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Electric Power and Machinery

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.

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 analyse 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.

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.

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