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BSEE seeks career advice - RF Cafe Forums

RF Cafe Forums closed its virtual doors in 2010 mainly due to other social media platforms dominating public commenting venues. RF Cafe Forums began sometime around August of 2003 and was quite well-attended for many years. By 2010, Facebook and Twitter were overwhelmingly dominating online personal interaction, and RF Cafe Forums activity dropped off precipitously. Regardless, there are still lots of great posts in the archive that ware worth looking at. Below are the old forum threads, including responses to the original posts.

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Post subject: BSEE seeks career advice Posted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 5:34 am

Hi. I graduated from M.I.T. 2 years ago with a BSEE and a BS in Management. As I was torn between working in EE and business, so I tried working in business as a management consultant for two years. However, now I really feel the urge to come back to tinkering with circuits (I used to be an avid electronics hobbyist, and loved to build hobby kits-eg. Stereo Power Amp, Audio mixer etc. in high school)

So, I took the big leap and quit my business job two months back, and decided to reaquaint myself with EE. Went back and did all the problem sets to all my undergrad circuits courses, since I haven't looked at a circuit in two years. I am now looking for an entry-level position as an analog design engineer/applications engineer, but the market is tough as many newbies like me on this board attest to. Based on self-study, I have done coursework upto building an op-amp, compensating it etc., but do not currently have the knowledge of specific areas like high frequency techniques, or building D/A converters, power electronics ICs etc.

My question is the following:

1) Based on my current knowledge, is there ANY entry level job I can get in IC design/apps, or do I need to have a lot more knowledge in the field before I can even get an internship?

2) Is loving to tinker with circuits hands on a good indication that one will like IC design? My worry is that it appears that a lot simulation is done today with software based design tools, and the hands-on aspect is minimal.

Any advice you can offer is helpful.



Post subject: Posted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 5:43 am

To quit a full-time job without having a new one is suicide in these days !

Maybe you will reach something by the help of the name "M.I.T.", but surely not with your BSEE. There's a big difference between electronic hobbyists and modern IC design.



Post subject: helloPosted: Tue Dec 13, 2005 2:29 pm

take some course work online


berkeley offers course work in analog IC, digital IC, data converter IC design.

if you can handle MIT or so you say, berkeley should be a joke for you.



Post subject: ThanksPosted: Wed Dec 14, 2005 3:42 am

This NTU seems like a great idea. btw, I've heard that the courses at UCLA/Berkeley are better in terms of analog esp. compared to MIT. At MIT, there is so much more research/courses in Comp. Sci and signal processing (A.I., DSP etc.). Virtually nothing in RFIC at MIT until recently, when one of Thomas Lee's students became a Asst. Prof. at MIT.

If you had a choice, would you only take a course on RF circuit design, or would you also through in some material on digital IC design as well? What about antenna deisgn etc.? Thanks for the suggestions.



Post subject: Posted: Wed Dec 14, 2005 8:48 am

If your truly an MIT grad you should have no problems getting into an entry design position lots of company will do it. Start sending your resume to compamies.



Post subject: berkeleyPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2005 11:57 am

True, you are an MIT Grad. You should NO PROBLEM getting interviews.

Having said that take these courses at Berkeley: I know MIT won't have a lot of courses, actually Michael Perrott teaches a high speed class at MIT and is available on opencourseware: ocw.mit.edu.

So take:

Advanced Analog Integrated Circuits at Berkeley

Advanced Integrated Circuits for Communications at Berkeley

VLSI Interfaces (Data Conversion) at Berkeley

Those three and you should be all set.

Take Digital Integrated Circuits if you want too.



Post subject: hiPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2005 4:57 pm

What was management consulting like ?



Post subject: Posted: Mon Dec 19, 2005 5:47 pm

Site Admin

Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2005 2:02 pm

Posts: 373

Location: Germany

Hello BSEE,

From your description it looks like you have a good background and a passion for circuit design. As suggested here you should take these advanced courses, which ususally are a part of the Master´s program, they will pave you the way for a career as an IC designer.

And yes, today much of the work is being done with CAE tools and you should have a good knowledge and know-how with these$$$. But this is usually being part of the course that you will take. If you know the basics of how to use one tool, you will know how to use them all. They are pretty much the same. You also have to be familair with the design flow of an IC.

I am sure that with your enthusiasm which not so many people have nowadays you will reach far.

Good luck! and keep us posted concerning your career


Best regards,

- IR



Post subject: Job decisionPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 11:34 am

Thanks for all the advice and encouragement! After some months of aggressive job searching, got two Analog Design entry level opps. at Intel and Agilent (now Avago).

Jut wondering, my Intel offer is to join a team that designs PLLs for microprocessors to correct clock skew etc., and the one at Agilent is either to join as an analog IC design engineer in mobile imaging sensors, or as a test engineer in RF. Do you think it is better to start off as a designer in an area not related to RFIC, eg. imaging sensors, so that you have a good grasp of design tools, CMOS etc., or better to start out as an RFIC test engineer. I am thinking that my longer term goal will be to do RFIC design. IR and others, would love to hear you views on this.

btw, someone on this post asked what management consulting is like. It involves a lot of problem solving just like engineering, just that you solve business problems; eg. what are the most attractive market segments for oil company X to enter in China? How much should company Y pay to acquire company Z, etc. I think the key difference is that you spend 50% of your time on problem solving, and the 50% on promoting your ideas to client and team members(very much like selling in that sense). My sense is that in engineering, a greater percentage of your time is devoted to problem solving. Hope this helps.



Post subject: GoodPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2006 2:38 pm

Both jobs are good.

Intel job -- how high in frequency is the PLL running at ? If it's above 1GHz, then you can learn high speed and microwave design anyway -- since at those frequencies it's fast just like in an RFIC !

So take the Intel once, since starting in design is always better. Also, you can learn and take courses from Stanford for example towards a MSEE which can all be done online, since you are from MIT you can do this, company will pay for it and then you can take RFIC courses, anlog ic courses or whatever you need.

Avago treats people better, but just get into Design.

Management Consulting sounds boring. Just taking people out, to restaurants.



Post subject: ~50MHZ onlyPosted: Mon Jan 09, 2006 9:33 am

Thanks for the pointers.

I think the PLL runs at around 50MHz only. Pardon my ignorance, but are PLLs implemented in microprocessors the same way as they are in RF blocks (eg. circuit topology, process technology etc.) assuming for a moment that the PLL was implemented for speeds above 1GHz?

Just trying to assess if I would learn anything useful at Intel to kickstart an RF career given that 1) the PLL at Intel will be developed for a microprocessor, not an RF circuit and 2) It will be running at a slow speed, only around 50MHz.

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