Electrical and Electronic Engineering
Electricity is a vital part of our daily lives: it is difficult to do without it, even for only a single day. It is a unique resource, endowed with twin properties: it is both energy and an information vector. Electrical and electronic engineering is constantly at the crossroads between these two fields.
The use of electricity’s double nature has been heightened even more by the extraordinary growth in micro and nanoelectronics, promoting interactions between the two characteristics. It has consequently become possible to design increasingly complex electronic functions for common devices (telephones, computers, MP3 players, etc.), with nanometric components installed in increasingly smaller media (microchips).
Other fields are also fully benefitting from these advances: biomedical technology, with sensors that are increasingly sensitive, and embedded systems, as well as space engineering.
As an electrical engineer, you will also be actively involved with the development of all tools (images, sound, multimedia) which are used by new information and communication technologies. You will consequently develop technologies in the field of acoustics (sound recording and broadcasting), wireless antenna or sensors, electromagnetic waves, signal processing (digitizing, compressing, security), optics, photonics, and also image analysis.
Energy also constitutes a bedrock for training in electrical and electronic engineering. While the production, transportation, and storage of electricity remain crucial, another key challenge relates to its management from the point of view of sustainability. As an example: the irregular energy production from a wind turbine must be absorbed and made useful within a wider network. This operation involves coordinating with other energy sources which is often difficult to achieve. Your background in the field of power electronics, distributed electrification systems, the management and rapid communication of information, or microelectronics, means that you will play a major role during the forthcoming decades in developing solutions to the energy problems which will need to be solved.
BSc (180 ECTS credits)
Once the scientific basics have been acquired (1st year), the curriculum offers general classes on electronics, circuits and systems, and signal processing. This training is complemented by practical work in laboratories and projects. During the final year of your undergraduate studies, you will choose two out of three areas which will make up the core of your training: micro and nanoelectronics, information technologies, and energy.
Prospects: MSc Program
During the MSc, you will specialize in one area of your choice. For example, the micro and nanoelectronics area that focuses, among other things, on circuit design, embedded systems, and real-time computing. With information technology, you will take advanced courses in signal processing, image recognition, sound processing, and optics. The energy area deals with the dynamics of networks and their optimization, power conversion, control electronics, mechatronics, and industrial electronics. The MSc’s curriculum is further complemented by projects and practical work. Finally, it should be noted that you can choose the “MNIS” (Micro and Nanotechnologies for Integrated Systems) MSc program that is jointly offered at EPFL, the Institut polytechnique de Grenoble, and the Politecnico di Torino.
Other programs will be open to you after graduating with the BSc degree, in particular some interdisciplinary MSc programs.
More information on master’s study programs.
Please note that the information regarding the programs’ structure as well as details of the study plan may be subject to change.
Once you have completed the BSc then the MSc program, you will be ready to enter the professional world.
Focusing on the three fields of expertise listed above, your training in electrical and electronic engineering will offer you a wide range of openings. With your degree in hand, a large number of you will opt for working in companies and the industrial world. You will also have the opportunity to work in the transportation or the energy sector, two increasingly expanding sectors.
You can also become involved with the design and implementation of complex circuits which form the basis of technology used in computers, multimedia systems, intelligent systems, as well as embedded systems. Furthermore, given changes in society, you could also see yourself in fields related to health care, in particular with the development of biotechnology. Whatever the field you choose, your training will enable you both to invent the solutions of tomorrow and to manage complex industrial processes effectively, or to take on the responsibilities of being a project leader.
It is also possible, on the completion of your MSc, that you will want to deepen your knowledge in a specific field through doing a PhD, a path which will open up an academic career to you. Finally, given the strong rise in electrically related applications, another alternative will be to set up your own company.
What I like the most in my job? Waking up every morning to find for new technical solutions...
…and develop different applications. At Mikron SA, I’m responsible for the automation part in our building machine projects. I program for PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers), which integrates different peripheral systems into the machines, like lasers, sensors or vision systems. I work mostly on pharmaceutical or automotive projects.
When I graduated in Electrical Engineering in 2009, the worldwide economic crisis made the situation difficult. There were not many opportunities in the job market. My priority was to stay “up-to-date” to continue to be competitive when the situation improved. I found a one-year internship in an engineering office as a software developer. I also took language classes. Today, I’ve been working for Mikron SA for 4 years and I am given more and more responsibilities.
One of my classmate works for clean energies, in the wind energy field, another one develop embedded systems for Diesel motors. I chose to study Electrical engineering after attending a presentation given by the section director at EPFL. I liked the numerous applications possible and I could imagine myself working in the field.
Working in team is part of my routine. The client’s needs require us to develop complex processes, and I collaborate with different experts: mechanical engineers, industrial vision specialists and electrical technicians. It’s very rewarding! Even if sometimes I regret that our job is “too” industrial: because of cost constraints, we can’t always make as many tests or experiments as in research.
I’ve always been interested in electronic systems. I know it can be something quite abstract for many people...
… but I’ve always wanted to discover and learn more about these technologies. When EPFL organized open days for prospective students, I had been impressed with the infrastructures, the labs, the projects’ importance, and the diversity on the campus. It was clear for me: I would study Electrical and Electronic Engineering at EPFL.
For my Master’s thesis, I worked on a project in Germany, in a research institution. It was exactly what I was looking for: combining the possibility to work in the renewable energy field and learning a third language. I developed the electronic control of portable structures designed to orientate solar panels to follow the direction of the sun, and therefore increasing the productivity (in more technical terms, I worked on a new type of inverter-driver for an innovative solar-tracker system).
As soon as I created a Linkedin account, companies started to contact me. Germany has a lot of interesting opportunities in energy and industry to offer. My first job was in Berlin with a small company where I could take responsibilities and initiatives from the beginning, even if my German was not so good! We developed a lab to test an energy storage system for energy produced by a residential solar plant. We were able to simulate the power of the production and consummation of four houses! Unfortunately, the solar field has become less important these last years, and I decided to orientate my career to another field I was really interested in: the railway industry.
Today, I work as a field engineer for Bombardier Transportation. We build the next generation trains that are going to replace the current Swiss Inter-regios and Inter-City ones. I have numerous tasks: I test software for embedded systems produced by our suppliers—air conditioning systems, converter, door control, brakes—and I implement our tests methods: I make sure the systems work. I’ll also be involved in the launching of new trains and of the after-sale service.
I’m very proud to be part of such an industrial adventure. I like being on the field, solving technical problems, and working together with experimented engineers and technicians with different backgrounds. Every day is a new challenge, something that not only gives me a lot of motivation, but also makes me want learn more and share my knowledge.
Looking for further details about this program? Please check its specific webpages or use the contacts below:
+41 (0)21 693 46 18