As I mentioned before, I am pursuing my MSEE at George Mason
University, and my specialty is control systems. I will study DSP and
adaptive signal processing next semester. I will acquire DSP, PLC, and
DCS kits to practice what I learn. I will gain practical experience
from some combination of work experience, a formal research project,
formal independent studies, and informal personal projects. I am
seeking a career as a control or instrumentation engineer, and I am
not waiting for my last semester before graduation to get going.
What industries you you recommend? I am open to working in any of a
variety of industries, and I am open to relocation. What industry do
you work in? What products does your company produce? How did you
get into your industry? What are the special conditions and pitfalls
of your industry? What specific parts of control systems and signal
processing have special importance in your industry? (I have already
learned from you that certain industries prefer PLCs, certain other
industries prefer DCSs, and control theory is more likely to be
important for fast-response systems and less likely to be important
for slow-response systems.)
Some of the industries I have thought of:
1. Government: A position at the NIST would be a logical choice, as
this organization is THE group for instrumentation work. There's also
the CIA, FBI, Naval Laboratories, etc.
2. Defense: Control systems and instrumentation are used heavily for
navigation, guidance, and other applications. Autonomous vehicles are
especially prolific users of controls and instrumentation. We have
heard in the news about the use of a variety of devices in the War On
Terrorism, and there are probably even more that they won't tell us
about for security reasons.
3. Automotive repair equipment: When you bring your car to the repair
shop for service, the technicians use engine analyzers and other
equipment for diagnostic purposes. A special machine is used for
alignment work. There are many parts to be tested or monitored. And
unlike the demand for new cars, the demand for car and truck repairs
does not go away during recessions. The same should apply to the test
4. Oil industry: The oil industry is a prolific user of
instrumentation to find oil deposits. Control systems and
instrumentation are used in the drilling and refining processes.
5. Natural gas industry: See above.
6. Oil shale industry: See above. Of course, any drop in energy
prices would be particularly fierce to this industry.
7. Fuel cell industry: Fuel cells generate electricity by combining
oxygen and hydrogen into water. I truly believe this technology will
eventually replace the internal combustion engine when costs drop low
enough. This is a case of a risky industry with the potential for a
very high payoff.
8. Food processing industry: Everyone has to eat.
9. Fluid flowmeter industry: Many industries (such as the oil and gas
industries) use flowmeters to measure the flows of liquids and gases
10. Medical device/instrumentation industry: Medical devices like
artificial hearts and pacemakers are examples of control systems. The
medical industry is a prolific user of instrumentation for measuring
anything from blood sugar to heart rate to brain activity.
11. Security equipment industry: Anything that has an alarm is a form
of instrumentation. I know that there MUST be a boom in this
12. Nuclear equipment industry: The War On Terrorism and concerns
over the proliferation of nuclear material surely must have driven up
demand for Geiger Counters. The same applies for devices used to
detect biological and chemical weapons.
13. Transportation industry: I believe that rail systems must be
prolific users of control systems. So I could work for the CTA
(Chicago Transit Authority) or DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit).
14. Factory automation
16. Mining instrumentation
17. Power instrumentation/controls
18. Water treatment
19. Waste management
Are there other industries I have not thought of?
Jason Hsu, AG4DG