After the Nam, I spent some time as Field Service Manager at an alarm company after a short sojourn living on the streets, you know, sleeping in doorways and such: no real direction then, just screwed up. Finally decided to hit the books at a private school in San Diego, San Diego College of Engineering (this was not first, though; I wasted a year at the University of Montana with a combined major of Political Science/History, minor of Economics). SD was a year-round school, finished in 3 yr 3 mo, and headed off to San Diego State for Master’s in Electronics Engineering. Turned out the College was much better, and I challenged every Master’s degree course at SD State, but wasn’t much into doing some stupid paper. To convert, I had to take 12 units of Liberal Arts, so went to Mesa and took Bicycling, Anthropology and The Care and Prevention of Sports Injuries. Ha!
During the college time I worked in R&D electronics, aerospace/special R&D. Several projects there, mostly stuff from the Black Arts. After, did a stint in Avionics, and got very tired of nitwit bosses in a hurry. Thence decided contract/consultant work would be best. Consequently, it would take way too much space to enumerate all the companies I’ve worked for, or the projects I’ve worked on. To give an idea, I’ll list a few: the F-16 avionics ground test station, Ford’s EECIV engine controller (the base for modern DSP chips in phones, computers, TVs and on and on), control systems for various forms of manufacture (such as robotics, nuclear plant fuel pellets, large aircraft weights and balances and so on), various jobs designing proof of concept on computer support chips, etc., NATO/US satellite communications computer gear, environmental control systems and this is getting boring. The last 9 years I removed myself from the high end stuff and relaxed in doing test engineering on motor controls, high power voltage conditioners and Uninterruptible Power Supplies mainly for computer systems.
My interest in electrical stuff began when I was 7 and got my first library card. I rapidly made friends with Ms. Catlin, the local librarian in my town, and subsequently was allowed free run of the library. Those first years I concentrated on reading everything I could find on Nikola Tesla, and built my first Oudin-Tesla high voltage coil at age 9, approximately; could have been 8. I used that coil later on trying to kill myself with high voltage, not intentionally, mind you, but when some idiot grabs a hundred thousand volts with one hand and a ground with the other, there’s got to be something wrong with his brain. Or at the least, there is after he’s done the deed. At any rate, what that thing did made me read books on nuclear physics in the 7th grade, including the math books so I could understand the physics, and so forth blah blah blah. You get the idea. Besides that, I was pretty bored with school.
Throughout my journey through this life, I’ve been fascinated with physics in general and electronics specifically. Control systems was just my bag, since it was a combination of both, and that led to either taking or auditing a ton of college courses to learn what I needed for various jobs. More boring stuff. In the end, I have concluded several things which I’ll put down here, probably pissing some people off, but…
Theoretical physics is and has been developed by Piled Higher and Deeper people who spend at least part of their off time smoking illegal stuff; that enables them to come up with some of the most cockamamy ideas ever to surface on this good earth. The theoretical mathematicians are more than partly to blame for this, what with virtual particles magically appearing and disappearing when needed or not, and QM math being something invented by some demon lurking in the shadows with evil eyes on the minds of men.
Higher education in physics/electronics suffers similar malfunctions as other subjects. Students are required to memorize and know by rote what the profs’ concepts are, correct or not. My work came to me from the shadows of those concepts when they didn’t work and everyone was puzzled: I became a sort of wizard who could fix things that others couldn’t. That was because I question everything, as the saying goes, so when I entered a project, it was with eyes and mind open. Usually, the solutions were obvious, at least to me.
Those who design things, whatever they might be, have their ways and means, and if the physics doesn’t fit, well, they’ll defend their moronic positions to the death, even when faced with absolute demonstrable fact. That’s a place I refused to go.
Lastly, having studied this sort of crap for most of my 70 years, I’ve concluded (actually long ago concluded) that this world doesn’t need oil, or hydro power or any other sort of money grubbing power. Technology exists, and has for well over a hundred years, that is capable of giving us any amount of electrical power we need for any purpose, and doing so in packages small enough as to be non-intrusive in normal life. Question is, then, how about those who seem to need the roar of the monster V-8 or the big V twin when they’re faced with driving an electric car or bike? That’s one you can all answer. I just want to see a world not driven quite so much by profiting off the public.