Power Your EE Career with Power Electronics

Article By : Kayla Matthews

While assessing growth in the power electronics industry, analysts project an approximate combined annual growth rate of 3% from 2017–2023.

The power electronics sector deals with solid-state electronics that control electric power or convert it from one form to another. Electrical engineers (EEs) with knowledge of that area can view power electronics technology as job security. Here are several reasons why this is the case…

EEs help develop and improve electric car technologies

News reports and research papers warn that global society must think seriously about how to mitigate climate change. Many eco-conscious people conclude that they could do their part to help the planet by investing in electric cars. EEs are instrumental in working on the power-related components in the cars, making the vehicles both reliable and user-friendly.

One example of how EEs give valuable contributions relates to the option for speedily and sustainably charging the batteries in electric automobiles.

For example, using renewable energy from solar or wind sources to recharge electric cars makes those vehicles more environmentally sustainable, and EEs can weigh in as researchers investigate designing such renewable energy systems and ironing out the specifics for how they connect to the grid.

EEs assist in making some of the world’s most popular gadgets

Power electronics also come into play for some of the most in-demand gadgets, such as Apple’s iPhone. Apple has a reputation for delivering feature-rich gadgets with ultra-stylish looks. Electrical engineers work hard to figure out how to incorporate the internal components that make the iconic smartphone function. For example, EEs designing the iPhone X had to fit advanced electronics into a notch that became part of the screen.

That’s only one example of how electrical engineers get involved in the designs and functionality of smartphones and other gadgets that are now part of many people’s everyday lives. Users often don’t think about the power electronics directly, but they undoubtedly appreciate them when the products work as expected.

Today’s society is progressively more dependent on high-tech gadgets that are impressively sleek and capable. People often discuss their fears about automated machines taking over jobs. In the case of EEs, those professionals frequently design items with automated components, but machines can’t meet the demand for power electronics — only humans currently have this ability.

EEs help keep gadget-using consumers safe

Most people can bring up at least a few horror stories of electronic devices that got too hot and overheated, melted, or otherwise malfunctioned due to too much trapped heat. That’s why manufacturers bring EEs on board to advise about heat-dissipation technologies. Power electronics systems as a whole are incredibly productive, sometimes delivering up to 95% efficiency.

In cases like these, the remaining 5% gets converted into heat that needs to escape. Each technology with power electronics components has a thermal power range in which it performs best. EEs that specialize in power electronics often get tasked with developing heat-dissipation solutions. The methods used vary depending on the amount of excess heat to dispel.

The iPhone X mentioned above is one example of a well-known gadget with internal technologies that keep the device from overheating, but all smartphones have similar parts. Heat dissipation is another necessity that doesn’t cross the minds of everyday consumers, but it’s a design factor that EEs know well. Gadgets that fail due to getting too hot pose safety risks that could become disastrous for the brands involved.

The point is that people who work as EEs or aspire to enter the field could have a meaningful impact on device safety. Furthermore, the associated brands will remain favorable in the eyes of the consumers that use the products.

The power electronics industry continues to grow and evolve

Another reason why the EEs dealing with power electronics can expect job security is that the power electronics industry continues to grow and evolve. As such, the most successful EEs in the space will recognize the importance of keeping their skills sharp and staying abreast of developing trends.

While assessing growth in the power electronics industry, analysts project an approximate combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3% from 2017–2023. This statistic alone indicates that the power electronics sector is certainly not stagnant.

Another promising aspect for EEs interested in power electronics is that researchers continually develop new and relevant technologies. In one recent instance, a team at Ohio State University developed a material that simplifies how electronic devices use electrons. This material serves dual purposes, and that’s significant because it’s usually necessary to use multiple materials arranged in various layers.

The researchers believe that their work could upend the current ways that engineers create electronic devices. Moreover, devices built using the high-tech material could be exceptionally efficient and less prone to breaking down compared to conventional choices.

There’s plenty of promise in power electronics

The examples presented here provide a small sampling of why electrical engineers who focus on power electronics can capitalize on the job security offered.

Whether EEs are in the sector now or about to graduate with their diplomas, they’ll be able to find rewarding and consistent work by staying committed to keeping track of progress within the power electronics industry and how it relates to their work.

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