Radio Frequency Engineers
Exploring this Job
An internship or part-time or summer job in a company that has a radio frequency engineering division is a great way to learn more about this profession while getting a foot in the door. Search for opportunities on the Web sites of companies that interest you. Conducting an informational interview with or even job-shadowing a radio frequency engineer will give you insights to the day-to-day tasks and what the work environment is like. Your school's career services office can assist you with finding radio frequency engineers interested in sharing their knowledge with students.
Get involved in a science club to learn more about engineering and also meet other students who share the same interests. You can also join the Technology Student Association, an organization that provides competitions and other educational programs for students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. TSA also offers the Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics, and Science (called TEAMS), which is an annual engineering competition for middle school and high school students. Learn more at https://tsaweb.org/teams.
Participating in summer youth programs that focus on scientific and technological activities is another excellent way to learn more about the different types of engineering, including radio frequency engineering. It also offers students the opportunity to get a taste of college life while having a camp-like experience. Michigan Technological University, for example, offers numerous courses in its summer youth programs for high school students. Find details at https://www.mtu.edu/syp.
Professional associations for engineers also offer helpful resources for students interested in various engineering fields. For instance, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers offers information about engineering fields, engineering schools, games, and a section with profiles of engineers in various engineering specializations. Find information at https://tryengineering.org. The American Society for Engineering Education also has a pre-college Web site (http://precollege.asee.org) focused on engineering education, with information about grants, events, and other resources for students.
Radio frequency engineers strategize the design and construction of wireless telecommunications devices and systems. They may create wireless networks and systems for broadcasting devices and cell phones. They also develop schematics for maintaining existing telecommunications systems. They apply their knowledge of electronics and electrical engineering as well as radio frequency physics in increasing the geographical distance that radio waves can reach. Radio frequency engineers work for telecommunications companies, broadcast stations, as well as in research and development, and for government and military organizations.
Research and development organizations hire radio frequency engineers to help them create new technologies and products and also to identify problems with existing systems and find ways to improve them. Radio frequency engineers work closely with other engineers in teams, using physics and math equations to come up with practical applications for technologies such as cell phones, radio antenna systems, satellite dishes, to name just a few. Radio frequency engineering teams will also assess the effectiveness of the new systems and products they develop.
As described in a wiseGEEK article, radio frequency engineers who work for telecommunications companies and broadcast stations are responsible for network installation and maintenance. They oversee the operations of large servers and transmitters, ensuring they are functioning properly. They also determine the best ways to send television and radio signals that are clearer and have broader geographic reach. Radio frequency engineers use cable boxes, antennas, and wireless routers to ensure signals are picked up effectively. In large companies, radio frequency engineers may work as systems analysts, with tasks related to preventive maintenance and repairs on local area networks.
Radio frequency engineers who work for government and military organizations are focused on creating new technology for communications systems and devices. They design secure cell phones and two-way radios that have high protection against interception. Radio frequency engineers also enhance the broadcasting capacities of transmitters by applying radio frequency theory to scramble signals. Those who work for the military may also be tasked with performing communications systems and devices repairs and maintenance work on the spot during military operations.