Guide to Electrical Engineering

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An Introductory Guide to Electrical Engineering

At the Pennsylvania State University

By: Sean Leister

English 202C

January-February 2015

Table Of Contents: Page Number:


  1. Content 3

  2. Audience 3

  3. Expected Background 3

  4. Organization 3

  5. Helpful Tips 4

General Information and Fields of Study:

I. Electronics and You 6

II. Rapid Tables: Online References & Tools 7

III. Penn State Department of Electrical Engineering: Specialization Areas 8

IV. Bureau of Labor Statistics 9

  1. Professional Journal 11

  2. IEEE Access (periodical) 12

  3. Statistical Abstract of the United States 13

  4. Catalog of U.S. Government Publications 14


This guide will contain resources that provide information on topics within electrical engineering that are necessary to succeed within the industry. The overall objective of this guide is to help clear up any unfamiliarity with topics that one might encounter in the field. In addition, this guide will also contain information about various fields within the spectrum of electrical engineering. These topics are important to address because electricity is very broad. This broadness creates


The target audience will be undergraduate electrical engineers here at Penn State or students who are considering choosing this as their major. The guide will address this chosen audience by providing them with resources that will aid them throughout their education. The target audience is not limited to students at Penn State though. This guide could be used as a reference manual for anyone within the electrical engineering field being that it contains such a large amount of information on specific electronics.

Required Background:

To use this guide, the user is required to understand just a few fundamental things. The user must be capable of navigating the Internet and using a keyboard and mouse to control the computers basic functions. The understanding of electronics does not need to be that extensive as this is intended to be more of an introductory guide into the realm of electronics. Of course since electronics is heavily mathematics based, it is good to have a strong background in mathematics that are used extensively in the industry. The mathematical courses that would be of benefit in understanding the information you will encounter within the scope of this guide include: Math 140, 141, 220, 230, and 250. In addition to the math skills, it is also important to have a background in physics (211,212,213,214) and have a particularly good understanding of concepts presented in Phys 212 and 214.


The organization of this guide will be simple. It will allow the user to access information based on predetermined websites that are presented first, and then following that, the guide will offer resources so that the user can conduct their own research. The websites will be presented in a logical order. This means that the websites will be presented as details about what the engineer is getting into, and then delving deeper into the topic to present things that the engineer is likely to encounter and find useful within the beginning of their career. Not only will they find these things useful at this time, but this will also be functional as a reference for more advanced engineers.

Helpful Tips:

  • The best way to approach the use of this guide would be to approach it by first examining the websites and then using the resources portion to clarify any obscurity that you might find.

  • This is intended for use for beginner level engineers primarily, but the necessary background in math in physics will be of aid in using the guide.

  • Some research may be required to understand some of the acronyms or terminology on some sites.

General Information and Fields of Study:

Electronics and You


This website is a wonderful resource for beginners and even intermediate level engineers. It contains a huge amount of information on everything from the history of electronics to major electronic companies within the industry. This information is presented to you in the form of articles, which are easily accessible through a categorized list on both the left-hand side and the top of the website. This site is focused on introducing the audience to all things electronically based and the history of the people who worked to make many of these inventions possible. Electronics and you is not only a very nice information resource, but it also hosts a blog that posts some “how to” and “how does this work” types of articles that are relevant in electronics today. You are also able to find where and how to purchase many electronic components and tools through this website. This not only makes learning the components easy, but it also allows you to gain an understanding of who are reliable manufacturers of these components. Not only does it give you an idea of top companies and manufacturers in the industry but this is also perhaps an eye opener for potential employers


  • This site contains an immense amount of information, but its organization could be a little better. It contains advertisements in the middle of in the page that are frustrating to navigate around, and a lot of the times the font types of the actual information and the advertisements are very close.

  • Overall the best way to go about navigating the site is through the columns on the left hand side, but if you feel like bypassing the categories, the home page contains all of the information within the site.

  • There are some categories that are not particularly relevant to the purpose of this guide, but they are still useful in many ways to develop an idea of what is currently happening within the industry. These categories include: Electronic Articles, Electronic News, Electronic Videos, Electronic Images, Electronic Q&A, and Blog. While not the main focus of the guide, these can still help you find areas that you may find interesting.

  • Since the field of electronics is rapidly expanding, you can subscribe to Electronics and You to receive the latest updates on information that is published on the site by simply clicking the subscribe tab.

Rapid Tables: Online Reference & Tools

RapidTables is an online reference that contains many resources pertaining to electrical engineering. These resources include: Electricity & Electronics, Mathematics, Online Calculators, Online Conversion, Web Design, Code, and Online Tools. The resource that the intended audience will find most useful is the Electricity & Electronics. While the others have potential to be useful, Electricity& Electronics focuses on information that is particularly relevant to engineers in the field. The resource provides essential information on key components that are used in the engineering of electronics as well as their symbols that are used in producing schematics. This is useful to engineers as both a reference and in learning what the specific functions of circuit components are. The other valuable information contained within the electronics tab is things such as electronic terms, units, and circuit laws. All of these things are useful when preforming circuit analysis and would be particularly helpful to beginning engineers that are just learning about how to analyze circuits.


  • This website is particularly easy to navigate. On the homepage, it contains the main topics within the site. And the sub-sections directly below them. You can reach the subsections by either clicking directly on them in the home page, or clicking on the main section tab which takes you to a page containing all of the available information.

Penn State Department of Electrical Engineering: Specialization Areas

One of the most useful resources you have as an electrical engineer here at Penn State is the course webpage. The specialization areas portion is extremely important due to the fact that it allows you to better understand the direction that you might want to go with your education. The understanding of the options will help you make decisions throughout your undergraduate career. The specialization areas that are described on the page include: communications, computer hardware, computer software, control systems, electromagnetics, electronic design, grad school preparation, optics, power systems, remote sensing and space systems, semiconductor devices, and signal and image processing. Contained within each of these fields are recommended courses to take in order to pursue that particular interest. Also contained within the course webpage are numerous other resources on the left hand side. A few of these options could also be particularly informative for meeting educational goals.


  • This site is particularly easy to navigate, and you will find the information on specific areas of study easily.

  • There are tabs on the left corresponding to the undergraduate program. Changing the tab at the top of the page brings up different options on the left that correspond to the topic on the top.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

The bureau of labor statics provides valuable data pertaining to jobs and job outlook. For entry-level engineers this is useful due to the fact that there is often some uncertainty in which field they would like to choose. Some of the resources that the bureau website includes are: summary, what they do, work environment, how to become one, pay, job outlook, similar occupations, more info. The summary portion is comprised of the main idea of all the other categories. The rest of the categories describe exactly what the user would be inclined to think based off of the heading. For example, pay describes the median salary that engineers make, and work environment describes what industries that the engineers are most often employed in and what their hours are like. This resource is something that would be useful early on in the career of the engineer to help determine if they will fit well in the industry.


  • This resource is easy to navigate. It has tabs at the top that describe all of the contents with in the page. In addition to that, the site has graphs that will show electrical engineering vs. all other jobs.


Journal of Electrical & Electronic Systems:

The Journal of Electrical & Electronic Systems is a journal that is in publication online and is accessible to anyone. This is useful, because it makes the information more widespread. The journal addresses modern day issues and publishes articles individually instead of as a whole so that the newest articles are easily accessible.


  • The best way to use this resource is to use the search bar at the top to find the information that is being sought after.

  • The user can also go into the tabs “current issue” or “articles in press” to see the latest issue of the journal as well as the most recent articles, respectively.

IEEE Access:

“IEEE Access” is a periodical that is published annually. It contains some of the latest and most notable advances within the field of electrical engineering. The publication publishes its articles throughout the year and then produces a cumulative volume at the closing of the year. This resource is valuable in the fact that “IEEE Access” is produced by IEEE. which is the largest society of electrical engineers in the world. It has many esteemed members who are often at the forefront of the field. The articles that this periodical publishes reflect that, as many of the articles concern recent matters or are about some sort of technological advancement. The user may use this as a way to gauge interest within the field and see if this is something that they could see themselves doing.


  • The page can be navigated by tabs that are displayed at the top of the publication.

Statistical Abstract of the United States:

The Statistical Abstract of the United States is a volume of statistics that relate to things such as social, political, and economic organization of the United States. It provides convenient access to a large amount of data, which can be useful to the user in many ways and for many reasons. The most relevant case to this guide is in the “Science & Technology: Employment” section. This portion of the guide allows the user to see the growth and details of science-based occupations.


  • This abstract presents a huge amount of data. This makes it imperative to narrow scope of interest so that the user can find things that are relevant to what they are looking for.

  • There are tabs on the left that categorize many different sections with in the abstract.

  • Clicking on one of these tabs will bring up a kind of cluttered page containing all of the information within the topic. This guide recommends that the user simply hovers the mouse over the topic and finds the specific thing they are interested in to avoid all the clutter.

Catalog of U.S. Government Publications:

The catalog of U.S. government publications is a tool that allows the user to search through a huge database of government publications. This is a valuable tool because all of the resources that can be found with in this database can be assumed to be credible being that they are government published. To access what a specific resource, the user simply has to type what they are searching for in the text bar that is located in the middle of the page. For example, typing in “electrical engineering” pulls up 1095 results and presents the most recent first. Clicking on an article brings up the citations and things of that nature. By clicking on the link to the right of “Internet access” pulls up the article itself. The article presented here is titled “Low Cost Arc Fault Detection and Protection for PV Systems”. This article is about how code requires wiring that is associated with photovoltaic cells to be arc protected. It then proposes that a “highly integrated arc fault detector and circuit interrupter” is the best way to address this.


  • This resource is slightly more difficult to navigate. To do so, the user simply needs to search for something that they are interested in. Then after doing that, find an article that is related to their interest or area of curiosity. After doing that, the user can simply click on Internet access to gain access to the article.

  • Also on the page with Internet access, there is numerous resources reinforcing credibility and for producing citations. Below is an example of the article description.

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