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Engineering I am a student interested in power engineering!

  1. Jul 27, 2012 #1
    Hi!

    I am a student from the US who is going into second year at a tech University and I am interested in becoming a power engineer after I finish my 4 year and obtain a bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering.

    I would like to consult and know more about this career option from other fellow engineers who may or may not be working in the power industry. Note: I do not know much about power engineering so please fill me in on the deficiencies of my knowledge!


    • First of all, I would just like to know what I should know before I try to get a job in this field. Would I need a working knowledge in PLC, VLSI, programming in assembly, or even perhaps a working knowledge of electromagnetism? Please recommend me any courses that you found applicable to working as an engineer or texts if there are any.

    • Secondly, please tell me what are the most frequent tools that are used in power engineering and how I can get some practice with these tools before I graduate. For example, maybe a GUI application written in C? AutoCad drawing in 3D?

    • Thirdly, please inform me as to the extend of activities for which a power engineer may come in contact with in the actual work field. Would I have to fix something hand on?

    • Lastly, a brief background: I have only learned few aspects in electrical circuitry, very little about transformers. I have great skills in mathematics (a hobby of mine). My knowledge of circuits does not extend beyond microelectronic circuits (FETs and BJTs). I am proficient with several programming languages: C, C++, Java, Python and MATLAB). I can use Excel, Pspice, and AutoCad if I wanted and I know how to work with Latex. I have my eyes on FE certificate and I will probably get a PE certificate in the distant future. But these hardly justifies a career in engineering. Please advise me as to how I should improve my chances to land a job in the future. For example, what should I do as an intern or for my first job to gain insights in this field?

    I know this is really long but thanks in advance for anyone who takes the time to answer!! Thanks!!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 27, 2012 #2
    There is no way a school can teach you what you need to know about Power Engineering. You have to learn on the job for most of that. I suggest an internship at a power cooperative or company.

    First, your notions of what to learn are reasonable. Focus more on issues such as Boolean math, Circuits, Signals, and the like. As far as I know, they don't teach much about PLC software or VLSI coding in undergraduate studies.

    Second, learning to code in some low level language is essential. You will encounter that sort of thing sooner or later. AutoCAD is also helpful.

    Third, you can be very hands-on or you can live in a sea of cubicles. It all depends on what kind of work you like. Most power companies have plenty of options for you.

    Fourth, take the FE. If I had any idea of how much people worship the PE, I'd have gotten one decades ago. Note that I have seen many poor designs with PE stamps on them. Nevertheless, people seem to believe that if you have a PE, you must know what you're doing.

    As an intern, seek out SCADA systems and learn how they work. There are a lot of subtle choices and designs out there, so pay close attention, especially to failure modes.

    Good Luck!
     
  4. Jul 27, 2012 #3
    Thank you for the informative reply.

    Could you please elaborate on "Focus more on issues such as Boolean math, Circuits, Signals, and the like. As far as I know, they don't teach much about PLC software or VLSI coding in undergraduate studies. "?

    Since I will probably not learn PLC software or VLSI coding in undergrad, I can teach myself these subjects, however I am not sure VLSI coding is applicable for power engineering. Also, you've said that I focus on boolean mathematics, does that mean I should apply it to digital circuits and digital signal processing? Of course these are really important things to know for any electrical engineers, but how exactly does it apply to power engineering?

    Thanks in advance.
     
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