Electrical engineers work in various sectors such as the building industry and services, transport networks, manufacturing, and the production and distribution of power. The nature of their duties varies across sectors; however, there are certain common responsibilities. First, an electrical engineer will identify the requirements of the customer, research suitable solutions, make models and prototypes, and review the existing specifications and technical drawings (Prospects, 2013). Second, an electrical engineer will liaise with other specialists involved in a project to determine how they are going to collaborate. In addition, an electrical engineer will liaise with the contractors that supposedly supply materials for a project. Third, an electrical engineer will design and conduct tests, record and interpret the data obtained, and may propose modifications to the object under testing. Fourth, an electrical engineer will qualify a product or system. Additional responsibilities of an electrical engineer include the servicing and maintenance of electrical systems, documentation of products and systems, report writing, and presenting various reports concerning systems. An electrical engineer can also monitor a system in use and recommend on the improvements or changes that the system needs (Prospects, 2013). The core duties and responsibilities of an electrical engineer in charge of a commercial multistoried building include designing, developing, testing, and supervision of electrical and communications equipment. The electrical lighting and air conditioning systems of a multistoried building are often embedded in the walls of the building. For this reason, an electrical engineer must actively participate in designing the map of the electrical system of the building. In addition, an electrical engineer needs ample time during which one will brainstorm and plan. Consequently, the offices in which engineers perform their brainstorming and plans should be conducive to their environment.
This typical description of the roles and contexts of an electrical engineer has revealed two separate working environments of the engineer. The first working environment is often the site of a project. The site of a project is the venue that an electrical engineer will visit to analyze the requirements of the customer and research on a project. In this case, a building under construction will mandate an engineer to ensure that there are enough provisions for future engineering works. Future engineering works include wiring and installation of electrical and addition systems, servicing, repairs, and monitoring. The second working environment of an electrical engineer is the office or space where an engineer will carry out theoretical work. Theoretical works include planning and designing of systems, testing models and prototypes, research, documentation, report writing, and reports presentation. Apparently, the different working environments of an electrical engineer in the building and construction industry represent the diverse stages of work undertaken by an electrical engineer. Whereas the first environment facilitates site visits and practical work on the outside, the second environment facilitates an engineer in theoretical analysis and conceptualization. Notably, the two environments complement each other in ensuring an electrical engineer is successful in his or her duties. For this reason, the architectural design of the internal and external environments of an electrical engineer determines the success or failure of the engineers in the following ways:
First, the work rate of an electrical engineer will be subject to the ease or difficulty of accessing crucial areas in buildings that house electrical systems. The ease or difficulty of accessing the electrical systems of a building relate to the functional and spatial conformance of the architectural design. Functional conformance refers to how the external environment has been set up to facilitate an electrical engineer to carry out duties. For example, an architect can design a building in such a manner that the spaces meant for electrical wiring are insufficient to accommodate future expansion (Rener, 2011). For this reason, an electrical engineer will have to dismantle the existing electrical wiring system and replace it with a new wiring system. Of course, conducting an overhaul of the electrical wiring system is a tedious process since it makes a project longer to complete. Another instance in which a flawed architectural design of a building affects the work rate of an electrical engineer is the case in which the materials used in the construction of a building are impenetrable. For instance, the internal surfaces of the walls of a building can be constructed using very hard materials that make the wall difficult to chip at when laying trunking pipes. Consequently, the electrical engineer will have to modify the method used to install the trunking pipes that house electrical cables. Spatial conformance refers to the presence of adequate space for the occupants of a building. In this case, an inadequate configuration of the spaces of a building undergoing routine maintenance might interfere with the schedule of an electrical engineer. Occasionally, electrical engineers are forced to postpone or reschedule their routine maintenance, especially in buildings housing offices that are operationally active. In this case, carrying out electrical jobs that include systems upgrades, servicing, or repairs will interfere with the operations of the workers in the offices because the architectural design of the building left little room for carrying out the two activities simultaneously.
Second, the workflow of an electrical engineer can be affected by the architectural design of a building because of such factors as spatial conformance, physiological maintenance, and perceptual maintenance. Notably, the three factors mentioned are applicable to the external working environment of an electrical engineer. Spatial conformance of a building can be flawed to the extent that the electrical engineer’s access to key electrical systems becomes difficult. For instance, the tunnels in a multistoried building that have provisions for the passage of electrical wiring systems might be too narrow to allow an engineer to inspect and collect data concerning possible flaws. In addition, the tunnels might have different measurements depending on the level of floors. Consequently, an engineer will have to design and develop various strategies of inspection that are appropriate to each tunnel design (Crawley, deWeck, Eppinger, & Magee, 2004). Physiological maintenance refers to how the building has been designed to ensure climatic conditions are conducive to the occupants of the building. Another element of physiological maintenance is hazard regulation, which refers to an environment free of hazards or threats to the occupant of a building. An electrical engineer conducting an inspection or maintenance procedure might be in danger because the trunking tunnels of a building may be located on the outside of the building. Such a location implies that an electrical engineer might experience hostile temperatures due to being exposed to direct sunlight. In addition, the location of the trunking tunnels on the outside might expose the tunnels to leakage during rainfall. In any case, any leakage into the electrical wires inside the trunking tunnel might pose the risk of electrical shock to an electrical engineer. In rare cases, inadequate spaces in the trunking tunnels might lead to the suffocation of an electrical engineer because of inadequate air for breathing. In this case, the hostile conditions inside the trunking tunnels impair the ability of an electrical engineer to make accurate sensory perceptions about the flaws in the electrical system.
Third, the work design of an electrical engineer is subject to the architectural design of a building as well, especially in the instances involving engineer’s work at the office. In this case, such factors as perceptual maintenance and social facilitation gain prominence. Typically, electrical engineers require quiet and non-distracting environments to brainstorm ideas, plans, designs, and models of their works that would be applicable to the field (Crawley, deWeck, Eppinger, & Magee, 2004). However, electrical engineers are unlikely to be effective in their offices if the buildings they stay in have been designed in such a manner that high levels of noise and outside activities distract their concentration levels. Another element of the architectural design of a building that may affect the effectiveness of an electrical engineer includes lighting. In this case, insufficient lighting hampers the ability of an engineer to concentrate on his/her core duties, such as analysis and modeling. In addition, buildings where the engineering department is close to other departments of an organization are unlikely to realize the effectiveness of the engineering department due to lack of requisite social isolation. Social isolation is crucial for engineering departments due to the complexity of work during conceptualization and modeling stages.
In conclusion, the architectural design of a building affects the work rate, workflow, and work designs of electrical engineers. This influence of architecture affects engineers at both their sites of work, where they undertake fieldwork, and at their offices, where they design, plan, and model engineering solutions. For this reason, the architectural design should factor the working needs of electrical engineers when developing buildings.