Electrical engineering

Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. This field first became an identifiable occupation in the latter half of the 19th century after commercialization of the electric telegraph, the telephone, and electric power distribution and use. It now covers a wide range of subfields including electronics, digital computers, power engineering, telecommunications, control systems, RF engineering, and signal processing.


Quotes are arranged chronologically

19th centuryEdit

ALL THIS IS A DREAM. Still examine it by a few experiments. Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature...
- Michael Faraday (1849)
  • The design of this memoir is to deduce strictly from a few principles, obtained chiefly by experiment, the rationale of those electrical phenomena which are produced by the mutual contact of two or more bodies, and which have been termed galvanic; its aim is attained if by means of it the variety of facts be presented as unity to the mind.
    • Georg Ohm (1827/91) The Galvanic Circuit Investigated Mathematically. Translated by William Francis. D. Van Nostrand Co. p. 11. The introductory sentence of his 1827 memoir.
  • ALL THIS IS A DREAM. Still examine it by a few experiments. Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature; and in such things as these experiment is the best test of such consistency.
    • Michael Faraday (1849) Labratory journal entry #10,040 (19 March 1849); published in The Life and Letters of Faraday (1870) Vol. II, edited by Henry Bence Jones, p. 253. This has sometimes been quoted partially as "Nothing is too wonderful to be true."
  • We shall see that the mathematical treatment of the subject [of electricity] has been greatly developed by writers who express themselves in terms of the 'Two Fluids' theory. Their results, however, have been deduced entirely from data which can be proved by experiment, and which must therefore be true, whether we adopt the theory of two fluids or not. The experimental verification of the mathematical results therefore is no evidence for or against the peculiar doctrines of this theory.
  • Telegraph engineering or electrical engineering is a new profession. More than this, it is one which is not yet overcrowded, and it is, therefore, undoubtedly an occupation which many of our college graduates will adopt.
    • Popular Science. Vol. 24, nr. 10 (dec 1883). p. 254
  • Electrical engineering is becoming greatly in demand in colliery districts, and we have pleasure in noting the establishment of the new firm.
    • The Electrical engineer (1890). Vol. 5, p. 203
  • It has been suggested that because the able mechanical engineers who have taken up the subject of dynamo construction are mainly to be credited with the advances which have been made in electrical lightning, therefor electrical engineering per se is to be a thing of the past. For the further, those who would be electrical engineers must first be mechanical engineers, and then somehow obtain a smattering of electrical knowledge, and all will be will with them...
    With this view the writer proposes to join issues... The electrical engineer of the future... if he is to properly represent his chosen profession, will be required to know everything about electricity, and much more about everything else.
    As with other branches of engineering and of applied science, electrical engineering comes in contact with and requires help from many other branches. The electrical engineer cannot go far for instance, without some knowledge of mathematics, of chemistry, as well as of mechanics.
  • During all those years of experimentation and research, I never once made a discovery. All my work was deductive, and the results I achieved were those of invention, pure and simple. I would construct a theory and work on its lines until I found it was untenable. Then it would be discarded at once and another theory evolved. This was the only possible way for me to work out the problem... I speak without exaggeration when I say that I have constructed 3,000 different theories in connection with the electric light, each one of them reasonable and apparently likely to be true. Yet only in two cases did my experiments prove the truth of my theory. My chief difficulty was in constructing the carbon filament... Every quarter of the globe was ransacked by my agents, and all sorts of the queerest materials used, until finally the shred of bamboo, now utilized by us, was settled upon.
    • Thomas Edison (1890) on his years of research in developing the electric light bulb, as quoted in "Talks with Edison" by George Parsons Lathrop in Harpers magazine, Vol. 80 (February 1890), p. 425
  • A point of great importance would be first to know: what is the capacity of the earth? And what charge does it contain if electrified? Though we have no positive evidence of a charged body existing in space without other oppositely electrified bodies being near, there is a fair probability that the earth is such a body, for by whatever process it was separated from other bodies — and this is the accepted view of its origin — it must have retained a charge, as occurs in all processes of mechanical separation.
    • Nikola Tesla (1891) "Experiments With Alternating Currents of Very High Frequency, and Their Application to Methods of Artificial Illumination" (20 May 1891)
  • In my work I now have the comfortable feeling that I am so to speak on my own ground and territory and almost certainly not competing in an anxious race and that I shall not suddenly read in the literature that someone else had done it all long ago. It is really at this point that the pleasure of research begins. when one is. so to speak, alone with nature and no longer worries about human opinions, views and demands. To put it in a way that is more learned than clear: the philological aspect drops out and only the philosophical remains.
    • Heinrich Hertz (1893) In" Davis Baird, R.I.G. Hughes and Alfred Nordmann, Heinrich Hertz: Classical Physicist, Modern Philosopher (1998), p. 156.

20th centuryEdit

Publicity photo of participant in Nikola Tesla's laboratory in Colorado Springs circa 1900.
  • It is not a dream, it is a simple feat of scientific electrical engineering, only expensive — blind, faint-hearted, doubting world! ... Humanity is not yet sufficiently advanced to be willingly led by the discover's keen searching sense. But who knows? Perhaps it is better in this present world of ours that a revolutionary idea or invention instead of being helped and patted, be hampered and ill-treated in its adolescence — by want of means, by selfish interest, pedantry, stupidity and ignorance; that it be attacked and stifled; that it pass through bitter trials and tribulations, through the heartless strife of commercial existence. So do we get our light. So all that was great in the past was ridiculed, condemned, combated, suppressed — only to emerge all the more powerfully, all the more triumphantly from the struggle.
  • Scientific theories need reconstruction every now and then. If they didn't need reconstruction they would be facts, not theories.
    • Charles Proteus Steinmetz (1911) Electricity will keep the world from freezing up; noted expert, Dr. C.P. Steinmetz, talks of the future wonders of scientific discovery and ridicules many prophecies, New York Times (November 11, 1911)[1].
  • I was originally supposed to become an [Electrical] engineer but the thought of having to expend my creative energy on things that make practical everyday life even more refined, with a loathsome capital gain as the goal, was unbearable to me.
  • I am overwhelmed by an irresistible temptation to do my climb by moonlight and unroped. This is contrary to all my rock climbing teaching & does not mean poor training, but only a strong-headedness.
    • William Shockley (1947) in memo to himself, regarding work on the transistor, as quoted in Broken Genius : The Rise and Fall of William Shockley, Creator of the Electronic Age (2006) by Joel N. Shurkin, Ch. 7, p. 125
  • It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes [nuclear generated] electrical energy too cheap to meter.
  • Computer science is neither mathematics nor electrical engineering
    • Alan Perlis (1968) title of article "Computer Science is neither Mathematics nor Electrical Engineering" in: A. Finerman (Hg.), University Education in Computing Science, New York, London, pp. 69-77
  • Science is a field which grows continuously with ever expanding frontiers. Further, it is truly international in scope. Any particular advance has been preceded by the contributions of those from many lands who have set firm foundations for further developments. The Nobel awards should be regarded as giving recognition to this general scientific progress as well as to the individuals involved.
    Further, science is a collaborative effort. The combined results of several people working together is often much more effective than could be that of an individual scientist working alone.
  • Innovation is everything. When you're on the forefront, you can see what the next innovation needs to be. When you're behind, you have to spend your energy catching up.
    • Robert Noyce as quoted by James W. Botkin, Dan Dimancescu, Ray Stata (1984) The innovators: rediscovering America's creative energy. Harper & Row. p. 165
  • Electrical Engineering is the largest branch of engineering, representing about 30 percent of the university's graduates entering the engineering market
    • US Black Engineer & IT Vol. 11, nr. 2 (1987). p. 73

21st centuryEdit

Computers are no more able to create information than iPods are capable of creating music. - Stephen C. Meyer (2009)
  • Ultimately, progress in applications is not deterministic, but opportunistic, exploiting for new applications whatever new science and technology happen to be coming along.
    • Herbert Kroemer (2000) in his Nobel Lecture, Quasi-Electric Fields and Band Offsets: Teaching Electrons New Tricks, 8 December 2000, at Aula Magna, Stockholm University.
  • I've reached the age where young people frequently ask for my advice. All I can really say is that electronics is a fascinating field that I continue to find fulfilling. The field is still growing rapidly, and the opportunities that are ahead are at least as great as they were when I graduated from college. My advice is to get involved and get started.
    • Jack Kilby From his autobiography. The Nobel Prizes 2000, Editor Tore Frängsmyr, Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, 2001
  • The belief in a certain idea gives to the researcher the support for his work. Without this belief he would be lost in a sea of doubts and insufficiently verified proofs.
  • The biggest challenge [for solar power] is escaping from the economic effects of vendor lock-in where large investments in nuclear and traditional energy sources keep us 'locked-in' to feeding monsters that will bring us down an economic black hole. It's rather like the play The Little Shop of Horrors where a man-eating plant is initially fed small amounts, but then its voracious appetite sends it into a downward spiral swallowing up anyone that gets in its way.
  • Computers are no more able to create information than iPods are capable of creating music.
    • Stephen C. Meyer (2009) Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design. HarperOne. p. 292

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

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Last modified on 12 August 2013, at 21:01