An electrical engineer can work on any product that involves electricity, whether it be manufacturing wiring solutions for appliances or complex communication systems. The design and installation of wiring and circuitry is a significant aspect of electrical engineering, both in buildings and transportation.
In order to become a successful electrical engineer, a person must pursue a college education. In addition to a university program, many electrical engineers matriculate into a graduate school or professional certification program, and continue to seek education opportunities throughout their career. Many such opportunities are guided by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Electrical Engineers and Asbestos
Due to the nature of the profession, an electrical engineer is at risk for asbestos exposure. Asbestos was often used in electrical wiring until government regulations prohibited the use in the 1970s. In cars, industrial brake pads also used asbestos, as well as heat resistant padding in hairdryers and kitchen appliances. Homes and commercial buildings commonly used asbestos in their electrical wiring, in some cases into the 1990s.
Before asbestos regulation, it was typical for electrical engineers to come into contact with this material. It’s likely that many of these engineers breathed in the toxic fibers that were thrown into the air. Even today electrical engineers may be at risk, particularly in older buildings which were built before the new regulations were implemented.
For most blue collar jobs, there is always the risk of a work-related injury. Nonetheless, as workers we expect that precautions will be taken to minimize those risks, or at the very minimum clearly explain them before taking on a job. Unfortunately, with regards to asbestos exposure, companies were often negligent, subjecting their employees to conditions that jeopardized their health.
Ironically, asbestos was used in electrical wiring to help keep workers safe. Due to its resistance to electricity and its heat absorbing properties, the mineral was thought to protect workers from the risk of fire or electrocution. Unfortunately, as the material flakes off, it can build up in the body, putting an individual at risk for asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. Secondary exposure to asbestos is also common, as many employees brought particles home via their clothes, skin, and hair. As the symptoms of asbestos lay dormant for decades, delays in diagnoses are common. In fact, most electrical engineers are unaware of any problems until long after the disease has developed.