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, 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. See glossary of electrical and electronics engineering.
Electrical engineers typically hold a degree in electrical engineering or electronic engineering. Practising 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). The IEC prepares international standards for electrical engineering, developed through consensus, thanks to the work of 20,000 electrotechnical experts, coming from 172 countries worldwide.
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 a top end analyzer to sophisticated design and manufacturing software.
An electrical engineer is someone who designs and develops new electrical systems, solves problems and tests equipment. They study and apply the physics and mathematics of electricity, electromagnetism and electronics to both large and small scale systems to process information and transmit energy. They work with all kinds of electronic devices, from the smallest pocket devices to large supercomputers.
UNSW's Electrical Engineering students learn through a combination of design and lab work. This mix of theory and practical application allows students to visualize concepts and then apply their ideas in a variety of real life situations. Students learn to analyse and diagnose problems and develop innovative solutions.
Industries electrical engineers work in
Electrical engineers are usually concerned with large-scale electrical systems such as motor control and power transmission, as well as utilizing electricity to transmit energy. Electrical engineers may work on a diverse range of technologies, from the design of household appliances, lighting and wiring of buildings, telecommunication systems, electrical power stations and satellite communications. Another emerging field for electrical engineers is microelectronics - the design and development of electrical systems and circuits in computers and mobile devices.
However, graduates are not just limited to the above industries. UNSW's Electrical Engineering degree teaches you excellent problem solving skills and logical thinking. The courses are structured in ways that encourage analytical thinking, help master time management and ensure students are technically proficient. Because of this, electrical engineers from UNSW are in high demand even in areas such as:
Global Positioning System (GPS) technologies
Electrical engineering design
A few examples of the applications and reach of electrical engineering are:
The computer, tablet or smartphone you purchased recently is a masterpiece of electrical engineering design.
Robots are comprised of sensors, actuators, microprocessors and sophisticated feedback control systems, designed by electrical engineers!
Space projects - deep space communications, robust control systems, extra terrestrial GPS for navigation and positioning, power generation and storage networks, imaging systems - made possible by electrical engineers.
Sophisticated medical technology that you encounter in a modern hospital including CT, MRI and PET imaging machines, ECG and blood pressure monitors, all based off electrical engineering principles.
Top 10 Skills Needed for a Job in Electrical Engineering
When you decide to become an electrical engineer, you're committing yourself to a profession that involves developing, designing, testing and supervising the manufacturing of electrical devices and equipment, including navigation systems, electric motors and power generation equipment.
Therefore, to be able to handle such complex concepts and theories, and understand how to apply them to real-life projects, you need to possess a very unique and tailored skillset. Indeed, it's no secret that a high proportion of engineering students drop out or change course, with a lack of preparedness often cited as the biggest reason for this unusually high attrition rate.
So, to see if you have what it takes to stay the course and develop a promising career in the field, here are the top 10 electrical engineering skills that you will need
Electrical Engineering is a broad field of engineering which deals with the science and technology involving electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism, to design, construct, and maintain products, services, and information systems. Electrical engineering is the historical name for what is now called electrical, electronics, and computer engineering. This branch of engineering covers traditional areas like generation, distribution and transmission of electricity as well as new age applications in electronics ranging from telecommunications to computers and micro processors.
Thus most courses combine electrical and electronic systems. The course is closely linked with computation and neural systems, applied physics, computer science and applied dynamic systems.
Students of electrical engineering are offered both theoretical and practical knowledge in a wide variety of subjects, including wireless systems, quantum electronics, modern optics, solid state materials and devices, power electronics, control theory; signal processing, data compression and communications etc.
There are many more new age developments including Neuro Fuzzy approaches for Engineering system applications, biomedical instrumentation, Analysis of digital systems etc.
Making a career in Electrical engineering will be challenging as well as rewarding. There are tremendous career prospects in this field in India as well as in other developed countries across the world.
Electrical Engineering Eligibility Criteria
An aspirant for electrical engineering should start his/her academic career in Science at intermediate level i.e. plus two (with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics). After completion of class 12th or plus two in science stream one has to sit for entrance examination conducted both at national and state level (e.g. IITJEE, AIEEE, BITSAT etc.). After qualifying the entrance exam he/she would take up BE/BTech in Electrical engineering which is of four years duration.
One can also go for Diploma program after completion of his/her class 10th. Here he/she will be recognized with the status of a junior engineer.
One, who still wants to study further after completing BE/B.Tech., can pursue M.Tech. program offered by Indian Institutes of Technology and few other engineering colleges in the country.
Individuals with interests in research areas can pursue PhD after his/her post graduation studies for carrying out research works.
AMIE Associate Memberships of the Institution of Engineers also offers courses in Electrical engineering which is equivalent to BE/B.Tech. provided by other institutes/universities.
Career and Job Prospects
Electrical Engineering is an exploding field. Job prospects for electrical engineers are quite good. Electrical engineers are required to develop, design, manufacture, test, evaluate, market, sell and manage electrical and electronic systems.
In India, fresh graduates can find jobs both in public and private sector. However the private companies provide good salary as compared to the government ones. Among the largest employers of electrical engineers are computer, telecommunications and consumer electronics companies.
Apart from making professional career, one can also do research work in this field by joining research labs and institutes. Teaching career is also rewarding. One can join an engineering college/university as a full time or part time lecturer/professor.
The average starting monthly salary of electrical engineering graduates in India ranges between Rs. 15,000 - Rs.25,000. The pay-package in foreign countries is much higher as compared to India. Fresh graduates from elite technological institutions like Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and Birla Institute of Technology get more remuneration as compared to others.
Almost all engineering colleges in the country offer BE/BTech in electrical engineering. The pioneer institutes are the Indian Institutes of Technology, Birla institute of Technology, National Institutes of Technology, Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University), and several other engineering colleges. Please click on the links given below to get a list of vast number of engineering colleges located in various states and major cities of the country.
What Can You Expect from a Job as an Electrical Engineer?
As an electrical engineer, you're responsible for the lifecycle of electrical projects, from the design phase to delivery and beyond. The specific responsibilities associated with this job vary depending on the engineer's area of specialization, but may include:
Communicating with customers to determine their requirements
Designing electrical products and systems based on client briefs
Estimating costs and timelines for project delivery
Interpreting technical drawings and design specifications
Creating project prototypes and models using three-dimensional design software
Communicating with team members during project design and development
Designing and performing tests to determine whether new products and systems meet standards
Recording and evaluating test data
Proposing electrical product and system modifications to improve quality and efficiency
Monitoring user comments to learn of areas where products and systems warrant improvements
Retesting electrical products and systems to determine whether modifications have desired effect
Performing maintenance procedures and repairs on existing electrical products and systems
Writing product documentation and reports
Giving presentations about projects and performance to clients and company executives
Electrical engineers typically work in laboratories and research facilities, factories, mines, industrial and production plants, power stations, and office settings. Depending on their location, electrical engineers may work in modern comfort or in hot, cramped, or dusty places. The working environments of electrical engineers can also be dangerous, especially if they engineers work around live electrical equipment and systems.
Electrical engineers may spend time at a desk developing designs, planning budgets, and preparing project schedules. However, they spend a lot of time moving around overseeing the work of electricians, scientists, computer programmers, and other engineers. They may also spend time out of their regular workplace meeting with clients, collecting information, and studying equipment. While some travel may be involved, it's uncommon for electrical engineers to spend nights away from home.
As electrical engineers must work closely with clients and other employees within their organizations, they cannot work from home as many other workers can.
While pre-engineering courses are offered at the associate level, electrical engineers must hold at least a bachelor's degree from a college or university accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology. Most electrical engineers hold either a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering or a Bachelor of Engineering majoring in electrical engineering.
During these degree pursuits, students will learn more about electrical theory and get practical experience working with mechanics, computer programming, circuitry, and thermodynamics. Students can also specialize in a particular discipline, such as telecommunications engineering or biomedical engineering, to prepare themselves for a particular role upon graduation.
Bachelor programs in electrical engineering at top schools are very competitive. Students must have high grades in computer science, mathematics, physics, and chemistry to gain admission.
After gaining their degree, aspiring electrical engineers must gain a passing grade in the Fundamentals of Engineering exam to work in their chosen profession. They are then known as electrical engineers in training or electrical engineer interns.
Many employers require electrical engineers to hold advanced degrees to progress in their careers. Common post-graduate degrees include:
Master of Science in Electrical Engineering
Master of Engineering majoring in electrical engineering
Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering
In addition, many companies also offer comprehensive training programs which include orientation initiatives and structured continuing professional development schemes.
Experience is valued in the industries electrical engineers work in, with many employers looking for prior experience in new hires. Electrical engineering students are strongly advised to undertake an internship to make connections and refine their practical skills before entering the workforce.
After gaining four years' experience, electrical engineers can take their Professional Engineer exam. A Professional Engineer license can open up more professional opportunities.
The high salaries that experienced electrical engineers command point to their value to employers. On average, electrical engineers with 20 or more years' experience earn 44 percent more than the national average, while new electrical engineers earn 9 percent less than the national average.
Despite this, the majority of electrical engineers move on to other positions once they have more than 20 years' experience. That's why workers in the late stages of their career make up just 10 percent of electrical engineers. In contrast, 39 percent of electrical engineers have between one and four years' of experience and 24 percent have between five and nine years' experience in this job.