Matt Morgan on A Unified Approach

Repeat author Matt Morgan tells us about writing a second book and the benefit of experience this time around:

By the time I had completed my first book over two years ago, I had made two surprising discoveries. The first thing I found is that I rather enjoy writing books. There is nothing else quite like taking a deep dive into a subject you are both passionate about and that you thought you already knew. In writing about my own discoveries, I not only learned a great deal more about what others had done, but I made new discoveries in the process. An entire chapter’s worth of new material in that book came to me after I had already begun writing. This time around was little different. Would it be admitting too much to say that my next project is based as much on a subject I know as it is a subject I would like to know better?

The second thing I discovered when writing my first book is that many of the RF and microwave references I had learned from and relied heavily upon were not nearly as complete in their explanations as I somehow imagined them to be. I seem to be better at acquiring technical knowledge than I am at cataloging where it all came from. Some of those books, I found, after reading them more closely than I had since my first exposure to them in college, had bits and pieces of easy insight, but avoided wading into deeper subjects that sensitive underclassmen might find intimidating. Others simply proclaimed mathematical results with no explanation for where they came from or why they should be trusted. That, I decided, was not good enough for me. An engineer armed with working formulas can hold down a job, but the one who understands why they work is the one that will create the future.

I also felt that practicing electrical engineers have a habit of becoming too specialized in the way they understand their field. Some of us emerge from
school with an aptitude for circuits, while others find they have a talent for transmission lines, waveguides, or free-propagating beams. Often it was simply a matter of which classes we liked, or which teachers we most responded to, but these distinctions in my mind are artificial. A coupler, for example, can be made in any one of these environments, why then should we be versed in only the approach we find simplest? I have said it many times, the best RF and microwave engineer is the one who can adapt his or her viewpoint from one type of solution to another as best fits a situation. I felt that a book was needed which could explain all of these approaches, side by side, on an equal footing and with a common language and style. Then, and only then, would it apply them to the task of designing the functional blocks that our electronic systems are built upon.

It was a large undertaking. The subject is extensive, but it is my hope that readers find my exposition interesting and insightful enough that they keep it always close at hand, not to absorb all at once, but to continue to learn from as they grow in their careers. I’m not so arrogant as to think that this one book is beyond mastery, but I do like to think there is enough there to keep a passionate learner interested for a good long while.

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