Present and future Electrical Engineering
In the past, Electrical Engineers, together with Mechanical Engineers, were called “Industrial Engineers” and were looked at as the Engineers capable of developing projects and run industrial systems that produced, distributed, and used electricity.
In the last decades, significant steps took place, related to the development of power electronics and computational systems with the consequent possibility of controlling the behavior of the electrical transmission and distribution networks, generators, and motors under different operating conditions.
Studies on new materials (superconductors, nanomaterials, photovoltaic cells, etc.) have also enabled manufacturing devices with unbelievable energy and functional performance.
The present energy transition, oriented toward the more intensive use of renewables, has more and more highlighted the importance of electric energy distribution, regardless of the way it is generated.
Studies for optimizing the exploitation of distributed generation, for example, have literally upturned the way electric transmission and distribution networks are operated, shifting from a one-way approach (from power generation to load) to a bi-directional approach that enables the optimal exploitation of every source, be it consumed locally or injected into the system.
The increased focus on reducing the environmental impact of transmission and distribution networks has led to the development of new facilities and a more intensive use of cable transmission lines, which raised new important issues to be studied and solved (for example, connections to islands).
The development of Electrical Engineering is endless and must integrate with the skills of other related disciplines, learned during university education and also after graduation, in order to properly respond to the ever evolving social needs.
Roberto Buccianti, Presidente FAST (Federazione delle Associazioni scientifiche e tecniche)