recently, LabVIEW. I dabble in embedded (mainly Microchip PIC) and in Win32 development. I play around with homebrew Wii development just for kicks. I've also done some work with MySQL and PHP in manufacturing production environments (ATE test results processing ... shudder)


Have a BSEE, mostly because I thought CS was too abstract and ME wasn't magic enough. Been working as an engineer for 5 years now.

My current day job is as a contractor doing research and development with 100% mechanical engineers (and a few "idea people" who know slightly more about electronics, but nothing practical), so that means I spend 20% of my time doing hardware, and 80% in the foo-foo land of software. Not my ideal job, but hey, it pays the bills, especially in my economy hell-hole state (go Red Wings, wooo).

Actually been thinking about getting a government job and getting a ME degree, because mechanical systems can be pretty ridiculous.


MSEE + 10 years experience. Now working as a consultant. One man shop. This site is enjoyable because I don't have other EEs to rub shoulders with. Also, it's fun to hear from the kids learning electronics for the first time.

I wish some of this was in your bio! – Kortuk May 19 '11 at 10:13

Programmer by trade, tinkerer by way of RC airplanes. I had a digital logic EE class as an undergrad.

I benefit the site by asking the questions nobody else is dumb enough to ask!


I have no formal electronics education other than my GCSE(education up to the age of 16, in the UK) in Electronics. The rest I have learnt on my own as a hobbyist(and from this site). I am wanting to study CS at university. So things should lead on from there.


I'd say my status is closer to "Some electronics education, but still towards to tinkering." I was a Computer Science major, so I studied digital logic and what-not back then. And I was pretty active with hobby electronics as a kid, but wandered away from that for the past decade and a half or so, in favor of writing software. Now I've discovered Arduino and messing with those has re-kindled my interest in hardware hacking, so I've been diving back into the electronics / hardware scene.

same here, just in case "the count" counts :-) – icarus74 Dec 20 '11 at 7:24

I did one year of Electronics, but dropped out because I could not grasp the math. Switched to Computer Science and finished that without much trouble. Been tinkering with electronics from when I was 10. Being the only guy around who has solid knowledge of programming and some half-way decent knowledge of electronics got me into interesting niches (and into systems design). I never did electronic design in industry, but I certainly influenced some designs. The boundary between programming and electronics is still my favourite hunting ground (along with for instance compilers and programming language design).


Almost totally agreeing with

Plenty of theoretical knowledge, but never has been applied

Even if before university I've done a technical school in which I've done a lot of practice, tinkering and burning ( :D ), and at home we are three electronic fans, at the university I've been almost only on the theory, and I have to come back to reality to get some solid knowledge.

Now I'm doing an internship in a company, which is helping me a lot in "knowing my knowledge" and getting into practical and industrial design.


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