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is a degree in electrical engineering totally useless?


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....if you're much more interested in the actual creative process of making music than in the aspect of creating the equipment to make the music?? what degree do any of you think is the best to have, for someone that most likely wants to deal with the creative process,of making music, and the production. or is school not even necessary? ......so many questions...so little time..... Any electrical engineers out there offering advice??
"Los niños escuchan el 'rap'...que les daña el cerebro"
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I not a electical , I am a geomatics engineer, in to year 4 of 5. I don't know if this is for you.. HONESTLY if you want to design gear, do insane calculas eq's and hate life fr about 30-50% of the time go for it. if you want to produce or mix or do any of the other creative things your engineering training will be of little help. You don't need to be a P.eng. to understand the differance between a insert effect and send effect, and I don't really know anyone that is willing to program their own plugins. So yea just ask your self if there is a better way of spending 5 years of your life, ask your self what you want to be what you want to do , and the find out how valuble a degree in this will be. cheers, PS if you do go for it , go hard. Kevin Nemrava geomatics engineering student.-GO GEO :)
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lol .... 'hating your life 30 - 50% of the time' what exactly is a geomatics engineer...i never heard of that. you're right about the insance calculus and shit.....that stuff is overwhelming........and it seems useless to me.... i already have about 2 years of electrical engineering....and i'm thinking.....should i switch majors? it aint my cup of tea.....what i love is this music thing.... u guys think it's a waste, then? what should i do..
"Los niños escuchan el 'rap'...que les daña el cerebro"
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Great Question, I have a degree in electrical engineering. I thought it would help me understand gear better so that I could use it better. I thought I would be taught enought to build my own and I would have designed all my own outboard gear by the time I graduated. This has not happened. It has not directly helped me to be a better recording engineer. I do understand signal flow and can trouble shoot problems better then I could before but nothing to write home about. But it has helped to separate me from the rest of the bunch when it comes to getting hired. If you want to work at a large studio and they are choosing between you with a degree and someone without, you are probably going to get the job. This has gotten me experience in many studios that I know wouldn't have gotten into if I had gone to the local certificate program. I don't remember much of what I have learned in school, but it is a lot of Math and lot of theoretical science. This was the one thing I was very supprised about. I gained no practical experience from my classes whatsoever. I would defintely do it again if I had the choice but I was not satisfied with my class experience. E-mail me if you want to hear more. Harold
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Are you sure you're not confusing electrical engineering with audio engineering? Totally useless? I know a lot of EE's with good careers (not in music). I remember when they washed dishes for a living (during college). I guess somebody didn't think their degrees were useless. If your goals are to work as an engineer in the audio world, though, you may want to consider a music technology degree (or non-degree program) rather than a general engineering degree. But regardless, a degree is never useless, no matter what you end up doing. It opens up employment opportunities (related and NOT related to your field of study). Many companies refuse to hire non-grads, but they'll accept grads from any of a number of backgrounds. I work in the computer field. I've seen English majors, music majors, accounting majors, philosophy majors, physics majors and engineers all hired for computer programming positions. A degree also gives you the opportunity to go on to graduate school.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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I second Dan South's wise words. A degree is never useless. Bust your balls and get your diploma. Then do whatever you want to do. Be a basketweaving instructor if you want. When you get sick of it, or things don't pan out like you planned, reach in your drawer, dust off your diploma, and start making some real money. Even if you have non-degree skills, a guy with a degree that does the same thing will get paid a lot more than you if you don't have yours. And which one of you will get promoted faster? Ted...B.S. Meteorology, 1989, Florida State University...and glad as hell I did it.
"Cisco Kid, was a friend of mine"
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An Industrial Engineer with a Master Degree in Business Administration here ! A major just helps you to be able to get a lot of information and process faster it to get a solution. It works better if it is an engineering major. Being an engineer has not helped me to get a beter flow signal or design an instrument. However, if I take a manual, I can understand it more quickly than my other musician fellows. It's just because of the training on looking for info you get when studying a career. Even better, it has helped me -a lot- to understand better to this industry; how to manage, plan and do the logistics. Most of all, working as the Supplier Manager for an american company made me a better negotiator. "In this life you don't get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate". period. BTW, I suggest you to switch to an AUDIO engineering major. It works much better than Electrical for this industry... but keep studying !!

Músico, Productor, Ingeniero, Tecnólogo

Director de Ventas, América Latina y Caribe - PreSonus Audio Electronics

 

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ElGenius1, You've already gotten some great advice, but I'll chime in anyway... Maybe you don't need a degree, but study if you feel you should (and you should). Learn scientific method, absorb it, and apply it towards any situation you encounter in life. Science is fun, it's useful, and it could even save your life one day. I was recently considering going to school to get an engineering degree, so I emailed Paul Frindle, soliciting advice. Paul is on the design team that developed the Sony Oxford mixing console (among many other amazing things Paul has participated in, but I'll keep this post short), so I figured he would be a good person to ask about this. Imagine my surprise when Paul emailed me back, and explained that he had no college education! Paul dismantled and re-assembled TVs and radios when he was a kid...and eventually ended up at SSL, and then Sony. Electrical engineering was in his blood. He didn't need a degree. What is "in your blood"? Focus on that. With the internet, you can research and study any damn thing you want to (and you should). But, specialize. When people get thirsty, they think of CocaCola. When they need ____, they'll think of ElGenius1. What is the [b]one thing[/b] that fills in that blank space? When you answer that question, you'll know exactly what to do. I hope this helps. Good luck. Eric :) [i]"I'm not the best, but I try my best!"[/i] - Chef Joseph Poon

Eric Vincent (ASCAP)

www.curvedominant.com

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A degree in engineering is useless if you don't put in the extra effort. I know people who didn't know shit by the time they graduated and had a 4.0 gpa. They knew all the theory but could barely plug a hair dryer into an outlet. I graduated with about a 3.3 having build a lot of different things. I spent time in the machine shop building parts, and hooked up with an electronic tech in my school who gave me a lot of the parts I need and helped me with the basics. My degree? Optical Engineering (applied Physics basically, doesnt'get more theoretical than that). If you are not willing to put in some extra time and effort it IS useless.

Korg Kronos X73 / ARP Odyssey / Motif ES Rack / Roland D-05 / JP-08 / SE-05 / Jupiter Xm / Novation Mininova / NL2X / Waldorf Pulse II

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I have an Associates degree in electrical engineering and a degree in businesss marketing and sales and spent four years in the Navy as an electronics technician. I think the electrical engineering training has come in handy in the music business mostly when an equipment problem happens. I can solder a mean connctor and have repaired keyboards, speakers, etc. As far as having the education make me a better recording engineer or musician..no. It may make the learning curve a little easier when learning some new program or piece of gear, but ears and intuition and experience are much more important. A degree in music or a music related field such as audio engineering, music theory, composition, etc. would have come in handy and most likely made life easier in my musical endeavors. The main thing my college education has done for me is allow me to make the money in other fields so I can buy the toys for my music business.

Mark G.

"A man may fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame others" -- John Burroughs

 

"I consider ethics, as well as religion, as supplements to law in the government of man." -- Thomas Jefferson

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Reminds me of Keith Richard's band "Expensive Wino's", whose name came from a conversation between them while drinking wine, and Waddy or someone said they looked like a bunch of wino's.......and someone added..."yeah, expensive wino's". Or something like that. You get the drift. In the military contractor biz I'm in, engineers demand good salaries. I've always had the mindset, if you're willing to work, you'll never be without a job. Some folks think some positions are beneath them, yet they draw public funds to feed their sorry ass. A degree today is one of the only ways to guarantee you won't shit your pants when car insurance comes due. So why not go the distance now, make your future less stressful than the guy without a degree. In fact its way easier for me personally to emancipate my son, so he can get better loans/grants/etc....my income bracket kills us. And for the poster who relayed his military experience, I was a FireControl Tech, basically an ET that shoots missiles.....that experience is invaluable, and helped me snare a great job. I took advantage of the GI bill and got an education while on active duty.
Down like a dollar comin up against a yen, doin pretty good for the shape I'm in
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If you go on and get your degree you can make some money at your day job(or night job) while you are getting coffee and sweeping the studio waiting for your chance. You have to work anyway, so you might as well get a decent wage while doing it. Or maybe you want to try to just work in a studio. People will respect your degree. It shows you can stick to something and complete it (an important attribute). But ya duzn't hafta stick with EE. YMMV
- Calfee Jones
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Thank YOU everyone for your words of wisdom. (everyone except d gauss..hahaha :) ) i guess i'll stick it out in EE ....and keep doing my music thing on the side (even if i have to work at it in crazy hours when the whole world is sleeping).... i was actually surprised at how many people here have engineering degrees..... i go to school everyday and ask myself, 'what am i doing here?' ......but i guess, preparing for the future is what i'm doing, even though i know i wont be doing this engineering thing for the rest of my life. peace to all. :)
"Los niños escuchan el 'rap'...que les daña el cerebro"
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[quote]Originally posted by Curve Dominant: [b] [i]"I'm not the best, but I try my best!"[/i] - Chef Joseph Poon[/b][/quote] Yeah, I stopped by that guy's restaurant once. Nice place. I was thirsty, so the first thing I spotted was the Poon Tang. Very satisfying! Got some to go. :D

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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[quote]Originally posted by ElGenius1: [b] i go to school everyday and ask myself, 'what am i doing here?' ......but i guess, preparing for the future is what i'm doing, even though i know i wont be doing this engineering thing for the rest of my life. [/b][/quote] El Genius, Everyone thinks about giving up in college at one time or another. Everyone. Stick with it. Education will pay you back in ways that you can't even imagine at this time.

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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I would suggest that you finish your Engineering studies and you will have a big advantage if you want to work in a top recording studio when you graduate. I worked as a studio technician and it was easy for me to have access to the studios to learn to record music. Being able to read the diagrams for the SSL consoles certainly helped me to understand how to operate one a lot quicker than the interns who could only watch and keep the track sheets in order. It wasn't bad getting paid from day one and having a 40 hour schedule either. I have friends that went from technical work into being a recording engineer without the assistant engineer drudgery too. If you want to have your own studio someday understanding electronics could only be an advantage also. I majored in math by the way. I did it for enjoyment believe it or not, I kinda wish I went for electronics in retrospect.

Mac Bowne

G-Clef Acoustics Ltd.

Osaka, Japan

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I spent 9 yrs going to night school getting my BS in Computer Science. Had to pay for it myself, I had no life, no time to date, saw my friends a few days every 3 months - BEST THING I EVER DID. 10 yrs later, now I get to do what I really like and...how lucky for me, as an 00's audio engineer, it helps to know how to arm wrestle a computer into submission. I have used so much of my college engineering, programming, technical writing, math, etc. and I still do. It helps if you have some passion for your classes - then you'll actually learn something you can use. My other partner in crime here is a EE and one thing for sure, when we need to dig into something, the math never puts us off. Good luck - it will do you good.

Steve Powell - Bull Moon Digital

www.bullmoondigital.com

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[quote]Originally posted by gtrmac@hotmail.com: [b]I would suggest that you finish your Engineering studies and you will have a big advantage if you want to work in a top recording studio when you graduate. I worked as a studio technician and it was easy for me to have access to the studios to learn to record music. Being able to read the diagrams for the SSL consoles certainly helped me to understand how to operate one a lot quicker than the interns who could only watch and keep the track sheets in order. It wasn't bad getting paid from day one and having a 40 hour schedule either. I have friends that went from technical work into being a recording engineer without the assistant engineer drudgery too. If you want to have your own studio someday understanding electronics could only be an advantage also. [/b][/quote] Hey Mac, That is a very inspiring and encouraging advise!! I think this is definitely a path I should follow, thanks for your post! spam~ [url=http://www.geocities.com/oltimaz]Ol\'timaz[/url]
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I have a Master's, soon to be PhD, in philosophy. Now that I'm into recording, coming at it from a keyboard player frame of mind, I often WISH I had a degree in EE. Or, that I was at least left-brained enough that a lot of stuff about signals and circuits came more naturally to me. I'm utterly intrigued by the forces that make things sound how they do. From a philosophical perspective, it's fascinating how tiny little electrons moving through their cramped neighborhoods can be responsible for us describing tracks with terms like fat, punchy, warm, thin, muddy, etc. Wish I hadn't been so much of a math-phobe as a kid.

Stephen Fortner

Principal, Fortner Media

Senior Editor, Music Player Network

Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Digital Piano Consultant, Piano Buyer Magazine

 

Industry affiliations: Antares, Arturia, Giles Communications, MS Media, Polyverse

 

 

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Civil Engineer (Structural Engineering concentration) here with a MBA in Marketing here :cool: ... I can say that after practicing for 6 years, I got tired of doing my homework for 50 hours a weeek. I made the move to business when I realized I was much more of a people person than I thought I was. When I could get stuff done my bosses couldn't, I knew it was time to leave. My MBA, on the other hand, has served me well in various musical business situations. What does that have to do with music? EVERYTHING. I haven't used my civil engineering backgrond directly although it did come in handy once when I saw this crew building a stage that wasn't going to stand. I tried to tell them and they blew me off, until part of it folded before the show began. I told them where they made the mistake, and what I did professionally at the time before I walked off laughing at them. It hasn't made me a better musician from a technical standpoint (perhaps a bit more methodical), but it hasn't hurt either. Technology neither scares or nor intimidates me. I embrace it all and work with it for its merits. Engineering has given me the discipline and technical insight that I see lacking in a lot of producers and even some musicians I come across. Simple things a diagraming a setup or understanding signal flow is second nature to most of us. Even reading some manuals is like reading a Tom Clancy novel compared with engineering textbooks. Musically, I feel the creative approach is analogous. Conceptualize an idea, determine how you want to approach the issue, develop several ways to "solve" the problem. Pick the best solution for the situation. FINISH YOUR DEGREE. The engineering discipline reinforces the problem identfying and solving skills, something employers, record companies, and even recording studios look for in a person. A skilled person that can troubleshoot a problem on the spot after some careful, critical thinking is VALUABLE in this field. Much better than someone that gives you that *blank stare*... The fundamentals of the engineering discipline are applicable across ALL disciplines, industries and occupations. You never know if you might end up working for the lovely Eva Manley or George Massenberg designing the next great black box... [ 01-25-2002: Message edited by: MusicWorkz ]

Yamaha (Motif XS7, Motif 6, TX81Z), Korg (R3, Triton-R), Roland (XP-30, D-50, Juno 6, P-330). Novation A Station, Arturia Analog Experience Factory 32

 

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Well, as usual I have to chime in and be contrary.... :D As I've mentioned here before, I do not have a college degree. In fact, I took the GED at 16 and left high school. Formal education was a waste of time as far as I was concerned - I learn things more quickly and efficiently on my own, in situations that actually apply to what I want to learn. People talk a lot about the "discipline" of a college education and "you can ALWAYS use an education, you'll never regret sticking it out", etc. but that is certainly not true in all cases. I know lots of people who've graduated from college still feeling that what they've learned has little to do with what they actually want to do in life, and meanwhile possibly starting out life in a mound of debt from student loans. That doesn't mean I think no one should go to college, but if you're not sure what you want to do as a career, you may be wise to do something else for awhile (travel, apprenticeship, volunteer work, or just working a "real job") until you figure out what you want to do and then tailor your college experience to make sure it fits your needs. Likewise, if you DO know what your career path is, and you think your college experience is not adequately preparing you for that, then I say you should switch majors or switch colleges. It is QUITE possible that your degree program will only peripherally touch on what it is you want to do and in that case, I think it's a serious waste of time and money unless you happen to find the degree program interesting in its own right. All that said, I would LOVE to study electrical engineering formally at some point, IF there were such a thing as a program that applied specifically to APPLIED electronics. I have a client in my programming business that's an engineering firm, and I talk to the EE's there on a regular basis. Most of them have degrees from Georgia Tech which they all thought was a great program. BUT, when I talked to one of the partners there about it, he asked me how I intended to use the degree and I said, "I'm interested in audio - recording studio maintenance, designing, building, modifying and repairing audio components, guitar amps, consumer electronics like stereos, that kind of thing." The partner advised me NOT to enter a program like EE at GA Tech because it tended to focus on large power supplies, building systems, etc. It's way too general for what I want to do. The amount of time that I'd actually get to spend in a lab working on audio components or something applicable to audio components, would be practically nil. There are other schools like DeVry that seem to be more hands-on and more focused on applied electronics. I also don't necessarily think I need a 4 year degree program to learn what I want to learn. Some of the trade schools offer 2 year programs and that seems more reasonable to me. I felt the same way about computer programming. I have done that for a living since 1984 and as I mentioned I do not have a degree. Had I ever had to take a computer class in school, I probably would have been turned off to programming forever. I never did that well in math classes at school either, although all of my teachers were puzzled by this because they always said I had an obvious "aptitude" for it. I was simply bored to death and unable to retain anything if I didn't see where it fit into my life. But it was amazing how when I was motivated to learn about computers, algebra suddenly made sense to me and I learned all I needed to know. So I think what I'm trying to say is: different people learn best in different ways. If you aren't getting what you need out of your education you have a right to demand it or go elsewhere. It's your life, and you're paying someone to teach you what you need to know to get where you want in life. If they don't give it to you, I don't see what the point is of being there unless you enjoy it for its own sake - and lots of people do enjoy college life and studying even if they're not going to use it in their career. That's a valid reason to go to college. But if you don't really know why you're there except "for the sake of sticking it out and getting that piece of paper - you won't regret it later" I think you are selling yourself short. Plenty of people do "regret it later". Demand the education that you need, in whatever form it takes. --Lee
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Lee, I don't think you are being contrary and actually raise a good point that people learn in many different ways. In some cases, book knowledge and a formal education process would not work, as you have demonstrated. Apprenticeships, OTJ training and even trade schools are options that shouldn't be discounted. I do think that if EE is really a true interest, more stands to be gained to go thru the process than not to. With that said, I think some of the talk of the "discipline of a college education" has less to do with college than the actual engineering discipline. Call it what you will (and many tech heads are closest elitist when it comes to this), and I may get flamed for this, but if there is any curriculum that excels and prides itself on scientific method, discipline, problem identification and problem solving, it is engineering. The engineering discipline is unique in its approach to these things, something not found in many other disciplines that can be universally applied. Most engineers agree that to a large extent, the actual coursework is more theoretical and less practical (my BIGGEST complaint when I was a student). The application of that knowledge is what makes the difference, and that is where the hands-on experience seperates them. I am sure that with the knowledge you have gained via experience over the years, you could teach anyone that is willing to learn. My point is even when it is taught or learned from the application side and not the theory side, the fundamentals are the same. Be it a four-year college or trade school, as you said, "demand the education that you need, in whatever form it takes" and make it happen for you. [ 01-25-2002: Message edited by: MusicWorkz ]

Yamaha (Motif XS7, Motif 6, TX81Z), Korg (R3, Triton-R), Roland (XP-30, D-50, Juno 6, P-330). Novation A Station, Arturia Analog Experience Factory 32

 

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geomatics engineering, has nothing ot go what so ever with geology (as most people assume) think 1/3 EE 1/5 civil engineer, and the rest well "special". The basics of it is surveying, ... like the "basics" of EE is electricity. we go all the positioning things in the world, GPS is our fault, as well are the 2 newer systems that are going up. lots of gravity geometery orbits and crap like that. I like it , but it is a bit to theory based for me. PS GOES ANY ELSE HAVE? HAD ENGINEERING WEEKS... I have some great stories.... but lets hear yours first!
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