What is Electrical Engineering?

Electrical engineering applies the laws of electrical phenomena to the design, development and improvement of electronics and solid-state devices, and to the control, conversion and distribution of energy. Electrical engineering includes the design of operational technology used in industrial control systems in many industries and organizations.

Operational technology (OT) includes a wide variety of valves, pumps, meters, sensors, reactors, turbines, generators and other electro-mechanical devices. It includes a wide variety of process control systems and controllers for industrial processes. Such devices are prevalent in the energy and chemical and petroleum-processing industries. But the healthcare industry also employs a wide variety of sensors, imaging devices, pumps, stimulators, robots and other electro-mechanical devices. The marine transportation industry, building construction and automation industry, and many, many others also employ such devices in order to accomplish routine business operations.

These devices, even those that have been maintained and operated for many years (perhaps decades), have in recent years been instrumented so sensors can provide information back to human operators, and so control signals can be sent back to the devices. In recent years, much of that process of information and control has been automated, and may employ data analytics and artificial intelligence to implement faster and safer systems. Collectively, the devices which are now connected to the internet and to each other may be referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Personally, in homes and automobiles, for entertainment and fitness and recreation, wearable devices and intelligent communication devices are more and more common. It is estimated that by the year 2020, more than 20 billion connected devices will be in use around the world (for a population of less than 8 billion humans). In developed nations, it is quite possible that each person may account for up to 10 devices. This explosion of connected devices, the Internet of Things (IoT), leads to much greater cyber threats. The growth of devices and “interconnectedness” has been much faster than the growth of cybersecurity practices, awareness and defense.