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Topic Title: Electronic and Systems Engineering for Power Engineering
Topic Summary: I'd love some advice on which stream to take.
Created On: 10 August 2012 05:54 PM
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 10 August 2012 05:54 PM
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Posts: 1
Joined: 31 July 2009

I'm currently a second year university student on a four year course, and have studied Electronic Engineering up to this point. However I really want to follow a career working with energy generation or power electronics.

My university doesn't do electrical engineering as a stream, so I'm currently choosing between Systems (more modelling and control) and Electronics (more technical but not necessarily all relevant) for my final two years.

I've got very little idea as to what sort of areas of knowledge would be useful for working in this sector, so I was wondering if anyone who has some experience could give me some advice on which way to go?

I know all universities have different courses, so this is what the third year would look like for both streams:

Communications Systems
Fundamentals of Modern VLSI Design
Analogue and Digital Systems Design
Signal Processing

Quality Techniques
Electrical Machines and Power Systems
Measurement and Instrumentation
Signal Processing
Systems Modelling and Control

 11 August 2012 10:08 PM
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Posts: 48
Joined: 22 February 2006

I would say the systems components for your degree are more than adequate for a graduate level job in the energy generation industry. In terms on power electronics, I would say a power systems module is missing where distribution networks and calculation of fault protection are covered but I would not consider it a significant disadvantage. On the job training and certification are required to really fulfill these HV roles which I would expect be provided by the employer.

Electrical Machines and Power Systems if it is similar to what I did should cover dc-dc and ac-dc conversion, motor theory, harmonics, stepper motors and inverter drives which are all applicable as an Electrical Engineer. Measurement and Instrumentation seems like an ideal course for the world of industry today so this ticks boxes as well.

In the real world of power generation, although you have your discipline, technically speaking we're all systems engineers as it requires working with a mulch-discipline group of engineers as well as chemist sometimes in maintaining the asset, all with overarching knowledge. For conventional and nuclear, there are massive cooling systems utilizing oil/water with all sorts of instrumentation and functions. I'd suggest a good way to get your foot practically in the door would be to investigate any placement/internship opportunities with a reputable company while still at uni. Many if not all are paid so its a real opportunity for an employer to really evaluate you for a graduate position while also being an opportunity for experience.

The age profile for the industry is not the best so I'm glad to see young people excited about joining and keen to get on. There are also lots of opportunities in the industry so whatever route you take (systems or electronics), I'm certain there is a position you can fill.

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