Transitioning to Firmware Position

To give you some background on this blog I will give you some background on my path to embedded systems and the routes I would recommend taking if I had better advice several years prior to making my decisions. With the current state of online information accessible via an Edx, Coursera, Udemy, etc I am a firm believer that a motivated individual can really pivot their career in any route they truely envision with the help of many of these Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and work experience as their is no substitute for solving problems that actually need to be solved. My undergrad education was in Mechanical Engineering and I worked for two years where most of the projects required an electrical engineering background as much as a mechanical engineering background. I also got rather proficient in programming in visual basic for applications (VBA) for data analysis and pulling data from PLCs at a manufacturing plant. During my time at work I supplemented my experience with learning circuits in my free time via Make: electronics with kit similar to this. When I decided to go to graduate school when making a decision I wanted to focus on the actual courses being offered by the University and not the prestige of the University. I found this to be very important criteria as certain Universities advertised they offered all of these courses only to research further into the actual academic calendars several years back to find that many of these courses were one-offs or have not been offered in several years. If I was going to pay quite a bit of money and take on debt I wanted to make sure I was going to get to take all of the courses that I wanted to take and make sure they were going to be offered every other semester. I ended up getting an M.S. in electrical engineering with a focus in energy and power. The point of all of this rambling, is to answer a fundamental question, could I have reached these same goals / obtained all of this knowledge without taking on all of this financial debt? Most efficient path to becoming an embedded engineer assuming some sort of STEM background as an undergraduate. Core Classes If someone goal is to work as an embedded software engineer, it is almost guaranteed that we will need to understand electronics at a certain level and at some point of their career need to operate an oscilloscope, logic analyzer, and digital multimeter. Traditionally, labs were needed to get access to most of this expensive lab equipment and it may have been more financially attractive to learn this information at a University because they had this lab equipment. With the ever-increasing cost of lab equipment and new development of USB oscilloscopes, this is no longer the case. I think getting these core skills down will give an embedded engineer the confidence in solving these problems they will run into throughout their careers. Electronics / Tool Training Purchase texas instruments microcontroller dev kit. Digilent Discovery Student Bundle MIT edx course circuits and electronics These two courses will give you the foundation in electronics that you will need and give you a heck of a starting point with any C Programming Training These courses will give you a good foundation in c language and help you with the fun stuff, actually making a device. C Programming Language by Kernighan this will be a great reference Udemy Course C Programming for Beginners Youtube Embedded Programming Course Embedded Systems Course EDX course Embedded Systems - Shape The World: Microcontroller Input/Output EDX course Embedded Systems - Shape The World: Multi-Threaded Interfacing EDX course Real-Time Bluetooth Networks - Shape the World You should now have the basics to operate a scope, dmm, logic analyzer to troubleshoot any electrical issues you may experience. You should also now feel comfortable reading/writing c and comfortable with an IDE. You should also have a grasp on datasheets for the microcontroller and sensors and have a high-level idea of how everything is intertwined. Find a project you want to solve in your free time, design a battery controlled RC car, design a LED light sensor, the possibilities are endless. It is also important to find that job to actually pay you to do this stuff. Having a git project to display on interviews even without the formal educational training in this material would help tremendously. Most people love to hire a motivated individual who has a passion to learn more in the field and this would be great step in displaying this information. The goal would be to take an internship as a software test engineer while you are starting all of this formal course work. Getting hands-on experience working with electronics and reading c-code and schematics is invaluable and also gives you access to mentors who most likely know a great deal more than yourself at the current state. I have found most people are more than willing to help someone that is trying to help themselves (improve themselves), learn and is polite. Show all three qualities and if I was a betting man would bet these people would be more than willing to help you on your journey. Software Track In conclusion, I think deciding to become an engineer, is some commitment for life long learning. Technology will change throughout our careers and to maintain technical positions, one will have to adapt and continually learn and retrain themselves. In my short career, I have seen how larger companies set up an organization structure to only allow engineers to work on specific tasks. I personally am a lifelong believer in changing roles whether that is within a company or outside the company every 3 years because you max out the technical skills you obtain in a position handling the same duties, working the same products, etc in the time frame. To answer the larger goal, could I have reached the same position I was in without graduate school, absolutely. Will all companies give you the same opportunity without these paper credentials? In time, certain companies are already not requiring college degrees and

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