Electronic engineering is a professional
discipline that deals with the behavior and effects of electrons
(as in electron tubes and transistors) and with electronic
devices, systems, or equipment. The term now also covers
a large part of electrical engineering degree courses as
studied at most European universities. Its practitioners
are called electronics engineers in Europe. In the Americas
and some other parts of the world, the term electrical engineer
is used to describe a person doing the same work.
In many areas, electronic engineering is
considered to be at the same level as electrical engineering,
requiring that more general programs be called electrical
and electronic engineering. Both define a broad field that
encompasses many subfields including those that deal with
power, instrumentation engineering, telecommunications,
and semiconductor circuit design amongst many others.
Electronics engineers typically possess
an academic degree with a major in electronic engineering.
The length of study for such a degree is usually three or
four years and the completed degree may be designated as
a Bachelor of Engineering, Bachelor of Science or Bachelor
of Applied Science depending upon the university.
The degree generally includes units covering
physics, mathematics, project management and specific topics
in electrical engineering. Initially such topics cover most,
if not all, of the subfields of electronic engineering.
Students then choose to specialize in one or more subfields
towards the end of the degree.
Some electronics engineers also choose
to pursue a postgraduate degree such as a Master of Engineering,
a Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering or an Engineer's degree.
The Master degree is being introduced in some European and
American Universities as a first degree and the differentiation
of an engineer with graduate and postgraduate studies is
often difficult. In these cases, experience is taken into
account. The Master and Engineer's degree may consist of
either research, coursework or a mixture of the two. The
Doctor of Philosophy consists of a significant research
component and is often viewed as the entry point to academia.
In most countries, a Bachelor's degree
in engineering represents the first step towards certification
and the degree program itself is certified by a professional
body. After completing a certified degree program the engineer
must satisfy a range of requirements (including work experience
requirements) before being certified. Once certified the
engineer is designated the title of Professional Engineer
(in the United States and Canada), Chartered Engineer (in
the United Kingdom, Ireland, India, South Africa and Zimbabwe),
Chartered Professional Engineer (in Australia) or European
Engineer (in much of the European Union).
Fundamental to the discipline are the sciences
of physics and mathematics as these help to obtain both
a qualitative and quantitative description of how such systems
will work. Today most engineering work involves the use
of computers and it is commonplace to use computer-aided
design programs when designing electronic systems. Although
most electronic engineers will understand basic circuit
theory, the theories employed by engineers generally depend
upon the work they do. For example, quantum mechanics and
solid state physics might be relevant to an engineer working
on VLSI but are largely irrelevant to engineers working
with macroscopic electrical systems.