Electrical engineers work to improve our lives, 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 and telecommunications, electrical engineers work at the forefront of technological innovation to design and improve electronic systems, devices and instruments.
As an electrical engineer, you could develop components for some of the most fun things in our lives (smartphones and roller coasters) to 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.
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 communication and signal processing; computer engineering; dynamics and controls; electromagnetics, RF and microwaves; nanostructures and devices; and optics and photonics. Electives in biomedical engineering, renewable energy and power electronics also are available.
Students gain hands-on lab experience right away in many core courses, Space Grant projects, service outreach projects such as Engineers without Borders, Earn-Learn apprenticeships, internships and co-op positions in industry.
Undergraduate students often work side-by-side with graduate students and faculty members in their labs. The department hosts the Colorado Power Electronics Center and the Center for Environmental Technology, as well as research groups in optics, nanostructures and bioengineering; communications and signal processing; computer engineering; dynamics and controls; electromagnetics, RF and microwaves; and power electronics and renewable energy systems.
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.
Employment of electrical and computer engineers is expected to remain steady through 2024 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).
The median salary nationally for an electrical engineering graduate with a bachelor’s degree in 2015 was $91,230 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Electrical engineers reported an average starting salary of $67,593 in 2015 (National Association of Colleges and Employers).