Explore Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineers work with a diverse array of technologies that are central to the way we store and handle information, sense the world, and integrate electrical devices into our society. One area of concentration is electrical and electronic systems. These systems span the spectrum from power generation and distribution to medical devices to consumer electronics. Examples of applications include alternative energy production, “smart” electrical grids, biomedical instrumentation and computer hardware of all types. A second specialization area includes optics, magnetics, RF design, and solid-state devices. Electrical engineers use their knowledge of electromagnetism and solid-state physics to design lasers, optical communication systems, magnetic storage devices, and new types of solid-state electronics. Typical products include cell phone transmitters, disk drives, fiber optics, sensors, and ultrasound imaging systems. A final specialization consists of communications, signal processing, and control systems. Here, electrical engineers use mathematical analysis to solve problems in Wi-Fi and cell phone communication systems, information extraction from complex signals, and electronic control of machinery. Typical projects include developing 5G cell phone networks, MRI image enhancement, and designing control systems for autonomous vehicles.

*Salary and Career Outcomes gathered from the 2018-2019 CSE Graduation Survey. Post-graduation outcomes reflect the percentage of students who were employed full-time in their field or were enrolled in a graduate program at 6 months post-graduation.

EE Career Prospects. Average Starting Salary: $74,337; Post-Graduation Outcomes: Employed 70.1%, Graduate School 17.9%, Other 11.9%

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What can I do with a major in Electrical Engineering?

INDUSTRIES

  • Acoustics
  • Analog and digital circuits
  • Antennas design
  • Audio and video processing
  • Automotive
  • Avionics
  • Biomedical devices
  • Broadcasting
  • Commercial electronics
  • Computers
  • Control systems
  • Geoscience
  • Healthcare
  • HVAC systems
  • Industrial/food products
  • Lasers and electro-optics
  • Machine automation
  • Magnetic devices and storage
  • Nuclear and plasma sciences
  • Oceanic engineering
  • Power electronics
  • RADAR systems
  • Robotics
  • Sensors
  • Supercomputing
  • Ultrasonics
  • Wireless and cell phone comm.

EMPLOYERS

  • 3M
  • Boston Scientific
  • Cummins
  • Daikin Applied
  • Emerson
  • Entrust Datacard
  • Honeywell
  • Fluke Thermography
  • Ford Motor Company
  • Graco
  • IBM
  • Medtronic
  • MISO
  • Open Systems International
  • Seagate
  • Starkey Hearing Technologies
  • Ulteig
  • UTC Aerospace
  • Wold Architects and Engineers
  • Xcel Energy

TECHNICAL SKILLS

  • Advanced test equipment
  • Breadboards and prototyping
  • C/C++
  • Circuit design and analysis
  • Electrical measurement techniques
  • Electronic fabrication
  • Feedback/control system modeling
  • LoggerPro
  • Mathematica
  • MATLAB
  • Power systems analysis
  • Signal analysis and processing

ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING

  • Acoustic engineer: Develop and design acoustic systems for ultrasonic imaging and noise abatement.
  • Computer hardware engineer: Design and develop computer hardware, such as computer chips, circuit boards, modems, and printers.
  • Communications engineer: Design devices and systems for electronic and optical communication.
  • Control engineer: Model and design control systems for a diverse range of electrical, mechanical, robotic and aeronautic applications that will enable these systems to operate accurately, reliably, and efficiently.
  • Electronic engineer: Employ knowledge of electronic theories and material properties to research, design, develop, and test electronic components and systems that are used in industrial, military, scientific, or commercial applications.
  • Firmware engineer: Create software used in electronic devices.
  • Magnetics engineer: Design magnetic recording media and devices for digital information storage.
  • Power engineer: Design systems and related devices to generate, transmit and distribute electricity. These devices include transformers, electric generators, electric motors, high voltage engineering, and power electronics.
  • Photonics engineer: Design lasers and systems that utilize light for communication, metrology, illumination, imaging, and scientific applications.
  • RF engineer: Design antennas and other radio frequency devices for cell phones, RADAR systems, and related applications.
  • Signal processing engineer: Extract information from diverse signal sources and improve the quality of signals and images.
  • Software engineer: Apply principles and techniques of computer science, engineering, and mathematical analysis to the design, development, testing, and evaluation of the software and systems that enable computers to perform applications.
  • Solid-state device engineer: Develop new devices for analog and digital electronics, sensing, memory, light generation and information storage.

**Some of these positions may require an advanced degree.

GET INVOLVED

  • Active Energy Club
  • CSE K-12 Outreach
  • CSE Ambassadors
  • CSE International Ambassadors
  • Engineers Without Borders
  • Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers
  • Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers – Women in Engineering
  • National Society of Black Engineers
  • Science and Engineering Student Board
  • Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers
  • Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
  • Society of Women Engineers
  • Solar Vehicle Project
  • Tau Beta Pi
  • TeslaWorks
  • Theta Tau

Q&A with Tari Jung, Realtime Network Model Engineer, MISO

What do you do?

I am involved in power grid modeling automation and maintenance.

What's a typical work day?

There are clear and mutually agreed expectations to meet strict yet manageable deadlines. We have very flexible work hours, and I typically work in small groups or by myself.

What qualities are important for this position?

The ability to set your own goals in different timelines is important. You must have the curiosity to learn about duties not directly related to your immediate responsibilities. You also have to be OK with speaking out during conference calls.

What about technical skills?

You must have a good understanding of power systems. Programming skills are a plus. A foundation in MATLAB (matrix laboratory) or other power-system solver is recommended.

What training were you offered for your position?

Basic hand-over training, software trainings, and many conference opportunities associated with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and other professional organizations. In home workshops are frequent as well.

What part of your job is most satisfying?

Daily tasks are very relevant to my interest from school, both academically and career development wise. There is a great team environment to learn from senior employees, but there are also opportunities to also pitch your own opinion. Good compensation.

Most challenging?

Big learning curve when first entering this position. Be prepared for the constant stream of new things to learn. Lots of business trips if you want to train.

What are your possible career paths now?

Many go into management in engineering. Possible transition to policy-related positions. I’m currently pursuing data science applications within my company.

Advice for current students?

Be involved in student groups.

Any other advice you'd like to share?

It’s ok to switch majors.

Q&A with Andrew Kaner, Electrical Engineer, HDR Inc.

What do you do?

I provide electrical engineering design on a variety of projects. Most of my projects are large utility-scale solar (20MW to 200MW). I am also involved in industrial facility design, campus distribution, and federal design.

What's a typical work day?

I answer emails for an hour or so on project-related tasks. I participate on weekly project design calls where we coordinate across disciplines and discuss progress and big picture items. I perform engineering-design tasks to develop construction drawings for projects. Design work varies from calculations, software modelling, drawing redlines, report writing, equipment review, and request for information (RFI) responses.

What qualities are important for this position?

Be responsive and reliable. Commit to doing something, and then do it before it needs to be done. Be proactive and ask questions. Think of the bigger picture. When time allows, be creative and inventive. Always question the standard practices, and seek to improve or prepare for the evolution of the industry. Attention to detail. It is hard to consistently maintain the focused energy, but is important to design success.

What about technical skills?

Communication, both verbal and written. You must be able to relate information to others in the form that is most valuable to them, without saying too much or too little. Also important is a proficiency at using software to develop analysis, and the ability to independently research and solve problems (e.g. Google-fu).

What training were you offered for your position?

Most training is developed on the job through interaction with other engineers in the company. I was offered a career-development course through which I participated in an 8-week Dale Carnegie course in public speaking. I have attended industry conferences yearly. I have attended software training sessions.

What part of your job is most satisfying?

I enjoy producing elegant designs. I enjoy watching my designs come to life in the real world. I find it exciting to be involved in renewables and other emerging technologies.

Most challenging?

Balancing workload, while still finding time to learn/evolve, and keep on top of latest industry trends. Dealing with clients of all types can be difficult.

What are your possible career paths now?

There is a leadership track and a technical track. The leadership track focuses on the industry at large, understanding and responding to the changing market, identifying and pursuing projects. The technical track involves becoming seen as the technical expert in a certain area of design. You participate in and maybe lead technical forums and groups within the industry. You author white papers and participate in presentations and conferences.

Advice for current students?

Electrical engineering is broad. I would recommend narrowing down to what type of work you want to be doing. If you are going into power, then do your best to learn the types of companies you might work for—such as utility, consulting, government, etc. Understand the business models and how projects come about.

Any other advice you'd like to share?

Internships are the most valuable things you can do.