Electrical engineers work to improve our lives through technology ranging from the smallest conveniences to the biggest challenges in energy, health, safety, and even space exploration. From consumer technologies such as cell phones, computers, and smart cars to industrial technologies such as aerospace guidance systems, robotics, optics, telecommunications, medical instruments, manufacturing, and power distribution, electrical engineers work at the forefront of technological innovation to design and improve electrical and electronic systems, devices, and instruments.
As an electrical engineer, you could develop components for some of the most fun things in our lives (MP3 players, digital cameras, or roller coasters) as well as the most essential (medical tests or communications systems). The largest of the engineering fields, electrical engineering ranges from the macro to the micro: from huge power grids that light up cities to devices smaller than a millimeter that tell a car’s airbags when to inflate.
Curious about the classes you'll take as an electrical engineering major? Have a look at the sample undergraduate curriculum.
At CU-Boulder, electrical engineering students receive a solid foundation in the fundamentals of the field, and then specialize their major through elective courses related to their particular interests. Areas of specialization include electromagnetics and wave propagation, optoelectronics, digital signal processing and communications, power electronics, solid-state materials and devices, controls, and computer engineering. Curricular options in biomedical engineering and renewable energy and power electronics also are available.
Electrical engineering undergraduates gain hands-on experience through extensive laboratory components within the curriculum as well as undergraduate research projects, Space Grant projects, service outreach projects such as Engineers without Borders, Earn-Learn apprenticeships, internships, and co-op positions in industry.
The department hosts the Colorado Power Electronics Center and the Center for Environmental Technology, as well as the following research groups: biomedical engineering, communications and signal processing, computer engineering, dynamics and controls, electromagnetics, RF and microwaves; nanostructures and devices, optics and photonics, power electronics and renewable energy systems, remote sensing, and VLSI/CAD.
CU electrical engineering graduates are employed at a wide range of companies and organizations, including Advanced Micro Devices, Agilent Technologies, Covidien, Lockheed Martin, National Instruments, Qualcomm, Seagate Technology, Xcel Energy, and the Federal Aviation Administration and U.S. Department of Commerce, to name just a few.
Many also choose to continue onto graduate school. About 20 percent of CU-Boulder engineering bachelor’s graduates (college-wide) continue onto graduate school, gaining admittance to top schools such as MIT, Princeton, Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, University of California Berkeley, and the University of Texas at Austin.
Electrical engineers are expected to have a slower than average growth rate with employment growth projected to be about 2 to 4 percent through 2018. No data is available yet on the new emphasis in energy. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The average salary nationally for an electrical engineering graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 2010 was $54,030; CU-Boulder graduates reported an average starting offer of $58,600.