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Which area of ECE to study?

  • Thread starter Xkaliber
  • Start date
Hi all,

This is going to be a long post so please bear with me.

In about two weeks, I am transferring to Georgia Tech under the dual degree program. Dual degree students are those who have taken three years of courses at a Georgia liberal arts college and then attend Tech for two years, resulting in two engineering degrees from two different institutions. Over the past three years, I have completed all my gen ed requirements and have taken several physics and basic programming classes. However, I am now going to be focusing exclusively on my necessary engineering courses, electrical engineering in this case.

At the transfer orientation I attended last week, I received several packets of information relating to the ECE program at Tech. One packet stated that the ECE faculty and engineering elective courses are divided into 10 what they call “technical interest fields” or TIFs. These are basically subfields of the ECE discipline, which I will go into detail about below.

My situation is this: I have yet to take any engineering courses in my college career so I am not familiar with what kind of work each TIF involves and whether or not I would enjoy working professionally in that area. However, since I have all my gen eds/basic science/CS out of the way, I am going to have to start taking elective courses next semester leaving me with very little time to determine what my engineering interests are before I have to register for classes.

So I am coming to you guys to get some suggestions on what is a good/interesting field to study. Are there any particular areas that have a shortage of engineers at the moment? I would probably like to focus on two TIFs in order to broaden my knowledge and make me more versatile to future employers. Any advice on my predicament would be greatly appreciated. Nine TIFs and a description are listed below (the tenth one was biomedical engineering, which I was not interested in).

COMPUTER ENGINEERING is centered in digital design, computer architecture, and computer applications. This includes circuits and devices, computer systems, and engineering software systems. Computers pervade virtually every aspect of our lives, and the field of computer engineering is moving to the forefront of our increasingly technology driven world. Computer engineering encompasses and interacts with a broad range of other ECE specialties, from microelectronics technology to telecommunications to engineering software development.

  • Computer Architecture
  • Embedded Systems and Software .
  • Design Tools, Test and Verification
  • Computer Networks and lnternetworking
  • Distributed Systems and Software .
  • VLSI Design
DIGITAL SIGNAL PROCESSING (DSP) is concerned with the representation of signals in digital form, and with the transformation of such signal representations using digital computation. DSP is at the core of virtually all of today's information technology, and its impact is felt everywhere – in telecommunications, medical technology, radar and sonar, and in seismic data analysis. ECE offers the largest undergraduate and graduate DSP academic programs in the country, providing a strong foundation in all aspects of digital signal processing.

  • DSP Theory
  • Image and Video Signal Processing
  • Multimedia Signal Processing and Networking
  • Signal Processing for Communications and Security .
  • Radar and Array Processing .
  • Speech and Audio Processing .
  • Statistical Signal Processing .
  • Hardware/Software Systems for Signal Processing

ELECTRIC POWER is primarily concerned with meeting the future demand for electric energy while satisfying environmental constraints. Instruction and research is conducted in power systems, electric energy conversion, power electronics, high-voltage engineering, electric power materials and semiconductors.

  • Power System Monitoring, Analysis Protection, Operation and Control
  • Distributed Generation
  • Power System Simulation and Visualization
  • High Voltage Engineering and Power System Components
  • Electric Machine Control, Condition and Monitoring and Protection
  • Power Electronics

ELECTROMAGNETICS involves the study of basic principles of electricity and magnetism and their application to the analysis and design of devices and systems. Applications of electromagnetics encompass such far-reaching areas as microwave communications, antenna design, microwave millimeter engineering, and remote sensing. These cutting edge technologies are applied to national defense and security, the space program, and every form of commercial communications.

  • Microwave Circuits
  • Remote Sensing of Obscured Targets
  • RadioScience, Plantary Remote Sensing, and Space Communications
  • Analysis and Design of Antennas
  • Computational Techniques for Electromagnetics
  • Signal- tntegrity in Digital and Mixed Signal Systems .
  • Terrestrial Radio Wave Propagation

ELECTRONIC DESIGN AND APPLICATIONS involves device and integrated circuit fabrication, circuit and system design and simulation, and instrumentation and testing techniques. Areas of emphasis include the design, fabrication, testing and application of analog and digital integrated circuits and systems and high frequency circuits and systems.

  • MEMs Circuit Technology
  • Analog VLSI
  • Radio Frequency/VVireless Integrated Circuits (RFIC)
  • High Speed Mixed Signal
  • Analog
MICROSYSTEMS is concerned with the design, analysis, growth, and fabrication of micron/sub-micron feature length devices. These devices are the key enabling technology for the integrated circuits and systems that form the basis of most contemporary electronic products. Areas of emphasis include semiconductor devices, packaging technology, and materials growth and characterization.

  • Microsystems and Nanosystems
  • Photovoltaics
  • Microelectronics Systems Packaging
  • Manufacturing and Gigascale Integration
  • Compound Semiconductors
  • Biomedical Microsystems

OPTICS AND PHOTONICS involves the study of lasers, optical data processing, nonlinear optics, optical communications, optical_ computing, optical data storage, optical system design and holography. Areas of emphasis include volume holography studies, hybrid optical digital data processing, image processing and the study of optic properties of materials.

  • Optical Communication Networks
  • Nonlinear Optics
  • Photonics and optoelectronics
  • Diffractive and holographic optics

SYSTEMS AND CONTROLS is concerned with mathematical and computational techniques for modeling, estimation, realization, identification and design of feedback control of physical systems and processes. Applications include missile tracking and guidance, robotic control, stabilization and model reduction of power systems.

  • Mathematical systems theory
  • Discrete event systems and hybrid system
  • Nonlinear control
  • Computer vision
  • Intelligent control
  • Sensor technologies

TELECOMMUNICATIONS is concerned with the characterization, representation, transmission, storage, and networking of information over various media including space, optical fiber, and cable. Harnessing technologies from areas such as digital signal processing, computer engineering, controls, and optics, telecommunications plays a defining role in information technology applications such as mobile communications, wireless local area networks, television, and telephony.

  • Wireless Communications and Networking
  • Communication Theory
  • Information Theory and Adaptive Systems
  • Multimedia Networking
  • Inter-networking, Network Management, and Network Security
  • Optical Networks


Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
Communications and DSP are probably the two "hottest" fields right now, with the most growth.

Computer engineering is probably the most broadly applicable specialty -- you can do anything from software to circuit design in industry.

Electronic design is a very broad field, but microsystems will predispose you to work in an Asian country in a bunny suit.

Controls and electromagnetics might predispose you to work in aerospace or the military.

- Warren
Last edited:
I like this list, I'm going to save it. This is what I"ve been needing for a while :)
Electronic design is a very broad field, but microsystems will predispose you to work in an Asian country in a bunny suit.
Why do you say that?


Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
The number of process engineers that have full-time employment in the states is much smaller than the number abroad.

- Warren

....word count.

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