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Electrical and Computer Engineering

What is an Electrical Engineer?

Electrical engineering is the historical name for what is now called electrical, electronics, and computer engineering. Originating in the 19th century with the development of electric power and the advent of telephone and wireless communications, electrical engineering continues to have lasting impact not only on technology and the engineering profession, but on all of society. Recent advances such as integrated computing and communications systems and the proliferation of microchips and microelectronic hardware have revolutionized the ways we live and work, as well as how we interact as a society and how we spend our leisure time.

Electrical engineering is a profession that uses science, technology, and problem-solving skills to design, construct, and maintain products, services, and information system. Electrical engineers design and develop new technologies to generate, store, transmit, control and convert energy and information. They design new products, write performance requirements, and develop maintenance schedules. They also test equipment, solve operating problems, and estimate the time and cost of engineering projects. Electrical engineers may work in design, research and development, production or management positions at government agencies or private corporations where they may specialize in:

  • Microprocessors and microcomputers
  • Computer engineering
  • Analog and digital electronics, optoelectronics
  • Measurements, instrumentation, remote sensing
  • Microelectronic design and fabrication
  • Control systems, robotics, automation
  • Communications systems, signal processing
  • Microwaves, radar technologies, antennas
  • Power generation, transmission, and distribution

Why Become an Electrical Engineer?

According to the U. S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, electrical and electronics engineering graduates should have favorable employment opportunities. The number of job openings resulting from employment growth and the need to replace electrical engineers who transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force is expected to be in rough balance with the supply of graduates. Demand for electrical and electronic goods, including advanced communications equipment, defense-related electronic equipment, and consumer electronics products should increase.

Results of a 2003 salary survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, indicated that bachelor’s degree candidates in electrical/electronics and communications engineering received starting offers averaging $49,794 a year; master’s degree candidates averaged $64,556; and Ph.D. candidates averaged $74,283.

In addition to a relatively stable job market and financial reward, electrical engineers have the gratification that comes from working to meet the needs of society. There is no limit to the personal satisfaction gained from helping make our world a better place to live.

Who Hires Electrical Engineers?

The Occupational Outlook Handbook indicates that electrical engineers held about 292,000 jobs in 2002, making it the largest branch of engineering. The majority of jobs were in professional, scientific, and technical services firms, government agencies, and manufacturers of computer and electronic products and machinery. Wholesale trade, communications, and utilities firms accounted for many of the remaining jobs.

If you looked at a list of organizations with electrical engineers in prominent positions, it would be long and would include names such as:

A background in electrical engineering can lead to diverse positions, including:

  • Design Engineer
  • Project Engineer
  • Engineering Specialist
  • Chief Engineer
  • Software Engineer
  • Development Engineer
  • Reliability Engineer
  • Research Engineer
  • Systems Design Engineer
  • Field Engineer
  • Test Engineer
  • Sales Engineer

Electrical Engineering at Speed School

The electrical engineering curriculum is an integrated five-year program, with a cooperative education component, culminating in a Master of Engineering degree. Both the Bachelor of Science and the Master of Engineering degrees are accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, http://www.abet.org.

As freshmen and sophomores, students develop a solid foundation in engineering principles along with a background in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Courses include mathematics, physics, network analysis, and logic design. Laboratory facilities and three semesters of on-the-job learning through the Cooperative Education Program provide hands-on experience.

At the junior/senior level, students may focus upon a sub-specialty of electrical engineering. In consultation with an academic advisor, they can choose a sequence of courses from one of the following tracks:

  • Communications
  • Computer Engineering
  • Computer Vision and Image Processing
  • Control Systems
  • Lasers and Optics
  • Linear Electronics

Upperclassmen may also participate in cutting edge research in neural networks, image processing, optoelectronics, microelectronics, etc. Students have an opportunity to socialize with classmates and faculty, network with practicing electrical engineers, tour industrial sites, and participate in professional meetings through involvement in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Student Branch.

Department Highlights

  • Fifteen faculty, including nationally and internationally recognized teachers and researchers.
  • Specialized undergraduate and graduate research laboratories including:
    • Class 100 microfabrication cleanroom
    • Computer vision and image processing lab
    • Very large-scale integrated circuit design lab
    • Microcomputer and computer interfacing lab
    • Active network design lab

For Additional Information

J. B. Speed School of Engineering
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292

Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
W. S. Speed Hall
University of Louisville
Visit department website
Phone: (502) 852-6289 or 852-7517
Email: Jane Tanner

Office of Admissions
Phone: (502) 852-4672
Email: speed@louisville.edu

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