What is Electrical Engineering?
Electrical engineering is an exciting and action packed field that is always at the forefront of innovation. There’s virtually no industry in which electrical engineering doesn’t have their hands in the final product. The far reaching influence of the field is what has drawn so many people, like yourself, to the field. All of us can remember when we first started opening up that computer, that alarm clock or our Gameboys to learn about how it functioned on the inside. You may have notice a printed circuit board inside each of the products.
And as technology continues to advance, the field of electrical engineering brings new challenges every day. This is what makes the field so rewarding, knowing that there are always bigger and better challenges to solve.
It can also be a little intimidating. As the field has grown, so has the reputation of prestigious universities and programs which have in turn created a belief that to be a successful electrical engineer you’d have to be a part of these institutions. However, you don’t need to beat yourself up about that, being great at electrical engineering goes far beyond the degree! As long as you put the work in, stay aware of new information, techniques, technologies, you will be able to grow and develop into a great engineer.
To help you along your journey, we have created this three-part guide of tools, resources, and tips to help you handle the profession’s challenges and become a better, more productive, and successful electrical engineer.
Electrical Engineering Software Tools
Just as there are physical tools and hardware necessary in the daily operations of electrical engineers, numerous software tools exist that can improve productivity. There are many tools for different operations, such as design, calculations, simulation, and many others.
We’ve curated a list of the top 5 software tools every electrical engineer should include in their toolbelt. Note that we are not being sponsored to mention any of the tools on the list. We just want to provide you with some great tools we have tested and genuinely believe you will benefit from.
1. CalculatorEdge (Free)
In the field you’ll often have to solve complex calculations. CalculatorEdge is a free online calculator with features that cater to the calculation needs of various engineering fields. It includes electrical and electronic formulas and equations for calculating voltage drop, ohm’s law, resistance / frequency/ capacitance, RMS value, and many more. You can also use this PCB Cost Estimator calculator to help you determine cost/
KiCad is a free cross platform and open source electronics design automation suite with a plethora of amazing features. It allows you to create schematic designs without any limitations on complexity and size. It also features a vast array of tools for designing PCB layouts. KiCad comes with a 3D viewer with which you can properly inspect your design.
Operating Systems: Windows, macOS, Ubuntu
3. Electrical Engineering Dictionary (Free)
There are thousands of terms that constitute electrical engineering jargon. There are even more equations and formulas. And take it from us, even the most veteran engineers need some help remembering all these once in a while. Electrical Engineering Dictionary is a free offline app that features over 3,400 electrical engineering terms and numerous equations, formulas, symbols, and graphs.
Operating System: Android
4. Electronic Toolbox (Mobile)
This mobile app combines conversion tools, calculations, and electronic reference material into one intuitive and comprehensive package. With over 70 separate tools that include resistor color code conversion, ASCII table, PCB tracing, Zener diode calculation, and many more, this app truly deserves the name “Electronic Toolbox.”
Operating Systems: iOS & Android
Price: iOS: $6.99, Android: $8.99
Considering all the documentation involved in the profession, Notability is an excellent productivity tool for engineers. It allows you to take notes, diagrams, and equations on an iPad as you would do with a pen and paper. This app is available on the Apple Store. It is highly intuitive and is widely used by students, hobbyists, and professionals alike.
Operating Systems: iOS & macOS
Electrical Engineering Resources and Websites
A natural part of our job is to stay up to date with the latest regulations, standards, and technologies. We also have to keep up with numerous publications, journals, events, conferences, training, and courses necessary for professional development and to stay relevant. Ranging from blogs and forums to libraries and online stores, the following are five useful resources for electrical engineers.
1. IEEE Spectrum (Blog)
The IEEE Spectrum is an ever-growing, reliable source of news and information for electrical engineers. It contains numerous articles covering technology news, analysis, tips, and information from around the world of engineering. The blog is updated daily and covers topics in power, biotech, electronics, IT, AI, and many others.
2. Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange (Forum)
Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange is a forum filled with thousands of engineers sharing their insight into the vast world of electrical engineering. Anybody can ask questions, provide answers, create discussions, and many more without registration.
3. IEEE Xplore (Digital Library)
IEEE Xplore is a digital library by one of the world’s largest professional associations. This knowledge base contains over 3.75 million materials such as journals, publications, induction standards, education, and professional activities, and conferences.
4. EEM (Store)
EEM is an online store that connects electrical engineers looking to buy electronic or electrical components to a network of over 100 authorized distributors. With over 70 million products listed on this site, it is nearly impossible to not find what you need.
5. IDC Technologies (Training)
If you are looking to further their technical and professional development, IDC Technologies provides educational courses and training in various fields. This company has trained over 500,000 engineers and technicians in IT, electrical engineering, electronics, project management, mechanical engineering, data communication, controls, instrumentation, and many more.
Tips and Tricks From Successful Electrical Engineers
One of the best ways to become successful and confident is to learn from others! We interviewed electrical engineers who have been in the industry for years to decades and compiled a list of 10 proven tips and tricks on how to become a more productive and successful electrical engineer.
Always refresh your knowledge of the basics. No matter how far you advance, the basic knowledge of maths, physics, and circuitry will always be relevant.
Join professional bodies. This gives invaluable insight into happenings in the profession. It also helps you build your professional network.
Further improve your technical skills. It is very beneficial for electrical engineers to undergo some training in electrical engineering subfields other than their own.
Stay curious. Curiosity is the only sure way to great discoveries. Always be eager to learn.
Constantly update yourself with the latest news and technologies. With the number of technologies continually being developed, it is easy to become outdated.
Further improve your soft skills. Technical skills are great, but they won’t take you too far if you lack crucial soft skills.
Utilize available tools and software. There are many tools that help boost the productivity of electrical engineers. Make use of such tools whenever possible.
Pay close attention to even the smallest details. Electrical engineers deal with complex problems that can have far-reaching implications. For this reason, electrical engineers have to be extremely meticulous.
Be Reliable. Electrical engineers’ roles in companies are often intertwined with those of other workers, and so any slack would directly or indirectly affect the entire company. For this reason, electrical engineers must be reliable.
Take breaks! Considering how stressful the profession is, electrical engineers should take a time out to avoid burning out. Watch a movie or take a walk outside and enjoy the fresh air. Do anything that helps you mentally reset. You might even come back with fresh ideas to complete your project.
With this guide we hope we were able to provide you with useful tools and tips on how to buy circuit boards and be even more productive with your projects. Being an electrical engineer is an amazing and rewarding profession and it can always use more smart people like you to advance the field. Be sure to keep yourselves updated with the news and most importantly take breaks!