Thoughts on making in college

Thoughts on making in college

In response to Dale’s post yesterday, asking for input on colleges for makers, Pete Marchetto wrote a brief piece on his college experience in making things with some links he thought may be helpful.

Making in College

8 thoughts on “Thoughts on making in college

  1. No Such Reality says:

    Wow, that piece is way off the mark, bordering on utter nonsense. Electrical/Mechanical engineering will land you into the world of differential equations, z-transforms, Fourier analysis. The only thing you’ll be making in those programs will be theorem proofs on your TI-86. I’m not even going to bother with responding to being a Physics Major. Maybe he should post his course list for us to review. I’ll let the following video speak for itself.

    I don’t know if you can get any further away from “Making” things.

    1. ad astra says:

      Perhaps that was your experience, but it wasn’t mine. I majored in mechanical and aerospace engineering, and we got to do plenty of hands-on work in the machine shop and the electronics lab. We did a lot of math too, but frankly, there’s a reason why the major is called “engineering”, not “machining”. Math turns out to be very important for developing new technology, and I don’t see why you’re denigrating it the way you are.

      I wouldn’t have developed the interest I have in making things if it weren’t for what I was taught in my engineering classes. The math has never been my primary interest, but it’s an important tool, and anyone who wants to do really cool stuff with technology ignores it at their peril.

      1. Pete Marchetto says:

        My recommendations are made due to my experience. Physics is THE best program, from what I’ve seen and done, to go into if you want to make new, interesting, and useful things. Chemistry ranks a close third behind the engineering disciplines. Of course, if you just want to perpetually use technology without understanding it, you could skip the whole math-based curriculum, but to actually make something new, you need to understand the first principles behind how things work.
        Or you could just make stuff that’s interesting in other majors.
        At this point, my physics career has taken me from making optical acoustic transducers, to building and testing medical devices, to working with cool magnetostrictive materials, to designing and building tests and test setups for machine calibrations to building custom experimental setups, to being in charge of the refurbishment of a particle accelerator, all in about eight years. And it looks like the fun isn’t going to stop any time soon!

    2. Jack says:

      Considering that the author (and those who commented on the piece) are speaking from personal experience, I might suggest that either you don’t know what you’re talking about, or your particular views on Physics and Engineering are not the only way things work.

      Apparently your particular educational/career path didn’t allow you to make, but that’s not how things turn out for everyone. No need to discourage others.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. And he has a new best-of writing collection and “lazy man’s memoir,” called Borg Like Me.

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