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College Drop-Out Hall of Fame

In his column, "Become Your Own Brand,” March ’07, Dan Hebert wrote, “When I was a hiring manager, I saw resumés that indicated the job seeker had started a technical degree program but not finished his or her education.

March 2007

March '07

I considered this a major red flag and tossed out the resumé. If someone couldn’t complete an important task like finishing school, it was hard for me to see him or her sticking with a tough project.”

Now, allow me to add a few possible punch lines:

“…and that man was Bill Gates.”

“…and that man was Michael Dell.”

“…and that man was Steve Jobs.”   FEEDBACK

Jerry Reilly, software engineer (and—you guessed it—college drop out), Data Translation

Let us know what you think: FEEDBACK


PLC Portability

Jeremy Pollard’s column often is the most interesting feature. But I wonder if he’s over-emphasizing PLC program portability. I’m not as concerned with how portable a program is as I am with how well documented it is. As Pollard mentioned, even portable programs have some odds and ends to straighten out. Those loose ends can get really messy.

My experience is that succinct comments can make it an order of magnitude easier to maintain, modify, or rewrite a program. If I was in charge of a project involving the porting of some code, I would want to make sure that whatever comments the programmer created also were ported. If a program is uploaded out of a PLC and ported or converted, the comments that aren’t in the PLC might get lost in the shuffle.
I also think Pollard should explain why ladder is so pre-eminent. Having programmed in VBA a lot, I am a big-time fan of traditional computer language code. Some of my recent programs in ControlLogix have a third of the routines written in structured text. It’s truly a godsend. But ladder is still the workhorse. For any kind of control, it provides unmatched tools for a programmer to write solid, stable, maintainable programs. Don’t you  agree?

Function block creates programs more like an electrical circuit than a traditional program. As function block programs get more complex, they become tough to understand and work on. Of course, for laying out a PID-based control strategy, function block is fantastic, as the process guys will strongly assert. I’m sometimes one of them. They’re correct, but I maintain that function block must be complimented by routines written in structured text and ladder that follow established, good-programming practices. Those routines contain all the rest of the code that’s not best done in function block. Let’s use the right tool at the right time.   FEEDBACK

William Love, Kredit Automation & Controls, Phoenix.


Electives Would Be Piling On

November 2006

Nov. '06

I like Dan’s concept of more free electives [“Less Math = Better Engineers,” Nov’06]. Unfortunately, if the engineering deans did allow them, they would not cut back on the engineering courses. They would just tack the free electives on to the credits per semester engineering students already have to take. So, instead of 18 or 21 credits per semester, the poor schmuck engineering students would have to take 21 or 24 credits per semester.  FEEDBACK

Bob Martino, BSEE, PE, senior electrical engineer, Camp Dresser & McKee, Cambridge, Mass.


You Felt My Pain

I really liked your article on free electives for engineers. I was one of those 21-credit-hour-per-semester geeks. As such, there was no time for socialization like other students, much less an infrequent spectator at sporting events my school was well-known for.

However, an engineer always can, when given the chance, out figure the dominant Wall Street species. A little contrary to your premise, I would suggest continuing with additional schooling even with a full day-job to socially and professionally succeed.

Granted it is not immediate but not hopeless. A more rounded education I agree is much better.  FEEDBACK

Leonard Walsh, Engineering Fellow, Pratt and Whitney, E. Hartford, Conn.

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