From: Chris Carlen
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Subject: Re: Continuing Equation Question
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2002 04:09:27 GMT
NNTP-Posting-Date: Mon, 09 Sep 2002 21:09:27 PDT
David Bengtson wrote:
> Now that I've been out of school for a while, I'm working on expanding
> my horizons. I'm curious as to how other engineers do this. For
> example, I've picked up Egan's book "Frequency Synthesis by Phase
> Lock". Reading through this is only so productive, and the exercises
> in the back are only for part of the questions, the one's with numeric
> answers. What approach do other's take when trying to learn technical
> material without taking classes?
I sit down with a notebook, read the text, and write the same thing I'm
reading in my own words in my notebook. When I get to an equation I
write it. Then I see if I understand it. If not, I may do some
figuring (like the steps the book left out of the derivation) until I
Then do the examples and problems.
Basically the biggest obstacle to learning is lack of discipline,
assuming one has the raw intellect to handle the subject. Most of what
I learn is pretty basic math, science, and engineering concepts, just
trying to understand the stuff that was all figured out a long time ago
by the real piilars of human acheivement.
Often I pull out a book and page through it going "uh, this looks
interesting," but I don't learn much except a cursory idea of what is
involved in that subject, because I don't take the time to work out the
Recently I'm taking a course in Electromagnetics, via distance learning.
I'm effectively learning the subject on my own through the book, and
just skim through the lectures looking for oddballs that I might need to
be able to use on a test.
I have made it through 120 numbered equations on the subject of
transmission lines over the past 3 weeks from the textbook. It's taking
me about 2-4 hours a day, 7 days a week to thoroughly understand it and
keep pace with the class. It's very difficult, not the subject itself,
but accepting the time it takes to work through it. Somedays I get
through only a few paragraphs in several hours, or one problem in a few
hours. But I tend to go overboard, and develop a program to model this
concept, or figure out how to use Mathematica to visualize that
function, etc. Really apply the stuff and ask questions, then figure
out how to answer them yourself. For example, I didn't just read how a
Smith chart evolved, I actually worked through the derivations of the
circle equations, and drew my own basic Smith chart by hand. That
cements ideas into the mind better than anything else can.
That's how I do it. Just go for it. Your choices are clear: sit in
front of a TV or absorb some other form of mind numbing entertainment
with your spare time, or exercise your brain and accomplish something
worthwhile. I don't think I will ever stop studying new subjects,
whether I'm in school or not.
Christopher R. Carlen
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