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Electrical Engineering Overview - Preparation - Industries - Day In The Life -Earnings - Employment - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations - Profiles of Electrical Engineers - PowerPoint - Podcast


Day In The Life
Working as an engineer is much different than training to be an engineer. Unlike school, there is no typical day. Most engineers work in office buildings, laboratories, or industrial plants. Others may spend time outdoors at construction sites and oil and gas exploration and production sites, where they monitor or direct operations or solve onsite problems. Some engineers travel extensively to plants or worksites here and abroad. Many engineers work a standard 40-hour week. At times, deadlines or design standards may bring extra pressure to a job, requiring engineers to work longer hours.

Working in Teams
In the working world it is the success of the team that counts. The team itself may be formal with a designated leader and everyone with defined roles, or loosely constructed and informal in nature. The team may be made up of several people or just you and one other person. Often, teams draw from several departments in an organization. You will encounter colleagues of diverse backgrounds, temperaments, and levels of ability and education. It is up to you to work successfully in the group.

Specializing
Many electrical and electronics engineers specialize in a branch, such as controls systems, and in an application area, such as medical, computer, missile guidance, and power distribution. All engineers have in common the work they do: applying scientific knowledge to solve technical problems and develop products and services that benefit society. Engineering work is by its very nature interdisciplinary, often bringing together engineers with diverse expertise in not only electronics and power engineering, but also in mechanics, chemistry, physics, mathematics, materials sciences, and many other areas. The basic functions of engineering are defined by the sequencing of engineering work: research, design and development, testing, manufacturing, construction, service and maintenance, and management. Engineers also apply their expertise in non-engineering jobs such as purchasing, sales, law, human resources, education, and consulting.

Research
Research jobs often involve starting with an idea or a need. Theories are formulated, tested and prototyped. Jobs in research can be found at universities, national laboratories as well as private institutions and corporations.

Design and Development
In design and development, the results of research are applied to practical problems. The term, development, refers to the early stages of a project. Design refers more to the later stages of a project when the basic methodology is established. In some companies, research and development are combined.

Testing and Evaluation
Testing and evaluation can take place in the lab or in the field, often working with equipment, software, systems and the end users. Those who test are not the designers.

Application / Manufacturing
Jobs oriented towards the mass production of the product or delivery of the service. Although usually not directly in charge of production personnel, engineers are responsible for solving problems associated with the manufacturing process.

Maintenance / Service
Engineering and technical jobs concerned with operations- maintaining and making modifications to hardware and systems.

Management
Management jobs often require elements of leadership, planning, coordination, supervision; working with staff, budgets and administration.

Other Functions
Sales engineers sell technical solutions to clients. Customer service reps solve critical problems that occur in the field. Engineers serve on marketing teams and some have gone from engineering to a career in human resources.

Types of Engineering Responsibilities
The IEEE Career Path Survey provides a glimpse into the types of responsibility reported by electrical engineers. They include:

  • Engineering w/o supervisory responsibility, 29%
  • Project management, 21%
  • Departmental management, 16%
  • Corporate, division or plant management, 9%
  • Other, 9%
  • Engineering staff support, 8%

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


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