What Is Electrical Engineering?

Electricity, electronics and electromagnetism are the general topics that are covered in the field of electrical engineering. It is a relatively new field compared to other engineering specialties since it just came about in the late 19th century when the telephone and electric telegraph became commercialized and electric power became widely distributed. Early experiments in the field included the work of George Ohm, Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell. Michael Faraday’s discovery of the Law of Induction paved the way for the creation and making of electrical systems and devices.

The Law of Induction, which practically became the foundation for electrical engineering, is the basic tenet of electromagnetism. It essentially predicts the interaction of a magnetic field with an electric circuit so that an electromotive force can be produced. This is the operational principle that is behind the function of the transformer, electric generators and the electric motor. From the early days of electrical engineering which only dabbled with antiquated batteries and static charges, electrical engineering is now concerned with things as large as power generators to those that are as small as microchips.

The work of brilliant minds in the field helped turn electrical engineering concepts into inventions that have benefited modern man. Some prominent examples include the electric light bulb of Thomas Edison, the television by Philo T. Farnsworth, the radio by Guglielmo Marconi and the alternating current of George Westinghouse.

Percy Spencer’s microwave oven has also allowed man to cook food differently. The computer—perhaps one of the most important inventions of the modern era—was made possible with electric engineering with John Presper Eckert and John Mauchly’s invention of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (EINAC). Although there were earlier computers that were developed, the EINAC ushered in the computing era.

From its early days, the field of computer engineering has already branched out to different sub-disciplines. To name a few, there’s power engineering which delve on how electricity is generated, transmitted and distributed; microelectronics which focuses on the creation and manufacturing of minute electronic circuit components to be used in an integrated circuit; and signal processing that has to do with how analog and digital signals are manipulated and analyzed. The fields of electronic engineering and computer engineering are considered separate engineering disciplines even if their relationship to electrical engineering is very apparent.

Electrical engineers are the professionals who practice in the field of electrical engineering. With their deep understanding and experience of electrical theory and mathematics, among others, they are able to design and develop electrical equipment. Their expertise and skills extend to the development of radar systems, navigation systems, power generation equipment and electric motors. Modern electrical engineers now use computer-aided design (CAD) to be able to come up with their designs and detail the arrangement of their circuits. They are now also harnessing the power of computers to simulate the function of their designs which helps in reducing the overall cost of a project.

Electrical engineers can work in a variety of industries in the field of manufacturing. The automotive, aerospace, consumer electronics, marine, telecommunications and computer industries, just to name a few, are just some of the companies that employ electrical engineers. These professionals also receive excellent pay.

Career Spotlight: Electrical Engineer

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