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What Do You Need To Become An Electrical Engineer

By David Krug 8 minute read

A bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering may be for you if you’ve always been curious about how electrical devices work. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electrical engineering will have a median annual wage of $100,830 by 2020. (BLS). Computer and electrical engineering or electrical and electronics engineering programs may include electrical engineering programs as distinct majors. If you want to become an electrical engineer, you’ll need to take a lot of classes in subjects like advanced math and basic science.

Requirements for Electrical Engineering Math

Any engineering degree program includes a significant amount of math and science classes. This means that engineers must have a thorough grasp of maths and science in order to use them effectively in their designs and problem-solving.

Engineering design relies heavily on mathematics as well as the natural, physical, and life sciences. Electrical engineering students should expect to devote a significant portion of their college coursework to mathematics, either directly through courses offered by a mathematics department or indirectly through engineering courses that draw upon mathematics principles and practices.

Because math is a necessary component of electrical engineering.

ABET accredits engineering programs in all disciplines (the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). As with all engineering fields, ABET specifies specific course requirements for accredited electrical engineering programs, which include math as well as other subjects. These courses must be included in the curriculum of electrical engineering programs in order to keep their accreditation.

That ABET insists on these math courses is understandable. Mathematical principles permeate all of engineering’s creative endeavors. Mathematical calculations are a common part of the work of practicing engineers. The design of safe and effective electrical equipment, the algorithms that make computer engineering solutions work, and many other aspects of electrical engineering work are made possible by the use of these mathematical calculations. While some electrical engineers perform advanced mathematical calculations on a daily basis, others do, and even those who don’t must still have a good understanding of when and how to perform these calculations.

Electrical engineering necessitates a solid mathematical foundation.

In a bachelor’s degree program in electrical engineering, you’ll take courses in advanced mathematics, probability, and statistics, among other topics. Electrical engineering students should expect to learn about differential equations, complex variables, linear algebra, and integral calculus. As a computer and electrical engineering student, you should expect to take discrete mathematics classes as part of your degree.

Electrical, electronics, and computer engineering programs, like most others in the engineering field, require students to take probability and statistics courses. A probability and statistics course uses mathematical analysis to understand the relative frequency of past events and then use that data to predict the likelihood of future events and outcomes. For electrical engineering students, ABET says probability and statistics courses should focus on applications in this field. In the case of electrical engineers, for example, it may be necessary to assess the likelihood of design flaws and component failures before proceeding with a project. Many electrical engineering fields, including signal processing, rely heavily on data collection and processing. This data necessitates an understanding of statistics and probability.

The probability that you’ve taken an algebra course is high despite not having studied probability and statistics in high school. Expect to take an undergraduate level linear algebra course while pursuing your bachelor’s degree. Solving linear equations between variables is the focus of this area of mathematics. These are equations that, if plotted on a graph, would form a straight line. When designing circuits, an electrical engineer may turn to linear algebra and methods for solving linear equations.

Calculus is also required for students of electrical engineering. Changes over time and other phenomena studied in physics are expressed in this branch of mathematics. Motion and energy transfer are examples of these phenomena. ABET accreditation standards require electrical engineering majors to learn both differential and integral calculus, as required by the field. The rate of mathematical change is examined in differential calculus, whereas the total value or amount calculated is measured in integral calculus.

Differential equations are also commonly studied in the calculus branch of mathematics. Functions, such as quantified physical qualities, and their derivatives, or changes in these qualities, are shown in these equations. Electrical engineers who work in circuit design, electromagnetics, and other related fields need to be familiar with differential equations.

Discrete mathematics is another important math course, particularly for students pursuing a career in computer engineering.

Electrified Engineering Students Attend Laboratory Science Classes

Aspiring electrical engineers should also take courses in science, such as those found in the natural and physical sciences. As a general rule, all engineers must be familiar with the fundamentals of science in order to use these concepts in their designs. Studying science in a laboratory setting gives students the opportunity to gain practical experience in their chosen field.

Laboratory science classes in physics, chemistry, or biology may be part of your electrical engineering education. The study of matter, the stuff that holds the universe together, is at the heart of both physics and chemistry, two branches of the physical sciences. Physical laws govern the motion, force, and energy transfer in this study, which is approached from a physicist’s point of view. The subject of chemistry instead focuses on matter’s structure, as well as the interactions between its constituent parts and external stimuli. As a student of electrical engineering, you may be required to take courses in classical calculus-based physics and general chemistry, as well as courses in chemistry for engineers.

In college, engineers may take biology courses as well, but the extent of their biology studies may vary depending on their engineering discipline and personal interests in biology. As a bioengineering or biomedical engineer, you should take more biology courses than if you’re only interested in developing electrical or electronic devices and systems. Molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics are all common places for electrical engineers who are also interested in biology to begin their studies. Anatomy and physiology, the studies of the human body’s structures and functions, may also be pursued by electrical engineering majors in some cases, as are other biological sciences.

Students enrolled in ABET-accredited engineering programs must complete a minimum of 32 semester hours, or one-fourth of their required credits, in math and science.

Requirements for Electrical Engineering Courses.

For students majoring in electrical engineering, science and math are more than just requirements for graduation. Instead, they serve as the bedrock upon which all subsequent engineering disciplines rest. However, once you’ve developed these skills, you’ll need to move on to engineering courses.

The fundamentals of engineering

As a student in electrical engineering, you need to have a solid understanding of engineering in general, as well as specific expertise in the field at hand. All students at many engineering schools are required to take the same or similar core engineering courses. It is the goal of a student’s engineering fundamentals coursework to serve as a bridge between science and mathematics theory and creative engineering design.

Classwork in the foundations of engineering design and problem-solving includes an introduction to the many different engineering specialties that exist. Because engineers frequently work with colleagues from different specialties, having this knowledge is essential. As much as no engineer can possibly know about everything, having a basic grasp on how other engineers think and what they do can go a long way toward helping them work together more effectively.

Courses in engineering fundamentals, problem solving, mechanical systems, and design are all likely to be part of an undergraduate’s education in this field.

Courses in Electrical and Computer Engineering

A large portion of an electrical engineering major consists of courses that focus on this field of work. According to ABET, these subjects include computer science. In order to analyze and design all kinds of electrical components, devices, and systems, students must devote at least a year and a half to learning the necessary subjects.

Electrical engineering degree programs may require courses in circuit analysis, electro fields and materials, electric power engineering, signals and systems, control systems, integrated circuits, automation, and digital communication systems to be completed. Prior to pursuing more advanced studies in power engineering, control systems, and communications systems, many students take introductory courses in these areas. An important part of the curriculum is hands-on engineering work done in laboratory and design courses..

Electrical Engineering Courses for Specialization

Electrical engineering students may be able to specialize or concentrate on a particular area of the discipline they are interested in during the course of their studies. According to U.S. News & World Report, the most popular concentrations in electrical engineering include communications, electronics, and nanotechnology.

Many of the classes students take in programs where they can select a concentration are influenced by the academic path they take. When concentrating in communications, for example, an electrical engineering student might learn about microwave circuitry and antenna theory. It is more likely that students who focus on electronics will study the digital and analog systems used in computing and communications. In nanotechnology, the study of matter on a microscopic scale, the materials and processes used to create nanotechnology would be the focus of specialization.

Electrical engineering has a sizable subset known as computer engineering. Computer engineering is an interdisciplinary field that combines knowledge of computer science and engineering design. Computer engineering courses typically cover topics such as computer architecture, operating systems, data structures and algorithms, object-oriented design and programming, computer graphics, software engineering, and database systems, among other things.

Bioelectrical engineering is an electrical concentration that combines these two fields of study, despite the fact that biology may appear to be the branch of science with the least in common with this engineering discipline. Medical imaging and biomedical signal processing, as well as bioelectronics and other assistive devices, are among the many areas of bioelectrical engineering that focus on the application of electrical engineering principles and designs to these fields. Courses in biology, anatomy, and physiology, as well as digital signal processing and higher-level engineering computation, are required of students concentrating in bioelectrical engineering in electrical engineering.

The electives that make up an electrical engineering degree’s academic concentration are frequently technical in nature. Students may be able to further narrow down their coursework within a concentration to focus on the most relevant or interesting topics.

Experiential Learning for Engineers

It is critical that graduates of an electrical engineering degree program have real-world experience applying the concepts they have learned because the focus of engineering is on problem solving through design rather than purely theoretical knowledge. By working for a real engineering company as an intern or in a co-op, many electrical engineering students learn on the job, according to the BLS.

Fieldwork opportunities in the classroom, such as design studio assignments, also help students gain experience. Accredited engineering and technology programs require their students to complete an extensive project in which they apply the concepts they’ve learned in class to create an actual device, component, or system that solves a real-world problem. This is known as a capstone project.

For electrical engineering majors, possible capstone projects include the development of sensor and machine prototypes or the creation of new manufacturing processes.

David Krug