Electrical Engineering resources you may not know about

Electrical engineering is intrinsically non-intuitive - our brains didn’t evolve to understand currents, voltages, charges and p- and n- doped semiconductors - so it can be a very difficult topic to learn. Adding to this difficulty can be the dry and tedious presentation of the material in some textbooks - or most textbooks, if you have a similar attention span to me. In this post I’ll present some resources that explain things in a simple, easy-to-understand way. These resources have all helped me immensely in developing an understanding of some of the more non-intuitive topics in EE.

 

Electrical Engineering StackExchange

My personal favourite, and a great site to peruse in a lazy manner. StackExchange (which I’m sure many are familiar with) operates as a Q&A-style forum where users post high-quality, well-explained answers to very interesting questions. Questions and answers are upvoted on a quality basis, so a lot of the content is filtered for quality and thus provides a very illuminating discussion around the topics.

The Electrical Engineering StackExchange also provides a newsletter of the best questions of the week, which I highly recommend as a way to broaden your knowledge of EE.

Check out some of the best Q&As at https://electronics.stackexchange.com/?tab=month.

 

Learning the Art of Electronics by Thomas C. Hayes

Many have heard of Horowitz and Hill’s The Art of Electronics, the classic electronics design tome that is basically an EE course unto itself. Fewer, however, have heard of Learning the Art of Electronics, which was written as the lab manual for the classic book and serves as the lab guide at the Harvard introductory laboratory electronics course. Simply reading Learning the Art of Electronics  gives an intuitive understanding of electronic circuit behaviour, which I’ve personally found much more useful than the rigorous mathematics-without-understanding taught in some courses. In the author’s words, “students understand the circuit’s operation in a way that is deeper and much more satisfying than the manipulation of formulas”. The lab exercises are quite fun as well!

 

The Circuit Designer’s Companion by Tim Williams

The Circuit Designer’s Companion acts as a reference manual for EE design topics that we probably should have learned at uni, but didn’t. The book presents the “essential information that every circuit designer needs to produce a working circuit, as well as information on how to make a design that is robust, tolerant to noise and temperature, and able to operate in the system for which it is intended. It looks at best practices, design guidelines, and engineering knowledge gained from years of experience, and includes practical, real-world considerations for components and printed circuit boards (PCBs) as well as their manufacturability, reliability, and cost”. I’ve personally found the book incredibly helpful for reference to design guidelines that are more ‘rule-of-thumb’ than strictly based on calculations.

 

Making Embedded Systems by Elecia White

Making Embedded Systems, written by the host of Embedded, presents a broad overview of the embedded software profession and contains some valuable software development insights that every engineer should know, regardless of whether they intend to work in software or hardware. The book is very digestible, and in the author’s own words “intended to be read at the beach”.

 

Podcasts: Embedded/The Amp Hour/The Spark Gap

These three podcasts present casual discussions and interviews with fascinating guests on a range of topics from EE and technology, and serve as a great way to broaden your understanding of technical topics and the state of the industry. Embedded focuses more on embedded engineering and software; The Amp Hour addresses developments in technology with an EE focus; and The Spark Gap discusses EE-specific technical design topics in a casual manner. Great for staving off boredom while doing housework or on public transport!

 

Written by Sam Barrett (education.officer@mueec.com)
Melbourne University Electrical Engineering Club
2017

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