Electrical Engineering Specializations

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Biomedical Engineering

At the intersection between healthcare and technology rests electrical engineering with a biomedical focus. Electrical engineers who specialize in biomedical technology are responsible for developing the technology needed for efficient, accurate, and effective healthcare, including instrumentation technology, diagnostic technology, bio-instrumentation and informatics, biometric data and readout system, signal & image analysis, computing devices, display devices, and more.

University of Illinois

Many electrical engineering programs offer a biomedical specialization at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels, much like the University of Illinois. There are several sub-specializations within this track, so the courses that electrical engineering students take throughout their education vary but include a core set of electrical and computer engineering courses followed by subspecialty courses.

The university offers several programs such as an MEng in bioengineering (available online as well as on-campus), an MS in bioengineering, and a Ph.D. in bioengineering.

The MEng program comprises 32 credits including courses in biological measurement, innovation & introduction to financial decision making, managing business operations, and seminars in bioinstrumentation. The MS program includes courses such as computational bioengineering, analytical methods in bioengineering, bioengineering professionalism, and biomedical computed imaging systems, among others.

For admission to the MEng program, students will require at least a bachelor’s degree in science, engineering, or related discipline, a minimum grade point average of 3.0, and proof of English language proficiency for international students.

  • Location: Urbana, IL
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Residents ($18,998); Nonresidents ($36,150); Online students ($1110 per credit)

While there are no official certifications in biomedical engineering, those hoping to practice independently or be a principal engineer in research can become professional engineers (PEs) by taking the National Council of Examiners for Engineering (NCEES) PE exam in electrical and computer engineering.

Careers for electrical engineers with a biomedical focus include those in research and development, analysis, field service engineering, validation engineering, and consulting.

Communications Engineering

Electrical engineers who specialize in communications are responsible for determining how to transfer data at high speeds. Electrical engineers with a specialty in communications can work with wired and wireless telephone systems, satellite systems, email, internet, and broadband technology, and more.

Electrical engineering students hoping to specialize in communications can find a variety of programs available at all academic levels, both on-campus and online. Some programs offer communications as a specialization or concentration of an electrical engineering degree, while others offer telecommunications as a part of the degree title (e.g., Drexel University).

Drexel University

Drexel University offers a master of science in electrical and telecommunications engineering degree program preparing students to contribute to advances in this rapidly changing field of telecommunications.

Admission requirements include a four-year bachelor’s degree in a STEM or related field from an accredited institution in the US or an equivalent international institution, a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, a completed graduate admission application, official transcripts, a 500 words essay, a current resume, two letters of recommendation, and TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE scores for international applicants.

Generally, students earning a master’s level degree in telecommunications engineering take core courses in electrical engineering and electrical computer engineering, and then complete elective coursework focused specifically on communications engineering. Comprising 45 credits, the program includes coursework in fundamentals of communications engineering, physical foundations of telecommunications networks, physical principles of electrical engineering, principles of data analysis, and research in telecommunications.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,342 per credit

In addition to becoming a PE in electrical engineering, telecommunications engineers can find a wide variety of telecommunications certifications available. Some certifications are based on specific companies or technologies, while others are general telecommunications engineering certifications. Examples of telecommunications engineering certifications can be found on the following websites:

Telecommunications engineers can find careers working with telecommunication service providers, communications software developers, governmental agencies, public center agencies, equipment manufacturers, infrastructure manufacturers, and transportation organizations.

Computations, Data & Informatics

A highly multidisciplinary specialty of electrical engineering, those pursuing work in computations, data, and informatics work to use the power of computers to collect and analyze large amounts of data and information in an attempt to understand real-life phenomena and engineer their solutions. Electrical engineers with a focus on computations, data, and informatics work with advanced-level computers to create algorithms, modeling software, and more.

Those hoping to pursue higher education in computations, data, and informatics can find bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and post-graduate certificate programs available. Some programs have a specific focus on computations, data, or informatics, while others provide an educational blend of all three.

Some universities also offer a degree in electrical engineering with a choice to focus on these disciplines as a subspecialty, while others (e.g., City College of New York) offer degrees where electrical and data, computational, and informatics are in the title of the degree.

City College of New York

City College of New York’s master's degree in data science and engineering provides students with a strong foundation in core engineering and data science skills, which allows them to apply, analyze, visualize, and process computational statistics and machine learning to problems in science, engineering, and other related disciplines.

The major admission requirements include a bachelor's degree in mathematics, science, or engineering from an accredited institution of higher education with a minimum GPA of 3.0, two letters of recommendation, and TOEFL or IELTS test scores for students who have earned their baccalaureate degrees from non-English-speaking countries. GRE scores are optional.

The program is made up of 30 credits. Examples of coursework include an introduction to data science, applied statistics, applied machine learning & data mining, big data & scalable computation, computer graphics, advanced algorithms, image processing, and introduction to robotics.

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 18 to 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $945 per credit

Because computations, data, and informatics make up such a multidisciplinary field, electrical engineers with one of these specialties can pursue a range of professional certifications. Examples of certifications can be found at the Data Science Council of America (DASCA), the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), and IBM.

Those pursuing a career in electrical engineering with a focus in computations, data, and informatics can work in virtually any industry that uses big data to make decisions, including healthcare, space, transportation, logistics, government, and more.

Energy & Power

Electrical engineers who specialize in energy and power are responsible for determining how to make power and energy systems efficient, effective, and environmentally responsible. Concerned with the generation, transmission, and distribution of electric power, energy and power engineers can work with devices, processes, and analysis and the design of systems, technologies, and infrastructure.

Similar to other electrical engineering disciplines, power & energy tracks can be found at the graduate and undergraduate levels. Programs are offered online, on-campus, or as a hybrid. Some programs offer power and energy as a subspecialty of an electrical engineering degree, while other institutions offer energy-specific titles like the master of science in energy systems (e.g., Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering at Clarkson University).

Clarkson University

Wallace H. Coulter School of Engineering at Clarkson University offers a master of science degree in energy systems enabling students to integrate electrical or mechanical energy-related courses, electrical and mechanical fundamental discipline courses, and non-technical courses regarding the impact of economic, regulatory, and environmental issues on energy. The faculty of the program includes accomplished researchers, industry practitioners, and educators.

To get accepted into the program, applicants must have a bachelor of science degree in engineering, physics, or equivalent field, a completed online application form, a current resume, a statement of purpose, two letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and an English proficiency test for international applicants.

The program requires a total of eleven courses. Sample some of the coursework: fuel cell science and hydrogen engineering, photovoltaic engineering, linear control systems, turbine engineering, wind energy engineering, solar energy engineering, synchronous electrical generators, and nuclear engineering, among others.

  • Location: Schenectady, NY
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: Full-time (18 to 24 months); Part-time (30 to 36 months)
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,488 per credit

While a certification is not required to work as an energy and power engineer, there are many certifications available for those wishing to establish professional competence, and connect to a network of highly skilled energy and power professionals.

The Association of Energy Engineers provides a large list of energy-related certifications available to power and energy engineers. Careers for energy and power engineers can be found in any field concerned with power systems, including storage, renewables, transportation, conservation, and more.

Nanoengineering & Microengineering

Nanoengineers and micro-engineers work to create power solutions at the size of 0.1 to 100 nanometers. Studying and applying knowledge of phenomena, processes, and materials at the nanoscale involves learning both inside and outside the standard electrical engineering canon. With disciplinary overlap with physics, chemistry, materials science, and biology, electrical engineers who focus on nano- or micro-technology can apply their knowledge to almost any industry.

Programs in electrical engineering with a nanotechnology focus exist at all levels of higher education, though nanotechnology at the bachelor’s level is still limited. Degrees in electrical engineering with a concentration in nanotechnology are available in on-campus, hybrid, and online formats. Some programs offer a broad concentration in nanotechnology, while other programs offer a specific realm of nanotechnology. University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science has an MS in electrical engineering focusing on physical devices & nanosystems.

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania’s M.S.E. program in electrical engineering provides students with the theoretical foundation and the interdisciplinary skills required for dealing with the new ideas and applications that are the hallmarks of modern electro science.

The program’s focus on physical devices & nanosystems requires successful completion of 10-course units. The curriculum includes courses such as electromagnetic & optical theory, nanoscale science & engineering, nanofabrication & nano-characterization, principles & practice of microfabrication technology, photovoltaic systems engineering, and quantum engineering.

Applicants for this program must have obtained a bachelor’s degree from an accredited school or university. Application requirements include a current resume, a compelled application, a personal statement, two official letters of recommendation, one transcript from each university or college attended, and TOEFL or IELTS scores for international students. GRE scores are optional.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 to 24 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $7,884 per course-unit

Because of the novelty of the field, there is no specific PE exam for nanotechnology yet. Due to the broad range of applications, those hoping to work as a PE can take a PE exam in the engineering field most closely related to the field in which the engineer is working. Those pursuing nanotechnology can find themselves in various careers, including application engineering, research and development, product marketing, sales, and program management.

Systems & Control Engineering

Electrical engineers who concentrate on systems and control, design complex systems that have both human and non-human inputs to ensure that they work predictably and efficiently. Another multidisciplinary engineering specialization, systems and control engineers are generalists who can work from a big-picture perspective to bring together the work output of differentiated engineers.

Electrical engineers who pursue systems and control can work anywhere where there are large, complex systems to be analyzed and optimized including biological systems, industrial systems, environmental systems, transportation systems, computer systems, and more.

Students can pursue concentrations in systems and control at all levels of higher education both online and on-campus. While some programs offer systems and control as a specialization of electrical engineering, other programs (e.g., Case Western Reserve University) offer a degree specifically in systems and control engineering.

Case Western Reserve University

Case Western Reserve University offers an online master of science in systems & control engineering preparing students for rewarding careers in multiple engineering fields. The program features multidisciplinary research and coursework in design, control, and systems analysis. Blending research with practical applications, this user-friendly online program enables students to connect with professors and classmates instantly.

For admission to the program, students require a bachelor’s degree, transcripts, a current resume, two letters of recommendation, and proof of English proficiency for international applicants.

The program’s structure requires students to complete 30 credits featuring coursework in leadership and interpersonal skills, digital signal processing, engineering economics & financial analysis, introduction to linear systems, digital control systems, advanced engineering analysis, and convex optimization for engineering.

  • Location: Cleveland, OH
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Expected Time to Completion: 18 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $39,000

For those hoping to attain status as a PE, there is an NCEES PE exam specifically in control systems engineering. Those hoping to increase credibility, expand their networks, or become more competitive in the job market can seek certification in systems and control engineering from the International Council on Systems Engineering (INCOSE). Control engineers can find careers in a vast array of industries including energy and power, utilities, manufacturing, healthcare, information tech, and transportation, among others.

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