1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Power systems engineering

  1. Jul 30, 2017 #1
    So I am 21 years old, I only recently found out that I am interested in electrical engineering. I live in NYC and am heading into cuny city tech for my first semester.
    E.E is a very broad field and I think that going into power engineering would be a good career move because it cannot be outsourced or replaced by automation. Over here con-ed is the main distributor for power and I am looking to work for them in the future. So my questions are: does power engineering Have better job security than other e.e disciplines(electrical design and drafting, semiconductors, telecom, signals processing, hardware design, etc.)? Also, I heard con-ed is discriminatory and will promote lesser qualified cronies, is that true? Since NYC has such a large job market, how much competition is there for jobs in power engineering? Finally, I have been in NYC for most of my life, life here is getting pretty unaffordable, what other states have demand for power engineers besides for ny? Sorry if this was a long read, phew!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 30, 2017 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Hi Voltage Regulator,

    I think power system engineering has lots of job oppurtunities all over the world. Im working in this branch for over 17 years ifit has better job security I can not say anything about it. It is a volatile market even though we all need energy 24-7. I think it depepnds on youself how serious you study and how you do your job as with most professions. I know secialists in generators, protection systems, voltage regulators, PMS are rare. For the next 50 years for sure we will use generators but i think this will reduce with the fight for more alternative energy sources. But on the other side we will still need to transport energy so we will keep (for now with the current technology) transmission lines.

    I think it is all up to yourself and what you like to do. If you like it you will do your job good and if you do your job good usually you will have good oppurtunities.
  4. Jul 30, 2017 #3
    Thanks for the reply.

    Why would the market be volatile if power is constantly in demand? And what are the day to day duties of a PSE? Finally, what would you recommend an engineering student do to make himself more marketable for employers(diy home projects, coding skills, soldering)?
  5. Jul 31, 2017 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    It's volatile due to the oil price for example. At the moment there is less work in manufacturing new power plants that run on oil and gas. That means that if you work as an commissioning engineer for generators, gasturbines, transformers or anything what you see in these kind of plants you will have less work as 10 years ago. Even that the power demand is increased in this period.

    Regarding what are the duties I think that to much to write that down here. I work as an commissioning engineer for generators in the range of 15MVA till 100 MVA roughly. So I test in the field the generator and its regulator, the protection system and synchronization system. But there are a lot other jobs in this field as well with completely other day to day duties.

    To make yourself marketable I think keep interest in the branch. Home project? I don't know if that helps you as working with a 15MVA generator I your basement is pretty difficult ;) they are quite big. Programming help any EE almost try to learn something new is also something good IMHO.
  6. Jul 31, 2017 #5
    Last question,
    What do you recommend as far as 'getting your foot in the door'?
    Im interested in power engineering and that is what I will most likely specialize in. But I heard that there are'nt many young people who choose to go into power, is that true, and will it effect any job prospects?
  7. Jul 31, 2017 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I assume you're going to college at the moment so in that case I would study sebject related to the branch. You could find maybe a job in the evening hours or in the weekends as a trainnee. There are a lot of companies that test protection relays yearly for customers. Testing proection relays is a very good and fun way to learn how to operate a power system correctly (at least I learned a lot from this). There exists also a lot of companies that do maintenance on motors and generators maybe they like to have a trainee. I can not give names of companies here but a search in google will help you find companies. SOme companies have even free and fun documents to learn specific stuff.

    I don't know if there are few youngsters who choose to go into power engineering. I only see that it is hard to find specialists in the work I do. I'm sure there are other people here on the forum who can add maybe their experiences. I wish you all the best with you ambitions if you really want it and work hard for reaching your goals you can do it, I'm sure.
  8. Jul 31, 2017 #7

    jim hardy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That has certainly been the case over my working years, 1960's through 2004

    Office politics is a fact of life and I'm sure Con Ed is no different than any other big organization. I recommend you read Parkinson's "The Law of Delay" , a delightful documentary on the subject.
    All of them. Dont overlook electric co-ops .
    Join IEEE. Attend a power conference.
    Go to that 14th street power station , knock on the door, introduce yourself as a EE student interested in a career and ask for a brief plant tour.
    Go to Con Ed Headquarters and do same. See if they'll arrange for you to visit the Indian Point simulator in Buchanan , it's short train ride out there.
  9. Jul 31, 2017 #8


    Staff: Mentor

    Check out Clarkson university in New York State.

    Many utilities have outsourced engineering. But the engineers just go to work for the outsourcing consultants. Same jobs, different employers.

    Power is one thing that will not be outsourced overseas.

    NYISO also needs power engineers.
  10. Jul 31, 2017 #9
    I'm not a power systems engineer, but I know several. In addition to power systems engineering on the supplier side, don't overlook power systems engineering on the user side. One guy I know works on power systems for oil rigs, a second on power systems for mining operations, and a third on power systems for trains. The demand, however, depends on how each particular business sector is doing, so it's best to cover multiple sectors or more generic sectors (such as factories and commercial buildings).
  11. Jul 31, 2017 #10


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I also want to point out power systems is more than just utilities.

    You'll find power systems in anything related to electric devices.
    My job title for 2 years was power systems engineer, and I designed the controls for lithium ion batteries, 3 phase motors, small power supplies, general electronics, and more. Like all branches of engineering, there is a lot of overlap into other disciplines.

    One industry that comes to mind is electric cars, that is not going away anytime soon and they have a HUGE need for power engineers.

    semiconductor companies like texas instuments and linear technologies have a massive need to power engineers right now.

    To add to what others have said about getting your foot in the door... networking. I'm sure you somehow know someone that works in the industry; your fathers old drinking buddy, a proffesors former coworker, a friends uncle. ask around and im sure someone has an in. The biggest thing people look for in young engineers is passion, if you can show that (maybe following jim's advice above) then you'd have a good shot. I got my internships through a professor, that led to a job offer, im sure you will do the same!
  12. Jul 31, 2017 #11


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I think thats it, having passion in your work! When I started approx.17 years ago for my current employer I did not had a vocational or university degree. Just highschool with 2 years of electrical training. But I was mesmerized by the way a generator and motor worked. After a little bit of searching I found my current employer and low and behold they had a company school where they teach young guys how to make winding and place them in the right position get good insulation etc (they called it here a winder). They did send me for one day to school for theory and gave me some salary too....perfect. So they saw soon I loved the job and had potential and they kept investing in me by taking the time to teach me and send me further to school. So I attended more electrical education, got a couple of diplomas and now I just finished my first year at university (at 35 years) while travelliing all over the world for the same company working as a commissioning engineer.

    So I fully agree with donpacino that pasion is all that companies want, it surely helped me a lot. Offcourse also the goodwill of my current company.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted