Practical as in could the class material actually be applied to designing or building circuits. Or is it more like learning about the 0's and 1's of how computers work, only to later find out that programming is done with higher level syntax?
asked 07 Apr '12, 18:17
In a word: yes.
In more words:
The following is relatively subjective. I am not a professional electrical engineer, only an amateur roboticist. That said, I've previously studied circuits and I've been taking the 6.002x class for kicks (and a refresher on circuit basics, which turned out to be more needed than I realized!), so I feel I can comment.
In my opinion, the subject matter covered in this class is necessary if you plan to design analog circuits. (For instance, any circuit involving temperature sensors, humidity sensors, microphones, radio, motors, servos, ...) Normally a class of this type has a physical lab component where you are building actual circuits; in the MITx course this has been replaced with a virtual lab, which I actually find pretty ingenious.
If you are only interested in building logic circuits, you may be able to get by without some of this knowledge; you may also be able to get by if you simply plan to build circuits from schematics that have been provided to you... until one of your circuits isn't working the way you expect and you have to debug it, at which point you'll find it difficult without a good way of determining the "expected" behaviors of various points in the circuit.
The flip side of this is that when you do "real" circuit design, you will mostly be using larger components, like (at a minimum) op-amps, transistors or pre-fabricated sensors/actuators. So, this material isn't sufficient for designing analog circuits.
I would recommend taking this course (or working through a text on the subject) and then building some electronics kits; that way you can ask yourself the important question, "Why does this work?" as you're putting them together. Which way is better for you probably depends on whether your learning style is more generalities -> specifics or specifics -> generalities, though.
answered 08 Apr '12, 19:47
It's practical and has a necessary level of theory. The juxtaposition you are proposing isn't the axis of focus on which the course spins. Rather, the course is exactly as advertised: "A first course in an electrical engineering or an electrical entering and computer curriculum, providing students at the sophomore level a transition from the world of physics to the world of circuits and electronics ... establish[ing] a strong connection with the contemporary worlds of both digital and analog systems" (from the Preface of the text, below).
If you want to know more about the content of the course, have a look at the textbook which arose out the MIT course 6.002 and is used for teaching the online course 6.002x: http://tinyurl.com/7kqaxtu
answered 07 Apr '12, 18:25
It's not practical in the sense of building circuits to a purpose.
The course focuses on analysis of electronic components, but not on the "interface" components which comprise a circuit which actually does things. For example, the course has not explained the electrical characteristics of microphones, speakers, meters, relays, photocells, and so on.
The interface devices which are described are done in an abstract fashion; meaning, that practical considerations are not covered, and various element features are given simple values for didactic purposes. For example, LED's were covered, but no mention was made of differing voltage drops depending on the LED color, power requirements of typical LEDs, and related. The LEDs shown were abstracted devices used for circuit analysis.
This is not a bad thing, and as sfjjhs mentioned, it's not the purpose of the course.
Building actual circuits also requires other knowledge that this course won't cover, such as project enclosures, electrical safety, types of power (batteries, wal-warts, solar), board layout, connector design and choice, &c.
If you want to build circuits, best advice is to get some electronics kits and assemble them. Once you've built a couple, take the MITx course to understand what's going on under the hood.
answered 07 Apr '12, 20:05