Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Electronics and Communication (ECE): Question(s)?

Edit: This news item here is what got me started

Also called "elktraniks n kamnicason". I have some major questions on this branch of 4 year Bachelor of Engineering (B.E) course. The mooostesttt major question is listed first, the supplemental questions are listed later

1) Do people, who study this Electronics and Communication, after finishing it, work on jobs that have something/anything to do with Electronics (or) Communication? If there are people like this, you know of somebody like this, or you think you are one (even after a ego introspection) - please leave a comment stating the nature of your job and why you think its got something to do with E (or) C ?

Supplemental Questions

2) Is there such a group outside of Tamil Nadu (or outside of 4 southern states) ?

3) Why can't a person with Computer Science & Engineering Degree do a job, which ECE folks are recruited for?

I am trying to build

Argument-1: 99% of the jobs that ECE people end up doing, require them to learn completely new subjects - on the job. Thereby throwing to the dustbin the previous 4 years of education. If this is true anybody with a non-engineering degree, who is intelligent, and who has done a NIIT course on C/C++/OS should also be given equal preference for the job. If the latter undercut the ECE students by settling for 70% of the market salary, ECE students could have a problem.

Argument-2: 90% of the 55-60 odd courses/subjects that ECE students do in their 4 years is a total waste of time. Like Electron Devices, Solid State Circuits I, II , Electromagentic Wave Theory(remember this horror story), Transmission Lines and Wave Guides, Fibre optics are good examples of useless courses.

I want to know (really do) if my arguments hold good. If it does not, I will at least stop arguing this in the future. If it does - I will propose theories (not to the government but during my futile arguments) in the form of these questions.

4) Are there enough people doing PhDs in Microwave electronics or Solid State Electronics to justify this blatantly crappy syllabus?

5) What factors should decide framing of a syllabus? Should the fact that 0.25% of the graduating class do DSP jobs and another 0.5% do something that interfaces with DSP lead to a whole new branch of study?

6) Why shouldn't ECE/CSE be consolidated to 1 single stream with a wider option of electives in the final year?

7) Now that we have totally idiotic courses like B.Tech Information Technology, I am getting ideas of patents on courses like (a) B.Tech Computer Technology (b) B.Tech Electronic Technology or (c) B.E Networking Engineering. Having started such bogus courses, I can claim royalties on all colleges who start this course and a percentage on salaries of people who get jobs based on these degrees. Essentially everybody is going to go and "do" "kamputer" (or 'kaam' - 'putter' as they say in the north) job. Why not cash in on it?

P.S1: I did ECE.
PS2: I have heard my share of people who were doing generic coding and claiming it was a pure ECE job.
PS3: I am aware of the whole "signal processing" extravaganza, which is why I listed question # 5.
PS4: If you work for a Indian IT Services company, please remember this is not a resume you send to a client. Think deeply before you say you are doing a ECE job or not.


Anonymous said...

I know tons of people who are now doing their MS/Ph.D and also people who have done their MS/Ph.D in semiconductors related areas coming from BE (ECE) background. Have heard that the ECE background helps/helped them a lot. If a person graduates out of BE(ECE) and goes on to work in an IT company, then it is of no use. But it is not the only case. If that is the case, it is true for any other engineering branch like civil or mechanical or electrical. In my opinion, ECE is the only branch in the southern states(as I don't know where else this branch is there?!), which concentrates on semiconductors and solid states.

Anonymous said...

all people who got jobs in my class are software jobs. its only the dogs who go and do MS claim they are doing pure ECE job.

Anonymous said...

I know folks who graduated from ECE and now work for TI/Intel-type companies in India doing ELECTRONICS design(not DSP). These are in the minority, though. And of course, there are others who do their Masters in India/abroad and enter the electronics/VLSI/solid state area.

Anonymous said...

Seeing the plethora of posts (and loooong ones too) in your blog, I think you are having way too much time in your hands. Did you quit your internship in chic-ka-go ?


Suresh Ramani said...

I do know a lot of people who make use of their ECE degree .. I definitely don't regret doing ECE, if at all, I regret not doing it well. There are definitely not as many jobs for ECE, its more of a specialist area .. but same is nearly true for the CE degree .. for the majority of the SW jobs out there, you don't need an engineering degree.

Anonymous said...

Electronics - electron devices, solid state circuits........

MS - VLSI circuit/RTL designer

With CISCO/ INTEL hiring in such huge numbers in India, the only big ? is, the antique syllabus of MAdras university.

Nilu said...

iru - yaar ketta itha? un muthumai thontharavukku oru ellaye illaya?

Anonymous said...

To explain why companies pick engineers rather than anyone with an NIIT degree, let me give an example. Just because two guys have an MBA it doesnt mean both can apply for the same job. It makes a difference if he went to an IIM or if he did it in the evening college next door.
This difference is not in the amount of knowledge, its in the ability to stand out ,to compete and to think faster than the next guy.
I dont know how it is now , but a few years ago, if a guy got into a top engineering college then he had to have put in a good amount of hard work and should also have had a decent IQ.
So companies use the engineering selection process as more of a filter rather than anything else.
Sorry to digress from the original topic..

Anup Raghavan said...

I did my ECE degree and was quite fon d of electronics. My final year project back in 98 was a vhdl design for JPEG compresison. My folks wanted me to do Mechanical engineering as it was the Degree for Boys to Do as it was the SARD - (socially accepted & respected degree). I had to fight very hard with my parents to pursue ECE. Ofcourse the syllabus was very well designed but the teaching methodology was crap back then. No simulation programs or software/hardware to play with for students. Books recommended were of level even master's students find hard. The worst of all really boring lectures from people who dont know shit about the subject. I am surprised I am still interested in electronics even after all the trauma in studying at college.

But whats interesting is the fact that there were Intelligent Students who faired really well in ECE and most of them really didnt care for electronics. Most of them are working as software or business and management professionals today. How in the world did they even understand the lecturers and even ask them doubts -- maybe they taught the lecturers a thing or two.

I worked for Freescale Semiconductors as a Digital designer and got laid.. I mean laid off recently and now working for a Satellite & Comms Company. Irony is that I faired quite badly on comms. subjects like DSP, Wave guides and Antennas, etc. and my current job requires all of the subject knowledge I struggled with. They why did they hire me you may ask. I do have good digital design experience and this is the skill I was hired for. I am happily learning DSP and comms the way it should have been taught at work.

So fellow friends studying ECE can bring out memories to share.
Anup Raghavan

Babs said...

I did my engg in Jollutrical Jollutronics and Jolgeneering, as the name suggest it used to be the group where Females bred as well as the jollu parties, untill the damn ECE and Comp Sci came :-). Anyways I understand your point but how many of us do justice to our tertiary education today (very less). Engg has become a base as oppose to being specialised. As the Anony said engg is used as scrutiny process than for its skills.

Indian Secondary education is one of the world's best (ok I understand it does cater to mugging (by hearting) idiots too), but the syllabus give us wide knowledge to make our own decision to pursue our dreams (dont even go near fathers accompanying their children to DOT interviews).

I like the course offered in Western countries for tertiary education and it should not be more than 3 years + 1 year intern (hands on exp). Like Anup said a enng graduate here gets to design his own circuit, synthesize using free EDA tools (Synopsis, Mentor Graphics etc) and debug in a FPGA board, I dont think even a master student does that in India (may be things have changed now).

May be our govt (dept) should not have soo much control over the syllabus and disciplines after secondary ed.

Ace of Space said...

Hi Hawkeye,

This is Babs' wife. I have been a silent reader of your blogs for almost a year now and have enjoyed most if not all of your blogs. I am an ECE grad myself and have pondered upon the very same questions about the course. Nevertheless, I am for the course since it gives a choice to people who aren't interested in plain coding. I have also noticed that the syllabus (not what we are taught) we follow is actually more extensive than what is taught in some American universities, although the quality of teaching differs by a large magnitude. On the same note, I also have friends who have done their PhD in ECE related subjects and are passionate about working in the same field.
I am in a different field now, but would give anything to get back to designing and working with wireless networks which is what interests me since my Masters :)
Keep up the good work wrt your blogs!


Anonymous said...

The most absurd part, I found, in this whole department thing was, after we had the IT slump.
The general junta's (i.e. the omniscient parents, your pet peeve) preferred ECE/EEE (and also Instrumentation at times) over CSE, a strategic decision and now all those engineers are again in software indistry. Really funny that the parents spent so much time on "thinking!"
But, yeah, a few of my college mates are in Electronics side and are doing well.
P.S.:- I did my CSE. Doesn't matter at all.

Anup Raghavan said...

What at times annoys me is Why Should Parents have a strong opinion on what their kids study. When you reach the age of going to college you are becoming an adult and should have the common sense to decide what you want to do with ur life. Some kids need their parents guidance which is ok.

But most of the parents want their children to become a doctor if they are a doctor themselves and an engineer if that is in demand. These so called SARDs are ratified by those who wouldnt have even worked in those fields. The children get pushed to do that course and hence later on switch industries or work areas which is fair.

So Education in India for those who are not one of those highly competitive types can have a major gala of a time and build fond memories when in college and they can get their act together when out in the real world looking for jobs.

The downside with this approach is that the kids will be burning their parents hard earned money whilst the parents are slogging long hours affecting their own work life balance.

Hawkeye said...

anonymous1, anon2, & anon3,

275 colleges + 60/class = 22,000 /year. by any kind of estimate i dont see more than 2000 for the category you mentioned. i wuould put it as 200.

Hawkeye said...


dei panni. circuit variyaama commant adikke. multiprocessing man!


u wud have liked anything that is non-linear. i dont think there was a lot do well in. i am glad i escaped boredom-induced-coma.

Hawkeye said...

/* Electronics - electron devices, solid state circuits........

MS - VLSI circuit/RTL designer

With CISCO/ INTEL hiring in such huge numbers in India, the only big ? is, the antique syllabus of MAdras university. */

the guy 'anush' comments before you and 'babs' two comments after u are essentially doing the same thing.

they are 'thrible' E group. all the same.


enakkum unnakkum 1 year thaan vithyasam.

Hawkeye said...



but you have to consider 'cause' and 'effect' relationship between ECE & intelligence. in that companies recruited ECE students maybe because of the perception that intelligent student tend to choose ECE. not vice versa.

another collegue of urs who has commented here is again 'thrible' E. he has no vaasanai of SSC related subjects.

my basic point was it was superflous and anything relevance we see in our jobs is too faint to be called direct job application.

Hawkeye said...


there is also the fact that any of our pre-college education does not equip us for making college course/career level decisions.

/* Like Anup said a enng graduate here gets to design his own circuit, synthesize using free EDA tools (Synopsis, Mentor Graphics etc) and debug in a FPGA board, */

see i think what ECE contributed, in terms of preparation for this kind of work, is not much diff from what EEE or CSE contributed. I have seen many EEE, CSE, ICE students do this. you are an example. whats so unique about ECE that nothing else can provide?

i see most student get into these kind of jobs based on their MS qualification than any direct ECE relevance.

Hawkeye said...


welcome :-)

i actually went to your blog some months before through a random blog search.

thanks for your comments. i havent been able to articulate the thought stream I had yday when writing this blog. so i am unable to respond to most comments effectively. but my main point was essentially that ECE was a superflous group. A wider choice of electives woul suffice to serve the interests of the 1% minority who actually have interests in non-coding fields.

i am surprised that popularity of a course has no relevance to whats happening after the course is done. or maybe i am wrong.

on a sidenote: naanga babu'va avalava CMU level-ku padikka vekkalai. etho here-and-there silambu kathu koduthom. (enter sivaji in pasamalar role) enga 'kann'aye unga kitta kodukarom - antha oranguttan kannula naanga anandha kaneer'a thaan pakkanum. :-)

p.s: did he tell you we learned 'silambu' together? must blog about that.

Hawkeye said...


agree doesnt matter. And i though the telecom, semiconductor industry was the worst hit in the slump. and people moved to ECE.

thinking about it more convinces me how futile the arguments were. there is no connection. people do what they do.

Hawkeye said...

/* When you reach the age of going to college you are becoming an adult and should have the common sense to decide what you want to do with ur life. */

i agree with you. But i have to say most 12th students dont have commonsense. i didnt have it either. people selected groups for arbitrary reasons. i saw someone taking 'mech' and said ' somebody has to do non-CS courses so i will do it' - like he was making a sacrifice.

the people who opt for commerce to do CA and later drop out convince me even more that students dont have it in them to make independent decisions.

Anonymous said...

deiii barathooo

wish u many many appy returns of the day. appy birthday

ennada j p murugan 100 hrs per week poratha.. daily blog ethukuda

tilotamma said...

aappy b'day-ya?

Anonymous said...

If every aspect of education has to be measured in terms of people using them in their jobs, we could get rid of several subjects right from our school days.. start with History& Civics?

I believe that everything you learn is a tool in your kit and you could always retrieve it and use it when you may need it.
Although, I can undesrstand with your current MBA jaunt, you are probing the value/efficiency of doing certain things where "costs/time" are wasted -)

Hawkeye said...


no (my assumption is that) both engineering (ECE) and secondary school education (with history etc) prepares you to make a wide range of choice at the time of job-search or XI std respectively.

for e.g. ECE students can do anything from s/w to microwave thereby validating some courses and invalidating others.

same with XI students who do commerce, bio, history vs CS.

my point was you can do the elective method at school level. but at BE level i think the courses are fairly close enough and it is logistically feasible to do so.

my rants on ECE began in my 2nd year BE when I got angry with a framing of a very immature syllabus. many commentors here know it. my journey after that has only reaffirmed that irritation

Hawkeye said...

/*my point was you can do the elective method at school level. */

should be changed to

my point was you cannot do the elective method at school level.

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