Work Performed Electrical Engineers research, develop, design, and test electronic components, products, and systems for commercial, industrial, medical, military, and scientific applications (Cosgrove 749). They are concerned with devices that use small amounts of electricity that make up electronic components such as integrated circuits and microprocessors. By applying principles and techniques of electronic engineering they design, develop, and manufacture products such as computers, telephones, radios, and stereo systems (EGOE, 121).
Electrical engineers touch everyone lives through the things they have designed or created. Electrical engineers have invented the lights in your house, the television, the stereo, the telephone, computers, and even your doctor’s blood pressure gauge (Stine 300). History The history of engineering goes back into the 19th century when Alexander Volta (1745-1827) made a remarkable discover regarding the nature of electricity (Cosgrove 749). He discovered that electrical current could be controlled and could flow from one point to another.
By the time the mid-19th century came about the rules for electricity were being established. During this time electromagnetic induction was discovered by Michael Faraday who lived from 1791 to 1867 (749). Also during this time Samuel Morris invented the telegraph in 1837 which relies on the principles of electromagnetic induction (749). Alexander Graham Bell, who lived from 1847 to 1922, created the telephone which also uses electricity in order to operate (749). Through the success of the telephone, Bell Telephone Company was established.
In 1878, the light bulb was finally invented by Thomas Edison who lived from 1847 to 1931 (749). Off the principles of Faraday’s electric motor from 1821, Nicholas Tesla invented a more efficient and powerful electric motor in 1888 (749). To make these inventions be more significant, effort was expended to make better motors and transformers and to enhance the power needed to make them function. Through these inventions during the middle 19th century, it led to the capability of lighting homes and cities through the use of electricity, and it also led to the creation of the telephone communication system (750).
Into The 20th Century By the time the 20th century arrived, vacuum tubes were invented that could transmit weak electrical signals which led to the formation of electromagnetic waves that led to the invention of the radio broadcast system (750). These vacuum tubes were discovered to be able to transmit currents through solid material, which led to the creation of transistors in the 1960’s (750). These transistors were made from tiny bits of silicon which could be produced to make microchips.
From transistors, microprocessors could be made which led to the technological era that we are in today, where everything from microwaves and digital watches to computers are run by these mini-processors (750). Nature Of Work Research, development and design, field service, sales and marketing are involved in the invention, design, construction, and operation of electrical and electronic systems and devices of all kinds (Cosgrove 698). Electronics engineers work with how computers and electrical systems are wired, how appliances work, and how electrical circuits are used in an endless number of applications (Cosgrove 698).
Researchers are involved with issues relating to future applications (Kunz 12). They are interested in testing and examining basic problems involved in their studies (12). From these they will then apply principles and techniques of Electrical Engineering to come up with possible solutions to the problem. Development/Design Engineers are placed with the task of creating, designing, and constructing new products by use of electrical and electronic systems and devices of all kinds (Cosgrove 698). They then test the new product in real world scenarios for safety, efficiency, and compatibility.
Production engineers are the organizers. They set up a manufacturing plan for the product their company will be making (Kunz 12). Field Service engineers work between the manufacturer and the consumer by installing the product for consumers and by helping them with any technical support they may need (Kunz 12). The specialties that one can commit to in engineering can vary significantly. For example, they can include acoustics, signal processing, lasers, robotics, electromagnetic compatibility, geosciences & remote sensing, or even vehicular technology (Stine 300).
Work Environment Most electrical engineers work in private industries such as television or telegraph companies (BLS 5). Others are hired by the federal government for military, space programs or through engineering firms (BLS 5). Others work on a contract basis where they are self-employed, and work independently as contractors or consultants (BLS 5). Electronic engineers work mainly in a comfortable indoor environment usually in their offices and at their desks (Kunz 14).
Engineers who are involved in research and design also work in specially developed laboratories where they can conduct experiments and test their products. These laboratories have a lot of high tech equipment that allow engineers to create a new product and test it so that it could be used for a solution in real world problems. Engineers who are involved in production spend most of their time in production facilities where they can monitor the production of a new product that will be shipped to a retailer (Kunz 14).
These production facilities have many hazards with heavy machinery and state of the art technology to produce the new electronics that is being created. Depending on the type of job that an engineer carries out, such as field engineer, there may also be extensive travel involved (Kunz 14). Hours and Wages Electrical Engineers work on average 5 days a week, and 40 hours a week (Macmillan 112). However there are many deadlines and tests that need to be finished on time. This has forced many engineers to work extra hours after work, and even come in on the weekend.
Although 40 hours a week is still the norm, there are still exceptions that force engineers to work another 20 hours or more per week. This is shown by the quote from Mr. Michael Smith who said,” Sometimes just to finish a contracting job, I may spend 10 to 20 hours on the weekend to finish it and get it right (Michael Smith). ” The wages that electronic engineers vary greatly depending on the amount of school one has obtained, and the amount of experience you have had. In 1994, the entry-level electronics engineer with a bachelor’s degree earned about $40,000 a year (Cosgrove, 753).
Those with a Master’s degree received about $50,000 a year (753). Those with a PhD and a few years experience were paid about $70,000 a year (BLS 7). Electronic engineers at the top of their fields received up to $100,000 or more depending on their experience. Engineers that worked in for the government however are paid even better, with an average salary of $62,000 per year (Cosgrove, 753). Benefits The benefits that one receives from this job are common from one employer to another, but the exact benefits received are different from one company to another.
The benefits that most companies offer are part of special packages. These benefits include paid holidays, paid vacations, personal days, sick leave, medical health, life insurance, short and long-term disability insurance, profit sharing, 401 (k) plans, retirement and pension plans, educational assistance, and credit unions (Cosgrove, 754). Overall, the benefits offered are common with most other jobs, and are up to date with today’s standards. Requirements / Starting Out
People planning on becoming electronic engineers should have very strong problem-solving abilities, mathematical and scientific capabilities, and a willingness to learn throughout ones career. Most electronics engineers work in teams with other professional engineers on projects and other experiments, which enforce the need for strong communication skills (Stine, 128). Electrical Engineers must also be able to create reports and presentations on their findings through research and design (128). Electronics and electrical engineers must have very solid educational backgrounds to enter the filed of engineering.
To prepare for college most electronic engineers aim for honors level math and science courses along with other curriculum such as English, social studies, and computer programming classes. By the time that you reach college, it is wise to determine what field of electronic engineering that you want to go into. The reason for this is because in addition to the core curriculum, students in this field choose classes in circuits, electronics, signal and systems, digital electronics, computer architecture, electromagnetic waves, systems, and machinery (Stine, 128).
A Bachelor of Science degree in electrical, electronics, or computer engineering is generally required for professional positions (BLS 5). This usually takes about four to five years. A Master’s of Science degree will take you approximately two years beyond a Bachelor’s degree years, and a PhD takes usually eight years or more (BLS 5). Of course with higher education come more pay, and even more job opportunities. Many students research the companies that they’re interested in working with. For example, common career guides list companies that are employing people in the field (Rayes-Guerra 212).
Other methods of finding work include having a previous participation in a company through internship, work-study, or cooperative education programs that receive job offers through companies (Stine 128). Many companies recruit off of college campuses, hold job affairs, and trade shows (128). Companies also advertise positions where interested applicants can apply directly to the company (128). Technology The technology that is used in electronic engineering is very high tech. Electronic engineers need that most advanced and up to date equipment that is out today to help them create enhanced electronics, and improve on old products.
Electronic engineers deal with equipment such as computers, radar, telephone systems, missile guidance systems, TV, radio, and many more. Electronics engineers work with these products by testing them with high tech equipment to make sure they are working in peak performance and to discover where they need to solve real world problems to enable us to excel into the technological age. Work Ethics The work ethics that are involved with electronic engineering are the same with most other jobs.
When they produce new products, they cannot just carelessly apply them and put them together without thinking about the safety and regulations that are put on new products. Engineers must spend time and make sure that when they are working on a deadline for a project, that they do it right and correct, which sometimes forces them to come in after hours or even on the weekend to finish a job. Most importantly, electronic engineers must also make sure that their new products are not hazardous to people, and that there are no bugs or problems with the workings of the new product.
Also electronic engineers have added responsibilities such as keeping new prototypes secret so that your company keeps their investment on new products secure. Advancement The key to advancement in the electronic engineering field is keeping up to date with technological advances. “There are several ways to go about this, such as taking extra classes to learn new technologies, or even just reading technology magazines that give news about new technologies and what new products that are out in the market”(Michael Smith).
In 1996, there were 367,000 Americans holding electrical engineering jobs (Reyes-Guerra 213). Most worked at consulting firms, manufacturing companies, business machines, data processing companies, and telecommunications companies (Reyes-Guerra 213). Employment outlook through 2006 looks very good, and the engineering field is moving faster that average with the development of new technologies (BLS 6). And as Michael Smith said, ”As long as there is new technology, their will always be engineers to discover it (Michael Smith). ”