|Click here for a downloadable
copy of Is There an Engineer
Inside You? by engineering
educator Celeste Baine.
Electrical Engineering involves designing, developing and testing electrical equipment. Electrical engineers discover different ways to generate and control electrical energy. They work with every kind of device imaginable, from computers to cell phones to global positioning devices. Computer Engineering encompasses a wide range of topics including operating systems, computer architecture, computer networks, robotics, artificial intelligence and computer-aided design. Computer Engineers work in the continually changing information technology sector.
Why Study Electrical & Computer Engineering?
Engineers have provided solutions to many of the technical problems that have troubled society: lack of affordable, efficient, and sustainable forms of transportation, energy, housing, security systems, healthcare systems, and communication. Interdisciplinary teams of engineers and scientists are working on new technologies and solutions that will help to make our life healthier, safer, simpler, and more mobile. The work performed by electrical engineers includes:
- Digital health systems that can be used to monitor patients’ cardiovascular functions 24 hours a day, enabling individuals to contact medical specialists in the event of an emergency. This technology can be used for preventive healthcare, diagnostics, and therapy.
- The development and implementation of database management systems that monitor food production and transportation of food from farms to consumers, allowing today’s consumers access to an international selection of goods, but globalization of food products presents many challenges. Products must be produced in accordance with current food regulations, properly packaged and shipped, and finally arrive fresh on the customer’s table.
- The implementation of energy storage in power grids that support solar and wind-generated electricity on demand, facilitating the use of renewable resources that will play an increasingly significant role in the energy mixture of the future.
- The development of green power train technologies with an impetus for eco-friendly cars, enabling a minimum of natural resources during manufacture, have a low fuel consumption when driving, discharge as few pollutants as possible into the atmosphere, and require very little maintenance. Engineers are working to improve the power train, which comprises all the components involved in generating torque and transmitting it from electric motors to the wheels.
- The use of human computer interaction studies to provide the best possible use of the different abilities of humans and computers. Computers process large quantities of data and convert this information into visual displays. Engineers focus on communication and pattern recognition and the evaluation and analysis of the data provided to accommodate the cognitive abilities of users.
Careers in Electrical & Computer Engineering
The varied and progressive field of electrical/computer engineering has grown rapidly making it the largest branch of engineering. Electrical/computer engineers integrate many other disciplines, such as mathematics, circuit design and analysis, computer programming, physics, instrumentation, electronics, telecommunications, electromagnetic and optical systems, chemistry, computer hardware design and development, control systems, computer networking, and engineering economics into products that are economical and competitive in the marketplace. The development of electrical systems and devices are evident as computers, cell phones, DVD players, computer games, televisions, microwaves, hybrid cars, satellites, electrical power generations and distribution, lasers, and the internet. These systems and devices were developed by electrical/computer engineers that include:
- Consulting electrical engineers design electrical systems for commercial and industrial buildings. They work closely with architects and mechanical & civil engineers and often these disciplines are all part of the same company.
- Control system engineers generate models for a diverse range of dynamic systems and controllers that use electrical circuits, digital signal processors, microcontrollers, and programmable logic controllers (PLCs). Control engineering has a wide range of applications from flight and propulsion systems of spacecraft and commercial airlines to the cruise control in automobiles to industrial automation.
- Computer engineers design and test computers, software, and computer networks. Computer engineers design new hardware, PDA, or use computers to control industrial plants and machinery. Desktop computer-like architectures are now found in a range of devices including video game consoles, microwave ovens, hybrid cars, and DVD players.
- Power engineers employ the principles of electrical engineering for the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity as well as the design of transformers, electric generators, power stations, electric motors, and power electronics. Power engineers play an important role in solving problems associated with the environment and global warming.
- Telecommunications engineers employ engineering principles for the transmission of information across a channel such as a coax cable, optical fiber, or free space. Transmissions require information to be encoded in order to adapt the information for transmission; this is known as modulation. Telecommunication engineers determine the transmission characteristics of a system and design the transmitters and receivers needed for telecommunications systems, as global positioning systems, digital TVs, and global computer transmissions of information.