February 1970 Popular Electronics
Table of Contents
People old and young enjoy waxing nostalgic about and learning some of the history
of early electronics. Popular Electronics was published from October 1954 through April 1985. All copyrights
are hereby acknowledged. See all articles from
This article from a 1970 issue of Popular Electronics
is a timely mate to the monthly list of
career-related resources I posted today since it discusses jobs in electronics not necessarily
at the degreed engineer level. Along with both diploma and certificate programs by local colleges,
home study courses in electronics have been around since the early part of the last century.
Cleveland Institute of Electronics (CIE) began offering courses by mail
in 1934, and has
been running advertisements in trade and technology magazines for as long as I can remember.
It is still in business today.
to Become a 'Non-Degree Engineer in the May 1966 Electronics World,
Institute Electronics Slide Rule Advertisement in the August 1967 Electronics
Advertisement in the June 1969 Electronics World, and
Engineering Level Opportunities for You in the February 1970
Engineering Level Opportunities for You
Home Study is the Answer
By Alexander W. Burawa, Associate Editor
The phenomenal pace at which electronics has developed
in the last few years - and the ever-increasing complexity of the technology - have precipitated
an unprecedented demand for engineering level electronics technicians. In the aerospace and
communications industries, in sophisticated computer centers, and in scientific and medical
electronics - all areas where the most lucrative job opportunities exist - training on the
level of the radio-TV repairman is no longer sufficient. Technicians in these job situations
are actually associate or assistant engineers; and it takes engineering training on the college
level to get these jobs - something you can now do with home study.
"General acceptance of correspondence study as a legitimate technique has been developing
for years. Recently, however, the growth of that acceptance has been phenomenal. Hundreds
of private companies are using home study to enable their employees to do a better job. Colleges
and universities are becoming more willing to give formal credit on the basis of personal
interviews and qualifying examinations.
"No study of correspondence education has shown it to be appreciably inferior to classroom
instruction, while a number of studies have shown correspondence students do measurably better
L. M. Upchurch, Jr.
If you can't take the time or haven't the money to spend for two to four years of college
what do you do? Do you know that four nationally accredited home study schools are now offering
engineering courses on the college level? If you have the prerequisites, two years or less
of leisure-time home study could put you well on your way toward one of these engineering
The college-level courses offered by home-study schools have gained wide-spread approval
in industrial and educational circles. In most cases, the student receives an industry recognized
diploma upon completion of one of the courses. One home study school offers the opportunity
of earning a degree.
Home study courses in electronics actually started in the 1920's. The
earliest courses were highly specialized, tending to focus on certain areas in a technology
which was then only in its infancy. Gradually, coverage was expanded and today's home study
engineering courses are as up-to-date and cover as much ground (in the technology) as those
offered in many technical colleges.
Schools accredited by the National Home Study Council* and offering engineering programs
are: Capitol Radio Engineering Institute (CREI), 3224 Sixteenth St., NW, Washington, D.C.
20010; Cleveland Institute of Electronics (CIE), 1776 East 17 St., Cleveland, Ohio 44114;
Grantham School of Engineering (GSE), 1505 North Western Ave., Hollywood, Calif. 90027; and
National Technical Schools (NTS), 4000 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, Calif. 90037.
What Is an Engineering Technician?
The entire technical work force in electronics can be divided into two broad, but not necessarily
well defined, categories: technicians and engineers. Technician in this sense refers to the
person who operates, maintains, troubleshoots, and repairs electronic gear. Engineer refers
to the designer of new devices, circuits, and systems. Between the two categories lies a growing
force of engineering technicians (sometimes referred to as associate engineers). The engineering
technician's duties and responsibilities overlap both categories.
Engineering technicians usually work directly with scientists and engineers with degrees.
They analyze and solve engineering problems and occasionally prepare technical reports. Consequently,
the engineering technician must have a thorough grasp of the scientific principles of his
particular field and a good understanding of mathematics and physics. Generally, to be entitled
to the title of associate engineer, the person is expected to be a graduate of a two-year
college. However, the growing recognition of home study by the industry does entitle the home
study graduate to apply to his name the title of engineering technician.
Prerequisites for engineering level home study courses are obviously high.
The applicant must be a high school graduate (or possess a high school equivalency certificate)
and have studied, or had previous job experience in, the electronics industry. Applicants
without the electronics prerequisite but who have a firm grasp of theoretical and practical
physics and intermediate mathematics are good potential candidates.
There are very practical reasons for setting these high prerequisites. The courses provide
studies only in electronics theory; there are no gimmicky training kits or home-built TV receivers.
The schools sense that no engineering level home study course can possibly provide the exposure
to all the test equipment, circuits, and systems required for a full resident laboratory course.
Since home study programs feature low cost, this is a sound principle and the study programs
have been adjusted accordingly.
Thus, even though home study engineering courses have no costly kits and training aids,
nothing has been sacrificed in the quality of educational materials provided. Such items as
tube and transistor manuals, special textbooks, and slide rules are included in the basic.
The home study concept of education is geared for individual attention.
Each lesson is written to provide maximum clarity. But even the clearest written text might
confuse some students. So, all of the schools maintain a full-time consultation service, staffed
with engineers and educators who are experts in home study problems, to which the student
can turn for help. This service is available even after graduation.
Textbooks are broken up into bite-size lessons for easy assimilation and to allow the student
to pace his progress. Within each lesson are answer-keyed questions that are designed quickly
and immediately to check the student's comprehension of the material covered. At the end of
each lesson is an exam which must be completed and sent to the school. All questions asked
are of the thought-provoking essay type.
At the school, the student's exams are reviewed and graded by professionals. In grading
the exams, several things are looked for: The correct answer, of course, is one, but more
important are the techniques used in answering math questions and the method of presentation.
If an incorrect method or answer is given, the person grading the exam will supply corrective
hints that show where the student went wrong, and refer him to the page or section in the
lesson that should be reviewed.
When the student is through with his course, he must complete a comprehensive examination
that touches on every area studied. The end-of-course exams are usually proctored (taken in
the presence of a qualified person). Then upon passing the comprehensive exam, a diploma,
which is the school's statement of the student's competence, is awarded.
"Many people are now realizing that everyone can't go to· college; and, more important,
many individuals should definitely not seek a college education. Home study is an ideal alternative
- not a substitute, but an excellent opportunity to obtain specialized education quickly,
effectively, and economically.
"At CIE, we have some 775 industrial and commercial clients, and this roster is growing
Ralph J. Schmotzer, CIE
An interesting item that appeared in the August 1969 Supplement of the "National Home
Study Council News" under the heading "Recent Research Developments in Correspondence" cites
a further example of the effectiveness of home study training: "In representative examples
of correspondence students at the University of Minnesota, every twentieth card in the current
student card file was selected to give a 5% sample... In terms of grade points, students in
correspondence study rated higher than those in day school, evening school, or in summer sessions.
Only in the Graduate School was the average higher."
Angelo Vaccaro came to the U.S. from Italy 15 years
ago and went to work as a machinist. When he enrolled in CREI in 1953, he could hardly speak
English, and he gives the lessons credit for helping him learn the language. Today he is Vice
President of Columbia Controls Research Corporation in Glen Cove, N.Y. He holds in his name
or in the name of the company 15 patents for devices such as an electronic scanner, an electronic
tensioning control device, and a reader for a computer system. Some of these devices have
been sold or licensed, and negotiations are under way for others.
Although David J. Chestnut is not a "typical" graduate
of home study electronics engineering, his story does show how far a person with initiative
can go. Mr. Chestnut began his CREI studies in 1932 and is now Managing Editor of Technical
Communications of Raytheon Company's Wayland Laboratories in Massachusetts. In his ten years
with Raytheon, he has supervised many areas of technical communications, including cinematography
and in-plant engineering writing seminars. Since his CREI studies, Mr., or rather, Dr. Chestnut
has added B. Mus., M. Ed .and Ph. D. titles to his name, has had several papers published,
and has been a prominent speaker on the subject of technical publications in this country
and abroad - an impressive number of achievements by any yardstick.
Some Successful Students
Joseph W. Pieczynski enrolled at CREI in 1963 and
is currently manager of the EPC Division of Artisan Electronics Corporation in Parsippany,
N.J. The EPC Division was formed by the acquisition of Electronics Products Corporation, of
which Mr. Pieczynski was founder and president. Among his achievements is the patent he holds
for a self powered timer. He also received honorable mention in the 1963 Gustav Johanson Awards
for his contribution to timer technology.
Maurice T. Swinnen graduated from CREI in 1962 shortly
after he arrived in the U.S. from Belgium. Not long after graduation, he joined the Division
of Neuropsychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Starting at Walter
Reed as an equipment repairman, Mr. Swinnen rapidly rose to electronics technician and, finally,
to supervisor of the electronics shop facility of the Division of Neuropsychiatry. He is in
charge of seven technical support personnel, two of whom are graduate electronics engineers.
He has contributed well over 100 technical reports about the instruments he has devised during
the past seven years and more than 20 publications have appeared under his name in both medical
research and electronics journals. He is often called upon to attend the various technical
and medical conventions around the country - to learn as well as to teach.
"Our home study degree program is relatively new, but already quite a few firms and agencies
are paying tuition in this program for their employees. And many others are reimbursing their
employees who complete correspondence 'semesters.' Some of the firms and agencies who have
paid tuition directly to the School are: Naval Ordnance Station of Indian Head, Md.; the WDL,
E&TS, and C&TS Divisions of Philco-Ford; Sprague Electric Co.; Consolidated-Bathurst,
Ltd., of Canada; ESSA Research Labs; and NASA Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif."
D. J. Grantham
Although basically similar, the exact content of the home study engineering
courses offered by the various schools varies.
At CREI, the master, or principal, course on the college-engineering level is the Electronic
Engineering Technology Base Program with Major Electives. It has two objectives: to provide
a broad basic foundation in electronics and to equip you with specialized knowledge in a particular
field of your choice. The Base Program covers the theory and application of advanced electronics
in relation to circuits, components, and systems. The electives in which you can specialize
include: Communications; Aeronautics and Navigation; Television; Computers; Nuclear Instrumentation
and Control; Automatic Control; Missile and Spacecraft Guidance; Radar and Sonar; and Digital
CIE and NTS also offer master courses in electronics engineering. No electives are available
as such, but the courses are designed to prepare the student for a career in one of a wide
variety of specialties in the electronics industry. Typical basic subjects include steady-state
and transient network theory, solid-state physics, magnetics, etc.
"It has been said that education is the mother of leadership; and by encouraging education,
the National Home Study Council helps build leaders to guide America through the tests and
trials of this critical and complex time ... Never has your mission been more timely or more
imperative than now. Your high academic standards promise quality education to all who pursue
correspondence study. I commend your distinguished and enduring service to America."
- Excerpt from a telegram sent by President Nixon to the NHSC at its 1969 Annual Conference.
GSE's program consists of five sections and includes an "incidental" preparation program
for an FCC First Class Radiotelephone License with Radar Endorsement. Emphasis is on mathematics
and physics (as it is in all home study courses). The course sections are: Basic Electronics
with Mathematics; Communications Circuits and Systems; Engineering Mathematics and Computers;
Classical and Modern Physics, and Technical Writing; and Engineering Calculus, Electrical
Networks, and Solid-State Circuit Design.
"Recognition of home study programs in direct conjunction with college-level education
is distinctly on an upward swing. As an indication that industry does accept home study graduates,
our own experience has been that major firms throughout the world have sought and value our
"Data involving motivational research has proven that self-directed independent study is
more effective than resident training. One obvious reason for this is that the home study
student must research his own material as sent by the school without someone at his side.
While he is guided, supplied with accurate and tested study material, and counseled as needed,
he is not spoon-fed information, nor is he held back in a class of students with a variety
of achievement skills."
Robert Parma, Director of NTS
A very important benefit of these courses for those students who plan
to go on to college to earn their associate and bachelor degrees in electronics engineering
is that many colleges allow considerable advance-standing credit for material covered (depending
on the college and the results of tests). In addition, Grantham has oriented its program toward
the obtaining of a degree. After completing his home studies, the student attends a two-week
resident class at the school, for which he earns an Associate in Science in Electronics Engineering
* The Accrediting Commission of the National Home Study Council has been approved by the
U.S. Office of Education as a "nationally recognized accrediting agency." Its purpose is to
establish educational, ethical, and business standards; examine and evaluate private home
study schools in terms of these standards; and accredit (only) those schools which qualify.
Posted June 21, 2017