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Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering
4

Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

(OP)
Hi.

I am thinking of joining electrical/electronic engineering.

I did some reading on the internet, and I found that electrical "power" engineering and electronic engineering with computer chips to be very popular. There seems to be a lot of jobs in those two areas.

To any electrical/electronic engineer: which field should I specialize in? I find that there are more jobs in electronic engineering, but I fear outsourcing is more possible in that specialty.

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

I've heard many people talk about the future of young power engineers.  As there are fewer schools that push people into electric power engineering, the industry is full of older engineers looking to retire in the next 10-15 years (and I'm referring to the US).  An opinion I've heard on several occasions is that people just starting in power will have their choice (within reason) of locations, salary, and position by the time they're 35 or so.  Of course, this is just a rumor that I've heard.  But it seems to be agreed upon by many.

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

(OP)
Thanks Trchambe!

I can see what you mean when you say the age of 35 is a magic number: I in my 20's right now and "10-15 years" later is around 35 to me.

The only problem that concerns me is that any electrical power engineering job in the market today require about 5 years experience.

As a result, I am thinking if it is possible to specialize in both electronic engineering and power engineering. There seems to be more jobs in electronic engineering with chips at the moment. I also heard the fields are way too diverse to effectively learn both and the same time. Your opinion?

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

The fields are way too different to do both, and once you start down one specialization, you will find it almost impossible to find someone to hire you in any other. However, if both power and electronics interest you, may I suggest power electronics? As the nature of our energy sources change, electric power conversion done by power electronics is going to grow. Most of the renewable energy sources use power electronic converters.

xnuke
"Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life." Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.
Please see FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

(OP)
Thanks xnuke.

I guess I will have to work harder to achieve my goal. I just find that there are more jobs for electronic engineers, but I believe that outsourcing may threaten this in the distant future. As for electrical power engineering, the current jobs available right now are for experienced guys only. A dilemma for me, as I see it.

I heard that a lot of the power engineering knowledge is learned on the site. That is how I got the idea that you could be able to specialize in both. Strange.

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

lacrotix,

Do what you like, you don't want to go to a job that you hate.

I assume that you are in school, try to do as much co-op as possible, with as many companies as possible, try to get broad range of experience.

That will help you in job, when you graduate.
 

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

(OP)
Thanks windsoreng for reading.

I know what you mean when you say do a job you like. You see, I like to "build" things, but not in a vigorous labour way like the way the tradesmen do it. That's where engineering comes in.

I also want the job to be quite stable: stress due to fears of unemployment and such does not make my job likable. That is why I am asking about market trends and stuff. As you can see, I want have a job with a balance between likability and stability.

I will try to do as much co-op as possible, and with variety.

I am wondering though, if worse comes to worse, and I can't find a job within electrical engineering, how hard is it to switch industries? I am also interested in Mechanical and Civil engineering are my second options.

 

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

I second xnuke's comments on power electronics.  Renewable energy technologies such as wind and PV rely on power electronics.  And, as a fall back, I imagine it is relatively easier to move from power electronics to electric power engineering or electronics engineering than to move from electronics enegineering to power engineering or vice versa.

   

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

(OP)
Thanks BrunoPuntzJones.

I can see what you mean about "power electronics", you are a bit of both in this field.

There is no such specific program for power electronics, so I assume that I would take a lot of electronic courses and some related power courses to make this happen.

For entry-level jobs though, I always and still do, think that an electrical engineer would have a general enough knowledge to do both electrical and electronic work. You guys tell me differently though. Can somebody make this clearer to me? I can't seem to grasp it.

Thanks to everybody at Eng-Tips so far for helping me. I really appreciate it.

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

Quote:

For entry-level jobs though, I always and still do, think that an electrical engineer would have a general enough knowledge to do both electrical and electronic work.
Most graduates typically don't have the depth. It typically all comes down to electives taken during the junior and senior years and the requirements of the job the student is entering. Many colleges let their electrical power and machines courses fade away due to decline in popularity over the last 30 years, while at the same time introduced more and more electronics courses. Most EE programs are no longer what I consider to be "electrical" engineering degrees, but are now "electronic" engineering degrees, which do not prepare students well for careers as electrical engineers. This is a problem for the power industry, as trchambe mentioned above.

Even though there are not specific power electronics degrees, there are many colleges that offer multiple senior-level electives in power electronics.

Finally, you have to realize early on in your career (typically within the first two to three years) whether or not you like the path you have started down. Spend too long in one specialization and you will find it nearly impossible to find a job in another.

Quote:

I am wondering though, if worse comes to worse, and I can't find a job within electrical engineering, how hard is it to switch industries? I am also interested in Mechanical and Civil engineering are my second options.
As hard as it is to switch specializations within one branch of engineering, it is even more difficult to switch branches without getting another degree - either another undergrad degree or a graduate degree in the other branch. It is also a lot more work to go for a graduate degree in another branch since there will almost certainly be a lot of undergraduate courses you will need to take in the new branch before starting grad school.
 

xnuke
"Live and act within the limit of your knowledge and keep expanding it to the limit of your life." Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged.
Please see FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

(OP)
Thanks xnuke.

Quote:

Many colleges let their electrical power and machines courses fade away due to decline in popularity over the last 30 years, while at the same time introduced more and more electronics courses.

That may be a problem. I have no problems with electronic work right now, but I believe most of that work is with computer chips. My senses tell me that computer chip designs can be outsourced, and I do not want to be in the position where I fear my job will be the next to be "gone."

I also heard electronic work is very, very fast paced. I read stories where forty-year-old men can not keep up with the changes in the industries, and therefore cannot do their jobs. I personally don't have anything against chipboard design, but I also want to future-proof my career against myself. Is this a real issue or am I imagining it?



Quote:

...it is even more difficult to switch branches without getting another degree...

Well, I read in another thread here about industry changes. Apparently, most of the guys here changed industries about three times in their entire career.

One of the local universities near me offer a undergraduate degree in "Mechatronics." The idea is that you learn both mechanical engineering and electronic engineering. The idea is that the "Mechatronics Engineer" can do both jobs. I like the sound of it, and it also sounds like I can hover between both electronic and mechanical engineering. However, is this "Mechatronics" field recognized? Something tells me that learning both electronic and mechanical engineering should take 8 years to learn (4 per field), not 4 years. Anybody's expert opinion on this?



The information you guys are giving is very valuable. Thanks to all who helped.
 

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

Well, it certainly shouldn't take 8 years, because a good portion of an undergraduate education (in the USA) is not specifically related to your major.  So, for example, I have a friend from school who got both an BS in MechE and one in Material Science with around 160 credits total (10 semesters or 5 years).

And the fact is the someone in a mechatronics program doesn't cover the whole range of courses in electrical engineering or in mechanical engineering.  Although they also likely have some courses that neither EEs or MEs take as well.  But then, to get picky about it, even two EEs (or MEs) could have very different coursework, and be prepared for very different fields...

Mechatronics is an established field, but I don't know how that degree would be perceived if you were appying to a purely mechanical job.
   

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

(OP)

Quote:

...even two EEs (or MEs) could have very different coursework, and be prepared for very different fields...

I read that I shouldn't specialize but instead I should try to be a general, broad guy. At the same time, I hear how it's difficult to learn different specialties and industries in order to keep myself flexible. I don't know right now where to draw the line between diversifying my skills, but without threatening a core skill-set that I should later on develop.



Quote:

Mechatronics is an established field, but I don't know how that degree would be perceived if you were appying to a purely mechanical job.

How are Mechatronic jobs anyway? I was told by my local university that Mechatronic engineers can do both electrical/electronic and mechanical work, but this seems unlikely from what you said. I haven't seen an ad looking for a "Mechatronics Engineer" on Craigslist. Where do these guys fit in in the whole scheme of engineering?

 

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

Studying physics is an option.  Sounds like you like mechanics and E&M.  Physics degrees can be followed up with graduate level engineering ones quite easily, specially if you've chosen your electives wisely.  Just a thought.

Physics is the definition of broad, and exploring different options is natural.  It's all physics anyway.  The level of rigor required in your studies should position you to excel at whatever engineering you chose to explore.

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

If you like Electronics, I think your earning potential as an engineer is better there than in power.  We constantly hear that Power Engineering is going to be in need of good candidates, but I have yet to see the industry put their money where their mouth is, at least in the area I live and work.  In my short career I've seen such a deemphasis on engineering that it makes me wonder why I choose power in the first place.  I like you have other electrical engineering interests that probably may fulfill my engineering interests better than power is currently.  And would also fill my pocket book better.  Being young with a young family my problem is providing for them at our current living conditions without breaking the bank.

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

I should clarify, If I were to switch industries at this point it may be difficult to maintain my current standard of living.   

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

I've heard that outside of power people tend to move, or change jobs more. Power dosen't pay bad, but it is more stable.

The questions that I get asked most are because people don't understand three phase AC. I mean most of the formulias are simple E=I*Z, and P=E*I. But the problem seems to be the lack of math skills to handle complex numbers.

One guy always asks a question, and then asks if it's a square root of 3 thing.

RE: Best Field in Electrical/Electronic Engineering

I never found 3-ph all that difficult to understand, but I have also heard other EE's that don't really "get" the 3-phase power and relationships.

 

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