Modern college education with derek fronek

Circuit Break Podcast #297

Modern College Education with Derek Fronek

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October 6, 2021, Episode #297

Derek Fronek is a current engineering student at Purdue University. We dive into how education has changed with COVID and a decade of automation.

Before we begin this episode I have a quick announcement. If you are currently enrolled in college we would love to chat with you. We have some ideas for future podcast content that you could perhaps help us with. Also, we would love to get to know our listeners more. Please send a hello email to

Derek Fronek

  • Third year EE Co-op student at Purdue University
  • Last on the podcast episode #146 where he spoke about his time with TechHOUNDS

Modern EE Education

  • Stephen – Graduated from Texas A&M with a EE degree in 2009
    128 hours required
  • Parker – Graduated from University of Texas with a ECE degree in 2011
  • Derek – Will graduate in 2024
  • Derek’s Current class load
    • Freshman
      • High school credits that transfer help a lot
      • First year Engineering
        • Purdue’s way of saying “you need to do basic math and science first”
      • General Chemistry
      • EPICS (project based design class)
      • Calc 1-2
      • Physics Mechanics/E&M
      • CS-159 Intro to C
      • Covid Happens and we go remote right after spring break
    • Summer
      • Online summer classes can be nice but its a 16 weeks class in 8 weeks
      • ECE 20001 Fundamentals 1 (Basic Circuit Theory/ Mosfets)
      • ECE 20007 Fundementals 1 Lab
      • Analog Discovery 2 is the main test and measurement tool now
      • Calc 3
    • Sophomore
      • First Co-op term at Rheem
      • Visiting campus when you have no class responsibilities is fun
      • First real “Covid Classes” Purdue managed to stay “in person” for the whole time
      • Classes were still mostly online but students could be on campus and some labs were still in person
      • Exams were mostly online as well
      • ANTH 21000 Technology and Culture
        • More interesting than i thought it would be, gave some perspective on how design choices have social and societal implications
      • ECE 20002 Fundementals 2 (Amplifiers, Op Amps, AC Circuit Analysis)
      • ECE 20008 Fundementals 2 Lab
      • ECE 264 Advanced C
      • MA 266 Diff eq
    • Junior
      • Back to in person classes this fall
      • ECE 20875 Python for Data Science
      • ECE 270 Digital System Design
      • Auto lab system is really cool
      • HIST 351
      • MA 265 Linear Algebra

About the Hosts

Parker Dillmann
  Parker Dillmann

Parker is an Electrical Engineer with backgrounds in Embedded System Design and Digital Signal Processing. He got his start in 2005 by hacking Nintendo consoles into portable gaming units. The following year he designed and produced an Atari 2600 video mod to allow the Atari to display a crisp, RF fuzz free picture on newer TVs. Over a thousand Atari video mods where produced by Parker from 2006 to 2011 and the mod is still made by other enthusiasts in the Atari community.

In 2006, Parker enrolled at The University of Texas at Austin as a Petroleum Engineer. After realizing electronics was his passion he switched majors in 2007 to Electrical and Computer Engineering. Following his previous background in making the Atari 2600 video mod, Parker decided to take more board layout classes and circuit design classes. Other areas of study include robotics, microcontroller theory and design, FPGA development with VHDL and Verilog, and image and signal processing with DSPs. In 2010, Parker won a Ti sponsored Launchpad programming and design contest that was held by the IEEE CS chapter at the University. Parker graduated with a BS in Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Spring of 2012.

In the Summer of 2012, Parker was hired on as an Electrical Engineer at Dynamic Perception to design and prototype new electronic products. Here, Parker learned about full product development cycles and honed his board layout skills. Seeing the difficulties in managing operations and FCC/CE compliance testing, Parker thought there had to be a better way for small electronic companies to get their product out in customer's hands.

Parker also runs the blog,, where he posts his personal projects, technical guides, and appnotes about board layout design and components.

Stephen Kraig
  Stephen Kraig

Stephen Kraig is a component engineer working in the aerospace industry. He has applied his electrical engineering knowledge in a variety of contexts previously, including oil and gas, contract manufacturing, audio electronic repair, and synthesizer design. A graduate of Texas A&M, Stephen has lived his adult life in the Houston, TX, and Denver, CO, areas.

Stephen has never said no to a project. From building guitar amps (starting when he was 17) to designing and building his own CNC table to fine-tuning the mineral composition of the water he uses to brew beer, he thrives on testing, experimentation, and problem-solving. Tune into the podcast to learn more about the wacky stuff Stephen gets up to.

Special thanks to whixr over at Tymkrs for the intro and outro!

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