The development of electrical engineering started with little experiments that involved batteries and static charges. Later on, Michael Faraday, André-Marie Ampére, Charles Siemens, Thomas Edison or Nicola Tesla made history in the electrical engineering field with their inventions. Today, electrical engineering is present almost everywhere around us.
Did you know that every time you use any electronic device, a lot of hard work of an electrical engineer stands behind it? You use your smartphone, computer or heat your meal in the microwave – all those things were made possible with the help of the ingenious minds of electrical engineers.
So, if while you were growing up, you were that kid that always wanted to fix things and were (and probably still are) curious how everything works, from television sets to computers, or even cars, then maybe you should consider a degree in electrical engineering.
In this article you will learn about:
- A few of the responsibilities of an electrical engineer
- What degrees in electrical engineering to choose in the USA?
- A list of universities and colleges providing electrical engineering studies
- Reasons to study electrical engineering in the States
- Career opportunities after graduation
- Innovations by electrical engineers
What do electrical engineers do?
Electrical engineering is that field of study that deals with the design, development, testing and the supervision of the whole process of manufacturing electrical equipment, devices or systems such as electric motors, navigation and communications systems, power generation equipment and more.
Steps in building an electrical device:
- Establish what is the new device/system meant to do.
- Design all the components of the electronics, usually with the help of a computer.
- Create a prototype, then test it and fix eventual bugs.
However, the work of an electrical engineer involves a lot more than sitting in a lab and testing devices all day long. Often times, electrical engineers work in a team, they keep contact with clients and certain sub-fields of engineering (power generation) include plenty of outdoor activities.
Undergraduate degrees in electrical engineering
First things first. Before you become an electrical engineer, you need to get the right undergraduate degree. So look for a college that offers studies in electrical engineering. If you’re a high-school graduate and consider electrical engineering as a major, you’d better have strong knowledge of math and physics, as this field relies heavily on these subjects. An electrical engineering study in the U.S. involves a four-years Bachelor’s degree, split as follows:
- In your first two years of study, you will study a lot of math and sciences, combined with several hours of lab work.
- In the final two years, you will attend courses in electrical engineering that will mark the beginning of your specialization in the field.
You can also complete your education faster with an associate degree that usually lasts around two years and provides enough training to begin an entry-level engineering job in the States or abroad. Although some of them integrate a vocational emphasis, associate degrees in electrical engineering don’t focus on a specialty, they simply offer a basic understanding of electrical engineering mechanics, circuitry, and industrial systems.
Check this list of top U.S. colleges providing electrical and electronic engineering degrees (with their rank in prestigious international rankings by QS, Times Higher Education, and Shanghai Jiao Tong University):
- Harvard University – ranked 9 in QS
- University of Pennsylvania – top 100 in QS
- Johns Hopkins University – top 20 THE
- George Mason University – top 350 THE
- University of Vermont – top 400 THE
- Oregon State University – top 200 Shanghai
- Colorado State University – top 300 Shanghai
Why study electrical engineering in the USA?
Deciding to study electrical engineering (in fact any engineering field) in the U.S. will most likely prove to be beneficial, both in terms of academic offerings as well as regarding your future career.
Here are just some of the main reasons why you should put the U.S. on the top of your list that contains study abroad destinations with the best engineering schools in the world.
- USA covers 346 universities approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the national organization that ensures standard competence among engineering colleges.
- United States is a world leader in most areas of engineering and technology, including research in both of these fields. As an engineering student in U.S., you will have access to the most advanced technology resources and might even get the chance to meet and work along with leading professionals in the electrical engineering field. Some of the current students enroled in electrical engineering undergraduate programs work with NASA Research Centre.
- You can help develop some of the greatest inventions that will dominate our future, like a flying car. If you think that it’s too far in the future, some U.S. companies have already started their research in this department.
Fantastic engineering career opportunities
Like in any engineering field, graduates of electrical engineering degrees that have the chance to secure high paying jobs. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics for the United States Department of Labour, the average annual income of an electrical engineer ranges between 50,000 and 100,000 USD. Whether you decide to stay in the U.S. after you finish your studies and embrace a career here or you would rather work elsewhere abroad, the international job market is very promising and full of offers. Just keep in mind that both career opportunities and salary will increase if you will continue your education and pursue a graduate degree in engineering.
The impact of electrical engineering graduates in the U.S.
An electrical engineer can work in plenty of engineering industries: aerospace, automotive, consumer goods, electronics, power generation, utilities and more.
The work of electrical engineering inevitably contributes and helps other fields of engineering. For example, one of the recent accomplishments in electrical engineering is a step forward in the integration of renewable energy sources. Certain electrical power systems simultaneously accept power from a variety of energy sources and converts them for use in the electricity supply network. You might be the next person that makes a ground-breaking discovery in this field or invent a device that will mark our lives in the future, like a smart plate/bowl that will display the number of calories the meal contains or something similar.
In conclusion, if you would like to continue the work of all electrical engineers before you and help millions of people on a day to day basis, with creating all the electrical components of consumer goods, computer systems, power plants and so on, start your engine and contact a U.S. college to enrol in a Bachelor degree in electrical engineering.