Electrical Engineering

General Overview

Electrical engineering is the understanding and application of electricity and electronics. It incorporates control systems, supply, distribution, computational design and implementation and telecommunications.

 

A wide range of skills is required to be an electrical engineer. This includes the design, development, test and supervision of electrical systems and circuits. To be able to undertake this role, a fundamental knowledge of physics and mathematics is required. It is also important to understand computational theory in order to assist with the design and maintenance of electrical systems. This can include design software such as Multisim or programming knowledge to create programs to simulate circuits under various conditions.

An electrical circuit being analysed using MultiSim software Source: www.electronics.stackexchange.com

As electrical engineering is a very wide industry, many electrical engineers may understand basic circuitry and its components (including resistors, capacitors, diodes, inductors and transistors) but may not necessarily use this on a daily basis. Many of the fundamental skills that make up electrical engineering is not necessarily related to circuits and their design / maintenance but the problem solving techniques, design philosophies and a clear problem solving methodology to electronic engineering. It is also important to understand how to test and maintain electric circuits.

 

In simple systems, this includes measuring voltage, current and resistance using a multimeter. For alternating current circuits, an oscilloscope is commonly used. For more complex systems such as telecommunications, machinery control and power transmission, complex network analysers and computational based systems can be used for monitoring and maintenance. One major concern with the maintenance of complex electrical systems is health and safety. To allow for engineers to update and maintain systems, circuit breakers and correct grounding techniques must be used. In many instances, designers must take into account that much lower voltages should be used to prevent any physical injury. Additionally, project management skills are very important for electrical engineers as they are required to schedule, prepare budgets and manage multiple suppliers.

 

Electrical engineering is a relatively new field of engineering. It wasn’t until the 18th century that scientists began to understand a distinction between magnetism and static electricity. Following research into this distinction current and voltage were found to be related which subsequently led to the discovery of electromagnetic induction which allowed the production of electricity. In the late 19th century electrical engineers were able to produce small electrical telegraph systems to allow of telecommunications. The industry progressed further through the creation of efficient power generation and distribution networks. In recent times, landlines, submarine cabling and wireless telecommunications have been developed. Modern technologies include advanced radio technology and electronics. Wireless signals also made significant developments allowing for wireless communication systems and radio waves, to an extent that allowed communication with astronauts throughout the Apollo missions. Solid state electronics allowed for compact devices and microprocessors allowed for the creation of computers, of which has developed at an incredibly fast rate over the past 20 - 30 years. This industry now encompasses the bulk of electrical engineering jobs and projects.

Required Knowledge

Skills and Expertise

  • Electrical engineering understanding

  • Project Management

  • Problem solving

  • Fundamental understanding of first principles mathematics and physics

  • Practical understanding of how electrical and electronic circuitry is constructed.

 

Software Understanding

  • Multisim

  • MATLAB

  • CAD packages (E.g. CATIA, Solidworks, Autocad, Inventor, PTC Creo)

  • Word processing, spreadsheets and presentations (E.g. MS Word, MS Excel, MS Powerpoint; Google Docs, Sheets and Slides)

Example Jobs
  • Computer Programmer (Software Engineer)

  • Electrical Site Maintenance Technician

  • Electrical Systems Design Engineer

  • Automation Control Engineers

  • Power Generation Commissioning Engineers

  • Substation Layout Engineers

Institutions

UK: Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE), Institution of Lighting Professionals (ILP)

USA: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Audio Engineering Society (AES), Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE)

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