What Do Electrical Engineers Do? Are you fascinated by how the principles of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism can be applied to real-world everyday problems?
Do you dream about designing new instrumentation, complex power systems, or even microscopic electronic devices?
Would you like to work in industries including research and development, engineering services, manufacturing, telecommunications, and the federal government?
The field of electrical engineering offers unique opportunities to make a real difference by being responsible for a wide range of technologies, from the global positioning system that can continuously provide the location of a vehicle to giant electric power generators.
- Design, test, and oversee the development of electronic systems and the manufacture of electrical and electronic equipment and devices.
- Develop and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment and electrical systems for automobiles and aircraft including:
- Electric motors
- Machinery controls
- Lighting and wiring in buildings
- Radar and navigation systems
- Communications systems
- Power generation, control, and transmission devices used by electric utilities.
- Work on applications of electricity in order to control systems or signal processing.
- Design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electronic equipment, such as broadcast and communications systems.
- Work in areas closely related to computers; engineers whose work is related exclusively to computer hardware are considered computer hardware engineers.
- design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment and electrical systems for automobiles and aircraft including:
- electric motors;
- machinery controls,
- lighting, and wiring in buildings;
- radar and navigation systems;
- communications systems; and
- power generation, control, and transmission devices used by electric utilities.
- focus on the generation and supply of power
- specialize in areas such as
- power systems engineering or
- electrical equipment manufacturing.
- Power systems engineering
- Electrical equipment manufacturing
- Signal processing
- Control systems
Famous Electrical Engineers
- Edith Clarke – contributed to transcontinental telephone communication by creating and patenting the Clarke Calculator, a graphical device that solved equations used to send power through electrical transmission lines
- Elsie Eaves – the first woman to become a full member of the American Society of Civil Engineers
- Nikola Tesla – Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current, AC, electricity supply system
- Guglielmo Marconi – Italian inventor and electrical engineer, known for his pioneering work on long-distance radio transmission and for his development of Marconi’s law
- Michael Faraday – English scientist who contributed to the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry, including discoveries of electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and electrolysis
- George Westinghouse, Jr. – American entrepreneur and engineer who invented the railway air brake and was a pioneer of the electrical industry
- Ernst Werner von Siemens – German inventor and industrialist whose name has been adopted as the SI unit of electrical conductance
Areas of Employment
- Engineering services
- Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution
- Semiconductor and other electronic component manufacturing
- Navigational, measuring, electromedical, and control instruments manufacturing
- Research and development in the physical, engineering, and life sciences
- Federal government
Career Guidance Suggestions for Pre-University Students
- Advanced algebra
- Engineering fundamentals
- Circuits and electronics
- Signal processing
- Digital systems
- Communication systems
- Information theory
- Summer programs
- Afterschool programs
- Online puzzles and games
- Online courses
- Maker Faires
- Design projects
- Science centers and museums
- Professional societies like IEEE
- Interpersonal skills: must be able to work with others during the manufacturing process to ensure that their plans are implemented correctly, including monitoring technicians and devising remedies to problems as they arise.
- Math skills: must be able to use the principles of calculus and other advanced math in order to analyze, design, and troubleshoot equipment.
- Communication skills: work closely with other engineers and technicians, explain their designs and reasoning clearly, and relay instructions during product development and production.
- Writing skills: develop technical publications related to equipment one develops, including maintenance manuals, operation manuals, product proposals, and design methods documents.
- Organizational skills: must be able to keep track of multiple design elements and technical characteristics when developing complex electrical systems and electronic products.
- Initiative: electronics engineers must be able to apply their knowledge to new tasks in every project they undertake and engage in continuing education to keep up with changes in technology.
Links and Resources
- International Society for Optics and Photonics: an international society advancing an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light.
- Association for Computing Machinery: the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society focused on advancing computing as a science and a profession.
- Audio Engineering Society: the only professional society devoted exclusively to audio technology.
- Electric Power Research Institute: a nonprofit professional organization focused on addressing challenges in electricity.
- IEEE-Institution of Electrical and Electronics Engineers: the world’s largest professional association for the advancement of technology.