best areas and industries to get into at the moment

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Dawud Beale, Sep 22, 2012.

  1. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
    hi everyone

    as an electrical and electronic engineering student i need to specialize soon and wondered which areas are the best paid and which areas have the largest abundance of jobs? if you were just kick starting your careers now, which areas would you get into?

    Im thinking of control engineering but wanted to do some more research first.

    thanks for any advice
  2. Dyslexicbloke

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 4, 2010
    Controls engineering is a great choice, not much industrial happens without a PLC these days, even buildings generally have building management systems.
    And as energy gets more expensive systems to conserve it will get more complex as they become more cost effective.

    HOWEVER .... You will only ever be as good as you practical experience with desperate systems. Its all well and good being an ace programmer but if you don't have a feel for what you are trying to control you will always struggle, particularly when integrating systems.

    I would suggest that you try and find a position that involves maintaining industrial systems, preferably different types and customers, as opposed to training to design/build any particular type of system.

    On top of that do some additional systems training or at the very least research them, hydrolics/pnumatics, power electronics, hvac, energy management / eficiancy and energy generation (wind, PV, hydro, and general generator control)

    If you get all that lot under your belt, even if some of it is only conceptual, you are unlikely to come unstuck on anything other than specialist stuff.
    Since all the above will use a wide range of instrumentation types and control systems it will take you some time but you will be better for it in the long run.
  3. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
    Well I'm currently working an internship for a generator control panel company and have some allen bradley and HMI experience and also some experience with the schematics and wiring diagrams aswell as building, testing and maintenance experience, and i may get the opportunity to stay on and learn SCADA and build on my experience there. SO are you saying to basically learn how PLC's apply to other applications? What about all this mathematical control theory I learn about at Uni, how does that fit in to everything? Also how important is my role if i went into manufacturing, do control engineers play a big role?

    If anyone else has other suggestions on good fields to enter and fields that are not so good to enter, feel free to share
  4. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
    Anyone else have any further input on this topic?
  5. panic mode

    Senior Member

    Oct 10, 2011
    i've been designing, programming and commissioning control systems for 20 years and it's fun, good pay and always something new, some travel... can't complain
  6. Dyslexicbloke

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 4, 2010
    Mathematical understanding and the world absolutely.
    PLC's are just a tool so yes obviously, but don't get sidetracked thinking any particular implementation it the way to go.

    I wasn't saying short-cut, more learn when complexity is important and when common sense, from experience, may well be quicker and probably less hassle.

    I should qualify ... Any and all education is a good thing but you need to appreciate when broader understanding is important.

    Systems integrators and controls engineers probably need a bigger general knowledge base than most engineering professions. It doesn't mean they need to be, or in most cases, are cleverer than task specific engineers, just different.

    let me give you an example, me. I am no genius, I don't spell too well, struggle with basic maths in my head, all pure maths and most complex applied maths even on paper.
    I have no formal education to speak of beyond school, I just couldn't do it.

    You might think that I wouldn't be much use as an engineer but compensating for my lack of academic ability has taught me well over the years.

    I work with people much clever than me but when things get tricky I am the go to guy.
    Why ... Because I know a little about most things, learn new concepts by applying analogies and wherever possible and push the boundaries just to see what can be done.

    MY boss reckons I like to work outside the box but to be honest that is an illusion cause by me not knowing where the box is.

    If my life depended on it I couldn't do the maths that underpins a PID loop but I know how they work in practice and more importantly I often predict a problem and then solve it whilst the boss is fiddling with figures.

    Personally I think its about visualising things. The more varied experience you have the easier it is to look at an unfamiliar system and break it into manageable parts that you do understand.
    That is important because unless you go into some research position you will be working with subsystems. Electronic modules are built from components, systems from modules and buildings or complex machinery assembled from multiple systems.

    Now I think about it, its more about where you fit and what makes you happy.
    I love solving problems but I am useless in a classical academic sense.
    I care about the environment, get a kick out of making things work and an even bigger kick if I can do it faster of for less than conventional wisdom predicts.

    I love what I do but that doesn't mean you would love it, you are probably clever than me and would get board.

    You seem to be making a really good start and on reflection I think my best advice is:-

    Do loads of stuff whilst you can, stick your ore in whenever you get the chance and learn, even if you don't yet appreciate why that knowledge might be useful. Don't worry about fine detail you can look that up if needs be. Once you appreciate the concept finding detail is relatively easy because you know where to look and or what to ask

    When you find the 'thing', the thing that lights your candle, look for an application of that which you would be proud to have been involved with at the end of the week, then go for it.

    Specifics ...
    SCADA, a concept not a specific package by the way, is only complex when you don't understand its components.

    An allen bradley ML100 dosnt support arrays but it will do relative addressing which can be arranged to work like an array, even down to the symbol names.

    PID loops ... Look. periodically at the difference between a target and a goal, then make an adjustment. The simplest version of that can be built with just two timers and a mechanical sensor.

    Like I said its all concepts ... The platform is the last thing to learn and the least important in most cases, well apart from the task you are currently tackling of course because that pays the bills.

    I wish you well

    PS. If you have any specific questions I will be happy to help if I can but I will stop waxing lyrical for now.