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This post from 3 years ago seems to show that https://electronics.stackexchange.com/ was originally named Electronics Exchange. Now it is Electrical Engineering. I was wondering why this change was made. I know I didn't give it a proper look when I was looking for a decent electronics site (I assumed it was pure electrical engineering, not electrical and electronic).

Was there a reason why it was renamed? I feel like the current name isn't necessarily all-inclusive of the content (nor would Electronics Exchange). Has there been a discussion somewhere (I have searched and can't find it) which led to the renaming or suggested other names?

EDIT: I just saw this on the community bulletin and thought it was a perfect case of what I am describing.

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migrated from meta.stackexchange.com Mar 12 '13 at 16:59

This question came from our discussion, support, and feature requests site for meta-discussion of the Stack Exchange family of Q&A websites.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ I say potato you say tomato. What's the big deal? ;) (P.S. You might be better off asking on their meta) \$\endgroup\$ – Lorem Ipsum Mar 12 '13 at 16:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LoremIpsum Let's call the whole thing off :) \$\endgroup\$ – mattytommo Mar 12 '13 at 16:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mattytommo But if we call the whole thing off, then we must part... :'( \$\endgroup\$ – Bart Mar 12 '13 at 16:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bart Hahahaha I was just about to say, what's that line from? Then I re-listened and it all became clear :) youtube.com/watch?v=J2oEmPP5dTM \$\endgroup\$ – mattytommo Mar 12 '13 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that if the group is called "... Engineering", then aspects of professional practice should be on-topic, and would be very interesting to read and participate in. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Mar 13 '13 at 17:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't see the point regarding your newly added perfect case. The question is about electrical engineering and is on topic here. There is no problem. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Mar 15 '13 at 17:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think there is a problem with the question I pointed at being here, I agree that it is on topic. My point is that the person was confused whether or not this was the site for the question. \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 15 '13 at 20:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tmwoods: The line will never be clear what is hardware-touching low level programming and what is pure software not specifically related to hardware at all. The name Electrical Engineering gives you a pretty good starting point, which is then further clarified in the longer site description and FAQ. The guy just wanted to be sure, which is fine and a valid question for meta. That doesn't mean our site name or description is wrong or needs changing. Such questions are rare. Most off topic questions are stuff just dumped on us without any attempt to understand what the site is about. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Mar 15 '13 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it's a good idea to change the name now, but I wish the site was remaned to "Short Circuit" when the name had to be changed. It'd be in spirit of "Stack Overflow", and broad enough to encompass both microelectronics and power electronics. \$\endgroup\$ – Dmitry Grigoryev Jan 27 '16 at 12:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ I cannot understand why this site is not renamed back to Electronics Engineering. Aside electronics, no engineering is dealt in here: power, communications, distribution, code compliance.... \$\endgroup\$ – Brethlosze Dec 8 '17 at 4:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @hyprfrcb 8ish months on. Re " ... Aside electronics, no engineering is dealt in here ... " -> Not so. Almost everything in your example list COULD be electronics-free in some cases. Mains AC power questions in many cases are electronics free. DC brushed motors, squirrel cage and synchronous motors, online starters, ... the same. Transformers, current-transformers per-se, magnetic amplifiers (!) [starting to scratch now :-) ] and rather more. // FWIW I'd be happy with the IEEE like "Electronic & Electrical engineering", but, EE sufficeth. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Aug 17 '18 at 4:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RussellMcMahon... This answer is very pertinent to support the discussion. The on-topic is explicit on electronics and electromagnetic fields related questions. If i ask about power not related with a calculation (i.e. regarding constructive design of substations) it should be off topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Brethlosze Aug 19 '18 at 4:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @hyprfrcb Having now read all of that interesting Q&A it seems that you are again/still saying things which were already well enough covered or, if not, that others disagreed with. I may have misunderstood by meaning. If by "constructive" you mean concrete buildings and pads, pylon mechanical design, wire tension and wind loading and such then, yes, I agree that they would be off topic. But if you mean transformer construction and materials, busbar sizing, and the use of materials and items that participate in some manner in electrical circuitry then, even without "a calculation" then ... \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Aug 19 '18 at 12:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ ... such things would not be per se excluded. There comes a crossover point where any discussion involving electrical things can leave the electrical realm, but we do not seem to largely have problems with borderline cases. \$\endgroup\$ – Russell McMahon Aug 19 '18 at 12:53
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We were seeded by a site called chiphacker.com which you can see on the proposal.

We were originally called "Electronics and Robotics" but robotics did not feel it had a home here.

Next, we were named "Electronics Design" which worked really well, but as you see from the post, trademark infringement. They just picked "Electrical Engineering". They may have asked us mods at the time, but I dont remember it offhand.

I agree that it should have been "Electrical and Electronics Engineering." The name is picked to match the order of IEEE.

The difference in use is due to which side of the pond you are on generally. In the US we say electrical engineer to be all encompassing, other side is a bit more specific and electrical engineers generally do power.

Hope this clears it up.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Very clear response; however I am still curious if you think that there should be a name change (since I'm sure many users are outside the States). \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 23:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tmwoods Yes, I have always thought there should. Time spent on a troll distracted us from following up on that. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Mar 12 '13 at 23:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree. However I think I may start a new thread on this for that very reason. Thanks :) \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 23:19
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I wasn't around for the name change, but how we got here is irrelevant anyway. "Electrical Engineering" squarely says what we are about, so it's a good name and should not be changed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Electrical and electronic definitely mean different things. \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 18:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tmwoods: But "electrical engineering" is clear. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Mar 12 '13 at 18:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ No, it is not. It describes only one section of the content. \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 18:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Electrical means something passive (and typically analog) while electronic means something active (and typically digital). I am not against having a joint site, I just think the name misrepresents what the site is about. \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 18:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tmwoods: I disagree that "electrical" means passive only. That's simply not how I and anyone I've ever talked to used the term. I have a masters degree in "Electrical Engineering", and I'm pretty sure RPI wasn't trying to proclaim I was only trained in passive components. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Mar 12 '13 at 18:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ I shouldn't have said it in a strict sense. I guess I start to wonder why almost every school in North America has Electrical degrees and Electronic degrees. I mean if there is no difference why even have two separate degrees? The answer is that of course there is a difference, even if some perceive it as subtle. The announcement describing the site title change does a better job explaining it than I could. \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Please note that my interest is to get more traffic, attention and content on the site. Right now I use e2e for TI chips, AVRFreaks for Atmel, etc. for the different chipsets I use and I would love a unified site for all that content. Right now, frankly, there just isn't the sheer volume here and that is what I would love to see change. \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 18:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tmwoods: The fact that no one here makes the distinction between "electronic", "electrical", "electric", etc. should be a good indicator that most Google searchers won't either. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Laplante Mar 12 '13 at 20:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tmwoods, even if it had a more inclusive and welcoming name, there is no way you will get better support for specialized niches like that. E2E has TI employees helping out. AVRFreaks has people there for one reason, AVR stuff. Specialized niches are always better for specialized information. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Mar 12 '13 at 20:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SimpleCoder It's not the people here that I worry about, it's the people out there who see the site on a Google search, or at the Stack Exchange site and pass it by because they assume it is for something else (like I did for 6 months). \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 20:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Passerby I agree with you on that, but I think there could be some measure of inclusion with those specialists. \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 20:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @tmwoods and olin. There is confusion here. part of it, as has been found in discussion, and has been spattered around the site. In the US Electrical is often considered all encompassing. In the EU electrical normally means power. I still strongly would "Electrical and Electronics Engineering" \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Mar 12 '13 at 22:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ It's the same in Canada (where I reside). We actually have separate licensing for electrical and electronics engineers. \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 23:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop "But "electrical engineering" is clear." - Yes, if you are an American, or USA-based. This is like other comments I see on occasion, which blithely ignore that there can be a non-US-centric view of the world. In a large part of the world, including much of Europe, and India, "Electrical Engineering" is most definitely about power, and most definitely not about bits. \$\endgroup\$ – Anindo Ghosh Mar 13 '13 at 0:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @AndrejaKo I never implied otherwise: "In a large part of the world...", not "In all the rest of the world..." \$\endgroup\$ – Anindo Ghosh Mar 13 '13 at 12:41
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MIT does not have an Electronics Engineering program.

Not seeing anything about Electronics Engineering at Stanford.

UC Berkley has a concentration in electronics under their Electrical Engineering program.

No Electronics Engineering at Harvard.

Or Michigan.

Or Purdue.

Or GA Tech.

Or Cornell

Or Carnegie-Mellon.

Or UT Austin.

Or Princeton.

Or Cornell.

I chose these programs, because they are consistently ranked at the top of Electrical Engineering program rankings. They may not have Electronics Engineering programs, but the majority have some form of Computer Engineering or CS program closely associated with Electrical Engineering.

What makes EE.SE great is the number of great minds we have collectively, in one spot. The key to growth is to attract new experts, and remain relevant. There may be a case for a name change to "Electrical and Computer Engineering," but I don't see it making a huge difference. For now, I think the best course of action is doing nothing.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I feel like people are getting a little touchy about this and I'm not sure why. I also love that this is a place of great minds in one spot. What I want is even more great minds in one spot. The distinction between electrical and electronic does exist. This isn't my opinion, that is evidenced by the fact that there are two separate words to describe two separate things. All I am suggesting is a discussion about trying to attract even more people here, because compared to something StackOverflow, the traffic is tiny (see SO has 928,000 unanswered vs. 674 at EE). \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 20:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @tmwoods we are still growing, again it is local so each locality thinks they are right. Writing this comment for the benefit of Matt mostly. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Mar 12 '13 at 23:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MattYoung - That is, sadly, a patently USA-centric view. In the rest of the world (Yes, we exist too), electrical engineering does not necessarily encompass electronics, in fact I can say for certain that it does not. This is a global site, not EE-USA. \$\endgroup\$ – Anindo Ghosh Mar 13 '13 at 0:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ The "electronics" concentration in EECS at Berkeley doesn't even mean what we mean by electronics. It means basically device design, figuring out where the electrons go in the diodes and transistors. The one closest to our topic is "circuits & systems" (or was 15 years ago, anyway). \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Mar 13 '13 at 20:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AnindoGhosh, I think Matt's answer is partly a response to a comment saying that most north american uni's have separate electronics and electrical engineering departments; which was meant to show that north american usage is actually similar to rest-of-the-world usage. I agree with Matt that the original comment is nonsense. \$\endgroup\$ – The Photon Mar 13 '13 at 20:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Look toward the ABET accreditations of the programs you listed, and watch them all point to the same program criteria, regardless of the name \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Mar 16 '13 at 1:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ In other parts of the world it is different. At university.which.co.uk there are 585 electronics courses and 321 electrical courses. It is conceivable that the name "Electrical Engineering" may be putting off some electronics engineers from visiting this site. "Electrical and Electronic Engineering" would probably be seen as more inclusive (by many engineers outside the US). \$\endgroup\$ – RedGrittyBrick Apr 30 '13 at 11:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Having or not a program has anything to do with the scope of the site. DSP has its own site and no DSP degree exists. This is an specialization, just like many others. Besides, no engineering is dealt in here, such code compliance, power transmission, distribution, etc., only electronics, schematics, designs, circuits. \$\endgroup\$ – Brethlosze Dec 8 '17 at 4:27
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Electrical engineering covers much more than electronics. Is the intention of this site to deal with electronics only, or all electrical engineering fields, including such things as:

  • power generation
  • transimssion
  • telecommunications
  • signal processing
  • industrial automation and controls (SCADA, DCS etc.)

There doesn't seem to be a lot of discussion on non-electronics electrical engineering topics.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is your post a question on its own or an answer to the question at the top of the page? \$\endgroup\$ – jippie Mar 14 '14 at 19:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ A request for clarification. If we're supposed to cover all topics (not just electronics), then the "electrical engineering" name makes sense. Otherwise it doesn't. \$\endgroup\$ – Taraz Mar 14 '14 at 20:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ @user228546 electrical engineering just means "power engineering" outside the US. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Mar 14 '14 at 21:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk: That is a weak argument in that we get very few electric power engineering questions. I agree they are on topic, I'd like to see more, and the few we have gotten have generally been well received. If many around the world were confused thinking this site is only about electric power engineering, then we should be getting a lot more of such questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Mar 16 '14 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop We dont have many of the questions, so people dont find it with searches when they are looking for help with that, I would still like the name to be Electrical and Electronics Engineering \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Mar 16 '14 at 17:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ Here in Canada, "Power engineering" isn't really closely related to electrical engineering. It's a trade (not a degree-type profession), and they deal primarily with the operation of steam plants and power generation using steam (coal plants, etc.). They are generally not electricians, electrical engineers, or electronics experts. There are also "power stream" electrical engineers, which aren't necessarily "power engineers". \$\endgroup\$ – Taraz Mar 16 '14 at 23:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think in the FAQ or in the site intro should talk about it, since most people (like me) were never sure if we could post power engineering questions here =( \$\endgroup\$ – m3dl Nov 13 '14 at 2:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Here there is not engineering at all by the way. Code complaince is another missing term. \$\endgroup\$ – Brethlosze Dec 8 '17 at 4:32
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There were actually two electronics/electrical sites at one time, Electronics Exchange and Chiphacker, and they "merged" them (though not well, lost a bunch of questions), and that is the name they chose. At that point it was named Electronics Design, but due to trademark issues it was renamed to Electrical Engineering.

In fact, both urls electronics.stackexchange.com and chiphacker.com both work for it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Wasn't it a Chiphacker merge or something like that? \$\endgroup\$ – Bart Mar 12 '13 at 16:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, and even now the Electrical Engineering site uses the url electronics.stackexchange.com and the url 'chiphacker.com'. \$\endgroup\$ – Lance Roberts Mar 12 '13 at 16:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ It was not Electronics exchange, they picked Electronics design. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Mar 12 '13 at 23:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk, thanks, edited. \$\endgroup\$ – Lance Roberts Mar 12 '13 at 23:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I have written an answer. Chiphacker was an SE1.0 site that seeded our site. You can tell by users with very low user numbers. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Mar 12 '13 at 23:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeh, I was on Electronics before it was merged. I'm still ticked off they deleted my questions. \$\endgroup\$ – Lance Roberts Mar 12 '13 at 23:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LanceRoberts I am still ticked that people who used chiphacker for a year before hand dont have the badge for the private beta, but a small group in the private beta which only took a couple weeks does. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Mar 15 '13 at 17:01
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I agree with you that 'Electrical Engineering' doesn't cover all the topics as clear as some title could. I think Electronics Exchange was a better name, but, as Lance Roberts says in his answer, there have been trademark issues about that. So I don't think an improvement is possible, and, Electrical Engineering is just fine, isn't it?

Personally, I didn't know there was a difference between Electrical and Electronics, until I saw this question and looked it up. Probably, this is since I'm not a native speaker. I think there won't be a problem for many not-native speakers.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I definitely agree that Electronics Exchange was better but even that wasn't great in my mind. I think it should be something generic enough to cover ALL the disciplines covered here but specific enough to be a good name. And I think a lot of people notice the difference; I have been asking people all morning and most of them said they don't come to the site because "it isn't for electronic engineers, just electrical". \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 20:07
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Because there really isn't a better name that would be all inclusive of the majority of the content. Well, short of just "Engineering", then it's not exclusive enough. There is a lot of bleed over from other fields of study, and interests. Physics, computer engineering, simple computer software usage (linux/windows with some related software) repair, thought questions (how to determine if a train car is in a certain place on the train), practical questions (how to power a fan, more computer modding than anything). How do you address all of that in a name without getting too broad?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ The term "mechatronics" comes to mind, however it might be a bit too broad and unfortunately such a term is not very widely known. \$\endgroup\$ – stanri Mar 13 '13 at 10:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ @StaceyAnne That is actually the name on my degree :P But I agree that not enough people know this term. I started this thread to see if people come up with anything clever :) \$\endgroup\$ – tmwoods Mar 13 '13 at 13:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ @tmwoods, coincidentally, mine too. it seems like only the people who study Mechtronics actually know of it's existence :) \$\endgroup\$ – stanri Mar 13 '13 at 14:44
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Back when my father entered the field in the early fifties, electronic engineering was known as "radio engineering" because radio was the dominant electronics-related field. Design engineers where known as "radio engineers," and radio repairmen where known as "radio mechanics."

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, now they are better known as RF engineer, which is still not so far of what you say... \$\endgroup\$ – Brethlosze Dec 8 '17 at 4:33
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I think we ought to rename this group Computer and Electrical Engineering, we cover plenty of computer engineering topics like computer architecture, HDL, Logic Design and more.

Many colleges have one department for both engineering majors (i.e. Harvard, UMass, Northeastern, UMD etc..)

Although you could argue that so are Computer Science and Electrical Engineering in places like MIT. EE and CE have about half the undergraduate classes in common as oppose to CS which has roughly less than half year of classes that overlap.

There's a new group proposed in area51 called Computer Architecture. I don't think they would cover anything that wouldn't be accepted here.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Down-voting w/o comments is futile here \$\endgroup\$ – Iancovici Sep 12 '13 at 17:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not really. Downvoting isn't really a negative in EE meta. Notice there's no penalty when you get downvoted here. It's simply a way of saying "I don't care for this line of thought or suggestion", or "I disagree" with no negative connotation beyond that. FWIW, I think there's more things that most would consider "computer engineering" that would be OT here than would be on topic. \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Sep 12 '13 at 21:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Right, but it's a discussion so arguing makes the two sides more clear. \$\endgroup\$ – Iancovici Sep 13 '13 at 1:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Downvoting is just a vote indicating disagreement, not like on the main site where it means you are a moron, insinuations about your mother and the 6th fleet, and that you smell bad. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Sep 13 '13 at 19:58

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