Electricity has played a role in society since before we even understood how to harness its power. The ancient Greeks used electrotherapy to treat chronic pain using the torpedo fish and wrote about static electricity, and 13th-century sailors the world over relied on magnet-based compasses.
But as we entered the 19th century, engineers truly began to harness the power of electricity through inventions such as dynamos and lightbulbs. And to this day, we are still enjoying all the ways electrical engineering has benefitted our society.
What Do Electrical Engineers Do?
The word “engineer” calls to mind images of designers of bridges and factory machinery. But the word “engineer” actually derives from the Latin word for “to devise” or “to contrive.” Along these lines, electrical engineers devise new electrical systems and electronic equipment.
A few specific things electrical engineers do include:
- Designing the electrical work in a building
- Inspecting preexisting electrical systems
- Overviewing the electrical work on machinery projects
- Helping develop innovations in energy
Electricity is a powerful and often dangerous force. Electrical engineers use their deep understanding of electricity to utilize its power in any scenario without harming those who are working with the machinery or system.
How Electrical Engineering Has Benefitted Society
Commercial and Residential Power
Electrical engineering has benefitted society most obviously through all the ways that we use electricity in our homes or business. Any time you use electricity, you can be sure that an electrical engineer was involved in the process of designing, testing, or constructing the system or device that uses the machinery.
This includes but is not limited to:
- Electronics and computers
- Heating and cooling systems
- Water heaters
- Kitchen appliances
Along with managing individual electric devices, electrical engineers are equipped to design the electrical work that powers them. This includes the wiring in a building, as well as the generators, solar panels, or wind turbines that create the electricity that goes to a building.
Ever since the days of the telegram, electricity has played a key role in communications. And as our systems of communication have become more powerful, the technology needed to make them possible has become more complex. This has increased the need for experienced and talented electrical engineers.
Electrical engineers help keep us connected by:
- Developing new phone technology
- Designing and maintaining cell phone towers
- Helping build radio, cell phone, and internet towers
- Creating equipment for use at television and radio stations
- Contributing to satellite technology
The role of electrical engineers will continue to become more important as the available avenues for communication continue to grow and the current avenues continue to develop further.
When we think of the forces that power the vehicles we use every day, our first thought is often fossil fuels and the like. However, electricity plays an important role in almost all motorized vehicles. For instance, a car’s starter, alternator, lights, and air conditioning all require electrical engineering.
Electrical engineers have also been instrumental in developing vehicles that don’t rely on fossil fuels, such as electric and hybrid cars. These vehicles help the individual consumer save money. More significantly, they help reduce emissions, which can help reduce pollution and smog in communities.
Beyond the vehicles themselves, electrical engineers help support the travel industry by creating devices that improve our ability to travel. As mentioned, electrical engineers are at work when aerospace technicians build satellites; these satellites are essential for global positioning devices. Air navigation tools, such as flight management systems, are also the work of electrical engineers.
Computer technology and electrical engineering go hand in hand to the point they are often taught concurrently in college programs. Electrical engineers are the ones creating the electronic components that go into a computer, from the hard drive to the wiring.
With computers being used for everything from work to entertainment, it’s no secret that this technology has impacted society. However, we often fail to appreciate the many ways in which computer technology has changed how we interact with the world, such as:
- Sharing and storing information
- Increasing our capacity for communication
- Building automated manufacturing systems like CNC machines
- Creating 3D printers
- Increasing the ability to monitor weather patterns
- Creating computer animation and digital art
There is a myriad of other advances that we can indirectly contribute to computers, thanks to the way they made research more efficient. Advances in medicine and scientific discoveries are primary examples of this.
Robotics tend to seem like the far-fetched tools used by sci-fi novel protagonists; it’s interesting technology that doesn’t have much bearing on everyday society. However, more and more, robots are making our lives easier and safer. And where there are robots, there are electrical engineers to make their technology possible.
Here are a few ways we see robots improve our lives:
- Handling hazardous and toxic materials
- Moving large or hard-to-carry loads
- Observing and recording hard-to-reach places via drones
- Increasing speed of manufacturing processes
- Deactivating bombs
With the vast amount of advanced machinery involved in military operations, it should be no surprise that electrical engineers play an important role in defense. On the military front, this includes designing and building equipment such as:
- Trucks and tanks
- Radars and tracking devices
- Communications equipment
Electrical engineers are equally important in civil defense. Electrical engineers help create the devices used to detect and monitor natural disasters, as well as equipment used to evacuate citizens from affected areas.
The Future of Electrical Engineering
Most industry professionals agree that electrical engineering will continue to be a significant part of our future as we turn to technology for solutions to our most pressing challenges. Electrical engineers are at the forefront of discovering new ways to utilize alternative energy sources, such as solar and wind power, and creating new technologies, such as AI and more advanced robotics.
Wherever the future of electrical engineering takes us, the team at Dreiym Engineering believes in continuing to take electrical engineering further. That’s why we employ experienced electrical engineering consultants to help you develop solutions to the electrical problems your home or business is facing.