Friday, July 29, 2016

Electrical Engineering Information Overload

How does an Electrical Engineer student deal with information overload?

What a great question an Electrical Engineer student recently asked me. In running an industrial training company (BIN95) for decades, with the motto “We make learning fun”, I am in a unique position to answer that question. It's actually one of those questions millions of students around the world have, but seldom speak up and ask.

As with any solution, the first step is to identify the problem. We could do root cause analysis of the problem of electrical engineering student information overload, but that kind of detail would add to the problem of information overload. :) So in short…

  • In the engineering field, there is whole lot of information needed.
             - Compounded by the fact the required information constantly evolves and increases beyond the foundation and theory realm.
  • The problem is compounded even further by the fact that Engineering student information is taught via an antiquated ancient Greek system we call college.
             - Why is the ancient educational system a problem? Because the outdated system/approach requires the students to memorize mass amounts of information and theories, history, etc.
                               * The outdated educational system does not take into account each particular student's learning style strengths (audio, visual or Kinesthetic).
                                 * The existing educational system does not take into account what each individual actually needs to learn, to perform the particular job functions, specific to the job they are seeking to to do upon graduation. (Too generalized)

      So the solution to the learning information overload syndrome many electrical engineering students experience is actually quite simple. Especially for a civilization as advanced as ours.
      Teach using blended learning styles (audio, visual, kinesthetic), and only teach what is needed for a particular job, not an entire field. Teach how to find technical data if and when the need should arise, in contrast to the existing method of having to memorize everything.
      An approach BIN95 industrial training has taken since 1995. If it is so simple, why didn’t our institutionalized educational system evolve as civilization did?
      The bad news is keeping social acceptance based on 2, 4 or 8 year degree systems (instead of focused on knowledge/skills need, not time in school), keeps big colleges in business, but this capitalistic approach to higher education has been a barrier to the evolution of learning. The good news is, colleges like MIT are starting to evolve. They are flipping the old ancient Greek system upside down. Like instead of making students sit through a long  lectures by professors (audio learning style only approach), expecting students to absorb, and retain mass amounts of information in a short period of time, and then do homework to prove they understood and retained enough information. MIT has recorded lectures, so students can listen, and study at they're own pace, followed by discussion and hands on labs in the classroom. 
      Eventually the leading colleges will evolve even further, making the upside down approach  even more effective, by applying the same approach our company has for the last couple of decades. Taking that professor's audio lecture only approach and incorporating it into Computer Based Training (CBT) courses like we deliver. At BIN95 we have seen the future of real world simulation training software, and the future is bright. The ability to learn on your own schedule, customizing curriculums to meet your specific goals. With increased CBT implementation and technology, education becomes more cost effective, and with real world simulations, students are not only taught, but can actually be trained! 
      So what advice is there for a student stuck in the old school college?
      First and most important, don’t stress out about it. Second, only worry about remembering the mass amount of information, one test at a time. Third, fill the college gap simultaneously with computer based training, interactive, real world training simulation software courses like we sell. They use the blended learning approach  (audio, visual or Kinesthetic), and while they may not help you memorize mass amounts of information you will never use in your life time, they will give you a better understanding of that information. (And a better chance at guessing the correct answer on the quiz due to your better understanding of practical application.). Our CBTs will also make you more aware of what is important to remember long term, what you will actually need to know out in the real world.
      Another example,  is all of our many PLC Training courses, you will find the history of PLCs is not covered. I have never needed to know that in the work place either. We call that filler (fluff) so the learning institution can keep you busy for X amount of hours, or years. One of the most common questions I get from college instructors and apprenticeship programs is “how long does it take to get through training software course? I need to fill 70 hours” for example. It is very common that institutions decide how long the course will be, before deciding what content will be in the course, which leads to fluff, and ineffective education or training. 

      But there are exceptions to every rule. There may be scheduling or financial constraints that limit the length of a course. When that exception arises, we prioritize content by what is most commonly used in the workplace, what is most important in the workplace, and include as much as we can within the time and financial constraints. However, with some electrical engineering topics, like Proper PLC training, that could result in damage to man or machine if not done properly, we will decline a request to reduce training below the minimum time our expertise in the field dictates. Training and education decisions are not black and white. We would rather not make a sale, than only deliver enough training to build false self confidence in the student or employees. If we can't do it properly, we won't do it at all!

      Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .) Be sure to to stay on top!

      Tuesday, July 12, 2016

      HVAC Training

      HVAC Training Support

      HVAC training videos and free online HVAC training assessments!

      Online HVAC Training
      HVAC Training online

      Below are some great resources for those delivering HVAC training or those about to receive it. Start by testing yourself, employees or students with these recently added free online HVAC training assessments.

      HVAC Training Test:

      2. UF SPECIFIC (alt 2)
      3. HVAC TEST
      4. HVAC Test 2
      5. HVAC Test 3
      6. HVAC Test 4 (Final)

      Then to supplement your training, check out these online HVAC Training. << Link to download version and USB versions (shipped), but also off the same HVAC training course online. BIN currently offers their own HVAC Basics course, there are also many related certificate courses here.

      Certificate courses like ...

      Don (Follow me on Industrial Skills Training Blog and on Twitter @IndTraining .) Be sure to to stay on top!