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Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, or power generation equipment. Electrical engineers also design the electrical systems of automobiles and aircraft. Show Details

Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment such as broadcast and communications systems, from portable music players to global positioning systems (GPS). Many also work in areas closely related to computer hardware. Show Details

Duties

Electrical engineers typically do the following:

  • Design new ways to use electrical power to develop or improve products
  • Do detailed calculations to compute manufacturing, construction, and installation standards and specifications
  • Direct manufacturing, installing, and testing to ensure that the product as built meets specifications and codes
  • Investigate complaints from customers or the public, evaluate problems, and recommend solutions
  • Work with project managers on production efforts to ensure projects are completed satisfactorily, on time, and within budget

Electronics engineers typically do the following:

  • Design electronic components, software, products, or systems for commercial, industrial, medical, military, or scientific applications
  • Analyze electrical system requirements, capacity, cost, and customer needs and then develop a system plan
  • Develop maintenance and testing procedures for electronic components and equipment
  • Evaluate systems and recommend repair or design modifications
  • Inspect electronic equipment, instruments, and systems to make sure they meet safety standards and applicable regulations
  • Plan and develop applications and modifications for electronic properties used in parts and systems to improve technical performance

Electronics engineers who work for the federal government research, develop, and evaluate electronic devices used in diverse technologies, such as aviation, computing, transportation, and manufacturing. They work on federal electronic devices and systems, including satellites, flight systems, radar and sonar systems, and communications systems.

The work of electrical engineers and electronics engineers is often similar. Both use engineering and design software and equipment to do engineering tasks. Both types of engineers must also work with other engineers to discuss existing products and possibilities for engineering projects.

Engineers whose work is related exclusively to computer hardware are considered computer hardware engineers. For more information about this occupation, see the profile on computer hardware engineers.

Industrial Engineers

Industrial engineers find ways to eliminate wastefulness in production processes. They devise efficient ways to use workers, machines, materials, information, and energy to make a product or provide a service. Show Details

Duties

Industrial engineers typically do the following:

  • Review production schedules, engineering specifications, process flows, and other information to understand manufacturing and service methods and activities
  • Figure out how to manufacture parts or products or deliver services with maximum efficiency
  • Develop management control systems to make financial planning and cost analysis more efficient
  • Enact quality control procedures to resolve production problems or minimize costs
  • Work with customers and management to develop standards for design and production
  • Design control systems to coordinate activities and production planning to ensure that products meet quality standards
  • Confer with clients about product specifications, vendors about purchases, management personnel about manufacturing capabilities, and staff about the status of projects

Industrial engineers apply their skills to many different situations from manufacturing to business administration. For example, they design systems for

  • moving heavy parts within manufacturing plants
  • getting goods from a company to customers, including finding the most profitable places to locate manufacturing or processing plants
  • evaluating how well people do their jobs
  • paying workers

In all these different projects, industrial engineers focus on how get the work done most efficiently, balancing many factors—such as time, number of workers needed, actions workers need to take, achieving the end with no errors, technology that is available, workers' safety, environmental concerns, and cost.

To find ways to reduce waste and improve performance, industrial engineers first study product requirements carefully. Then they use mathematical methods and models to design manufacturing and information systems to meet those requirements most efficiently.

Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers

Power plant operators, dispatchers, and distributors control the systems that generate and distribute electric power. Show Details

Duties

Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers typically do the following:

  • Control power-generating equipment, such as boilers, turbines, generators, and reactors
  • Read charts, meters, and gauges to monitor voltage and electricity flows
  • Check equipment and indicators to detect evidence of operating problems
  • Adjust controls to regulate the flow of power
  • Start or stop generators, turbines, and other equipment as necessary

Electricity is one of our nation’s most vital resources. Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers control power plants and the flow of electricity from plants to substations, which distribute electricity to businesses, homes, and factories. Electricity is generated from many sources, including coal, gas, nuclear energy, hydroelectric energy (from water sources), and wind and solar power.

The following are types of power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers:

Nuclear power reactor operators control nuclear reactors. They adjust control rods, which affect how much electricity a reactor generates. They monitor reactors, turbines, generators, and cooling systems, adjusting controls as necessary. Operators also start and stop equipment and record the data. They may need to respond to abnormalities, determine the cause, and take corrective action.

Power distributors and dispatchers, also known as systems operators, control the flow of electricity as it travels from generating stations to substations and users over a network of transmission and distribution lines. They prepare and issue switching orders to route electrical currents around areas that need maintenance or repair. Distributors and dispatchers also monitor and operate current converters, voltage transformers, and circuit breakers. They must detect and respond to emergencies, such as transformer or transmission line failures.

Power plant operators control, operate, and maintain machinery to generate electric power. They use control boards to distribute power among generators and regulate the output from several generators. They regulate the flow of power between generating stations and substations, and they monitor instruments to maintain voltage and electricity flows from the plant.

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