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Electrical Engineering Jobs and Careers - Ask an Engineer | Part 2


Welcome to the second part of asking engineering jobs, where we talk more about the jobs and career opportunities for electrical engineers. With that, let's get back into it.

Where are electrical engineering jobs in highest demand?

I have zero clue. No idea. Moving on.

Who are the coolest electrical engineers out there today?

After me? It's a pretty short list. I'm just kidding. It's kind of interesting, because it does seem like there was this period of time where you look back and it seems like they were the the cool, awesome engineers. You've got Tesla, and a lot of people like Edison for some reason, and then you have Ohm, Volta, I mean, you've got all of these people - Faraday - that came up with what our entire careers are based on. They created the foundation that we in college are just barely getting into the 20th century in terms of the technology by the time we graduate.

Because they've done all of this groundbreaking, fantastic work but right now, I don't really know any particular electrical engineers that would be considered the rock stars of the time. Lady Ada. And maybe I just need to... see, this is why I need more time to think about these questions. Because there is Lady Ada, she is awesome and then SparkFun. I mean, basically everybody at SparkFun - I have the highest respect - those guys are awesome. Let's see, already mentioned Arduino. Yeah, there's just a lot of really cool people out there, but people that 50 years from now we're going to be remember? I have no clue. Okay, moving on.

Can I have a Tesla?

I don't know. Does that mean that... Can *I* have a Tesla? Or is the guys who put this slide together asking if they can have a Tesla? Yes, you can. I think they're about $35,000. Go for it.

What kind of liabilities do you have as an electrical engineer working on products?

Oh, that's an interesting question. So, if you're going to be stamping a set of plans, something like that, you're saying you certify that this is going to work, you're not gonna have any fires, you're not going to have nuisance tripping, you're not going to have any other issues like that. And so as a professional licensed engineer, if you stamp something, you can definitely be sued. If somebody else can come back and say, "You screwed up, you were negligent. This is your fault." And you can be in a huge amount of trouble.

Now for non-licensed electrical engineers that are just working on a product and they put it out into the market, I made a Gizmo, Gizmo 2.0, and I sell it that that's a little bit more of a gray area, I believe it depends on if you send it out there and it starts killing people, you're probably going to be criminally in trouble. If it's specifically your fault. If it just doesn't work, then you will probably be financially in trouble. Are you working for a company? Then you probably have a buffer where the company is going to be really angry with you and you're going to get fired, but then they're the ones that are going to get sued instead of you. So that's very much a legal question and when I got my MBA, I did take a class on legal system legal stuff. So that makes me an expert in all things legal. I basically should have gotten my attorney juris doctorate, but I didn't. Just kidding.

Yeah, I don't know. That's something where we have lawyers who have been doing this for decades. And if you are creating a product where there is some reason to have a concern. Well, first of all, address that concern, figure out why you're having that concern and fix it. And second of all, go to a lawyer and say, "Hey, this should work. We're doing everything we can, but just in case, what are our liabilities? What can we do to reduce those liabilities?" And they'll probably take the route of, "Oh, well stick 40 billion warnings on it, and then you'll be totally fine." Okay, next question.

Can an electrical engineering certification work anywhere in the world?

So, this is a bit weird in terms of language. Certification. I don't know what that means. If that's a degree, well, kind of anywhere. Somebody can say well, you went to ITT and I don't trust it. And I know they're defunct, but before they went out, there wasn't a whole lot of respect for ITT graduates. So even though you could have had a degree from there, some people say, sorry, that's not good enough. But that's more of a personal opinion. And the accreditation program makes it so most colleges, when you get a degree, they're accredited. And most everybody will say, Oh, you got a degree from there. Great.

Now, if that certification means licensing that professional engineer license, that PE license, then no, no definitely does not go anywhere in the world. I'm licensed in California because I was stationed out of California when I got my license. And I didn't know what I was going to do when I got out of the Navy. And so it was just easy to do that. But I could, now being in Idaho say, "I have my license in California. Can I also get my license here?" And there's the steps you take. And they say basically, "Yes, we recognize your license there. We recognize that and now that you've done the application here, you can get your license here."

Any paperwork - I can't stamp anything outside of the state of California legally because that is the only state I'm licensed in. So you take that to another country, and it's even less useful. Moving on.

Architects are to civil engineers as ____ are to electrical engineers.

So architects are to civil engineers, as I would want to say, Johnny Ives?? is to electrical engineers. The designers working here, we have a couple, as I mentioned, there's a couple of designers here at CircuitBread, in some of the products that we've run by we have as the electrical engineer said, "Hey, these are the features. This is the system that we're developing with the sensors and everything." And then the designers say, "Hey, how about you make it look pretty by doing these different things." And it should be designer first and then we come back in and make those functions work.

So architects and designers, and they have a way of looking at the world. It's beautiful and functional, that as engineers, we typically just are thinking utilitarian and still functional. But maybe not as easily functional as most people would like it to be. So moving on.

Can an electrical engineer become an electrician?

Yes, an electrician can become an electrical engineer, just like a car mechanic can become an electrician or an electrical engineer. Anybody can become anything they want. It's great. An electrical engineer becoming an electrician is probably going to be an easy transition. Because you already understand the basic principles of power and voltage and current and all those sorts of things. And it's going to be a lot more about learning the rules and regulations. So it's probably going to be more rote memorization.

Actually, a good friend of mine in college, he was an electrician before he became an electrical engineer. And he had a lot of practical experience and a lot of practical knowledge. So either way, you're going to have a head start if you're going one direction or the other. Moving on.

Can an electrical engineer become a software engineer?

Kind of, yeah. I mean, again, it goes back to you can do whatever you want. It just is going to require more time but an electrical engineer depending on what Your focuses, it might be that first step to becoming a software engineer. So if you do embedded systems, a lot of times you're going to be writing firmware for your microcontrollers. And if you start writing that firmware and you start getting more and more in depth as you get more complicated firmware, start dealing with RTOSes and start dealing with just all sorts of crazy stuff, then that's going to get you better prepared to become a software engineer.

Now, if you don't do that, then there's not going to be any benefit of going into software engineering. And basically, all the embedded system stuff I do is pretty low level. I don't do a lot of recursive programs. I don't do anything that you wouldn't learn about in your first or second semester of a software class in college. And so even for me, if I were to become a software engineer, it would be, it'd be a challenge, I would have a lot to learn. But again, if you've been doing firmware for years and you've gotten really good at it, then that's going to give you a good step up into becoming a software engineer.

What does Electrical Engineer 1 mean?

That I'm assuming is a job title and, as a job title, it depends on the company. I just got out of college, I need a job, okay? We're not going to trust you to make very important decisions. You can be an electrical engineer one, once you get better you can become two, three and then four and then you can go into management or are you going to become a senior engineer in terms of becoming really awesome at what you do? Electrical engineer one typically, and very much take this with a grain of salt, typically means an entry level electrical engineering position at a large enough firm that they use this sort of generic designation. Moving on.

What's an electrical engineer technician?

The technician means that you don't get as much training in the theory and you get a lot more training in the practicality. So an electrical engineer is much more likely to look at a circuit and know why it's acting, the way it's working. Whereas an engineering technician is much more likely to be adept at putting together that circuit and getting it to work. And that, again, is a huge generalization. But that is, typically, the difference between an electrical engineer and electrical engineering technician - the theoretical versus the practical. Moving on.

How much of electrical engineering will become automated?

That is a good question. I don't think very much, frankly. Computers are great at crunching numbers, and so I think that as computers get better, and we get more advanced AI and stuff like that, we're going to have a lot more tools at our disposal. But until they can create a computer, or some sort of artificial intelligence that can make intuitive leaps, that can make jumps from one point to another for problem solving, then I think that electrical engineers were pretty much okay, we're not going to be into competition with robots. I really don't anticipate this being a problem, not for the near future anyway. Give it 20-30 years. We'll see what happens. Moving on.

How might electrical engineering jobs change in the future?

What's the next frontier? Now, this is just my opinion, but I think that electrical engineering jobs are just going to become more specialized. And there's also going to be more of a variety. So it's going to be, not only something where there's more different types of jobs, but there's also jobs that are very, very specific. Where you're going to have somebody who spends 30-40 years of their life, optimizing the drive train in electric vehicles. And then you'll have other people that all they're going to be doing is focusing on the containment system of fusion reactors, things like that.

Ten years ago, they weren't jobs at all probably. I bet on ITER, you'd have some people that were working on the containment systems, but it's one of those things where ideally in terms of the robotics idea is that anybody that is going to be replaced by a robot, they can then go get a job and they can become the technician that is fixing that robot or they can become the engineer that's designing the next iteration of that robot. And so that's where hopefully, we're going to get more electrical engineering jobs and make it so people are doing less tedious work, and doing much more interesting and fulfilling work.

But I don't know exactly how it's going to turn out. Maybe people don't want to design robots. I think they're weird, but they're out there. We'll see what happens and see exactly where it goes. Moving on.

What would be the coolest project / product for you to work on?

I like embedded systems, microcontrollers, low level electronics. I think that's just awesome. Something about having the tangible product in your hand and being able to see all those parts and I find soldering to be very therapeutic. It's something where you can't do it with shaky hands.

I think for me, the coolest project would be something that combines different things that I enjoy into my electronics. And we've actually talked about this in the past, and we've worked on it quite a bit, a small product for people to go out backpacking. And we're in Idaho, we're based out of Boise, and there's some really cool mountains around here. We love to go hiking, we love to go camping, we love to go backpacking, all of these different things.

So if I could work on a product that combines my passion for electronics, and my enjoyment of being outside and being able to wander around in the mountains, that would be the coolest project for me to work on it.

So that's all the questions that I have. I hope that this was helpful and informative for anybody that's considering electrical engineering as a job and the different possibilities that there are out there. Unfortunately, again, there are just so many different opportunities and so many things out there, that it's hard to describe it, it's hard to boil it down into something that's only a couple minute long dialogue here. So honestly, I said, unfortunately, but that's great, because there's so many opportunities for people out there and so many things that you want to do. Because if you have that passion, and you have that commitment, you're going to be able to do exactly what you. And you're going to have a fantastic and awesome career doing amazing things in the electrical engineering field. So if you have any more questions or have any comments please leave them in the comments below or on our Youtube channel. Again, hope you enjoyed this! See you in the next one!

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