William Twomey

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Electrical Engineer

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    • I usually use 8-bitters now specifically for their old school process - which means built in EEPROM, true 5V I/O which can take a hammering, Flash that's guaranteed to live until after I die, etc. As prices fall, I think the other thing to consider is that micros will no longer be big money makers. With the race to the ARM bottom, I think some players will eventual decide to drop out. Why carry the vast support and engineering resources needed to compete when you're only getting pennies of profit. This is why I think Microchip in particular is smart in avoiding ARM and making their niche. People will keep going back to them for reasons other than price. And as prices fall, its becoming more irrelevant. I remember when the cost of the micro was a big deal. Now, it's heavily outweighed by boring stuff like connectors. A little extra money is worth if it can save you engineering time, power, size, etc for all but extremely high volume products.

    • I think you get caught up in battling C fan boys. My guess is most embedded engineers that use C don't have C++SUX license plates or really get that passionate about the C versus C++ debate. (the ones that do are just more prominent on the forums) I can tell you my reasons for using C have been dictated by 1) my preference for a certain company's microcontrollers who over a free IDE that doesn't support C++ and 2) fear. I taught myself C in 2 months. It is easy to understand, it's explicit, I can always figure out what's going on. C++ excites me, but even after reading a book (twice) and acing an online C++ class, I'm scared to use it on a real project without a mentor C++ expert. I started reading 55 ways to improve your C++ only to become even more scared. C++ is just entirely too complicated. I realize there are all types of ways to screws up in C, but I think I know about them all. In C++, I'm sure there are tons of additional ways to screw up I'm not even aware of. Experts repeatedly make claims like (it takes 2 years of C++ programming to really get it....) So for professional projects, especially safety critical ones, I'm just to nervous to go out and use it on my own.

    • Having a good process in place usually means shorter development cycles, not longer (in addition to lower bug rates). So I think a better comparison would be Therac releasing 3 months earlier (saving even more lives) without a death causing bug.

    • Schools can help seed the initial desire to get into engineering. I didn't realize I wanted to get into engineering until I took a Physics class in High School (my senior year). It blew my mind and opened up a whole new world for me. It seems our education system is designed to make everyone a professional fiction writer. Instead of wasting time (in my personal opinion) reading Maya Angelou and studying Spanish, more exposure to STEM classes could make education more exciting and trigger the engineering desire in many students. As you mention, engineering is a commitment to reeducation, so a major part of our education system should be teaching students that education can actually be fun. Most people need to be fed by a spoon before they can do it themselves.