Electrical and electronic engineering are two related disciplines, but with important differences in focus. Electrical engineering involves large-scale electrical systems such as power transmission and motor control. They create and design products using scientific principles combined with natural curiosity, problem solving and innovation.
On the other hand electronic engineering is generally smaller in scale, involving the precision designing of electronic circuits that use components such as resistors, capacitors, inductors, diodes and transistors.
Electrical engineers can find themselves working on the design and construction of power lines, in the control and management of power stations, or in the design and installation of electrical systems and machinery, such as transformers, electric motors and power electronics.
Electronic engineers work with electrical and electronic appliances and equipment. Many of the key innovations of the modern era have involved electronic engineers at some stage in their design and production, including new household equipment, innovations in mobile phones, getting more functionality into a laptop or more image quality from digital cameras.
A qualification in electrical or electronic engineering is in demand in many parts of the economy, major infrastructure such as energy or telecommunications networks require electrical and electronic engineers, similarly if you are interested in cars or aeroplanes there will be opportunities in automotive or aerospace manufacturing. Other paths include construction or working in research and development, where you would be working on creating novel electronic devices.
The work involved in electrical & electronic engineering isn’t just done by engineers, electricians, engineering technicians and production operatives all perform vital roles. For those interested in the field, training as an engineering technician or an apprenticeship in electrical instrumentation or in the work of an electrician are alternative paths you could peruse.
With over 400 engineering courses offered across undergraduate and postgraduate level, there are no shortage of entry routes to a career in engineering. Most of these courses focus on a specific field of engineering and at postgraduate level the degree of specialisation becomes greater. If you’re set on a field there is likely to be a course that will allow you to study it from the outset, but many undergraduate engineering programs offer a general entry option, allowing students to study a range of topics and make a decision on their area of focus later, with the benefit of direct experience.