What is Electrical and Computer Engineering?
The ECE Department's academic adviser, Arlene Padilla Arenaz, recorded the following introductory videos for the University of Utah's Virtual Major Expo to discuss, "What is electrical and computer engineering?"
Video Introduction: Electrical Engineering Major
Video Introduction: Computer Engineering Major
What do electrical and computer engineers do?
Electrical and computer engineers build things.
They build the things we rely on every day for entertainment, communication, productivity, and even survival.
Some electrical engineers work in wireless communications. They design cell phone components and enable long distance, instantaneous communication across the world and even into space.
Some electrical engineers work in power systems. They generate electricity and deliver it to our homes. They push the envelope in renewable energy sources for a cleaner environment.
Some electrical engineers work in medicine. They build neural interfaces for new medical implants that allow the blind to see and the deaf to hear. They work in new medical technology that changes the way humans live and survive.
Some computer engineers build computers. They build faster processors, bigger and faster storage media, and even the world-wide optical network that powers the internet.
You can find electrical or computer engineers in almost every modern industry affecting our daily quality of life.
Current ECE Careers
IEEE Profiles of Real Engineers - cool EE/CE jobs
Dream Jobs Report: 2011 - If the words "true bliss" along with "job market" excite you, meet 10 technologists.
IEEE Spectrum - keep up with new and cool EE stuff.
Average Salaries of Electrical and Computer Engineers
|Military and defense||$73,280||Y|
|Navigation and GPS||$76,200||Y|
|Scientific research and development||$82,270||Y|
|* Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics|
What will my ECE classes be like?
As an electrical and computer engineering student, your first semester will include a course called "Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering" (ECE 1270). The course will introduce the basics of analog circuits. You will learn to design and build circuits. You will participate in a lab where you will actually build a biomedical sensor capable of measuring heart rate, respiration, and blood oxygenation.
You will also take general courses in math and physics in preparation of more advanced electrical and computer engineering classes.
After hands-on lab experiences and some general math and physics courses, you are prepared to learn more about electronic devices in our Electric Circuits class. You will spend more time in the lab building and testing an electromagnetic launcher similar in design to a rail gun.
You will also get hands-on with electronics. You will build a DC power supply and a sound amplifier while learning about Engineering Electronics.
The second half of your education includes more choice in which courses you can take. You might choose electromagnetics courses and build a pacemaker communication system. You might decide to learn more about signal transmitting and receiving and build wireless communication devices. You can even focus on control systems and feedback while building a magnetic levitation system. Whatever most interests you in the broad fields of electrical and computer engineering will be available as upper-level ECE courses with hands-on accompanying labs.
Many juniors also work in research labs in the department in the fields that most interest them. They get paid positions where they contribute to real research happening in real labs. The labs also staff graduate students and post-docs willing to teach and mentor undergraduate research assistants.
During your junior year, you will also begin preparing for your capstone design project. Every student in ECE will complete a final project, either alone or with a team, in which they explore one specific research topic in-depth. Many students even work on industry-sponsored projects through the Engineering Clinic Program. (More than half of the graduating class of 2011 is participating in an industry-sponsored project.)
The senior year of your University of Utah education will focus on a senior capstone design project along with upper-level engineering courses in the areas you find most interesting.
Your undergraduate research experience will culminate in a presentation in front of professors, judges, local industrial sponsors, and your peers at the ECE Department's Technical Open House.
You will also be invited to attend the Technical Career Fair where local and national engineering companies visit campus to recruit students for full-time jobs and internships.