Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

What do EE's do?

  1. Apr 7, 2004 #1
    I was planning on majoring in EE but I am not sure on what exactly they do so I am still in doubt on what I want? Can someone give me a general description on what electrical engineers do?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 9, 2004 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    No. EE's find a wide range of occupations, from consulting to marketing and sales. I can give you my personal experience, and then give you some basic other possibilities.

    Personal experience:
    Duration: 1.5 years
    Industry: Telecommunications
    Job Title: Hardware engineer
    More Specific Job Description: Optical/Electrical interface development
    Intangible Job Description: Glorified Pencil Pusher

    Explanation: Almost everything that my company was producing consisted of putting together stuff that had already been done by other people. For example, my first project was to optimize an existing O/E module on an interface card. Basically, I just had to look at the schematic and put X's through about 30 components. That reduced the cost of the overall card (materials, reliability testing, mass production costs, etc.) by about $12. I was informed that the company sells about 1000 cards per month, so that resulted in a $12,000 per month cost reduction. And now we have our first important role in the company: cost reduction. This was followed by aganizing months of support for the decision, including eccentric formalizing processes with about 10 different forms to fill out, and a new test specification to write up. This brings us to the second important role in the company: pencil pushing and a lot of it. Then, the career developed, and I was interfacing with vendors and customers, which brings us to the third important role for the company: marketing/sales. Finally, I got to sink my teeth into a brand new product that just came onto the board for development. I was part of a small team whose responsibility it was to put this thing together. However, the key component for this new product (the big fat 350 BGA ASIC) was being developed by some company in Germany, so really our team's duties consisted of comforming schematics and layouts to the ASIC (more pencil pushing), and basically translating the specifications of the ASIC to those of the entire product (and yet more pencil pushing). Through the whole experience, I also had some duties with existing products that no one else wanted to deal with, which brings us to the forth important role: product sustaining, which is absolutely unfullfilling, unrewarding, and boring as hell. Oh ya, and I would admonish anyone who is thinking that they can get along as an EE without knowing how to program. I should have known C++ for sure, and it would have been good to know VHDL. I did get to know labview a bit. That was helpful. Talk about a burden not knowing these things. It made it next to impossible to advance. That wraps us up with the fifth important role: computer programming.

    Anyway, those were some tidbits that I hope you find useful from my life mistake.

    The above is an example of an experience you might have if you go into the telecommunications discipline of EE. At my university there were 5 disciplines, which I will now attempt to recall: telecommunications, digital, optics, power, and I can't remember the other one. Of course, there is some unavoidable overlap, and they probably need to be (or maybe already have been) recategorized.

    Power engineering is probably the most industrial, working for power stations and stuff, delivering huge (in the literal sense) products to huge impersonal companies.

    Digital engineering probably is the most computer emphatic, so, I would do that if I liked computers.

    Optical engineering, I think, is the most scientifically intensive, dealing with physics, solid state, and chemistry.
  4. Apr 10, 2004 #3
    oh, ok. well, your example was good enough b/c I had no idea what kind of job you could get as an EE. thanks
  5. Apr 10, 2004 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Those are job descriptions - EE (like most other engineering disciplines) even has a wide range of fields. A lot of EE's design building electrical systems. I work with one and its a decent job: you can be self-imployed with only a few years of experience.

    EE's can work in computer engineering, telecom, general machine design, utilities (power plants), facilities - basically anything you've ever seen that has electricity running through it had a EE help design, build, sell, maintain, repair, manage, etc. it.

    GTdan, so the ball's really back in your court: what kind of EE are you looking to be?
  6. Apr 12, 2004 #5
    probably, the digital or computer then. Since i am really into that too.
  7. Apr 12, 2004 #6
    A little off topic, I'm majoring in Computer Systems Engineering, what kind of career am I looking at? Any examples? This narrows it down a bit from EE.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?