Careers in Electrical Engineering
A career in electrical engineering means solving problems associated with large-scale electrical systems. Sometimes the term is used to include electronic engineering, but jobs in this field involve small-scale systems, such as computers and integrated circuits. It might be said that a job in electronic engineering involves transmitting information and a job in electrical engineering involves transmitting energy. Alternatively, electronics, power transmission, control systems, signal processing, and telecommunications are sub-fields of electrical engineering. The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) has over 365,000 members in 150 countries and is the largest group of scientists with technical careers in the world.
Many careers in electrical engineering require an academic degree with a major in electrical engineering. The degree may be a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or a doctorate and be called a science, engineering, or technology degree. A job in electrical engineering often involves doing physics, computer science, mathematics, and project management in a sub-field of electrical engineering.
A job in power engineering usually involves three-phase alternating current power and its generation, transmission, and distribution. Careers can be made in the research and development of specialized power systems, examples being conversions between AC and DC, railway networks, generators, and motors. The IEEE Power and Energy Society has 24, 000 members.
Electronics began as a separate career path in 1906 with the invention of the triode. Now a career in electronics involves semiconductors, the study of which is a job for physicists. A job in electronics involves creating electronic circuits with capacitors, resistors, diodes, transistors, etc. A career in control systems can involve logic (sequential) controls or feedback (linear) controls, or a combination of the two (fuzzy logic), but cannot involve systems that are inherently not controllable. A job in signal processing sounds like a job in applied mathematics, but there are electronic devices that compress and transmit signal data and manipulate it in a variety of other ways. Signals of interest can include sound, images, and data from devices such as electrocardiograms. Careers in the sub-fields can overlap since there are signals produced by control systems and telecommunication systems.
There are many jobs in telecommunications, an industry with revenues of over a trillion dollars per year. A career in telecommunications can be in telephone, radio and television, wide area networks (WANs), and local area networks. The largest ,and best known, wide area network is the internet. Local area networks (LANs) connect computers that are no more than one or two miles apart. Most LANs operate with Ethernet instead of the more complex protocols of WANs and do not require all of the features of the larger networks.