What is Electrical Engineering? | ECE | Virginia Tech

Undergraduate Programs

ALMOST every technology in modern life relies on electrical engineering in some way.

an image of cell division

In medicine, it is through electrical engineering that doctors view images from inside the body, or control miniature tools and lasers during surgery.

Headphones resting on a keyboard

When music is amplified, recorded, mixed, stored, played on machines, and heard through headsets, it is thanks to electrical engineering

Artistic rendition of satellite in front of a comet

Electrical engineers are involved in sensing and understanding signals from space and ocean exploration, as well as communicating and controlling the distant exploring machines.

A shot of a person holding a smart phone

Electrical engineers are typically the ones to put the "smart" in consumer goods--from cell phones and security alarms, to cars and robotic lawn mowers.

Working in the invisible realm

Electrical engineers work with energy (including electricity, light, sound, and electromagnetic fields) and intelligence (algorithms, data, simulation, modeling, control). Although many of these phenomena are invisible, they extend the capabilities of modern life.

From the Microscopic to the Sublime

EEs develop the tools and techniques to sense, measure, convert, transmit, control, and receive energy and intelligence. In doing this, EEs work on projects as small as mosquito-sized robots, to controlling massive, million-mile structures, such as the nation's power grid.


EEs work closely with experts in many fields, including materials, chemistry, biology, medicine, physics, and other engineering disciplines. During a career, a single EE can work on remote sensing equipment to measure hurricanes, work on satellite communications, help improve the fuel efficiency of industrial engines, determine an algorithm to speed up a steel plant, and develop methods to protect the hearing of people working near jet engines.


Electrical engineering graduates are typically among those with the highest starting salaries. As EE has grown essential to more and more industries, career options have blossomed.

EEs can work in product development, product testing, system management, sales, and consulting in industries including amusements, wireless communication, consumer electronics, power, transportation, manufacturing, automotive, chemical, pharmaceutical, defense and more. EEs have the option of staying in technical jobs or moving into administration and management. Some EEs become lawyers, doctors, and teachers. Some start their own firms.