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Graphs of Square Root Functions

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Credit: Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39388148@N04/8677773473
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Who fixes the power when it goes out? Who decides where to put switches and electrical outlets in a new house? Who makes sure that the wiring in your house can support the demands of your air conditioner and your refrigerator? When you have a problem with electricity, it takes an electrician to solve it.

Loads and Currents

Electricians use square roots every day. One of their most important measurements is the root mean square (RMS). In the U.S., we use alternating current (AC) to power our homes, which means the current changes or "alternates" with time. If you graphed the current in an AC circuit over time, you'd see a curve shaped like a sine wave, as shown in the graph below.

Credit: Iain Marcuson
Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Acigraph.png
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Because alternating current has a waveform, the RMS of the current comes into play when you try to find the average current in an electrical circuit. The RMS allows electricians to make the calculations they need to ensure that every home has an adequate amount of safe power.

Credit: N. Alicia Goldberger/Alaska Air National Guard
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/176wg/5543643257/
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

There’s a strong demand for electricians, but it’s not that easy to become an electrician’s apprentice. Before you can become an apprentice, you have to master algebra, graduate from high school, and pass a qualifying exam. Most electricians have interesting and varied workdays—they don’t spend a lot of time sitting at desks. It takes four years to go from an apprentice to an electrician who can work independently. The apprenticeship is almost entirely on-the-job training, with limited classroom time. However, apprentices are paid throughout their training period. If you’re good at solving problems and want an active job, you may want to consider becoming an electrician!

See for yourself: http://www.njatc.org/training/apprenticeship/

Explore More

Watch the videos below to learn more about what it takes to become an electrician.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z0av57vgDo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxTwSwsuvXM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SwhJi3iMPzs

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/39388148@N04/8677773473; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Iain Marcuson; Source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Acigraph.png; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  3. [3]^ Credit: N. Alicia Goldberger/Alaska Air National Guard; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/176wg/5543643257/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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