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ENGINEERING AS A PROFESSION

 

Electrical and Electronics Engineering

Electrical and electronics engineering is the largest and most diverse field of engineering. It is concerned with the development and design, application, and manu­facture of systems and devices that use electric power and signals. Among the most important subjects in the field are electric power and machinery, electronic cir­cuits, control systems, computer design, superconduc­tors, solid-state electronics, medical imaging systems, robotics, lasers, radar, consumer electronics, and fibre optics.

Despite its diversity, electrical engineering can be di­vided into four main branches: electric power and ma­chinery, electronics, communications and control, and computers.

Electric Power and Machinery

The field of electric power is concerned with the de­sign and operation of systems for generating, transmit­ting, and distributing electric power Engineers in this field have brought about several important developments since the late 1970s. One of these is the ability to trans­mit power at extremely high voltages in both the direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) modes, reduc­ing power losses proportionately. Another is the real time control of power generation, transmission, and dis­tribution, using computers to analyze the data fed back from the power system to a central station and thereby optimizing the efficiency of the system while it is in op­eration.

A significant advance in the engineering of electric machinery has been the introduction of electronic con­trols that enable AC motors to run at variable speeds by adjusting the frequency of the current fed into them. DC motors have also been made to run more efficiently this way.

Electronics

Electronic engineering deals with the research, de­sign, integration, and application of circuits and devices used in the transmission and processing of information. Information is now generated, transmitted, received, and stored electronically on a scale unprecedented in history, and there is every indication that the explosive rate of growth in this field will continue unabated.

Electronic engineers design circuits to perform spe­cific tasks, such as amplifying electronic signals, add­ing binary numbers, and demodulating radio signals to recover the information they carry. Circuits are also used to generate waveforms useful for synchronization and timing, as in television, and for correcting errors in dig­ital information, as in telecommunications.

Prior to the 1960s, circuits consisted of separate elec­tronic devices — resistors, capacitors, inductors, and vacuum tubes — assembled on a chassis and connected by wires to form a bulky package. The electronics revo­lution of the 1970s and 1980s set the trend towards inte­grating electronic devices on a single tiny chip of silicon or some other semiconductive material. The complex task of manufacturing these chips uses the most advanced technology, including computers, electron-beam lithog­raphy, micro-manipulators, ion-beam implantation, and ultraclean environments. Much of the research in elec­tronics is directed towards creating even smaller chips, faster switching of components, and three-dimensional integrated circuits.



Communications and Control

Engineers work on control systems ranging from the everyday, passenger-actuated, such as those that run a lift, to the exotic, such as systems for keeping spacecraft on course. Control systems are used extensively in air­craft and ships, in military fire-control systems, in power transmission and distribution, in automated manufac­turing, and in robotics.

Computers

Computer engineering is now the most rapidly grow­ing field. The electronics of computers involve engineers in design and manufacture of memory systems, of cen­tral processing units, and of peripheral devices. The field of computer science is closely related to computer engi­neering; however, the task of making computers more «intelligent» (artificial intelligence), through creation of sophisticated programs or development of higher level machine languages or other means, is generally regarded as the aim of computer science.

One current trend in computer engineering is micro­miniaturization. Engineers try to place greater and greater numbers of circuit elements onto smaller and smaller chips. Another trend is towards increasing the speed of computer operations through the use of parallel processors and superconducting materials.

Mechanical Engineering

Engineers in this field design, test, build, and oper­ate machinery of all types; they also work on a variety of manufactured goods and certain kinds of structures. The field is divided into (1) machinery, mechanisms, materials, hydraulics, and pneumatics; and (2) heat as applied to engines, work and energy, heating, ventilat­ing, and air conditioning. The mechanical engineer, therefore, must be trained in mechanics, hydraulics, and thermodynamics and must know such subjects as metallurgy and machine design. Some mechanical en­gineers specialise in particular types of machines such as pumps or steam turbines. A mechanical engineer de­signs not only the machines that make products but the products themselves, and must design for both economy and efficiency. A typical example of modern mechani­cal engineering is the design of a car or an agricultural machine.

Safety Engineering

This field of engineering has as its object the preven­tion of accidents. In recent years safety engineering has become a specialty adopted by individuals trained in other branches of engineering. Safety engineers develop methods and procedures to safeguard workers in hazard­ous occupations. They also assist in designing machin­ery, factories, ships and roads, suggesting alterations and improvements to reduce the possibility of accident.

In the design of machinery, for example, the safety en­gineer try to cover all moving parts or keep them from accidental contact with the operator, to put cutoff switches within reach of the operator and to eliminate dangerous sharp parts. In designing roads the safety engineer seeks to avoid such hazards as sharp turns and blind intersections that lead to traffic accidents



Date: 2015-12-24; view: 982


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