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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

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Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics


Third Harmonic! Caroline Storm Westenhover

I know there are all kinds of rules against anthropomorphizing the equipment with which you work. It makes you overly attached to it, but I just can’t help it when it comes back with a Fourier Transform like this.

It makes me think of my dog bringing a dead squirrel into the house. 

“Look at me, Mom, my third harmonic is almost as big as my 60Hz! Aren’t you so proud of me?” 

You get even more than you were asking for from this generator. Yeah. Everybody likes more. Nobody cares for Military Specs anyway. On the plus side, it does have the advantage of making our filtering job look amazing, which is one of the reasons we bought it in the first place. Let me explain. 

At first we had an expensive generator, which does nothing to prove that you can properly filter a signal. Look, an almost perfect 60Hz signal goes in. On the other side of our filter an almost perfect 60Hz signal comes out. So we bought a cheap generator that does a better job showing off our fancy filtering. 

I feel somewhat guilty setting a perfectly good generator to the side, and punishing it for being too good, only to hook up a cheap generator and listen to it cough and sputter its way through producing electricity. It’s like telling the smart kid in class to stop contributing, and instead picking on the least suspecting of us to answer. 

It is interesting to see the culture shift, in terms of people as well as technology, from someone or something that is really good at one thing, to one that is pretty good at many.

 Smartphones and medical students are a great example. Smartphones are many things, but there is a reason for typing this blog on a computer and a reason my dad brings his DSLR camera on vacations. 

I was talking to a student who was applying to get into physical therapy school. He mentioned that nowadays, admissions people not only look at your GPA and volunteer hours, but also at your social life. Apparently the fact that he was married was a plus on his resume. Doing things like playing in a band and being on a sports team show that you can interact with people in a positive manner. This is what they want. Not just in-class intelligence, but also social intelligence. 

It is interesting that we have crossed that border technologically where most of our technology looks like magic, and simultaneously we hope that our students can keep up.



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My name is Caroline Storm Westenhover. I am a Senior Electrical Engineering student at the University of Texas at Arlington. I am the third of seven children. I enjoy collecting ideas and theories and most enjoy when they come together to present a bigger picture as a whole. Perhaps that is why I like physics and engineering.  My biggest dream is to become an astronaut.




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