Electrical Engineering. All You Need to Know About

Electrical Engineering. All You Need to Know About
electrical engineering

Table of Contents

What is electrical engineering?

Electrical engineering is that branch of engineering faculty which cares all about electrical machines, theories, formulas, and almost every thing about electrical science.
Electrical engineer should be able to design electrical circuits, protection for electrical devices lighting and power systems. Also should be able to perform electrical maintenance and inspection for all electrical systems.

Is electrical engineering important?

Electrical energy is used for every thing around us, almost every technological devices are based on electricity. Starting from large industries to small baby electrical toys, including not limited to TVs, video games, cell phones, laptops and security cameras and the list is so long.
Each of these devices is considered an individual branch of electrical engineering and has its own science.
Not only the above mentioned devices are base on electrical energy to work but also making and manufacturing them needs and based mainly on electrical engineering and energy.

How to be an electrical engineer?

Like all engineering branches,  to become an electrical engineer  you need to obtain a electrical engineering bachelor’s degree. Its clear that the answer of the question of “How many years do you need to be an electrical engineer?”

Based on the country you are in. This may need 4 to 5 years to master this bachelor’s degree as a full time student. However you shouldn’t stop learning, if you do you get left behind as the electrical engineering field improves rapidly.

Electrical Engineering Sub-fields

Electrical study has many sub-disciplines, below are the most common of them:

  • Power electrical engineering

Power electrical engineers deal with electricity generation, transmission, and distribution as well as many other design, protection and operating electrical motors, transformers and generators of different types.
That includes and not limited to steam turbines, wind energy turbines, solar energy and much more.

  • Control electrical engineers

Control engineers design, operate and maintain control circuits which control machines, motors, generators and almost every electrical energy working device.
Making control circuits needs controllers, electrical and electronics elements such as contactors, relays, resistors and photoresistors.

  • Electronics engineering

Electronics engineering mainly concern with electronics based devices which are necessarily for a wide range of applications.
These applications are unlimited as electronics are used in airspace devices, video games, mobile phones medical instruments and a lot more.

  • Telecommunications engineering concerns with data transmission

  • Instrumentation engineers

Deal with measuring physical quantities devices. They should be able to design operate and maintain these devices

What does an electrical engineer do?

Electrical engineers design, develop, inspect and maintain electrical systems and products. The responsibility of electrical engineers may be different from work place to another. In general the following responsibilities are related to electrical engineers:

  • Electrical systems designing.
  • Preparing and managing maintenance programs.
  • Manufacturing electrical equipment, like motors, transformers and overhead power lines accessories.
  • Designing and installing Overhead power lines.

The work responsibilities depends on the workplace for example:

  • An electrical engineer who is working in oil and gas industry has responsibilities of maintenance of EX electrical motors, synchronous generators, low and medium voltage switchgear, ex lighting fixture and much more.
  • While an electrical engineer working in a PVC pipes factory should has good experience and knowledge about machines protection and control with PLC and control circuits which are based on contactors , relays and sensors.
  • A consulting office engineers should have better experience in electrical calculations, designs, drawings with Autocad electrical and electrical standards

Some skills needed for electrical engineer

As an electrical engineer you should be familiar with some skills as follows :

  • Computer skills, such as Microsoft office and internet search skills
  • Programming basics, At least you should be familiar with one or more programming language
  • PLC programming and control
  • Autocad electrical
  • Dialux program for lighting designing
  • Loads and electrical engineering calculations

Equipment an electrical engineer work with

Based on the field of work an electrical engineers work with all types of motors, generators, control panels,PLC controllers, sensors, lighting systems and many other electrical equipment

Is electrical engineering dangerous?

Yes, electrical engineering work can be very risky if you don’t control the hazards. Of course it will be much dangerous if you don’t aware about the risk of the electrical work you are doing.

I’m an electrical engineer for more than 12 years now. I never miss with electricity. I always double check isolation and safety related issues before working. I have this safety culture because when I was fresh graduated, I was about to get shocked in my head, And some other unsafe situations I involved in it.

If I have a partner in a job, then I repeat my words twice when it comes to safety issues. For example, if I’m about to connect a circuit breaker and my partner is working in the location where I can’t see or hear him. In this case I don’t rely on sign language to tell him to stay away of the power circuit which I’m about to energize.

I contact him with cell phone and tell him twice. I may say the same sentence twice but using different words. I may say “Hay, I’m about to energize the power circuit of load 1” he may say “OK, go ahead” then, I don’t energize the circuit directly, instead I repeat “Are you away of the circuit of the load 1, did you finish you task, are there any one of the team near the load?” If he confirm the safe situation, I tell him once again “OK, I will connect load 1 right now, get ready”

By this confirmation more than one time I make sure my team is away of the danger of electricity. And I control the hazard.

So the answer of the main question of “Is electrical engineering dangerous?” is yes, but you can always set your controls to avoid this risk.

What industries electrical engineers work in?

As mentioned before that electricity is almost in all fields and industries such as and not limited to:

  • All factories need electrical engineers
  • Oil and gas companies and locations
  • Renewable energy fields
  • Real way companies
  • Consulting offices
  • Construction and contractors
  • Power generation, transmission and distribution
  • Residential electricity design

And much more fields which couldn’t be counted easily.

How hard is electrical engineering?

I am an electrical engineer. I did my bachelor’s. I thought it would be tough. Before I join electrical engineering program, I was thinking “this section is the last one for me to join. No way to do that”

You know what, I joined the electrical engineering program with some fear inside me. I thought I wouldn’t pass it easily. Day in day out, I did it. Not only I graduated with high grades but also I had fun. I fell in love with electrical engineering stuff.

I discovered many things I can do with my knowledge. I can remember that day when I made my very first control circuit of my dad’s water pump. I was so excited.

Now, I created electrical engineering android app. They are 100% free on Google Play to help all electrical engineers and electricians around the world. You can find them here on Google Play.

I didn’t stop. I started this site too. And I have a YouTube electrical channel. I will be so happy if you join me on it.

Is becoming an electrical engineer worth it? 

Yes, it worth the efforts and the hard study to be an electrical engineer. This engineering field is exciting and let you know how do things work.

Regarding to electrical engineer salary in USA, according to indeed site, the average yearly salary is about 92,3000 USD. However the salary can vary depending on the years of experience, the city and the company you work for.

You can find a detailed data about electrical engineering salary in the indeed.com

On the other hand, the electrical engineering work opportunities are in almost all industries. However if the money is the only motivation for you to join electrical engineering program, I recommend you to find another higher paying field.

Electrical Engineering a Dying Field?

Electrical engineering is one of the broadest engineering fields. Look around you, do you find a field with out electrical engineering? I doubt that so much! I mentioned above some fields where electrical engineers have good opportunities.

Besides, the field is being developed every day. For example, renewable energy and electrical cars are the future, And they are spreading rapidly around the world.

Its all about you, and how do you develop your knowledge and sharpen your experience according to the rapid development.

If you are a fresh graduate, so my advice is to accept a job that will sharpen your experience faster.

Will I Need a lot of Math in Electrical Engineering?

Yes, there are a lot of Math in Electrical Engineering. But this is just in the class and the study years. In practical life, I never do math by hand. I always use electrical android apps that help me doing whatever I need.

For example, I created an electrical calculator android app. I call it “FAST ELECTRICAL CALCULATOR” I designed it to help in the most important electrical calculations you need as an electrical engineer. The app is 100% free on Google Play store, Install it from here.

How hard is electrical engineering math?

To be honest with you, it is from simple equations to complex ones. If you are about to join electrical engineering program, you should prepare your self for a lot of simple and complex math equations.

If you still in the high school, take all math courses seriously if you want to join electrical engineering program.

Is electrical engineering a stressful job?

Yes, some electrical faults are hidden enough so that we can’t even understand what is going on. But this is not the only rule of being an electrical engineer. the point is, with more and more experience you can trouble shot faults faster. And the more faults and issues you face and solve the more comfortable you feel in the feature faults.

One of the rules of electrical engineering is, electrical faults are easy to be fixed but hard to be discovered. Imagine a large machine with many electrical control wires and cables. If one main wire get damaged, the machine may stop. fixing the wire is just to repair a small portion of the wire and you are done. But it may take hours to detect the damaged cable and its location.

An other example, In my work we have a very long overhead power line. Some times we get reports that the power is off in some locations.

We may spend up to 4 hours searching the OHTL network to find a blown fuse, cut wire or a broken insulator. After 4 hours of searching we just need 15 minutes to replace the blown fuse and we are done. You can imagine the stress we face in these 4 hour.

Difference Between Electrical and Electronics Engineering

  • Electrical engineering is mainly concerned with electrical power generation, transmission through overhead power lines and distribution. Also electrical machines like generators, motors and transformers are related to electrical engineering.
  • While electronic engineering is concerned with electronic circuits and its software. Electronic engineers work with fields like robotics, automation, control systems, medical devices and computer hardware.

The names of electronics and electrical engineering are always connected. And people consider it as one branch of engineering. But if we thoroughly study it. Both branches belong to different areas and they are far different from each other. Although both of the branches are related to electricity, still there is a difference between both fields.

In this article, we will discuss the difference between electrical and electronics engineering. let’s definite separately.

Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with the study & applications of electricity, charge carriers i.e. electronics, and electromagnetism. Mostly deals with machines that convert electrical power to an other form of power like mechanical power.

Electronics Engineering

Electronic Engineering is the field of engineering that deals with non-linear and active electrical and electronic devices such as semiconductor devices, electron tubes, diodes, transistors, etc.

electronic circuits
electronic circuits

Electrical vs Electronics Engineering

  • Electrical engineering is the study and application of the flow of negatively charges particles i.e. electrons. It consists of the study of Power generation, distribution, transmission, electrical motors and motors topics like power factor, maintenance and electrical inspection.
  • Electronics Engineering is the study of the flow of electrons and holes. As electronics is the study of semiconducting materials, therefore its includes both electrons and holes. It is the connection of semiconductor devices of integrated circuits.
  • The Second difference between both is the operating voltage. Electrical engineering deals with devices and components that use alternating current (AC) / Voltages. The value of voltage ranges from 11o V to 230V single phase. While industries and power stations the value of voltage range up to 11kV to 400 KV for transmission and distribution.
  • Electronics engineering deals with electronic components that are operated on very low voltages. The value of voltage ranges from 3 volts to 12 volts. Moreover, the Electronic components use direct currents (DC) sources for operation.
  • The third difference between electrical and electronics engineering is the decision-making process of an electrical system. Electrical engineering device deals only for just power up the electrical system. It simply takes electric current and transforms it into another form of energy such as heat, light or motion, etc.  While electronics engineering consists of the devices and circuits that deal with the decision-making process.
  • Besides converting the electrical current into another part it also manipulates the signal. The input instructions decide for a specific operation of a circuit.
  • The next difference between electrical and electronics is the size and shape of the devices. The electrical engineering devices are large in shape, and they occupy more space. While the devices used in Electronics engineering have a small size and occupy less space.

What fields of work for electrical engineers?

Electrical engineers are working in power generation plants, large industrial organizations, electrical designing and consulting offices and so on. In general electrical engineers work in the fields that need design, manufacturing , operation or maintenance of the electrical equipment such as:

All the above mentioned machines and electrical devices needs electrical engineers to make design, development, inspection, operation  and maintenance for them.

See also: What does an electrical engineer do?

What kind of jobs do electronic engineers do?

Electronics engineers mostly work in electronic circuits factories and maintenance companies. Here under examples of electronics engineers working fields.

  • Smart phones, TVs and computer factories.
  • Cameras and alarm systems factories.
  • Printed boards manufacturing, troubleshooting and maintenance companies.
  • Home automation devices.
  • Drawn and robotics.

What is Electrical Power Engineering?

Power Engineering is the branch of electrical engineering that deals with the generation, transmission, distribution, and utilization of electrical power and energy. This also includes the devices such as transformers, generators, and electric motors, and all other devices connected with the system.

Before discussing our important topic “Power Engineering”, We define electrical engineering. Electrical engineering is the branch of engineering that deals with the study & applications of electricity, charge carriers i.e. electronics, and electromagnetism. The different branches of electrical engineering are Power engineering, Control engineering, Electronic engineering, Microelectronics, Signal Processing, Telecommunications, Instrumentation, and Computer engineering.

Importance of power engineering

The daily life operation of the modern world is impossible without electrical power. The job of Power engineers is to operate a variety of power devices.

Electrical power engineers are in charge of very critical and important system which should be reliable and contentious (power system).

Similarly, the process of power conversion from one type to another type comes in the job description of electrical power engineers.

As we discussed above that the power engineering consists of three main components. The components include

  • Generation.
  • Transmission.
  • Distribution.

Electrical power Generation

This branch of power engineering is related to the generation or production of electrical power. The production or generation of electrical power is carried out in power plants.

Power engineer responsibility in power plants

Power plants are a complete combination between electrical, mechanical and instrumentation engineering. Electrical engineers has a major rule and responsibilities including  and not limited to the following.

  1. Design power plants and its control and protection system, Such as overcurrent, over & under voltage, over and under frequency protection and all other protection circuits and systems that are necessary to keep the power plant working in a good condition.
  2. Making pre-operation electrical inspection to make sure all protection devices and control circuits are working properly.
  3. Operate the plant as required. The operation process includes watching meters of various readings (voltage, current and frequency) to be sure all the time that every thing is OK.
  4. Performing electrical maintenance periodically as scheduled. And make sure that all maintenance programs are suitable for the power plant.

Transmission of electrical energy

The power transmission process is done using transformers and overhead power lines. The transmission system in all its stages needs electrical engineers to design, inspect and perform preventive maintenance programs to ensure system reliability and power continuity.

Power transmission process

Once we generate power. The next process is the transmission of it through overhead power line (OHTL). The transmission of power is the process of movement of electrical power from the generators site to the electrical substation for consumer uses. This process is directly related to electrical power engineers.

The transmission is of two types Primary Transmission and Secondary Transmission. To transmit electrical energy at longer distances the voltage level is stepped up using step up transformers. This process is called Primary transmission.

When the energy reaches a substation. The next step is to make it available for consumer use, for this purpose the voltage level is stepped down using step down transformers. This process is called secondary transmission.

Distribution

The third component of Power Engineering is distribution. When the electrical energy reaches the substation. The last stage is to distribute the electric power for consumer uses. For this purpose, the distribution transformer is used.

Distribution transformer is step down transformers used to feed residential consumers with the 110 or 220 V single phase. It is located in cities and near neighborhoods to feed a group of houses.

Electrical engineers are involved in design, installation and monitoring these transformers performance and loads suitability. Also as every part of electrical power engineering system, electrical maintenance is important to keep it working and to prevent any unplanned outage of the power.

Electrical Power engineering system maintenance

The common thing between all power systems engineering sections is that all of them should have proper preventive maintenance. A good engineer should be able to keep an eye on the maintenance program implementation. Here below some important points to take into account when preparing maintenance program.

  • For power generation maintenance you should follow the instructions and the recommendations of the manufacturer. All you need should be listed in the maintenance recommendation. This is because as mentioned above the power plants have a combination of electrical, mechanical and instrumentation devices. Also every power plant has its own requirements of periodic inspection and maintenance.
  • For transformers plants which are used just after power generation and just before power distribution, These need a good inspection in regular basis to ensure the following points:
  1. Oil level (in oil immersed transformers): make sure that the oil is not lower than the minimum  accepted level in the conservator tank.
  2. Silica gel color: In the oil immersed transformers a breather system is used because the oil expands due to load variation and transformer temperature. In this breathing in and out process air enters the tank from the out side atmosphere. Silica gel is used to ensure only dry air enters the tank. “moisture decreases transformer oil break down voltage”. When silica gel change its color then it need to be replaced. Keep an eye on its color periodically.
  3. Check transformer body for any leakage. Transformers oil leakage is a repeated issue. Repair any reason of leakage as required.” The most common reason of oil leakage in transformers is bolts and joints”.
  4.   All transformer cooling fans and pumps should be checked periodically.
  • Overhead power line maintenance. When it comes to power this part of electrical engineering the visual inspection is the king. Inspecting insulators, towers and power wires is almost visual inspection for any corrosion in tower bodies, Break of insulators and cut in wires. Thermal imaging could be used to determine any hot spots in connections.
Low voltage swich gear Power engineering system could be inspected using thermal image
Low voltage swich gear Power engineering system could be inspected using thermal image

How long does it take to become a power engineer?

As mentioned above power engineering is a branch of electrical engineering. So power engineers are electrical engineers. Which needs 5 years of study in the faculty.

How to be professional electrical engineer?

As a fresh graduate engineer you need to work hard in your field to gain quick and deep experience, as well as you need to have knowledge of web search and how to get any new information in your field.
Also you should be familiar with HSE (electrical safety) rules to keep your self and work environment safe and accidents free. Let’s dig deeper.

I’m an electrical engineer, and I’m working for a leading oil and gas company, After more than ten years of experience I can tell you that It is required more than just right education and technical aptitude to become a successful electrical engineer. Electrical engineering is a special field of engineering it is a complex field and contains a lot of sub-specialties with it.

A good and successful is not only good in his working or knowledge but also have a number of qualities in other aspects of daily work which are related to their work or surroundings. They should have exceptional communication skills in order to have good communication and get a good work from their workers.

Let’s list the factors that affect your engineering skills, and then we discuss some of them in details.

  1. Fast electrical calculations skills
  2. Safety first culture.
  3. Attention to Details
  4. Critical thinking
  5. great vision
  6. Positive Attitude of Work
  7. Concentrate more on your electrical field.
  8. Never stop learning

Some computer skills

Some computer programs are important also for electrical engineers. Some of them are listed below.

  1. AUTOCAD electrical.
  2. DAIALUX lighting design program.
  3. Microsoft office programs.
  4. PLC programing skills.
  5. Good internet searching skills.

Let’s dive into some details

Fast electrical calculations skills

Electrical calculations are one of the most important skills that you need on job. Calculating voltage drop, electrical loads, electrical conversions between quantities like KW, HP and KVA and much more. You will for sure need one or more of these calculations while you are in workplace site. Also knowing electrical cables current carrying capacity on time is a very important skill.

But Should you memorize all cables tables like current, short circuit and derating factors tables? This is ridiculous, isn’t it.

I faced this issue when I was fresh graduated. And I found the optimal solution, I programmed three electrical android applications to help me instead of memorizing every electrical table and calculations.

Electrical application for electricians
My Electrical application for electrical engineers and electricians

Now these three applications are being used around the world, And have more than 100K installation for each of them.

You also should have these application on your smart android phone. They are 100% free.

Install your applications now from googl play store:

  1. Cables Tables APP
  2. Fast Electrical calculator
  3. Electrical Motor calculator.

Safety first culture

Your safety is number one priority while working, Specially when you are working near or with electrical equipment.Safety keeps you and your team safe.

I highly recommend visiting safetyfrenzy.com amazing safety site. This site has many electrical safety amazing articles.

Attention to Details

According to a scientist, who is a successful electrical engineer and work as a Director of Engineering, said that the top trait of a successful electrical engineer is that he gives the full attention to details. Whatever type of work he is doing, he just gives his all attention to the details of his work and the electrical instruments.

Whenever an electrical engineer is working to make a design he will keep in mind power calculations, timing analysis, noise suppression calculations or all other details related to his design.

He must carefully thought out the design and will take it into account with full attention. During the testing phase, the full attention of the engineer is required. Testing is also a trouble shooting skill in the answer of how to be successful electrical engineer.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking comes with high demand when it is asked that how to be successful electrical engineer. A successful electrical engineer will encounter a large number of complex problems to increase the ability of critical thinking.

By using critical thinking they become able to priorities and organize the problems into buckets. Reasoning and logic are the great sources of critical thinking.

Good Vision

A best electrical engineer possesses a great vision. He understands his product. He knows how it works. He knows what problems may happen with his product and try to find the solution of every problem from the start.

A best electrical engineer always knows the thing critically that what he or she is building and what is the role of their product for the users. They know what is the need of the customers or which type of technology is required in the market.

This information not only helps to know about their product but also critical for the ability of leading other engineers and necessary for the product development.

Positive Attitude of Work

The successful engineers are always passionate. They have can-do attitude and possess the positive thinking. They should be confident and able to figure out all the problems by patience. They have the ability to implement the most complex details into the project.

It is true that successful electrical engineers do not have only good knowledge they come from the combination of many qualities. These qualities may include knowledge of electronics, integrated circuits, communication, and the knowledge of other electrical instruments and also additional skills.

Concentrate more on your electrical field

Electrical engineering has many fields, You should know about all fields, but you better know more about your field. i.e I mean the field that your work is about.

Some electrical engineering fields are listed below:

  1. Power generation.
  2. Power transformation (OHTL)
  3. Electrical maintenance.
  4. Electrical control circuits and panels design and maintenance.
  5. PLC programing.
  6. Electrical drawings and designs.
  7. Renewable energy i.e wind, solar and wave power plants.
  8. Protection and testing.
  9. Residential electricity.

And the list is longer than this, The point is concentrate more on your field.

 Let’s look at the views of some experts to know how to be successful electrical engineer.

Stanley Tan

Stanley Tan is a successful electrical engineer and also works for Owl Guru, a company that specializes in career data. He says that

The five skills made a successful electrical engineer

  • Active: A successful electrical engineer gives the full attention to what he is told by the other people such as teachers or seniors. He could take time to understand and also ask questions to clear the understandings.
  • Problem Solving: Solving the complex problems after identification and collecting all the data about that problem points to a best problem solver.
  • Critical Thinking: Finding solutions, conclusions and weakness of alternatives by using logic and the critical thinking. The critical thinking also play important role in approaching the main problem.
  • Reading Comprehension: They have the knowledge of comprehension to understand the written statements about the problem or about the electrical instruments.
  • Communication: Communication is a great weapon to be successful in every field. After becoming the expert in their working a successful electrical engineer also has a good communication skill.

Sylvain Kalache

Sylvain Kalache is an engineer who had worked for many years in a tech industry. He answers the question how to be successful electrical engineer by his experience and knowledge. He says that a successful electrical engineer is that who have the following abilities

  • Have a good communication with their peers or seniors or the other workers.
  • Share the knowledge with his peers who required that knowledge. He may also share his knowledge by writing the blog posts or other documentation.
  • Give the best solution to any technical problem and satisfy others with his solution. He also convinces the other candidates to join the company.
  • Take in mind the dead lines of completing work, and commit to his responsibilities with full attention.