Electrical engineers play a key role in designing and building all the familiar tools and appliances that have become necessities in our everyday lives. Whenever you are on your cell phone, computer, television or even drive a car, there is an electrical engineer who made it all possible. While electrical engineers design fun things like Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure or the exciting 3D motion picture technology that has given movies a whole new perspective, they’re also at the forefront of improving essential technologies and developing new ones. Electrical engineers are behind the scenes with everything from medical devices and solar energy to robotics.
Electrical engineers deal with the largest projects imaginable such as our nation’s electrical power grid with its power plants, transformers, and more than 450,000 miles of transmission lines to the smallest life-saving devices. Take an airbag sensor. This device, smaller than a millimeter, determines whether to deploy airbags and activate seat belt locks and automatic door locks based on how many people there are in a vehicle, wheel speed, impact, and brake pressure. The work and potential areas of an electrical engineer has no limits and will continue to expand as we harness new technologies including self-driving cars and trucks, face-detecting payment systems (no more lost credit cards!), and practical quantum computers. If you’ve always been fascinated by robotics, computer networks, wireless communications, or life-saving medical devices, you should not be “shocked” to learn that majoring in electrical engineering or electronic engineering is a great career choice.
Electrical engineering programs include a strong foundation in mathematics and the sciences, especially physics, and courses from other disciplines, such as computer science, mechanical engineering, and materials science. In addition to courses in circuits, electronics, digital design and microprocessors, EE majors take advanced courses in design theory and methodology and in specialized areas such as communications systems, optical systems or medical instrumentation. All of these courses have heavy hands-on laboratory components.
Upon graduation, EE majors are qualified for entry level positions as electrical engineers. After several years of experience, they may apply for licensure as a professional engineer. Electrical engineers work in a wide range of industries, including the aerospace, biomedical, automotive, semiconductor and computer industries. Job and salary prospects are strong. According to a survey conducted by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest technical professional organization, the the median starting salary for new electrical engineering grads was just over $60,000 a year. Considering the job market for college graduates in recent years, electrical engineers are among the most well positioned of any new graduates for job prospects and hefty starting salaries. Of course, salary ranges vary based upon the size of the company and the industry.