Advice, Second Career after Canadian Forces

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Harkiran
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Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:50 am

Advice, Second Career after Canadian Forces

Post by Harkiran » Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:13 pm

Hello, I am new to this forum, and after a full 20 years in the Canadian Armed Forces (Navy) I am being given funding to go back to school along with opportunity to job shadow for 6 months at my full military pay just before retirement. In Navy my trade is SONAR Op (same as SONAR Tech for the USA people). So my entire career has dealt with sound (including theory, transmitting / receiving, recording etc.) I also had opportunity earlier in my career to take a sound tech course to set up for live venues to help out at our military mess for shows we had there (operating a 32 channel Allan & Heath board). Since I am very interested in this field, I have decided to use my funding to take Broadcast Engineering. Only problem is, there are no courses here and I also need flexibility to move between Canada and India while taking it so I am going for distance education. I realize this is not ideal... but is my only option unfortunately. So I have a few questions:

1. The Course I am looking at is offered through Cleavland Institute of Electronics (http://cie-wc.edu/Broadcast-Engineering.aspx) Will this course adequately prepare me? Are there any others available in North America via distance learning which are better? I have up to 25K CDN to use on coursing! The above course is only 1500 USD tuition, plus books.

2. My career in the Navy has been as an operator. Having said that, looking into the theory involved in Broadcast Engineering I have noticed a LOT which seems to translate over. I have a good working knowledge of the terminology and theory of propagation. (ie: decibel math, SONAR equations, transmitting / receiving, recording - including filters, gain, compression / limiting, etc - for example just pulling out of my head, I know that AM radio only has a dynamic range of about 30 dB and FM 50 dB - but I am used to transmission in the VLF range) I also gained a lot of the terminology from the sound tech course and also home recording (I play guitar and sing) so I have a good understanding of studio equipment and setup, types of mics, use of filters, recording tracks, preventing clipping, doing mixdowns and mastering (albeit at an amateur level). As well as some non-linear editing experience. But all of that is what I would consider operations side of things. I don't have any experience with AC/DC circuit theory. I am supposed to start whatever program I choose in August. In the mean time, I have picked up a book by Stan Gibilesco which seems to cover all of the *scary* math and theory on the electronics part. So far I am completely understand OHMs law, OHM's watts law, kirchoffs laws etc and applying them in series and parallel circuits - and already I am able to look at circuit diagrams and somehow not pull my hair out, and I am doing well on the tests at the end of the chapters. This is just something I am doing before I start the course to familiarize myself with electronics theory... So the question is, do you think I should be ok? The course itself SHOULD teach this stuff to me and not expect me to know all this stuff starting out anyway right? I just don't want to get into something I think might be over my head! Keep in mind, I hated HATED math in high school. But I aced computer science, where we were using the SAME math. I didn't so well in the math itself though. My problem was application. I got bored. The math so far in Gibilisco's book and the exercises available, make complete sense to me - and - surprise surprise... I am NOT bored. (Of course it's also 20 years later!!!)

3. In addition to the course I mentioned as part of my release I am being given opportunity to job shadow. I plan to use 20 hrs a week on the studies, and 20 hrs a week shadowing. I have already contacted two local stations here... CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp - both TV and radio) and Bell Media (CTV television network and they own 3 MAJOR radio stations here in Halifax). Both have sounded really positive of letting me shadow since they don't have to pay me anything at all, and since they have no worries with liability as I am covered by the military still). My question is, since I can not start the course until the same time (6 months prior to my release) and also I can't start shadowing until then, and I can't put off the shadowing until later, it means I won't have ANY of the course done when I start to shadow. (That's partly why I started to familiarize myself with the electronics prior to then). Do you think I will gain anything from shadowing? I think certainly with the operations side I will, since I am used to sitting in front of numerous screens, operating a mixing board etc. But as for maintenance side of things, do you think it will benefit me any? I am hoping since the course is all theory and no practical, it will allow me to see first hand what I am learning... certainly I don't want to pass up the chance to do this shadowing, since I will still get full military pay!

4. I read online this field is nearly all males haha. I am a female... is this true? Am I trying to encroach into an all male bastion of a career field?

5. I am also 40 years old. Am I starting something like this too late in life??

So, do you think this is doable??? Is this forum a good place if I run into any issues where I am having trouble understanding something? Thanks in advance!

Harkiran

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kkiddkkidd
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Re: Advice, Second Career after Canadian Forces

Post by kkiddkkidd » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:05 pm

Hi and welcome to the forum and profession,

Just remember. Broadcast engineering isn't a profession... It's a life style. Either you like it or hate it. I happen to love it (most of the time).

Addressing your questions numerically...

1. I haven't had any contact with anyone using that class in a long time but a number of years ago it was a good start. A local engineer found his education just starting when he completed their classes. Broadcast engineering is such a niche field with constantly changing technology that it is hard to get more than the basics out of a class. Not sure about north of the border but down here (TN) most of the local community colleges have decent basic electronic courses. A good understanding of basic electronics and IT principles are essential. There is not as much component level troubleshooting and repair these days but it is still very handy to have the troubleshooting skills just in case. IT skills are really high up the list of requirements these days.

2. Math is my weak point. I can do the math that I need to do but anything out of the ordinary causes a mad scramble for the google machine... Looking at the Course Objectives, I am going to guess that the basic electronics is a fairly minor part of the course.

3. A shadowing or internship is a great way to actually see how the basic stuff you are learning in school is actually used (or misused...). I had a intern working with me several years ago and when he went back to school to finish his degree, his instructors didn't believe the stuff that we actually had to do in the field on a day-to-day basis. They had been out of the industry for so long that the technology had left them behind.

4. By and large it is a male dominated profession. My wife says that women are too smart to be sticking their hands in HV power supplies. Or be out roaming around in the middle of the night at remote transmitter sites. Not to mention that most girls clothing doesn't have a shirt pocket to hold the required 14 ink pens, sharpie markers and screwdrivers that every engineer carries. On the other hand, there is (or at least were) female CE's at a number of major market TV and radio stations around the US. These ladies worked their way up pulling all-nighters and working on the same equipment as their male counterparts and are highly respected.

5. OK, yea 40 is probably a problem. You may be too young... It's never too late if it is something that you are interested and talented in. You are probably several years under the average age of radio engineers. TV may be a bit younger on average but us radio guys are getting pretty old, fat and gray.

This forum (with it's vast number of subforums) is one of the best for helping newcomers. You can get a knowledgeable answer on almost any broadcast related subject.

FWIW, the largest gathering of radio and TV people in the world is happening next week in Las Vegas at the spectacle called the NAB Spring Show.

Good luck,
--
Kevin C. Kidd CSRE/AMD
WD4RAT
AM Ground Systems Company
http://www.amgroundsystems.com
KK Broadcast Engineering
http://www.kkbc.com

Harkiran
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Re: Advice, Second Career after Canadian Forces

Post by Harkiran » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:44 pm

Thanks for the info!

As for being in a male dominated profession, I am already used to it haha. I became one of the first four women in Canada to qualify on submarines. That alone required me to learn engineering diagrams fairly quickly. I had never seen one prior to the submarine course. Also had to learn the various systems, including electrical. At least where the big parts were (battery switchboards, dc load centres, motor generators, ac switchboards, ac load centres... one of the questions on our final board was, explain how an electron gets from the battery to the light in your bunk). We also have a 24V dc system for indicators and LP battery for backup. So I did have some exposure there... my big thing is as I said the math, and following a circuit and then applying that to troubleshoot. I am getting some of the techs I work with in the military to give me basic circuit diagrams and problems to use OHMs law etc.

I am interested in this field because, it seems not only does a lot of my theory from my trade in Navy cross over, but I have always been interested in sound recording etc. And I have always been the tinkerer and the one any of my family call in case they need their new home theatre set up etc. when they are pulling out their hairs because they can't figure out the miles of wires, I actually like it, and can have them set up fairly quickly! Add the sound tech course I did and the fact that I play guitar and sing myself.... it was kind of natural. I already have a good IT background as well.

Also my husband is in India, and he works in broadcasting... although he is on the other side of the mic / camera (he's in both radio and tv). I prefer making the magic happen than being the one on air LOL. So I am excited and willing to do whatever I can to get into this profession :)

So you dont know of any other courses through distance learning? It has to be at least technician level ad diploma (like the military wont pay for basket weaving 101 LOL)

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kkiddkkidd
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Re: Advice, Second Career after Canadian Forces

Post by kkiddkkidd » Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:53 pm

No sorry I don't know of anything else. I am sure that there are other distance learning programs out there but I just have no experience with them. There will be others chiming in here as a day or two goes by.

Most of us started out with a degree or training in electronics and quickly got a graduate degree from the college of hard knocks and head scratching.

Later,
--
Kevin C. Kidd CSRE/AMD
WD4RAT
AM Ground Systems Company
http://www.amgroundsystems.com
KK Broadcast Engineering
http://www.kkbc.com

ChuckG
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Re: Advice, Second Career after Canadian Forces

Post by ChuckG » Thu Apr 14, 2016 7:10 pm

I agree with most everything Kevin said. I used the CIE course to complement a tech school electronics diploma. That was 35 years ago, so I can't speak for it's current status. It was a fairly good foundation back then, but you'll need to find a mentor to work alongside. Books are one thing, getting your hands dirty is another and you need both.

NRI used to offer a Broadcast Engineering course, but they're out of business now. Smith Radio Institute became CIE. FWIW CIE lost it's accreditation a few years ago, if that is of any importance to you.
I think SBE still offers some online learning materials via "SBE University".
Those are/were the only distance learning courses I know of. That leaves brick and mortar technical schools, many of which no longer offer "broadcasting" courses.
Part of the problem is that you'll run into state of the art equipment running alongside something from 1959 (true story), not only do you have to keep up with current technology, but you have to understand several decades worth of technology recursively as well. In small markets the obsolete lives on. :lol:

The best advice I have is to talk with people doing the exact job you'd like to do...in the country you'd like to do it, and see how they got there.
Good luck and best wishes!
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Chuck Gennaro
Central Wisconsin

Radio Ranger
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Re: Advice, Second Career after Canadian Forces

Post by Radio Ranger » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:01 pm

Where is Jeff Welton when we need him? To clarify, we have an active person on this site, Jeff, who works for broadcast equipment manufacturer Nautel in NovaScotia who might have some ideas about distance learning programs you're looking for, maybe in Canada. Jeff also seems to know most of the radio engineers in the western hemisphere, so he might be able to connect you with someone to job shadow, also. If he doesn't reply here soon I'll hound him personally to jump in with comments here. I'm sure he's busy at the NAB convention in Las Vegas this week.

I took the Cleveland Institute course too many years ago to be relevant today, but I'll second what's been said about needing a good background in IT as well as RF and audio technical stuff. Too many stations these days are relying on their strictly IT people to do the other stuff, and from what I hear from friends and the on-air performance of radio stations, that isn't working out too well.

For what it's worth, the Canadian armed forces sure seem to be offering a much better deal to veterans than the US Govt offers our guys---that's great!

Steve Brown
Radio Rangers
Minneapolis, MN

Harkiran
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Re: Advice, Second Career after Canadian Forces

Post by Harkiran » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:39 pm

Hi thanks for the response! I am actually in Halifax, Nova Scotia! I actually already sent letters to both CBC and CTV (Bell media) both of which operate TV stations and radio stations here in Halifax. I am hoping to get on with one of those two, so I can get experience with both radio and tv. CTV sounded pretty positive as she was telling me that they always have interns etc including unpaid shadowing like I am looking for. They couldn't believe I will be paid my full military pay while doing it :) Maybe he knows someone with either and can help me :)

The Cleavland Institute of Electronics course, I am assuming they revamp from time to time to keep up with new technology??

I did look all over Canada and there are some basic electronics courses but none also get into the audio / visual production side of it. There are a few parameters the course must meet:

It has to be a Diploma Program (in other words I have to come out of it with something)
It has to be under 25K CDN
It has to be completed within 2 years MAX as that is the time I am given at 75% top up on my CAF pension. They expect it to be a viable second career path after that, when my pension will drop to my 20 years amount of 42% roughly. This is a medical release (nothing hugely serious, but I can't pass the physical PT test anymore due to an injury). That is how I am getting the funding for coursing and 2 years top up.

Prior to the 2 years top up at 75% at release, I get my final 6 months while still serving, to do the shadowing. I can also start the course at this time.
I have to account for 40 hours a week. (choice is mine to start the course or do all shadowing) I plan to do 20 hours a week on each.

But it would be really cool if Jeff could put in a good word for me with the guys at CTV or CBC :)

I am REALLY excited about this and I am willing to work my butt off to pass the course and succeed even though it's an entirely new challenge in my life!

TPT
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Re: Advice, Second Career after Canadian Forces

Post by TPT » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:50 pm

The NAB radio show is April 16 through 21; wait a week or so after it is over and take a short trip down to Peggy's Cove to Nautel. I'm sure the folks there can give you some good insights on this business.

Harkiran
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Re: Advice, Second Career after Canadian Forces

Post by Harkiran » Fri Apr 15, 2016 5:56 am

Okay so I googled NAUTEL, just for reference, and clicked on the agent page and there are photos of the agents including a Jeff Welton - who I am assuming you were talking about? I totally recognize him! In fact I think he has worked with the Navy - I am pretty sure of it as I totally recognize his face! I will try to contact him in a week or so! Thanks!

Harkiran
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Re: Advice, Second Career after Canadian Forces

Post by Harkiran » Fri Jun 24, 2016 6:19 am

I was able to get on for job shadowing with CTV :) I am super excited!

grich
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Re: Advice, Second Career after Canadian Forces

Post by grich » Sun Jun 26, 2016 5:23 pm

Congratulations!

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