What Is Computer Engineering?

Computer engineering combines electrical engineering and computer science to focus on the design and implementation of computer systems (logic devices and software). It is generally part of the engineering department at a university and requires a strong background in math. Read on to find out what computer engineering students study and where they can work. Schools offering Computer Engineering degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Computer Engineering Career Information

Computer engineering involves the design of computer systems (hardware and software) and related devices. It uses the techniques and principles of electrical engineering and computer science, but also covers areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, computer networks, computer architecture and operating systems. The electrical engineering aspect of the discipline includes designing application devices, interface hardware, memories, and computer chips. The computer science component involves software engineering, programming, operating systems, algorithms and data structures.

Important Facts About Computer Engineering

Required EducationBachelor's degree in computer engineering, although electrical engineering or computer science may be acceptable
Work EnvironmentOffices, research and development laboratories, manufacturers
Continuing EducationIEEE Computer Society Certificates of Achievement
Similar OccupationsComputer programmers, computer network architects, information security analysts, database administrators, web developers

A computer engineer's job involves the entire computer system, and a computer engineer must be comfortable working with both the hardware and software. The results of computer engineering can be seen in practically every aspect of life. Computer engineers work in many areas, including:

Embedded Systems

An important aspect of computer engineering is 'embedded systems,' which is computer software and hardware designed for a specific device. For example, digital alarm systems, video recorders and audio players as well as cell phones are the results of computer engineering in the area of embedded systems. Most of the software design involves interfacing the device with another device or with a user.

Networking

Computer engineering involves building networks, both WAN (wide area networks) and LAN (local area networks). Other areas that a computer engineer may work in include mobile and wireless technology, telephony communications and integrated services.

Multimedia

This area involves processing of multimedia information. Computer engineering looks into support for multimedia libraries and databases and retrieval of information.

VLSI Systems

This area is concerned with very large scale integration (VLSI) of systems and circuits. The field of VLSI systems is constantly evolving.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed computer hardware engineers was expected to increase 3% between 2014 and 2024, which is slower than average. The median salary among these professionals was $108,430 as of 2014.

The BLS also reports that job openings for software developers were projected to grow 17%, which is faster than the national average of 7% for all job sectors. As of 2014, developers earned a median of $97,990 per year.

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