Electrical engineering

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Electrical engineering is an engineering science that deals with the research and development as well as the production technology of electrical devices that are at least partly based on electrical energy . This includes the field of converters , electrical machines and components as well as circuits for control , measurement , regulation , communications , device and computer technology through to technical information technology and energy technology .

Electronic switch

Main areas

The classic division of electrical engineering was high- voltage technology, which is reflected today in power engineering and drive technology , and weak- current technology , which formed into communications technology . Electrical measurement technology and automation technology as well as electronics were added as further areas . The boundaries between the individual areas are often fluid. As the applications became more widespread, there were countless other areas of specialization. In our civilization today, almost all processes and facilities are operated electrically or run with substantial involvement of electrical devices and controls.

Theoretical electrical engineering

The basis of the theory and the link to the physics of electrical engineering are the findings from electricity theory . The theory of circuits deals with the methods of analyzing circuits made of passive components. In theoretical electrical engineering , a distinction is made between electrostatics and electrodynamics , the latter as an example, the theory of fields and waves, based on Maxwell's equations .

Electrical Power Engineering

Transmission line and substation

The electrical energy technology (formerly heavy current technology) deals with the generation, transmission and conversion of electrical energy and also high voltage technology . In most cases, electrical energy is obtained by converting mechanical-rotary energy using generators . Classical heavy current technology also includes the area of ​​electrical energy consumers and drive technology. The area of ​​the transmission of electrical energy in the area of low voltage also includes the subject area of electrical installations , as they can be found in various ways in the household.

Classic sub-areas or subjects at technical colleges and universities include electrical power distribution , line theory , high voltage technology , network control technology , power plant technologies , production of electrical energy , electrical machines , energy storage technologies , power electronics , installation technology , protection and isolation technology in energy networks, energy industry (especially electricity industry ), smart Grids , renewable energies .

Electric drive technology

The drive technology , formerly also considered "Power engineering", converts electrical energy by means of electric machines to mechanical energy. Classic electrical machines are synchronous , asynchronous and direct current machines , with many other types, especially in the area of ​​small drives. More recent is the development of linear motors , which convert electrical energy directly into mechanical linear movement without the "detour" via rotation. Drive technology plays a major role in automation technology, as a large number of movements can often be implemented with electric drives. Electronics play a major role in drive technology, on the one hand for controlling and regulating the drives, and on the other hand, kinetic drives are often supplied with electrical energy by power electronics. The area of peak load reduction and energy optimization in the field of electrical engineering has also developed considerably.

Classic sub-areas or subjects at technical schools and universities include electrical machines, rotary field machines , DC machines , reluctance motors , stepper motors , automated drive technology , converters and frequency converters , power electronics, power converters and converter technology .

Communications engineering

By means of the communications technology , and information and communication technology or telecommunications (formerly low power technology) called, signals are generated by electrical conduction or electromagnetic waves as information carrier from an information source (the transmitter ) to one or more recipients (the information sink) transmitted . It is important to transmit the information with such low loss that it can be recognized by the recipient (see also high-frequency technology , amateur radio ). Signal processing , for example by means of filtering, coding or decoding, is an important aspect of communications technology .

Classic partial regions or subjects at colleges and universities include the communication theory , signal theory , digital signal processing and signal conversion , line theory, antenna technology , wireless technology , mobile radio , radio frequency technology and microwave technology , Electromagnetic Compatibility , satellite technology , coding theory .

Electronics, microelectronics and nanoelectronics

The electronics deals with the development, production and application of electronic components such as coils or semiconductor devices such as diodes and transistors . The applications are generally practically implemented on printed circuit boards with the printed circuit board assembly.

The Microelectronics is engaged in the development and manufacture of integrated circuits . In some areas the 100- nanometer limit was not reached, so one speaks here formally of nanoelectronics .

The digital technology can be assigned to the extent the electronics is constructed as a classical logic circuit of transistors. On the other hand, digital technology is also the basis of many controls and is therefore important for automation technology. The theory can also be assigned to theoretical electrical engineering.

The development of power semiconductors ( power electronics ) is playing an increasingly important role in drive technology, as frequency converters can provide electrical energy much more flexibly than is possible with transformers, for example .

Classic sub-areas or subjects at technical schools and universities include analog technology , digital technology , PCB design , line theory, chip design , microprocessor technology , microcontrollers , assembler and C programming , embedded systems , electromagnetic compatibility (EMC).

Automation technology

In automation technology , individual work steps of a process are automated or monitored using methods of measurement , control and regulation technology (collectively called MSR technology ). Today the MSR technology is usually supported by digital technology . One of the core areas of automation technology is control technology. Regulations are contained in many technical systems. Examples are the control of industrial robots , autopilots in airplanes and ships, speed controls in engines, stability control ( ESP ) in automobiles, position control of rockets and process controls for chemical plants. Simple examples of everyday life are the temperature controls together with controls in many consumer goods such as irons , refrigerators , washing machines and coffee machines (see also sensor technology ).

Classic partial areas or subjects at colleges and universities include the system theory , engineering cybernetics , control engineering , control engineering , instrumentation , sensors , programmable logic controller , image processing and machine vision , robotics .

New emerging areas of specialization

building technology

The terms technical building equipment (TGA) or supply technology with a focus on electrical engineering are also used. In buildings, electrical installations ensure both the line-based distribution of electrical energy and the possibility of using means of communication ( bells , intercoms , telephones , televisions , satellite reception systems and network components ). In addition to the wired distribution of information, radio transmission ( DECT , WLAN ) is increasingly being used. The building automation utilizes components of the measurement , control and regulation technology in buildings to the use of electrical and thermal energy to optimize for. B. in the field of lighting, air conditioning and ventilation technology. A wide variety of building security systems are also used in the context of building automation .

Medical technology

Electrical engineering and medical technology courses are being offered at more and more universities . Due to the innovative technical developments in the field of medicine , more and more specialized electricians , electrical engineers and engineers are required in hospitals or in medical technology companies and companies .

Areas would, for example Myoelectris , electronics artificial organs, robotic prostheses , Bioprinter , HF surgery , laser surgery , robotic surgery , x-ray machines , ultrasound , magnetic resonance imaging , optical coherence tomography , nuclear medicine , heart-lung machines , dialysis machines , Special Requirements of Clinical Engineering.

Computer, semiconductor and device technology

The electronic device technology , including electronic systems called, emerged from the main area of electronics and focuses on the development and production of electronic assemblies and devices. It thus includes the design and subsequent structural design of electronic systems ( wiring carriers , assemblies , electrical devices ) and makes use of semiconductor technology and computer technology . There is great demand, especially in the areas of computer hardware , household appliances , information technology and entertainment electronics .

History, significant developments and people


The phenomenon that certain types of fish (e.g. electric rays or electric eels ) can generate electrical voltages (with the help of the electroplax ) was in ancient Egypt around 2750 BC. Known.

The meteorological phenomenon of thunderstorm lightning has always accompanied mankind. The interpretation that the separation of electrical charges within the atmosphere in thunderstorms causes this phenomenon, however, only occurred in modern times . However, electrostatic phenomena were already known in ancient times.

Thales of Miletus

The first knowledge of the effect of static electricity around 550 BC. Is attributed to the natural philosopher Thales of Miletus . In a dry environment, amber can be electrostatically charged by rubbing it against textile fabric ( cotton , silk ) or wool . What was not known at that time is that amber receives a negative charge by absorbing electrons , whereas the friction material is given a positive charge by releasing electrons. Through the works of Pliny the Elder , the knowledge observed through these experiments was passed down into the late Middle Ages .

17th century

18th century

19th century

  • In 1820 Hans Christian Ørsted made attempts to deflect a magnetic needle with an electric current. André-Marie Ampère continued these experiments and demonstrated in 1820 that two conductors carrying current exert a force on one another. Ampère explained the concept of electrical voltage and electrical current and determined the direction of the current. According to him, the Si unit was Ampere named.
  • In 1820 DF Arago observed that iron, when exposed to electr. Electricity takes on magnetic properties.
  • 1822 Peter Barlow builds the Barlow wheel , a homopolar motor , i.e. a device (without commutator) permanently set in rotary motion with direct current. The first apparatuses, experiments and descriptions of such a machine (a wire permanently rotating in liquid lead) with “Description of an Electro-magnetic Apparatus for the Exhibition of Rotatory Motion” are, however, ascribed to Michael Faraday as early as 1821 , who is generally considered to be the inventor in some circles of the DC motor applies.
  • In 1825, William Sturgeon was the first to invent and publish the electrical component electromagnet , i.e. a coil with terminals and an iron core to strengthen the field.
Samuel Morse (1840)
Nikola Tesla (1890)
  • In 1879 Thomas Alva Edison invented the carbon filament incandescent lamp, a significantly improved version of previous incandescent lamps, and thus brought electric light to people. As a result, electricity found its way into ever larger areas of life. At the same time, Nikola Tesla and Michail von Dolivo-Dobrowolsky worked , pioneers of alternating current and about 8-10 years later with their pioneering inventions laid the foundations for today's energy supply systems.
  • 1880 The world's first electric passenger elevator .
  • 1881 was held in Paris the first International Electricity Exhibition and the first international congress electricity instead.
  • In September 1882, Edison began to build the first power plants in Manhattan to supply the electricity for his DC voltage networks in the city. In order to electrify the cities, he had to build a power plant every 800 meters , since direct current is very uneconomical to transport and distribute over long distances. It was already clear that electrification in the countryside would be very uneconomical.
  • In 1882, Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs invent the transformer , which they initially called the "secondary generator". With this new invention in 1883 they were able to transmit alternating current with 2000 volts over a test route of 40 km with low losses and small copper conductor cross-sections, and in 1884 they were able to make a test route between Turin and Lanzo of 80 km possible. This showed that alternating current can be transported and distributed more economically than the direct current favored by Edison for the power grid . There were already lamps for alternating current. However, there were still no usable AC motors.
  • On February 1, 1883, Edison introduced the world's first electricity meter for its power grids . This electricity meter, known as the Edison meter, could only record direct currents.
  • On November 13, 1886, Heinrich Hertz succeeded in proving the Maxwell equations experimentally. The Berlin Academy of Sciences he taught on 13 December 1888 in its research report "blooming electrical power" on the electromagnetic waves . By proving the existence of electromagnetic waves, he became the founder of wireless communications technology.
  • On October 12, 1887 announces Nikola Tesla a two-phase synchronous - AC motor for a patent (US381968A Electro-magnetic motor). According to him, he invented the principle as early as 1882. It was the first usable motor for alternating current. Through this invention, I became acquainted with Westinghouse, who also recognized the great advantages of alternating current and was ready to buy all of Tesla's patents.
  • On March 11, 1888, Galileo Ferraris published his research results on two-phase and multi-phase asynchronous AC motors (induction motors) at the university. Rotary field machines like these have the advantage that they can do without slip rings and commutators . However, he wrongly concluded in his work based on a misconception that these motors are very energy inefficient, so that he stopped research in this area.
  • On May 1, 1888, Tesla applied for a patent for the induction motor (two-phase asynchronous motor) (US382279A Electro Magnetic Motor). Thus Ferraris and Tesla are considered in many circles to be the inventors of the induction motor (multi-phase asynchronous machine). In 1893, at the World's Columbian Exposition, the Tesla Columbus Egg (Tesla's Egg of Columbus) was presented, which should illustrate the principle of the induction motor. According to Tesla, he had shown it to a New York investor as early as 1887 in order to raise funds for his AC technology.
  • In 1896, Alexander Popov carried out wireless signal transmission over a distance of 250 m. In contrast to Marconi, Popow failed to patent his invention. Guglielmo Marconi therefore earned the credit for the first practical use of spark telegraphy . After he had applied for a patent for his spark telegraph in Great Britain in June 1896, Marconi transmitted a Morse code over a distance of 5.3 kilometers in May 1897. On December 12, 1901, Marconi celebrated his great triumph: For the first time in history, a person sent a radio message across the Atlantic . He sends the letter "S" via Morse code. In 1909, Marconi and Ferdinand Braun received the Nobel Prize for this achievement. However, Tesla is said to have demonstrated such radio systems as early as 1893 and filed several patents in the years that followed. However, Tesla dedicated his time to realizing wireless transmission of energy instead of transmitting messages. In 1943, the American Supreme Court recognized Nikola Tesla as the sole inventor of the radio because Marconi infringed 17 of Tesla's patents on his radio systems.
  • The electron was first detected as an elementary particle by Joseph John Thomson in 1897 (he first called it corpuscule ). He later gave the elementary charge the name electron .
  • In 1897 Karl Ferdinand Braun developed the first cathode ray tube . Improved variants were initially used in oscilloscopes and decades later as picture tubes in fully electronic television sets and computer monitors .

20th century

  • In 1925, the electrical engineer Dr. Kenjiro Takayanagi with Baird's kind of image decomposition, but used to play back the images a cathode ray tube . In 1926 Takayanagidie succeeded in the world's first fully electronic transmission of images with cathode ray tubes on the transmitter and receiver side, i.e. H. the world's first all-electric television, before Philo Farnsworth who demonstrated a similar system a few months later. Takayanagi reproduced the Katakana character recorded earlier on a Braun tube.
  • In 1926 Julius E. Lilienfeld files a valid patent (US1745175A Method and apparatus for controlling electric currents) for his invented field effect transistor , but these could not be manufactured until 1960, when a material system was available with silicon / silicon dioxide . The various variants of field effect transistors are among the most important semiconductor components in modern electronics, microelectronics, nanoelectronics and power electronics. The field effect transistors today allow u. a. efficient converters , converters and switched-mode power supplies , and high integration density of modern chips.
  • In 1927, the development of FM radio began in the field of radio, which was able to establish itself in Europe for ultra-short wave and VHF radio . By 1933, the electrical engineer Edwin Howard Armstrong filed four patents dealing with the technology of frequency modulation . The world's first commercial FM radio stations appeared in the USA in the late 1940s.
  • In 1928 the first color television followed by Baird and in the same year he succeeded in transmitting the first transatlantic television transmission (television technology with mechanical image splitting ) from London to New York.
Konrad Zuse (1992)
Replica of the first transistor from (1947)
Honda P2 (2008)
  • In 1996, the Honda company presented the world's first functional humanoid robot, the P2. The Japanese Waseda University developed the first prototypical humanoid robot , which was not yet fully functional, as early as 1976 . The current Android, Honda's 1.20 m tall Asimo, resulted from the P2 . In addition to many electronic and electrotechnical components, humanoid robots also essentially consist of mechanical components, the interaction of which is known as mechatronics .
  • In 1999 in the United States with the National Electrical Code arc fault protection devices (fire protection switch) required or recommended for specific spaces and buildings, with the Canadian Electrical Code pulled Canada in 2002, with the DIN VDE 0100-420 Germany in 2016 after. This modern electronic circuit breaker is built into fuse and distribution boxes . According to a study by the Institute for Loss Prevention and Loss Research of Public Insurers , electricity, at 32%, was the most common cause of fire in Germany with significant damage to buildings between 2002 and 2019. The first patents have been filed, for example by Siemens Energy & Automation , EU patent EP0653073B1 in 1992, or Square D , EU patent EP0820651B1 in 1997.

21st century

Education, training and study


Advanced training

Further training to become an electrician takes place at a master ’s school and lasts 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time. Further training to become an electrical engineer can be completed at a technical school in 4 full-time semesters or 8 semesters part-time.


The electrical engineering course was first established by Erasmus Kittler in January 1883 at the Darmstadt University of Technology . The curriculum provided for a four-year course with a final examination (for a degree in electrical engineering).

Electrical engineering is now offered as a degree program at many universities , technical colleges and vocational academies . At universities, academic work is emphasized during the course of studies, while at universities of applied sciences and vocational academies the focus is on the application of physical knowledge.

Basic studies

The first semesters of an electrical engineering degree are characterized by the courses Fundamentals of Electrical Engineering , Physics and Higher Mathematics . The basic physical principles of electrical engineering are taught in the basics of electrical engineering. This electricity theory covers the following topics:

Further basic subjects are electrical measurement technology , digital technology , electronics, and network and system theory . Due to the interdisciplinary nature and the close integration with computer science , programming is also part of an electrical engineering degree. If programming and information technology occupy a large part of the timetable, the degree is very often called electrical engineering and information technology .

Specialization or specialization

Priorities can be set in the higher semesters of the bachelor's and master's degree. In some courses of study, specialization subjects can be freely selected from a broad catalog or the specialization area can be selected or has already been determined. Classical specializations or specializations include, for example, electrical power engineering , communications technology , electronics , automation technology and measurement, control and regulation technology (MSR) , drive technology . New specializations are for example electronic systems and microelectronics, renewable energies , technical building equipment (TGA), medical technology .

Courses that specialize in a combination of two areas of specialization that are very closely related in practice are also offered, such as energy and automation technology, energy and drive technology, communications technology and electronic systems, medical technology and electronic systems, energy technology and renewable energies.

Interdisciplinary compulsory and elective subjects

Since the job of electrical engineer very often also requires interdisciplinary knowledge , depending on the university, compulsory and elective subjects such as materials science , business administration , English , technical mechanics , technical drawing , patent law , occupational health and safety , labor law , communication must be passed.

Academic title

The academic degree of Diplom-Ingenieur (Dipl.-Ing. Or Dipl.-Ing. (FH)), which has been awarded by universities for decades , was based on the Bologna Process through a two-stage system of professional qualifications (typically in the form of Bachelor and Master ) largely replaced. The Bachelor ( Bachelor of Engineering or Bachelor of Science ) is a first professional academic degree which , depending on the examination regulations of the respective department, can be acquired after a study period of 6 or 7 semesters. This first academic degree enables the legally protected title of “ engineer ” or “electrical engineer” to be used. After a further study period of 4 or 3 semesters, the Master can be obtained as a second academic degree ( Master of Engineering or Master of Science ).

The doctoral engineer (Dr.-Ing.) Is the highest academic degree that can be achieved following a completed master’s degree as part of an assistant doctorate or in a graduate school . The engineering honorary doctorate (Dr.-Ing. E. h.) May be awarded by universities for special academic or scientific merits of academic or non-academic, for example, 1911 Mikhail Dolivo-Dobrovolsky from the Technical University of Darmstadt.

Teaching position

At some universities, the Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and Information Technology can be studied in seven semesters, followed by a three-semester Master's degree in Vocational Education . With this master’s degree and after a further 1.5 years of legal traineeship, there is the possibility of finding a job as a trade teacher ( higher service ) at a vocational school .



The largest professional association for electrical engineering worldwide is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). It has over 420,000 members and publishes magazines in all relevant fields in English. The IEEE Global History Network (IEEE GHN) has existed since 2008 , whereby important milestones (assessed by a specialist committee) and personal memories of engineers ( IEEE First-Hand History ) can be recorded in various categories . Such reminder reports from Swiss electrical engineers can be viewed as examples. Since the beginning of 2015, the IEEE GHN has joined an expanded organization, Engineering and Technology History Wiki , which encompasses other engineering departments.


The VDE Association of Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies e. V. is a technical-scientific association in Germany. With around 35,000 members, the VDE is committed to a better climate for innovation, safety standards, modern engineering training and a high level of technology acceptance among the population.

The Central Association of German Electrical and Information Technology Trades (ZVEH) represents the interests of companies from the three trades of electrical engineering, information technology and electrical engineering. ZVEH members in 2014 were 55,579 companies with 473,304 employees, including around 38,800 trainees. As a federal guild association, the ZVEH has twelve professional and regional guild associations with a total of around 330 guilds.

The Zentralverband Elektrotechnik- und Elektronikindustrie e. V. (ZVEI) advocates the interests of the electrical industry in Germany and on an international level. ZVEI members are more than 1,600 companies that employed around 844,000 people in Germany in 2014. There are currently 22 professional associations as ZVEI subdivisions.

See also

Portal: Electrical engineering  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the subject of electrical engineering
Portal: Microelectronics  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of microelectronics


  • Winfield Hill, Paul Horowitz: The high school of electronics, part 2, digital technology . Elektor-Verlag 1996, ISBN 3-89576-025-0 .
  • Eugen Philippow , Karl Walter Bonfig (edit.): Fundamentals of electrical engineering. Verlag Technik, Berlin, 10th edition 2000, ISBN 3-341-01241-9 .
  • Winfield Hill, Paul Horowitz: The high school of electronics, Part 1, analog technology . Elektor-Verlag 2002, ISBN 3-89576-024-2 .
  • Manfred Albach : Fundamentals of electrical engineering 1. Theories of experience, components, direct current circuits. Pearson Studium, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-8273-7106-6 .
  • Manfred Albach: Fundamentals of electrical engineering 2. Periodic and non-periodic signal forms. Pearson Studium, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-8273-7108-2 .
  • Gert Hagmann : Fundamentals of electrical engineering . 11th edition, Wiebelsheim 2005, ISBN 3-89104-687-1 .
  • Helmut Lindner , Harry Brauer, Constanz Lehmann: Paperback of electrical engineering and electronics. Specialist book publisher at Carl Hanser Verlag, Leipzig; Munich, 9th edition 2008, ISBN 978-3-446-41458-7 .
  • Siegfried Altmann , Detlef Schlayer: Text and exercise book electrical engineering. Fachbuchverlag, Leipzig; Cologne 1995, 4th edition: Fachbuchverlag im Carl Hanser Verlag, Leipzig; Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-446-41426-6 .
  • Wolfgang König : Technical Sciences. The emergence of electrical engineering from industry and science between 1880 and 1914. Chur: G + B Verlag Faculties, 1995. ISBN 3-7186-5755-4 (softcover).
  • Henning Boëtius , the history of electricity told by Henning Boëtius. 1st edition, Beltz & Gelberg, ISBN 978-3-407-75326-7 .
  • Siegfried Buchhaupt: Technology and Science: The Example of Electrical Engineering . In: Technikgeschichte, Vol. 65 (1998), H. 3, pp. 179-206.

Web links

Wiktionary: Electrical engineering  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikibooks: Electrical engineering formulas  - learning and teaching materials
Wikibooks: Electricity formula collection  - learning and teaching materials
Wikibooks: Shelf: Electrical engineering  - learning and teaching materials
Wikisource: Electrical Engineering (1914)  - Sources and full texts


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