Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/266

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IT is but a few years since the practical student of electrical science was limited to the single branch of telegraphy. His choice lay between becoming a telegraph operator and a manufacturer of telegraph instruments. The telegraph operators form a numerous and intelligent body of men; sharp competition exists among them, and for a long time they had scarcely any chance of improving their position, because until recently no other branch of electrical engineering was open to them. But, during the last dozen years, great progress has been made in various and new applications of electricity. Skilled electrical engineers are few; and any one, who has acquired a practical knowledge of several branches of electricity, will find no difficulty in keeping himself profitably employed.

Until lately, the young electrician's great desire was to qualify himself for submarine telegraphy. The work of testing and localizing faults in cables is of a more scientific and interesting character than work in other departments of telegraph engineering. The manufacture of cables is also a subject for particular study, and a fair knowledge of mechanical engineering may be gained by practice in it. Two of the many different departments of electrical engineering, telephony and electric lighting, are becoming especially important, and yet there is great difficulty in finding competent electricians to accomplish the work.

During a recent sojourn in Europe, I learned that not only young men, but educated women also, were studying electrical engineering, and that large fortunes have been made in it. The enormous extension of the telegraphic system, and the wonderful advances made in electricity, electric lighting, telephony, electrical cables, and railways, and in the transmission of power, offer great advantages to persons seeking profitable employment. Telegraph engineering or electrical engineering is a new profession. More than this, it is one which is not yet over-crowded, and it is, therefore, undoubtedly an occupation which many of our college graduates will adopt.

The ultimate value of the advances which have recently been made in electrical science can not now be estimated. The great electrician, Professor Clerk Maxwell, was asked shortly before his death, by a distinguished scientist, "What is the greatest scientific discovery of the last quarter of a century?" His reply was, "The discovery that the Gramme machine is reversible." The ordinary electrician would have called the telephone, the Faure accumulator, or the Edison electric light, the greatest discovery, but Professor Maxwell's deep and philo-