WHAT ARE ELECTRICAL ENGINEERS?
This document is intended as a reference for school leavers and other interested personnel that wish to understand the roles of electrical engineers in the workplace. Electrical engineering covers a wide spectrum of civilian and military careers and the major roles detailed within this document are not exhaustive.
Electrical Engineers Categories
Electrical engineers can generally place themselves in one of the following categories.
. building and construction services
. public works
. educational institution
. design house
Electrical engineers are expected to be able to calculate mathematically every element within their particular field. Unlike many other types of engineer, electrical engineers are trained to a minimum of a "higher education" grade. That is to say that every electrical engineer is a graduate. Let me elaborate on this and take a deeper look at the areas covered above.
Building and Construction Services
These electrical engineers have duties ranging from assessing the maximum current demand of a new high rise block to calculating harmonics within switch mode power supplies. Typically these electrical engineers work on behalf of a contracting company or are "in house" in larger buildings.
The duties of these electrical engineers are possibly the most diverse of all. Not only do they have to design and calculate a prospective installation, they may well have to use software to design it, like AutoCAD et cetera, work out the costing, schedule delivery dates for equipment and accommodate rapid changes in their designs as requested by the clients and other contractors.
In house electrical engineers are based in a high rise or similar building complex and are available throughout the day for consultation and emergency situations. Depending on the style and purpose of the building, the in house electrical engineer will have a number of electricians to undertake the daily tasks.
Electrical engineers within this field are typically experts in a particular field but that is by no means the only type. For example he may be a lighting specialist and work solely in the street and space lighting field. Another example is an electrical engineer that oversees public works projects, such as shopping centre, cinemas and theatres et cetera.
Although many of these electrical engineers are employed directly by the public utilities, a growing number are contractors. Public works electrical engineers frequently find themselves in a consultation role whereby they mediate between works contractors and the higher echelons of government bodies.
Electrical engineers that work in educational institutes are by genre the all-rounder that are experts in only the direct subjects relating to electrical engineering. For example an electrical engineer in the building and construction trade will readily know the difference between a high quality power transformer and a low quality one that may just be poorly constructed and yet have an identical specification. As you can see this clearly falls outside the realms of electrical engineering and pertains perhaps more to manufacturing engineering.
These electrical engineers are, however, expected to be exceptionally resourceful and be of a standard that is at the cutting edge of technology.
Electrical engineers within the confines of the military are an entirely different kind of engineer to the rest. They are expected to be able to deal with emergency and disaster situations at any time of the day. These electrical engineers have to be considerably resourceful in a different way to the educational electrical engineer. Frequently they find themselves in situations where acquisition resources are poor and have to overcome the challenge with their mind and knowledge.
The greatest demand for military electrical engineers is possibly the ability to construct makeshift or temporary installations without compromising safety. This is a generalization and it should be noted that much military engineering is restricted information and not publishable on this webpage.
Design house electrical engineers cover a wide range of responsibilities. Duties can be as diverse as designing hydro-electric power generators to programming software for electrical engineering uses, such as cable sizing programs. These electrical engineers are almost all multi skilled engineers and noted for their flexibility within accompanying engineering environments.
Leong Chow Wei
Faculty of Electrical Eng.
University of Technology Malaysia.