#Electronics engineering is a specialization of electrical engineering that focuses on the design and development of electronic devices and integrated circuits with electrical components such as transistors(BJT, MOSFET), diodes, triodes, inductors, resistors, and capacitors which have a wide range of applications in various areas such as communication, transportation, manufacturing, etc.
Electronics engineers design, develop and test electronic devices and systems that use electromagnetic properties of electrical components such as inductors, resistors, capacitors, diodes, and transistors for use in various fields such as telecommunication, aerospace guidance, instrumentation, etc.
In this article, I’m going to give an overview of various subfields of electronics engineering in detail.
Types of Electronics Engineering
a) Signal processing:
When a signal is transmitted from one place to another, it gets attenuated and contaminated due to losses and noise in the surroundings. The available signal has to be processed in order to retrieve the original signal. Hence, #signalprocessing is a subfield of electronics engineering that deals with the analysis, interpretation, and manipulation of signals. These signals may be analog or digital. Depending on the type of signal to be processed there are two types of signal processors.
Analog signal processors: Analog signal processors analyze, interpret and manipulate those signals which vary continuously with respect to time. An example of an analog signal can be an audio signal whose voltage varies in amplitude, frequency, or phase in response to changes in temperature and pressure of sound waves. Due to the temperature changes and noises the audio signal gets contaminated and hence it needs to be filtered and amplified to retrieve the original signal.
Digital signal processors: Digital signal processors are used for processing the signals which are discrete with respect to time, that is they have values only for specific points of time. First, the analog signal is converted to a digital signal by the means of analog to digital converter, and then digital signal processing is done by general-purpose computers or specialized digital signal processors. And after signal processing digital signal is converted back into an analog signal by the means of a digital to analog converter.
b) Telecommunication engineering:
#Telecommunication is a subfield of electronics engineering that deals with the transmission of information across a channel via wired or wireless means. Wired means include coaxial cables, optical fibers, etc and wireless means include free space. Telecommunication engineers are responsible for designing transmitters and receivers for data transmission systems. The transmitter and receiver can be combined to form a two-way communication device known as a transceiver.
c) Instrumentation engineering:
#Instrumentation is the technology of using instruments to measure and control physical parameters. These physical parameters are pressure, flow rate, temperature, level, force, speed, and acceleration. The main role of instrumentation engineers is to design and develop measurement systems that are used for the measurement of these physical parameters. Instrumentation plays a very important role in industrial processes.
In the case of process industries and industrial manufacturing, the significance of instrumentation is:
To improve the quality of the product: Let us understand this with an example. In paper industries, we use wet rollers. There are two rollers used, one is fixed and the other is moving. These rollers have to be maintained at a particular speed to produce a paper of a particular quality. When the speed of the roller deviates from the set value the speed sensors detect it and send a message to the control system.
To improve the efficiency of production: In chemical industries, some tanks contain hazardous chemicals stored in them. These tanks have to be maintained at a particular pressure and temperature in order to avoid any catastrophic accidents. These tanks have temperature and pressure sensors that sense in case of any deviation and send a signal to the control system.
To maintain proper operation in industries: Let us understand this with an example. In thermal industries, there are many processors like boilers, turbines, hard mills, etc., and the sensors help in the proper coordination of these processors. If there is a deviation in any one of these processors then it affects the properties of other processors too which are interconnected to it. The deviation can be detected and rectified easily with the help of sensors.
d) Control systems engineering:
A system is a collection of components or elements that perform a specific task. A #controlsystem is a system in which the output of the system can be controlled by varying the input value. A control systems engineer is required to design and develop systems to control dynamic processes.
There are two types of control systems:
Open-loop control system: In this type of control system the output does not play any role in the control action. Let us take the example of an electric bulb. In an electric bulb, the amount of illumination that comes from it depends on the amount of voltage that is given to it. By adjusting the input the output is altered.
Closed-loop control system: In this type of control system the output plays an important role in the control action. There is a comparator present before the controller in this control system. Two inputs are given to the comparator. One input is the set value that is the desired output, the other input is the actual output which is measured with the help of a sensor and the measured value is taken as feedback to the comparator.
The comparator produces the difference between the desired output and actual output. If there is any difference between the desired output and actual output then an error signal is generated which is given as input to the controller. The controller in turn produces a control signal which is given as input to the actuator which performs the task of adjusting the process variable.
e) Computer engineering:
#Computer engineering deals with the design of computers and computer systems that can be used to control industrial processes. This subfield also deals with the development of embedded systems and IoT devices like mobile phones, MP3 players, GPS, digital cameras, DVD players, etc. It also includes an in-depth study of microprocessors and microcontrollers and their applications.
f) VLSI design engineering:
#VLSI stands for very large-scale integration. It deals with the design of integrated circuits by incorporating a large number of metal oxide silicon transistors into a single chip. Every electronic device we use today is incorporated with electronic circuits which are formed by the integration of a large number of transistors.VLSI designing follows Moore's law.
As per Moore the number of transistors in a particular area doubles every two years and the cost becomes half. As the number of transistors increases in a particular area, it is very difficult to incorporate a large number of transistors in a small area and hence the size of the transistors has to be decreased. Today the size of transistors has come down to nanoscale so we can incorporate a large number of transistors in an area. And as the number of transistors increases the features of the electronic devices improve.
Let us take intel microprocessors which are found in most of our personal computers as an example. This microprocessor is incorporated with numerous transistors and with progress towards each generation the size of these transistors reduces and the number of transistors increases thus improving the features of the computer. The number of transistors in intel core i3 is lesser than the number of transistors in intel core i5 hence we can say that core i5 has better features than core i3.
From the above picture, we can understand that as time progresses that is, after every two years the number of transistors increases, and hence the size of transistors reduce.
Electronics engineering is a very vast field that has many other subfields which have their importance in real-life applications. Signal processing is used for retrieving the original signal, Telecommunication engineering deals with transmission and receiving of signals, Instrumentation, and control engineering deals with the design of the instruments that are used in various industrial processes, #computerengineering deals with the design of computer systems used for controlling industrial processes and #VLSI design engineering deals with design IC that are used in daily life electronic devices such as laptops, mobiles, etc.
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Author - Akshara Ganeshram
Portfolio link - www.learnelectronicsindia.com/akshara-ganeshram