Electrical engineering is an engineering discipline concerned with the study, design and application of equipment, devices and systems which use electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. It emerged as an identifiable occupation in the latter half of the 19th century after commercialization of the electric telegraph, the telephone, and electrical power generation, distribution and use.
Electrical engineering is now divided into a wide range of fields, including computer engineering, systems engineering, power engineering, telecommunications, radio-frequency engineering, signal processing, instrumentation, and electronics. Many of these disciplines overlap with other engineering branches, spanning a huge number of specializations including hardware engineering, power electronics, electromagnetics and waves, microwave engineering, nanotechnology, electrochemistry, renewable energies, mechatronics, and electrical materials science.
Electrical engineers typically hold a degree in electrical engineering or electronic engineering. Practicing engineers may have professional certification and be members of a professional body or an international standards organization. These include the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) (formerly the IEE).
Electrical engineers work in a very wide range of industries and the skills required are likewise variable. These range from circuit theory to the management skills of a project manager. The tools and equipment that an individual engineer may need are similarly variable, ranging from a simple voltmeter to sophisticated design and manufacturing software.
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Electrical Engineering Functions
The functions performed by electrical engineers include
(1) basic research in physics, other sciences, and applied mathematics in order to extend knowledge applicable to the field of electronics,
(2) applied research based on the findings of basic research and directed at discovering new applications and principles of operation,
(3) development of new materials, devices, assemblies, and systems suitable for existing or proposed product lines,
(4) design of devices, equipment, and systems for manufacture,
(5) field-testing of equipment and systems,
(6) establishment of quality control standards to be observed in manufacture,
(7) supervision of manufacture and production testing,
(8) postproduction assessment of performance, maintenance, and repair, and
(9) engineering management, or the direction of research, development, engineering, manufacture, and marketing and sales.
The rapid proliferation of new discoveries, products, and markets in the electrical industries has made it difficult for workers in the field to maintain the range of skills required to manage their activities. Consulting engineers, specializing in new fields, are employed to study and recommend courses of action.
The educational background required for these functions tends to be highest in basic and applied research. In most major laboratories, a doctorate in science or engineering is required to fill leadership roles. Most positions in design, product development, and supervision of manufacture and quality control require a master’s degree. In the high-technology industries typical of modern electronics, an engineering background at not less than the bachelor’s level is required to assess competitive factors in sales engineering to guide marketing strategy.
The largest of the specialized branches of electrical engineering, the branch concerned with the electronic computer, was introduced during World War II. The field of computer science and engineering has attracted members of several disciplines outside electronics, notably logicians, linguists, and applied mathematicians.
Another very large field is that concerned with electric light and power and their applications. Specialties within the field include the design, manufacture, and use of turbines, generators, transmission lines, transformers, motors, lighting systems, and appliances.
A third major field is that of communications, which comprises not only telephony but also satellite communications and the transmission of voice and data by laser signals through optical-fibre networks. The communication of digital data among computers connected by wire, microwave, and satellite circuits is now a major enterprise that has built a strong bond between computer and communications specialists.
The applications of electricity and electronics to other fields of science have expanded since World War II. Among the sciences represented are medicine, biology, oceanography, geoscience, nuclear science, laser physics, sonics and ultrasonics, and acoustics. Theoretical specialties within electronics include circuit theory, information theory, radio-wave propagation, and microwave theory.
Another important speciality concerns improvements in materials and components used in electrical and electronics engineering, such as conductive, magnetic, and insulating materials and the semiconductors used in solid-state devices. One of the most active areas is the development of new electronic devices, particularly the integrated circuits used in computers and other digital systems.
The development of electronic systems—equipment for consumers, such as radios, television sets, stereo equipment, video games, and home computers—occupies a large number of engineers. Another field is the application of computers and radio systems to automobiles, ships, and other vehicles. The field of aerospace electronic systems includes navigation aids for aircraft, automatic pilots, altimeters, and radar for traffic control, blind landing, and collision prevention. Many of these devices are also widely used in shipping.
Why to choose Electrical Engineering degree?
It’s easy to get your first Electrical Engineering job
Graduates of engineering schools start Electrical Engineering careers fairly easily because most employers search for fresh minds with good training. They are glad to get young people they can mould to their own specific needs and turn them into experts. This is also the reason why electrical engineers are the most valued on the job market.
You can work in another country after graduation
Being an electrical engineer means having a lot of job opportunities in countries all around the world. The laws of math and physics are universal, and your gained knowledge doesn’t limit you to only the country you studied in. There are a lot of international technical companies that need electrical engineers, and they are willing to employ people from other countries if they are good enough. Also, most of them operate at an international level, that offers you additional options for travelling while working. Besides, you are usually getting paid well for it!
Electric power won’t be your only focus
Being an electrical and electronics engineer doesn’t mean you will work your whole life plugging and unplugging electronics, or just designing electronic circuits. Electrical Engineering degrees have the immense advantage of covering tens of specializations, making the field very flexible and offering you a great chance of simply throwing a dart at a list and trying on areas like a nervous person tries clothes before a date: many, in a short period of time.
You will develop great DIY techniques
DIY or “Do It Yourself” is one of the more exciting reasons to get into Electrical Engineering. When you know how power generation, control panels and electrical systems work, how to transmit energy, what usually malfunctions and what are the basic rules of Electrical and Computer Engineering, you can make your own systems and devices, instead of searching and buying them.
And it’s not just everyday fixes, like changing a light bulb or a faulty fuse: you will also be able to cope with more complex problems within your household and those of your friends and family. And that doesn’t only save you money, but also works great as a pick-up line…
It will never be boring, as new gadgets come out all the time
Electrical and electronic components are modified, invented and reinvented every day, so you will never be bored! You won’t be using the same processor component for more than 10 years.
New and exciting stuff is available all the time and you will have lots of fun testing and assembling it.