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Old 27th October 2008, 05:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

Here's an interesting question.

Suppose you wanted to work in "high tech", as in pushing the frontiers of technology. Now, you don't know which area of high tech you want to work in - it could be genetic engineering, pharmaceuticals, computer hardware, computer software, materials engineering, nanotechnology ... whatever. So you want to be versatile.

If you were to take one area of study where you could keep your options open, which one would it be? I can only think of one subject that would cover all of them - mathematics. But, then again, mathematics could also cover none of them, except perhaps computer software.

I've got several degrees, by the way, so this is not a trick question.
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Old 27th October 2008, 09:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

"Area of study" could have different meanings, and I'm not sure whether we're talking about a degree, minor, concentration, or something else. I'm also not sure about a series of courses, but would recommend at least one course in what was called "Critical Thinking" during my undergrad days for any high tech aspirants. The ability to bring the right frame of mind to problem-solving isn't something that everyone is born with, but can be taught (to a degree, anyway).
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Old 27th October 2008, 10:02 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

I think the nature of the high tech industries makes it nearly impossible to go into one area of study whilst still keeping your options open. The high tech industries usually need specialised skills, and the speed at which technology moves in this modern world means you'll be hard-pressed to follow it all, at least not to the degree that you would for a job in one of the high tech industries.

However, I do agree that studying something Mathematical, or something that teaches logic, would be incredibly useful.

And a quick opinion whilst we're on Maths and Computer Software (which probably applies to all subjects which apply Maths) - you need Maths specific to that subject. There's no point going into computer programming being able to solve simultaneous equations in your sleep, just as there's no point going into material engineering being able to turn on the logical processes needed to solve problems with algorithms and programs.
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Old 27th October 2008, 03:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

I'd say English writing, as in report writing, would be required. And, yes, given the way technology moves, anything you study could quickly become obsolete.
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Old 29th October 2008, 04:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

I would say master (not just be able to use) the applications Word/excel/access and at least one or 2 3D modeling programs. All are important for crunching numbers, writing reports and making effective presentations. Statistical techniques also have wide applications.
Being able to code programs to do tasks/interface with other computers/databases over a network and/or the internet, and gather/consolidate/archive information proved very helpful to me (when I was an Engineer) and enabled me to accomplish much more than my peers when I was semiretired in QA.

Enjoy!

P.S. don't overlooks people skills; an effective leader can make the most of most situations.
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Old 29th October 2008, 07:48 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

Presentations, sales and marketing.

Bear with me.

You can be the best whizbanger in the business but if when you stand up in front of your colleagues all you can do is stand there like a wet pudding and squeak some nonsense in a foreign math cad language you ain't going to bring home the bacon.

Being able to understand the mechanics of marketing and sales presentations will give you multiple skills both in recognising the bu****it from others and being able to dish it yourself when needed.

The one thing I wished I could do when I was younger (not now, extrovert that's me now) was not to get embarrassed when it my turn at the front of the class and it holds good in through to adulthood.

Yet when mastered and it's not that difficult, you also gain confidence in your work and argue your corner. Here's another important skill -learn admit you're wrong when you are.

Sorry I'll just crawl back into my corner now if thats all right with the rest of you.
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Old 29th October 2008, 07:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

The logic of the scientific method.
It's not a study, as such, but if you lack it, the experiments are mere black magic, recipes.

With it, you can follow the limits, try and work out the conditions which guarantee success, or failure. It doesn't give you the information for any situation, but enables you to understand that information when it becomes available.
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Old 30th October 2008, 02:07 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

I know there are courses in critical thinking and formal logic, but I'm wondering if there would be courses in the scientific method. I'm pretty sure there would be.
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Old 30th October 2008, 11:09 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

Nanotechnology. It will spread into practically every area of our lives in the next few years.
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Old 30th October 2008, 11:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

Mathematics is pretty useless unless you can engineer it into a valuable product...so I'd go engineering/machinist. Just because you can understand and quantify the theory behind something does not mean you can actually make it into something, and if you can't make it into something the layperson can use then well you've just got a bunch of numbers and symbols. And you do have to be able to market its use, or else you'll just be Nicola Tesla...poor when you die with a bunch of cool stuff nobody even knows you made.
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Old 31st October 2008, 12:36 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

In the last few years, people have been more highly paid by using their mathematics qualifications not for getting jobs in manufacturing, but in fabrication. (However, job opportunities in banks have declined just recently, probably due to an oversupply in those very same fabrications.)






I haven't got a real answer to your question: a new, world-changing advance could come in any number of areas. (If I knew which, and where, I'd have the potential to make a lot of money. Darp!)

Last edited by Ursa major; 31st October 2008 at 12:53 AM.
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Old 31st October 2008, 06:34 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ursa major View Post
I haven't got a real answer to your question: a new, world-changing advance could come in any number of areas. (If I knew which, and where, I'd have the potential to make a lot of money. Darp!)
I think we all have come to the same conclusion in different ways. It's so hard to find ONE thing that can be used in every leading edge high tech industry.

The common courses would be English writing, basic mathematics, basic methodology, and perhaps basic business. But these are so basic that they don't really help the user push the frontiers of technology.
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Old 31st October 2008, 07:04 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

Math including stats and computers. Stuff like SAS and SPSS. If it is high tech then there is research. If there is research then there is data. If there is data it must be analyzed and interpreted. Econometrics, pyschometrics, biometrics, bioinformatics...
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Old 6th November 2008, 07:49 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: If a high tech worker were to study one subject, which would it be?

I'd have to agree. Mathematics is the universal constant. But, as noted, mathematics is so wide that it's pretty hard to find one area of math that is generic to every high tech field, unless it's a basic field that's so basic that it's useless.

Aside from math, I'd say that English writing is also required, in any field.
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