January 15, 2019
Smart buildings. Smart cities. Smart infrastructure. What do all of these have in common? They’re powered by the convergence of the physical and digital realms through IP-connected devices, sensors, networks, and artificial intelligence. These technologies are poised to transform the way people interact with the built environment. And the success of it all relies on a niche practice in electrical engineering called low-voltage engineering.
What is Low-Voltage Engineering?
Electrical engineers in the building industry traditionally work in power distribution or lighting design. Low-voltage technology design, however, includes the IT (telecommunications) infrastructure, audiovisual systems, and security systems of a building.
These used to be stand-alone systems simple enough to be designed by contractors who had specialized knowledge of their field. As these systems became smarter and converged onto the network, they evolved into a sophisticated ecosystem capable of communicating with one another. With sensors and AI, buildings gain the ability to recognize, and even respond to, problems as they develop, managing their own maintenance to reduce downtime and provide greater operational efficiency.
The desire for a more intelligent built environment is driving a need for consulting engineers with the ability to facilitate these complex systems, and to work with commercial real estate developers, multinational companies, and architectural firms to design buildings “from the internet up.”
As a result, today’s low-voltage engineers combine the skills of electrical engineering and IT, helping turn buildings into computational platforms that anticipate needs, inform, and entertain. The field is growing quickly, and it needs more electrical engineers.
A Future of Rapid Growth
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that architecture and engineering in the U.S. is a $2.82 trillion industry. Engineers in the architectural industry rank high in wage earnings and industry growth.
As buildings and technology become ever more integrated and the Internet of Things expands into workplaces, manufacturing plants, and the hospitality industry, the demand for engineers who can design the infrastructure to support this integration is soaring.
And yet, low-voltage engineering isn’t taught at most universities, and not many electrical engineers know about the field.
A Path to Low-Voltage Success
Low-voltage engineering is a natural career alternative for electrical engineers. Firms such as TEECOM, a technology infrastructure engineering firm headquartered in Oakland, California, offer on-the-job training for those looking to make the switch. From day one, newly hired engineers are enrolled in a series of professional development courses the firm has branded TEECOMuniversity, which guides them from the basics to senior level technical expertise.
The firm also helps employees obtain and maintain licensure or certification as a Professional Engineer (PE), Registered Communications Distribution Designer (RCDD), or Certified Technology Specialist (CTS), among many others, by covering all exam expenses. A successful certification leads to substantial cash bonuses to acknowledge employees’ dedication to bettering themselves and the industry.
Take the Next Step in Your Career
For engineers that have worked in power distribution for the built environment, telecommunications engineering skills are parallel and transferable. As the boom in intelligent built environments drives a need for consulting engineers, skills, industry knowledge, and a motivation to learn makes electrical engineers perfect candidates for this opportunity. Are you feeling stagnant at your current firm, and seeking new professional growth? Learn about opportunities for mid- to senior-level electrical design engineers at TEECOM.