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Preparing to study electrical engineering on Khan Academy

A summary of math and science preparation that will help you have the best experience with electrical engineering on Khan Academy. Written by Willy McAllister.
A learner asked, "What math and science prerequisites—skills already achieved—might be considered the minimum for this electrical engineering course?"
Good question! Here is a summary of the math and science preparation that will help you have the best experience learning the electrical engineering topics taught on Khan Academy.

Math

Math fundamentals

Trigonometry

A few concepts from calculus

These math fundamentals, and a little bit of terminology from calculus will get you all the way through resistor networks and circuit analysis methods.

Calculus

As we move beyond resistor circuits and start to include capacitors and inductors, we need calculus to understand how they work. Think of calculus as a corequisite in parallel with electrical engineering. You don't need to have a complete calculus background to get started, but it is helpful before too long. Many students learn calculus at the same time as introductory electrical engineering classes.
These are the calculus concepts we use in electrical engineering at Khan Academy:
Calculus kicks in when we get to circuits involving time—circuits with capacitors or inductors. We have to use calculus to get a meaningful solution.
Differential equations: When we solve first-order differential equations, we walk through the solution step by step (example: RC). The most advanced problems involve second-order differential equations, and again, we go through the solution step by step.
Electrostatics: The electrostatics section has the most advanced topics we cover in electrical engineering. This sequence develops precise definitions of electric field and voltage. My goal is to have you appreciate (but not recreate) the derivations of voltage, and the field equations for point, line, and plane of charge.

Physics

Chemistry

Classics

Engineering equations make more sense if you recognize the Greek alphabet.

Summary

Welcome to electrical engineering on Khan Academy.
Good luck in your studies!

Want to join the conversation?

  • leaf green style avatar for user devon garrett
    With khan academy's electrical engineering lesson's will it prepare me for high schools programs and classes?.
    (96 votes)
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  • winston default style avatar for user Rashan Hughes
    What is a "Calculus" ?
    I have not learn this
    (38 votes)
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  • leaf blue style avatar for user Keondric Bates
    How hard is Calculus?
    (11 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Josh Niesler
    I'm in Grade 12, but since I'm ahead a grade, I have two years to finish 12. Unfortunately, my teacher (somehow) severely messed up my math; so I'm just starting Algebra I now :(

    Do you think I'll be able to catch up to Pre-Calculus in time to start Electrical Engineering at Uni in 2018?

    Also, is there a major difference between Wireless Engineering (A.K.A Telecommunications Engineering) and Electrical Engineering? I'm (far) more interested in the Wireless, but I would have to move interstate to study it. Which should I study?
    (17 votes)
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    • old spice man green style avatar for user Matt B
      Wireless engineering is more related to networks and phone services: ensuring that devices can get signal. It is a relatively new and specific type of engineering.
      Electrical is well establish and a broad field.
      I, personally, would take electrical over wireless any day because electrical engineering is much more applicable to other engineering fields, whereas with wireless, ... well, ... you are stuck with wireless. You can also go into wireless technology with electrical engineering, and I am certain you will find more exciting fields than wireless too :P
      (16 votes)
  • leaf green style avatar for user sara caicedo
    and chemistry? is not that necessary?
    (6 votes)
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    • purple pi purple style avatar for user APDahlen
      Hello Sara,

      Chemistry is an assumption for most EE curriculum. As an example, chemistry would be very important if you were to design / manufacture semiconductor components such as CPUs and transistors.

      For the introductory material presented here on Khan Academy chemistry is of minor importance…

      Regards,

      APD
      (12 votes)
  • orange juice squid orange style avatar for user Francisco lopez
    my question is how hard is to be a electrical engineer
    (2 votes)
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    • old spice man green style avatar for user Matt B
      Like other engineering fields, it is considered a "hard science," so you need to become quite comfortable with formulas and numbers, and there is no doubt that engineering is more intense than many other non-STEM (science, tech, engineering, math) courses. That said, if you like sciences and mathematics, and have the ambitions to go for engineering, do it because many additional opportunities will come to technically inclined people and those who have put effort to their studies.
      (14 votes)
  • blobby blue style avatar for user Ainslyn
    I'm only in 7th grade, but I want to prepare for high school. If I do electrical engineering first, would I be at a disadvantage? I'm not ready for trig or calculus, but I plan on doing physics and chemistry this year, so I could just wait for engineering.
    (3 votes)
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    • spunky sam orange style avatar for user Willy McAllister
      Nobody puts themselves at a disadvantage by studying something new. If you are interested in the EE topic then dive right in. It starts with concepts that don't require fancy math, but do stretch your brain (current, voltage). The fundamental laws (Ohm's Law and Kirchhoff's Laws) are great examples of physics in action. Go as far as you can into EE with the math you know. You will eventually get stumped, but that's okay. It's all growth.

      To prep for high school I would visit KA and get warmed up on the next math class you plan to take.
      (5 votes)
  • leaf yellow style avatar for user Patrick Canel
    With electrical engineering is there entrepreneurship opportunities.
    (4 votes)
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    • purple pi purple style avatar for user APDahlen
      Hello Patrick,

      This is an interesting question but it is hard to answer. You see, there are many different types of electrical engineers. In fact, if you want to have some fun put three electrical engineers in the same room and ask them to define what electrical engineering is. You will likely get more than three answers...

      Seriously, after college most EE will work as part of a larger group at a company. This is important time for person in their mid 20's. They will learn the vocabulary, tool, and tricks of the trade. At this point some continue to work for both large and small companies and some do become entrepreneurs.

      Know that there are always exception and some people will appear to move faster than others. My recommendation is to seek out older engineers that can guide you along the path. None of us got to whee we are without help.

      If you are interested start now. There are so many things you can do. For inspiration take a look at Instructables.com. Challenge yourself to build projects that include an EE flavor.

      Regards,

      APD
      (2 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Daniel Mcbride
    Is there a geographical location that possesses the greatest technology, be it the most advanced innovative utility infrastructure, Barcelona? Fort Worth? Because I'm certainly willing and planning to re- locate so I may be more involved in this field. Also are electrical engineering and electronic engineering separate fields?
    (3 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user Daniel Baptista
    Hey everybody! I have a question... I love Physics and Math, I really like forces, velocity and acceleration. I can not choose if i should study Electrical or Mechanical Engineering. Can you guys give me a advice?
    (2 votes)
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    • purple pi purple style avatar for user APDahlen
      Hello Daniel,

      You need to find yourself a few engineers to talk to. Assuming you live in a good sized city you should be able to locate a few engineers. Here is what you can do:

      1) Get access to a “linkedIn” account. Ask to use your parent's account or create your own.

      2) Search for electrical engineers and mechanical engineers in your area.

      3) Send an email via LinkedIn introducing yourself and request a meeting. If they don’t respond get the company information and call the receptionist. Politely ask him for a direct company email.

      I can’t guarantee you will get a response but most engineers would love to talk to you. And all will encourage you to become a X engineer just like they are.

      So there you have it , do your research and become an electrical engineer just like me :)

      Regards,

      APD
      (2 votes)