Difference between Electrical and Electronics Engineering

Electrical and Electronics Engineering are the two most popular engineering branches. People often confuse between the two. Students are really puzzled while choosing an engineering branch from the above two. In this article, we will see the actual difference between Electrical and Electronics Engineering. Before we jump to the actual answer, please see what is engineering.

What is Engineering – An Overview

Engineering is the field where concepts of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are applied to solve problems. Engineers are built after successfully completing a four-year degree course in any of the engineering fields of their choice. They acquire talent such that they can figure out working with various things and how they operate.

They can also find practical uses for various scientific discoveries. Engineers and scientists work towards the advancement of the human living condition and provide a better world to live in. Some of the latest examples of engineering innovations are

  • 3-D printed products
  • Solar balloons
  • Aqua refining: A cleaner way to recycle lead
  • Floating wind farms
  • Electrical Vehicles
  • Autonomous Vehicles
  • Superconductive materials and many more

Difference between Electrical and Electronics Engineering

A. Difference based on the scope

Both an electrical engineer and an electronics engineer may often be involved to do a similar type of work, the differences in these two degrees are a matter of their scope or where they are applied. Electrical engineering is rather the broader field where it includes branches such as electronics engineering and includes disciplines such as power systems, signal processing and communications.

B. Difference based on concept

The major difference between electrical engineers and electronics engineers is that electrical engineers are responsible basically for the large-scale production and distribution of electrical power, whereas electronics engineers concentrate on much smaller currents used in electronic circuits and devices.

In other words, electrical engineers work with electrical components which require larger power and use low-frequency AC or alternating currents. Electronics engineers work with electronic components which require are rather small power and require DC current. Most of the electronic components operate on 3-12 volts DC whereas electrical counterparts need 230 volts AC. However, in factories and thermal power stations these electrical instruments may even require as high as 11,000 volts.

Switches or relays play an important role in providing a transition from electric to electronic circuits and vice versa. Relays are essentially switches that are operated by a small current from an electronic circuit rather than manually pushing it. So we can see that relays are a classic example of interlink between electrical and electronics engineering. A small circuit operating on a small current can drive much larger electrical loads.

C. Difference based on course structure

In the first year, both EE (Electrical Engineering) and ECE (Electronics and Communication Engineering ) branches have a similar syllabus and course structure. However, there might be minute variation from college to college but it basically deals with basic electronic devices and circuits. So there is a feasibility to switch between the two even after completing the first year.

In the second and third year, the EE syllabus mainly deals with electrical machines, motors and generators, EM principles, usage and application of electrical energy, gear switching and protection, power system and distribution.

Whereas the ECE syllabus deals with digital electronics, embedded systems, microprocessors and microcontrollers, control systems, VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration) design, Linear Integrated Circuits, Microwave engineering, antenna systems, wireless and radio communication systems. 4th year will have elective subjects in both the branches which deal with core knowledge in the respective branch along with microprocessors and microcontrollers.

These electives can broadly decide one’s field of specialisation and in turn, placements. Students interested in studying in an engineering college abroad, need to give English Language proficiency exams like IELTS (The International English Language Test), TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), and PTE (Pearsons test of English).

Opting for engineering in foreign universities demands a lucrative fee to be paid. But there are also some scholarships which a student can write which is not possible to crack very easily and require good meritorious skills. The engineering colleges abroad have state of the art research facilities and labs. However, very few Indian colleges like IITs and NITs match the infrastructure.

D. Difference based on the job profile

Today, both electrical and electronics engineers can coexist sharing the same job profile. However, there are still some core differences in their job descriptions and profile. For an Electrical Engineer, the career option lies in basically power generation, transmission and distribution, microelectronic engineer, power engineer instrumentation engineer, electrical design engineer etc.

The career fields for an electronics engineer are telecommunications engineer, automotive engineer, research and development in electronic design, desktop support engineer, networking and transmission broadcasting transmission systems, system control engineer etc. The above differences are clearly explained briefly in the following table.

Electrical vs Electronics Engineering

Parameter Electrical Engineering Electronics Engineering
Abbreviation EE stands for Electrical engineering ECE stands for Electronics and Communication engineering
Duration EE takes a duration of minimum 4 years. Lateral entry students require 3 years minimum to complete the course ECE also takes a duration of minimum 4 years. Lateral entry students require 3 years minimum to complete the course
Concept Electrical engineers work with low-frequency large currents i.e Alternating current (AC current) Electronics engineers work with small currents or direct current (DC current)
Equipment They operate on larger and bulkier machines with heavy electrical loads They design and operate on smaller electronic counterparts on macro or micro level.
Skills required AutoCAD, Autodesk, MATLAB, Programming Logic Controllers C, C++ and HDL (Hardware description Language eg VERILOG), electronic troubleshooting
Career prospects Thermal Power generation and transmission, Instrumentation, manufacturing of electrical machines and electrical components, automotive industry Electronics design, automotive industry, telecommunication sector, network and broadcasting sector, mobile communication field

Conclusion

Both Electrical and Electronics engineers are at the forefront of modern technology together and complement each other for a successful product or service. The two domains have interdisciplinary skills and go hand in hand with each other in various fields especially the embedded system. The automotive sector is a classic example where both the electrical and electronics engineers complement each other very well. In any industry, it is often up to the customer’s requirements that an electrical engineer might have to develop core electronics and the same holds for the electronics engineer that they might have to master core electrical skills.

References

1. https://online.engineering.arizona.edu/news/careers-electronics-engineer-vs-electrical-engineer/
2. https://www.ennomotive.com/groundbreaking-innovation-engineering/
3. https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-electrical-engineering-and-electronics-and-electrical-communication-engineering
4. https://studyabroad.shiksha.com/be-btech-bachelors-of-engg-tech-abroad-eligibility-colleges-fees-exams-jobs-articlepage-2569
5. https://www.cgc.edu.in/blog/future-job-scope-of-electronics-and-communication-engineering/

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