Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Simulations have their Limitations

Okay, I appreciate the fact that a lot of animals lives will be spared by using this software. The software allows students to skip the hands on dissection of frogs with a virtual simulation. But, when I read this article, all I could think about was my own experience with recent electrical engineering graduates. It seems a lot of universities are saving money by buying software to simulate oscilloscopes. We actually have electrical engineering graduates that have never used real scope hardware.

Oscilloscopes are a critical design and diagnostic tool and no design or test engineer worth his or her salt would ever be without one. Yet, I have had new hires point at the trigger control knob on a scope and ask me, what is this for?

All that we can expect from colleges and universities is to teach students basic fundamental engineering, but now so many are not even grasping the core skills. This is a problem for the future of electrical engineering and really frightens me when I see the same thing could happen with medical students who one day may only use simulation software even though they will eventually deal with real living and dying humans daily.

Surely, we will never get to that point, right? If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be working with engineers that had almost no hands on, lab experience, I too would have thought that impossible.

1 comment:

  1. The only simulation I used in college was SPICE for electronic circuits. I don't know of any students who liked using it.

    I think simulations are OK to use only if the interfaces and behavior are identical to the actual equipment. The oscilloscope software definitely fails the test in this regard.

    In the medical field, it could be a boon if they get the simulation to a high enough quality. Take the newbie surgeon and have him go through a series of operation simulations before he practices his knowledge, or lack thereof, on a real person.