March 5th, 2004


(no subject)

Something that bugs me about EE:

The labs.

No, not the projects you have to do. The work space. The area you have to, say, actually put circuits together.

You're not allowed to use it for anything except classwork, and even then, only at specific times.

See, we've just learned capacitors. I've always wondered how exactly they work, and now I've figured it out, I think. I've at least figured it out well enough to get the answer to a question that the teacher clearly didn't expect anyone to get. But I'm not done yet - I still want to play and experiment. Which involves having a power supply, a breadboard, a few resistors, and a few capacitors. And a multimeter.

But I'm not allowed to do it in the lab session, because it's not actually part of the lab. (Not like that stops me, but hey.) And when it's not a lab session, I can't even get into the room! (That *does* stop me.)

With CS, you can use your home computer - or you can use one of the lab computers, at any time, no questions asked. Even if it's totally unrelated to your classwork. Even if you're, y'know, not actually in a class.

With EE . . . it all seems so much more restrictive. It's not "Go play, have fun, learn something" it's "do these precise experiments and tell us what you find out". I mean, it's as bad as chem, and we're not even working with anything that could melt your face off. (Well, unless you decide to push ten thousand volts through something which is clearly not designed to take ten thousand volts . . . but even so.)

College learning is so sterile. I don't know if it used to be, but it is now. Back when this stuff was being invented, it wasn't "let's go look at the textbook and do the problems", it was "let's build this, strap a cat to it, and see what happens." (I don't know how they got electricity back then. It could have been cats. It seems unlikely, but you never know.)

("We need more cats, Captain! We don't have the power!")

("It's a twenty-catpower battery, the finest on the planet today.")

(Back to the subject.)

It's like, we're not allowed to learn by *doing*, right? We're going to have an entire set of EE people here, coming out of their first year, who have never said "Huh. I wonder what THIS does!" and started setting up random circuits to find out. I mean, I bet these people won't even start burning out components accidentally until they're juniors! (Or maybe they will - there are some interesting charred spots on the lab motherboards.)

It just bugs me, I guess. I kinda wish I was still in Seattle - I could come ransack my mom's basement for electronic equipment. :P