Rarely does anything I read strike such a resonant chord in the dusty recesses of my mind that I am moved to write the author. But your column does so, and on a regular basis!
Perhaps the reason for this is that we are nearly contemporaries: I obtained a BSEE (from Pitt) in 1964. Back then, the good teachers were those professors or graduate students who were rooted in the real world of industry. The best instructor, and my favorite, was a man who worked part-time (second shift) for Westinghouse and was in his eighth year of his Masters' thesis!
He was a lot like a drill instructor in the lab: "Get a trace on that scope in ten seconds!... Use a little common sense and color code those wires on the breadboard!" For our senior project in Electronic Design, he made us work in teams of 2 or 3 on the design of a complementary transistor audio amplifier. Our grade was based solely on the performance and cost of the final design, and the specs were vague and incomplete...just like the real world!
...I too lament the loss of reality which a lot of the young electrical engineers seem to display. Most of what they know is based on a blinking cursor on a monitor, and they express amazement when something is built and tested on the shop floor that doesn't perform like the simulation!
Continue delighting those of us who still believe it's an analog world!
Donald S. Kimmel,
Fletcher, North Carolina
Thanks for your support— and keep mentoring those young engineers, too!—RAP