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Electrical Engineering is a broad term, what are some of the jobs you work, and what do those jobs entail?


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Seth’s Answer

I had the same exact same question early on in my college career. The introductory electrical circuits class fascinated me and knew I wanted to take a deeper dive into the world of electricity. Fortunately, I found my way to the power and energy discipline of electrical engineering.

I currently work as a Protection and Control Engineer for an electric utility company. As you can imagine, a lot has to happen to deliver the electricity you use in your home from a power plant in a remote part of the state. In my job, I design schemes to protect the transmission lines and substation equipment when fault events happen (lightning strikes and storms, vegetation/wildlife, vehicle accidents, etc.). While it might be inconvenient to lose power, it is often necessary to protect the system as a whole to prevent larger, more-widespread blackouts when these abnormal fault events happen.

To succeed, I need to maintain a thorough understanding of three-phase power and how all the lines, motors, transformers, customer load, capacitor banks, etc., affect the flow throughout the system. As with most engineering jobs, detail-oriented behavior is a must and you often are managing multiple projects at once.

Prior to my time in Protection and Control, I worked as a Distribution Field Engineer designing the infrastructure needed to serve residential, commercial, and industrial customers. I met with builders and developers to determine their electrical power needs and would determine the most efficient way to use the existing distribution network to serve the new development.

It has been extremely satisfying learning about a system that we all use every day, but don't seem to notice as we walk/drive by. It'll make your road trips more interesting because you'll constantly be looking up at the wood, concrete, and steel poles supporting the power lines.

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Todd’s Answer

Gabriel,

I can only answer this from the limited perspective of a consulting electrical engineer. Only about 10% of double E graduates go into consulting. A consulting engineer is one who designs buildings or other construction projects. We produce blueprints and specifications which are called "construction documents." Contractors bid work based upon what your construction documents call for.

Now, within the realm of consulting electrical engineers, there is also a fair amount of variety. You might specialize in health care such that you design hospitals, clinics, OR's, or doctor offices. Perhaps you specialize in the design of data centers, office buildings, restaurants, schools, multifamily housing, places of worship, roadways, shopping centers, zoos, parking structures, etc. The list is nearly endless and this is just within the realm of consulting electrical engineers.

Go outside of this 10% and you'll find those that design consumer products, computers, cars, aircraft, trains, appliances, etc and once again you run into a nearly bottomless list of varieties. As a consulting engineer, I've been to so many states! Seen so many cities! Been inside of some of the most amazing structures! I'm sure that the other types of electrical engineers could relate similar feelings of satisfaction of a job well done. Get out there, talk to working professionals, and hear what they have to say. When you find something that you find alluring, then look deeper and you'll likely find a spot that you'd like to fit into.


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