Oh, my breadboard. As an electrical engineer, this little electronic prototyping board has been my best friend during these lonely COVID times. However, it definitely wasn’t love at first sight. In fact, it felt like an eternity before I even understood how one actually worked.
Let’s take it back to the beginning. I first saw a breadboard during the Fall semester of my freshman year, when I took Introduction to Electrical Engineering (EE105). At first, I had absolutely no idea what I was looking at. The breadboard seemed entirely foreign to me, and I had no idea how to actually build circuits on it. Even in my project team for Makers, an Electrical Engineering & Computer Science design club, I never really had a firm grasp on what I was doing. I struggled through all of the EE105 labs just desperately praying that my circuit would work and looking up in amazement at my TA as he would fix something that I had been struggling with for an hour in my circuit in one second.
My critical issue was that I was scared to ask for help in understanding the breadboard. From the outside, it seemed like everyone else already knew what they were doing and that the knowledge of how a breadboard worked was elementary. Not knowing felt embarrassing, and I didn’t want to stick out as an outsider or look unknowledgeable in front of my peers. As time passed though, I realized that not knowing was nothing to be ashamed of. Electrical engineering is confusing and complicated, and the physical circuit components are no less initially intimidating than the major itself.
Now, I absolutely adore my breadboard. I love designing and building circuits, whether they be for a class or otherwise! There’s something uniquely relaxing and fun about stripping wires and sticking them into the board and watching your circuit (if you have fun components like a buzzer or some LEDs) come to life. Breadboards make circuit design much easier than soldering (although I do love soldering) and the possibilities are endless.
To my breadboard, thank you for bearing with me when I short ground and power or accidentally make any number of mistakes during my circuit design. To any prospective electrical engineers, get ready to get well acquainted with breadboards and other circuit components. Most importantly, don’t get discouraged by your confusion! Before you know it, you’ll build something that used to take you half an hour to do in five minutes.