Electrical Burnout

Last Updated on 9 June 2023

In my last two years of high school I began diving down the rabbit hole of Electronics as a hobby. It was the major I had (somewhat arbitrarily) chosen, so I figured I’d better try and get a head start.

And so electrical engineering became my predominant hobby. It grew at an even faster rate once I got to college. Each EE class would drive my curiosity in other directions. Digital Logic – “I should make a computer from scratch.” Electronics – “I wonder if I can make my own guitar amplifier?”. Embedded Systems – “Why do I need to buy a data acquisition system?” and so on. After I had finished my bachelors, I had bought myself a cheap circuit mill off of eBay (which was sort of a mistake – the decreased price was not worth the extra effort).

Even into graduate school, my EE-as-a-hobby continued to grow. I tuned in the crappy mill to work better, and even launched a website to share my custom circuit boards. I was making a circuit board every week.

A circuit board I designed for monitoring the qualities of an electric arc

But something was different in grad school – I was doing research in Open Source Electronics, so my “work” was practically the same as my “hobby” this was pretty cool at first, but as more and more projects got tacked on, I think the challenge wore off, as well as the novelty. By the time I was finishing up my PhD, my interest in electronics had almost completely died (I was also doing research in 3D Printing – which also sort of died as a hobby as well). It made finishing up my degree extra difficult.

This may come as a shock to those who know me – because I am still pretty enthusiastic about EE topics. It’s just — I have no drive to pursue it as a hobby. It’s something I brought up in class a few days ago, and it brought me back to my undergrad days, when I asked a professor “So what sort of projects do you work on for fun? Do you make LED cubes? Anything like that”. They sort of chuckled and said that they don’t really do electronics projects. I was sort of shocked; why would you teach something that you’re not passionate about?

Well now I’m in that exact position, and I sort of find it upsetting – to the point where I’m going to do something about it. What that something is, I am not sure, but It’s occupying a decent amount of head space today.

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