Preparation for careers in control systems design is available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels. Bachelor's level programs in electronics and computer engineering technology prepare students for technician and technologist positions where they assist in the design and production of control systems. A few programs may allow students to select a minor in control and dynamic systems, and students are often required to supply their own tools.
Master's degree programs in electrical and computer engineering may include more advanced courses related to circuits and control design. Programs typically require students to complete either a thesis or a comprehensive exam. Graduates of an ABET-accredited engineering program may be eligible for licensure as a Professional Engineer after meeting the experience requirements and passing an exam. Ph.D. programs in this field may allow students to choose a concentration area in controls design. Graduates are prepared for advanced research or teaching positions.
To enter a bachelor's degree program, students must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Master's degree programs in this field require a bachelor's degree in a related field with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. To advance to a PhD, students must complete their master's degree program and maintain a GPA of at least 3.0 or, in some cases, up to 3.5.
Bachelor's Degree in Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology
These 4-year programs teach students to apply analytical engineering skills to computer science problems; coursework may look at how to design products to minimize environmental impact. Careers in this analytical field require good interpersonal communication skills - in order to collaborate with a team of professionals - and hands-on participation. Because these programs require a significant amount of a physical participation, programs may require students to purchase their own sets of tools, including wire strippers, a test lead kit, and a soldering iron.
Control instrumentation, drafting, engineering analysis, and communications electronics are all taught so that students can learn how to create systems that control feedback. Among other material, these kinds of programs include training in the following areas:
- Network maintenance
- Mathematical modeling
- Integrated circuits
Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Control systems design coursework is offered as a part of the curriculum in these 2- to 3-year programs. Concentrations are found in computer networks, software and systems, computer graphics, and electrical engineering. Both thesis and non-thesis options are available.
Students learn how to economize energy, design automation into systems in order to control various elements, and use mathematics to clean up data obtained from acoustics. Additionally, students are able to enroll in courses covering the following subject areas:
- Automation design
- Circuit design
- Communication theory
- Radar signal processing
Ph.D. in Control Engineering
These programs take 5-6 years of study - beyond the bachelor's degree level - including the research and writing of a thesis. Programs emphasize training in statistics, math as well as the natural and engineering sciences. Because these programs cover such topics as uncertainty modeling and information theory, projects are applicable to a wide variety of fields, like robotics, biology, economics, and communications.
Courses offered generally cover energy usage analysis and event simulations that show the flaws in a given system's design. Other commonly available topics of instruction include the followings:
- Control systems engineering
- Signal processing
- Stochastic modeling
- Systems analysis
- Systems optimization
Popular Career Options
As of May 2015, nearly 139,080 professional technicians were employed in the electrical and electronics engineering field, according to the BLS. Companies that hired the largest numbers of these professionals were in the architectural and engineering fields and in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Graduates of doctoral programs traditionally find posts in research and academia. Graduates are qualified to pursue the following job titles:
- Electrical engineering professor
- Qualitative analyst
- Research engineer
- Research scientist
- Controls technologist
- Design technologist
Employment of electric and electronic engineers - according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) forecast from 2014-2024 - was anticipated to remain steady. However, electrical engineers were expected to see a 1% increase in job opportunities. The 178,580 professional electrical engineers reportedly earned a median annual salary of $93,010, according to the May 2015 BLS report.
By contrast, drafting, engineering and mapping technicians were projected to see a one percent reduction in opportunities for employment, according to the 2014-2024 BLS numbers. According to the same source - due to concerns over foreign competition, electronic and electrical engineering technicians were anticipated to experience a two percent reduction in opportunities. These professionals reportedly earned an annual median salary of $61,130, as of May 2015.
The control systems coursework found in electronics and computer engineering degree programs is designed to prepare students for engineering and technician careers in fields such as architecture and manufacturing. PhD programs offer added expertise and the opportunity for advancement into specialized fields, such as systems analysis and optimization, signal processing, and robotics.