I spent a key part of this month in the lab testing a design we had engineered. A client had paid to develop the system. One of the reasons I enjoy microelectronics is that it includes most things, from physics to mathematics to software. Yes, the most challenging software anyone can create is the one that controls electronic signals. And you cannot make sense of many things without mathematics. In short, being a good microelectronics engineer requires that you are a solid guy on calculus.
All those Integration and differentiation you studied in undergrad would help you bias transistors at the right operating modes. Most electronic products in the world came out of calculus (yes, those equations they taught you in African universities have practical applications).
Before the typical software guys can code, hardware (software) writers have to write the extremely complex stuff which is esoteric to most traditional software coders. So, you must code very well to get the hardware to respond in the way it had been crafted in silicon. Think about it: if you connect a printer to a laptop, nothing happens. But if you install a device driver in the laptop, it recognizes the printer. Writing the code for that device driver requires you know every handshaking sequence between the laptop and printer. It is one of the most fascinating software engineering tasks in the world, used in nuclear reactors and aviation: one mistake, empires can collapse!
Read this summary of How to Design and Make Integrated Circuits which I originally wrote for Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) student magazine many years ago.
We would continue to design and make things. And hope one day all would be done right in Nigeria.
The full article is an engineering lecture on chip design and fabrication, and it brought many things to mind, offering greater clarity to many things we were forced to only read in books, while studying engineering; without much motivation anyway.
Of course, many people work all the time, across the globe, just to ensure that humans enjoy the finest things our imaginations can conceive; a true definition of what passion entails, before the financial rewards come in.
There is a reason why PhD is the only ‘authentic’ doctorate degree, because philosophy allows us to study the ultimate cause of things, learning the fundamentals in the process.
Yes, coding and building apps is on everyone’s lips, but before that, a more difficult work has been done, so that a lot of people can be brought into the party.
It offers another template for national development, the need to look at the fundamentals in economy growth and development, so that majority of the citizens can participate, not the skewed and undeveloped arrangements currently obtainable here.
Nice one, keep them coming.