What Is Electrical Engineering? Definition And Opportunities
Updated 14 December 2022
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Electrical engineering is a modern branch of engineering that comprises several specialised categories like power generation, transmission, motors, batteries, control systems and commercial appliances. From tiny microchips and microprocessors to large-scale electrical systems and power grids, the field has extensive scope for specialisation. Knowing more about this field can help you decide if you want to pursue this career path. In this article, we discuss what is electrical engineering, the roles and responsibilities of electrical engineers and career opportunities in this field.
What Is Electrical Engineering?
What is electrical engineering, can be described as a branch of engineering that deals with the design and development of electrical devices. The scope of this field expanded with the discovery and research of electro-magnetism and now applies across devices like generators, motors and transformers.
Electrical engineering also includes electronics, which further branches into radio frequency systems, telecommunications, remote sensing, signal processing, digital circuitry, audio-video communication and instrumentation. If it is a practical, real-world device that interacts with electricity in any form, it is likely a product of electrical engineering.
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Functions Of An Electrical Engineer
Electrical engineers design, develop and execute the production of electrical devices. As an electrical engineer, you may also require to check electrical products and their components for reliability, safety and efficiency. Daily duties of an electrical engineer can vary depending on the industry but typically include:
Electrical engineers often require to develop a dedicated plan for each project. Planning helps them to set clear goals and direct collective efforts towards achieving these goals. For example, electrical engineers plan the timeline, budget and operational aspects of their projects. During the planning phase, they also take into consideration any specific client requirements and safety guidelines that apply.
Manufacture electrical products
Electrical engineers often execute their plans and create products as part of a team. They work on individual components or mechanisms and then assemble them to create market-ready products. They adhere to company/client specifications and standards of quality and safety.
Test and evaluate products
Once a prototype is ready, an electrical engineer makes sure it goes through a series of rigorous safety and durability tests. Most manufacturing issues and design flaws get identified at this stage. An electrical engineer can also review and suggest changes to a tool during the testing phase.
Formulate usage recommendations
To ensure the longevity of products and the safety of users, companies often get a new product tested by real users. Electrical engineers can help in this stage by preparing instruction manuals for handling, operating, troubleshooting and maintaining a product.
Perform maintenance and repairs
Electrical systems and products often use degradable parts, which are subject to wear and tear. That is why companies often need the help of electrical engineers to ensure the proper maintenance of their professional equipment and products. If required, electrical engineers also perform repairs and replacement installations.
Essential Skills For An Electrical Engineer
Electrical engineering entails an in-depth understanding of electrical and electronics theory, mathematics and material sciences. This knowledge, when used creatively, helps engineers design circuits to perform specific functions while maintaining requirements for safety, reliability and energy efficiency. These are some essential skills for an electrical engineer:
Electrical engineers require a thorough understanding of technical areas, including circuit design, electrical current and the operation of electrical devices. This knowledge helps them to design, produce, test, maintain and repair electrical products.
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Electrical engineers use their critical thinking skills to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of a product. When they find a weak point in the product, they apply their problem-solving skills to fix the issue. Logical thinking is important, but it sometimes takes more creative problem-solving to find innovative outcomes.
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Electrical engineers perform complex calculations when designing and testing electrical products. Calculations are important for developing prototypes and determining electrical potential. Electrical engineers are required to have strong math skills because they may be required to identify errors in calculations that can affect projects and products. Electrical engineers may also rely on their calculations when maintaining or reparing electrical components.
Modern-day computers, a tool invented in part by the same community, can now also be used to simulate how electrical devices and systems function. For instance, electrical engineers can use computer simulations to model national power grids or a microprocessor. This is why proficiency with computers is essential for electrical engineers. The discipline today mostly involves designing electrical devices and systems using basic components, such as batteries, magnets, coils, conductors and resistors. Electrical engineers work with practical devices and systems that are now household necessities on a global scale. Nearly all electrical and electronic devices, from generators at a power plant to the microprocessors in your phone require electrical engineering.
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The Pathway To Become An Electrical Engineer
To become an electrical engineer, a candidate has to first complete higher secondary education in mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer sciences. Following this, they are required to prepare for and appear in competitive exams for getting admission into a reputable engineering college and pursue a bachelor's degree in technology or B.Tech in electrical engineering.
Electrical engineering is a core branch of engineering, so most public and private engineering colleges across the country offer a degree course in this discipline. Although a bachelor's degree is sufficient to start a career in electrical engineering, you can choose to pursue further academic engagement, such as postgraduate courses and doctorate programmes.
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How Much Does An Electrical Engineer Make?
The average pay for an electrical engineer is ₹21,898 per month. Typically, a master's degree is the highest level of education for an electrical engineer. Top companies offer salaries ranging from ₹3,80,203 to ₹4,62,072 per annum, depending on your qualifications and experience.
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Rapid technological innovation and development may drive demand for electrical and electronics engineers in research and development. Some of the most promising career options in this diversified field include:
Electrical engineers can use their knowledge and expertise to carry out the roles of network architects or programmers to aid in testing computer hardware and other modern devices. Their work can intersect several fields, including but not limited to cybersecurity, computer system architecture, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
Advanced automation and robotic systems
Electrical engineering is central to the design and development of automated systems and robots. Although automation and robotics are relatively new fields of engineering, they have revolutionised production and manufacturing processes in most industries. Automation minimises human error and improves the efficiency of systems. Researchers use automated scripts to collate, analyse, interpret and organise large amounts of data within short time frames.
Aeronautics and defence research
Electrical engineers take part in the development of defence and aerospace systems. In this industry, electrical engineers get to develop several components related to flight control, navigation and surveillance. These electrical engineers may work for private enterprises or government agencies.
Advanced automotive driver assistance systems
This facet of electrical engineering helps create tools and systems for increasing a vehicle operator's safety while driving. Advanced driver assistance systems automate and improve various vehicle systems for safety, all while improving the overall quality of the driving experience. Although this technology could only display warnings and alerts in the past, engineers are currently working on creating fully automated vehicles. Modern systems use a number of tools for interpreting their environment. GPS navigation, adaptive cruise control and automated lights reduce on-road mishaps. Statistics show that a majority of accidents still occur because of human errors.
Some electrical engineers work on creating communication tools and systems, such as wireless network systems, radio systems and information storage systems. Maintenance, development and management of systems for broadcasting require a large pool of skilled professionals. Electrical engineers in this field may help to design and install improved and more efficient equipment for telephones and internet access.
Biomedical engineering is a multi-disciplinary subject that blends biology, medicine and engineering. Practical applications include the design of medical equipment and prosthetics. This field employs the technical knowledge of engineers to empower the specially-abled and develop life support systems.
This career path combines the technical skill set of an electrical engineer with the responsibilities of a managerial post. Managing teams and coming up with collective solutions requires a head supervising the entire process, and roles like production managers and consultants also require technical knowledge to function efficiently.
The Indian Engineering Services continues to be one of the most sought-after career paths for engineering graduates. The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the exam to fulfil the requirements of various central government departments, such as Indian Railways, Central Public Works Department (CPWD), Water Commission and Defence.
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