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Electrical Engineering Overview - Preparation - Industries - Day In The Life -Earnings - Employment - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations

Industry Sectors
These are ten key industry sectors that employ electrical engineers, computer engineers and computer scientists.

Telecommunications is a prime growth area for electrical and electronics engineers. Growth is spurred by deregulation, which draws more players to the field. The number of employers is expanding in such services as:

Energy and Electric Power
Power engineers deal with energy generation by a variety of methods -- turbine, hydro, fuel cell, solar, geothermal, and wind, for example. They also deal with electrical power distribution from source to consumer and within factories, offices, hospitals, laboratories, and they design electric motors and batteries. In industry, power engineers are employed wherever electrical energy is used to manufacture or produce an end product -- petrochemicals, pulp, paper, textiles, metals, and rubber, for example. They are needed to design electrical distribution systems and instrumentation and control systems for the safe, effective, efficient operation of the production facilities. As the average age of the engineers in this job area approaches the mid-to-late forties, companies will begin to hire young engineers in large numbers. Jobs in these industries should be plentiful.

The computer industry serves many industry sectors, including aerospace, transportation, construction, telecommunications, power, medicine, and automated manufacturing. The industry is strong and growing, in part because of the desire of corporate America to reduce its dependence on large, expensive centralized systems based on mainframes, and instead to opt for more flexible architectures like client/server networks, or private "intranets" based on Internet technology, separated by a protective firewall to maintain local security for proprietary materials. Even more compelling, individuals and companies alike have embraced the World Wide Web as an information source, communication medium, and market for goods, creating a seemingly insatiable demand for advanced software, high-speed modems, and more powerful PCs. Many employers in the computer industry find it difficult to fill the positions created by growth. Demand is especially strong for those whose knowledge and skills integrate hardware and software, as hardware/software codesign gains in popularity. For more information visit:

The chief enabling technology at the heart of the electronic components booming computer industry is semiconductor technology, in particular the development and manufacture of integrated circuits. As integrated circuits companies strive to search for faster and more powerful chips, they seek engineers to investigate new materials and improved packaging -- engineers who can handle the challenge of competitive pressure and ever-shorter development time. Manufacturers of microprocessors and memory chips for example, continuously improve existing products and introduce new ones to beat the competition and meet customers' expectations of ever-higher performance. Semiconductor products include not just digital ICs but also analog chips, mixed-signal (analog and digital) integrated circuits, and radio-frequency (RF) integrated circuits. Another important sector deals with power semiconductor devices for power control in manufacturing, transportation, and electrical distribution. For more information, visit:

Electrical and electronics engineers in the aerospace field design and develop electronics and power equipment for aircraft, helicopters, and spacecraft. Displays, controls, communications, and navigation are important aspects of the field, as are simulators for training and development. Military systems for land, sea, and air also come under the aerospace category. Defense and aerospace companies still employ hundreds of thousands of engineers, even though the aerospace industry has faced some hard times in recent years. Prospects in the two major branches of the industry are looking brighter. Commercial airlines are regaining profitability, and R&D for defense and space exploration will continue at more sustainable and appropriate levels, given changes in world politics and limited tax dollars. While defense systems are not a major priority for the United States anymore, interest in space exploration and travel is reviving, and new satellites are needed to meet swelling demand for global communications. For more information, visit:

This wide-ranging field, alternatively referred to as biomedical engineering, was created some 30 years ago by the merging interests of engineering and the biological /medical sciences. Some of the representative bioengineering activities include the design of diagnostic and therapeutic devices for clinical use, the design of prosthetic devices, the development of biologically compatible materials, and the application of state-of-the-art technology to biological research. This field has grown tremendously since its inception; now more than 100 universities offer training programs that are funded by hundreds of millions of dollars from government and private sectors.  Bioengineering is an interdisciplinary field with employers in many sectors. Bioengineers work with other health care professionals as members of a team. The biomedical engineer must learn to think of biology in new ways in order to develop new tools for diagnosing disease and to repair or replace diseased organs. Many of the major advances in this field now seem almost commonplace: pacemakers, blood analyzers, cochlear implants, medical imaging, lasers, prosthetic implants, and life support systems are just a few of the results of the team efforts of biomedical engineers and health professionals.

Manufacturing technology has become more important in recent years as global economic reality has forced companies to reevaluate basic manufacturing techniques in order to remain competitive. In pursuit of increased productivity, companies have introduced such innovations as just-in-time parts supply, six-sigma quality goals, statistical process control, and robotic assembly cells. Even small companies have transformed their ad hoc approach to process development into rigidly controlled and monitored systems, well understood in terms of mathematical models, where the effects of random events can be quickly detected and corrected. Thus there is a widespread application of the manufacturing sciences in the workplace today, from automation on the production line to management techniques to environmentally friendly methods of manufacturing. For more information, visit:

Services and Other Professions
Many electrical and computer engineers and computer scientists find that their technical background makes them well suited for a variety of work in other industries. For example, the service industry has become a major employer of engineers and computer professionals. Some find work that directly corresponds to their professional training. The entertainment industry hires engineers for a variety of projects; Disney, for example, recruits imagineers to develop amusement parks, while Pixar hires computer scientists/engineers to help create animated films. The banking and finance industry has many computer-related positions that need engineers to manage rapid-trading activities. Many organizations use the talents of computer professionals to create, store, and transmit data and to create and manage systems for operation. Although individually these industries do not employ a large number of engineers, in combination they add up to a large whole. Engineering majors can thus look to industries where they can apply their technical knowledge and skills in fields that may not be high-tech in themselves.

Education and Research
Many electrical engineers, computer engineers, and computer scientists interact with educational and research institutions or industrial labs. Some go straight into college and university teaching and research after completing their PhD degrees. Others, including those with master's degrees, may teach on a part-time basis while holding a full-time job with another organization or as an independent consultant. Still others teach for corporate universities instituted by companies such as Motorola, Intel, and Bellcore. Opportunities also abound in continuing professional education, such as short courses designed to update engineers. Taught by faculty as well as consultants with industry experience, these courses are offered to employees on site as well as off site. Engineers with expertise in timely subjects can also give papers and publish articles and books that bring them recognition and put them in line for consulting work

Transportation and Automotive
This industry spans many areas. Transportation can include railroads, shipbuilding, and traffic management. What these disparate areas have in common is that employers rely on increased use of electronics merged with other engineering disciplines. It includes electronics for internal and external communication, navigation, failure detection, and displays of many types. Many vehicles are directed and accelerated by fault-tolerant electronics. Electric power is generated and distributed within most vehicles. Ships are wired like small cities for power and information. Once the domain of mechanical and civil engineering, transportation and automotive areas have many job opportunities for electrical engineers from various technical specialties, including communications, computers, and control systems.

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by IEEE and the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 Computer Science
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