Study Electronic and Electrical Engineering
“Electrical and electronic engineering” is a wide-ranging term which encompasses lots of different applications, ranging from the classic ‘plug in the wall’ electricity supply, through electronics devices and systems, to communications technology, whether the humble text message or controlling the International Space Station. The type of work is wide-ranging, too, from fundamental research into materials and methods; through design; systems control; engineering management and even marketing.
Study Electronic and Electrical Engineering
Why is Electronic Engineering so important?
Q. What service is so fundamental that we only notice it when it isn’t there?
A. The answer, of course, is electricity. Look at all the things you do in a day and ask yourself: which would be more difficult without electricity and which would be impossible?
Electricity truly is the modern marvel and the most efficient way to distribute and use energy, but we need to make sure that we use it as efficiently as possible. This extends from the generation and distribution of electricity; through the running of railways, buildings and industry; to home use, whether washing clothes, watching TV or working online.
Q. What electronic device is so much the heart and brains of modern machines and systems that they would only function at a fraction of their capability without it?
A. The answer, of course, is the computer. It is the brains of your mobile phone, washing machine, motorcar, alarm/security systems, and entertainment systems. It provides the intelligence for our robots and manufacturing systems. It controls our aircraft, traffic systems, battle ground control and command systems, etc.
Q. What enables you to obtain instant information from other computers around the world, send messages and documents to reach their destination in minutes, and talk to people in real time?
A. The answer is telecommunications and computer networks which build internet, multi-media, mobile voice and text messaging services.
Design, build and maintain these products and services by becoming an Electrical, Electronics, Computer or Telecommunications Engineer.
Why Electronic Engineering is in Demand
The Electronic Engineering industry is one in which change is the norm. However, physical laws don’t change! So we need a combination of fundamental knowledge and ingenuity, to be able to make the very most of what is available.
Renewable sources are increasing the range of engineering skills needed in the process of generating and distributing electricity. Wind and sun can’t be turned on and off, so adjusting supply to meet demand needs new methods of control. The development of solar cells brings challenges from improving the efficiency of the cells themselves to optimising the positioning of arrays – current work includes moveable arrays that track the sun.
Then there is how electricity is used. Without the skills of electrical building services engineers, ‘carbon-neutral’ buildings would be just a dream. If your local train service has a mix of older and newer trains, you’ve probably noticed that the newer ones are quieter – but they’re also more efficient, thanks to power electronics engineers.
Some of the things that electricity makes possible are themselves developing rapidly. Think of computers, where machines and prices are coming down in size while going up in power. Almost everyone now has a mobile phone and many people have access to the Internet, opening up new markets and ways of doing things. In hospitals, medical equipment helps save lives and improve quality of life – for instance recent work on restoring vision.
Then there are the things we are unlikely to see or hear about because they happen in dangerous places like nuclear reactors or deep under the sea. But here, too, developments by electrical and electronics engineers are helping to improve safety. Robots climb walls, carrying non-destructive test equipment, to check for tiny cracks in nuclear reactors and oil tanks. Some can even operate under the sea, checking the legs of drilling platforms – one of the most dangerous occupations in the world.
Careers in Electronic Engineering
All this demand means there are excellent career opportunities in electrical, computer and telecommunications engineering. There’s a wide range of types of careers in electronic engineering too. From skilled technical work in distributing power to theoretical research underpinning mobile phone antennae, from designing the lighting systems for a building to marketing a new computer system, the types of work and the applications are so varied there is plenty of choice for people who are intelligent and able to look at the world in a questioning way.
What Qualifications Do I Need to be an Electronic Engineer?
So, there are lots of different opportunities within electrical and electronic engineering – what about the level of job? At the highest level are Chartered Engineers – professionals whose qualifications are equivalent to those of doctors and lawyers. A Chartered Engineer needs a Masters level qualification plus professional experience and training. The quickest way to qualify is by doing a degree accredited by professional institutions and then joining a company which offers a training scheme. The Institution of Engineering and Technology accredits degrees within the general area of electrical engineering. There is the choice of MEng, which meets fully the educational requirements through an undergraduate course lasting at least four years, or a BEng, taking three years full-time, followed by a postgraduate MSc for one year (full time).
Then there are Incorporated Engineers, who also need academic qualifications such as a Higher National Diploma or Certificate, and skilled craftspeople, who usually have City and Guilds or other practical qualifications. One of the great things about engineering is that it is possible to move between different types of employment by studying part-time while working and to move between employment and education at any stage of a career. The great thing is that we have flexibility in our patterns of education, experience and training.