Let me start by saying that this article has nothing to do with Valentine's Day. The timing is purely coincidental.
Yesterday morning, I had my annual appointment with the cardiologist, though not with the usual one. You see, my cardiologist of the last six to seven years, while in the office today, is leaving town. I switched to his soon-to-be former partner, who started the practice about 30 years ago.
At each annual visit, my cardiologist does a sonogram of my heart and measures certain linear distances — specifically, my ascending aorta, of which a small section is larger than normal. We got to talking about what I do here at EE Times. It turns out this doctor could have been an engineer, because he described building a Tesla coil while in college. Apparently, he was generating 1 kW, 2,000 V at 500 mA.
We then discussed engineering jobs versus tech jobs. The difference being that tech jobs don't require a degree or even an background in engineering. They do require expertise, but more like programming or IT — in other words, jobs that are closer to the user than engineering jobs.
The GE sonogram equipment in the examination room uses ultrasonic sensors to detect the parts of my heart. From there, the electrical signals go through connectors, cables, and PCBs before reaching a digitizer. From there, the digitized signals are processed in software with some microcontrollers and perhaps an FPGA and displayed on the monitor. The doctor can then measure the size of anything. In my case, it's the aorta. The measurement uncertainty is around 1 mm. Yes, a C/T scan can get better measurements, but it comes at an unnecessary cost. I'd need a shot of dye and would be subjected to radiation.
After seven years of aorta measurements, we have enough history to know that the enlargement is stable. I was probably born with it, but we'll never know.
The good news is that all is well. The better news is that I didn't get a parking ticket, given that the meter had expired. The doctor offered to send his assistant out to feed the meter, but that seemed unreasonable. Why would you ask anyone to climb this mountain to reach a parking meter? The local meter maids are a bit more forgiving under these conditions.
Apparently, this doctor does things the old-fashioned way. He takes his time. What a concept.
This article originally appeared on EBN's sister publication EE Times .