Due to the clearly agreed upon question/answer here:
Despite the name, the community here wants to focus pretty tightly on board-level electronics design. I have seen reasonable programming questions closed, and control theory or signal processing questions don't stand much of a chance. This makes me sad.
and responses to a former question about the name:
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). – tmwoods Mar 12 '13 at 23:11 2 upvote
@tmwoods Yes, I have always thought there should. Time spent on a troll distracted us from following up on that. – Kortuk♦
it would make sense to me that the little site banner:
be renamed. I don't much care to what, but Electrical Engineering is misleading. Further, according to the Wikipedia page on Electrical Engineering, there is no interpretation where the term Electrical Engineering makes sense as a name for a community that focuses on "board electronics" (as described in the first quote I included).
If we consider Wikipedia a reliable source, then this site should at least be named Electronics Engineering in order to align with internationally accepted nomenclature for the area involving small electrical systems. In fact, the first 3 paragraphs from the wiki page describe the distinction perfectly:
Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism. This field first became an identifiable occupation in the latter half of the 19th century after commercialization of the electric telegraph, the telephone, and electric power distribution and use. It now covers a wide range of subfields including electronics, digital computers, power engineering, telecommunications, control systems, RF engineering, and signal processing.
Electrical engineering may include electronic engineering. Where a distinction is made, usually outside of the United States, electrical engineering is considered to deal with the problems associated with systems such as electric power transmission and electrical machines, whereas electronic engineering deals with the study of electronic systems including computers, communication systems, integrated circuits, and radar.
From a different point-of-view, electrical engineers are usually concerned with using electricity to transmit electric power, while electronic engineers are concerned with using electricity to process information. The subdisciplines can overlap, for example, in the growth of power electronics, and the study of behavior of large electrical grids under the control of digital computers and electronics.
If I'm interpreting the text correctly, then there really isn't any question about what a site like this should be called. I am not presenting this somewhat verbose dialog as a troll. It would simply save askers and answerers alike a lot of time if the name actually reflected the type of questions the community here desires. I have no issue with a community like this wanting to stay on a narrow range of topics and bias toward thoroughly researched and informed questions, but if that's the case then a germane name should eliminate confusion and questions like this one:
about converting photons to electrons (which is absolutely prudent to the field of electrical engineering) from surfacing. With all due respect, the way things currently are, it makes the community here look uninformed when a question like the above is downvoted and closed as "unclear" when a seasoned electrical engineer (as opposed to an electronics enthusiast or electronics/computer engineer) should know exactly what the asker is trying to figure out.
I came across this question after posting too:
which has a heavily accepted answer that also acknowledges the naming issue:
Having "Engineering" in the title gives a more professional feel to the site, which is welcome.
However, I think the site is currently more focused on Electronics Engineering, as opposed to Electrical Engineering. The general public might not care, but I think that many visitors to the site will be aware of the distinction.
Electrical Engineering has two possible meanings. Sometimes, it refers to any part of engineering which deals with electricity, regardless of the power level. However, it can also denote engineers who are primarily concerned with power systems: High voltage/current, generators, motors, and the like. This is the definition that is used in the IEEE acronym, which stands for "Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers". We've always been more focused on electronics than power systems, so the former definition is more accurate.
Electronics Engineering always (AFAIK) refers to the design of lower power electronics like computers and embedded systems.
In my personal education at a state university in the USA, I'm a computer engineering major. To my school, this is the equivalent of an electronics engineering degree, but it does dabble a little bit in software engineering. In my opinion, this site is about computer engineering, but other computer engineering degrees focus more on software, which further confuses the issue.
I think that (high-power) electrical, electronics, and computer engineers could coexist quite happily on a single Stack Exchange site. However, it should not be assumed that Electrical Engineering is the same as Electronics Design. I'm not protesting the new name (at least not as loudly as I protested "Electronics"), I'm just trying to bring this to your attention so we can add a note about the definition of "Electrical Engineering" which we're using to the FAQ.