As one of the fastest-growing engineering disciplines, electrical engineering covers a broad scope of tasks, from the development of plug-in hybrid cars to wind and solar power generation. An electrical engineer might maintain the wiring system in your office, but he might also fix the wiring on the space shuttle.
Here are five of electrical engineering’s more interesting sub-disciplines:
Signal Processing. An electrical engineer specializing in signal processing analyzes any digital or analog signal. She might develop voice-recognition software or design the display for a new digital camera.
Mechatronics. OK, so this isn’t technically a sub-discipline of electrical engineering, but a combination of several disciplines. It combines mechanical and electrical engineering with computer programming and software design, and is responsible for the creating of complex systems. Mechatronics experts built the Mars rovers; they also designed the anti-lock brakes on your car.
Instrumentation Engineering. An electrical engineer who works on measuring devices like thermometers, flow meters, and scales is an instrumentation engineer. These tools are often a single component in a greater system, so instrumentation engineers must be well-versed in a variety of engineering disciplines.
Telecommunications. All communications signals must go from one place to another, no matter what the medium. And whether those signals are going through fiber-optic cables, satellites or cellular towers, a telecommunications engineer is charged with the maintenance of those media.
Microelectronics. Electrical engineers working in this field develop, maintenance and manufacture of capacitors, diodes, resistors, transistors and other small components. Microelectronics engineers must be schooled in semiconductor technology, as well as materials science and chemistry.