What is Computer Engineering

Table of Contents

Introduction

A computer engineer fuses electrical engineering and computer science to develop new technology. Computer engineers design, build, and maintain hardware in modern computers.
What Is Computer Engineering
What Is Computer Engineering
These engineers focus on integrating hardware and software in a unified system safely and efficiently. According to CompTIA, computer engineers, cybersecurity professionals, and systems analysts make up the second-largest category of tech jobs.
Along with personal devices, computer engineers have a hand in creating robotics, networks, and other computer-based systems. This role tends to include a high amount of research and development, testing, and quality assurance. Computer engineering might appeal to problem-solvers and technology enthusiasts.
Computer engineers work within a team along with software developers and other tech professionals. The field requires strong foundations in science and mathematics, and most employees have earned a related bachelor’s degree. Certifications in software, programming languages, or hardware systems can lead to additional job opportunities.
Below, you can learn more about computer engineering, including potential jobs, necessary skills, education, and helpful resources.

History of Computer Engineers

Computer engineering started as a specialization of electrical engineering before developing into a new discipline. As initially defined, computer engineering applied aspects of digital logic design from computer science to the design of microprocessors and technological systems.
As the field grew, computer engineering continued to adopt design fundamentals and theories from computer science. Computer engineering is distinct from computer science because it focuses on hardware and computer design.
Case Western Reserve University offered the first accredited computer engineering program in the U.S. in 1971. As of 2022, more than 4,361 computer engineering programs in the country hold accreditation from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Computer Engineering specialisations

In addition to general Computer Engineering degrees, universities and colleges also offer different specialisations or subdisciplines if you want to narrow down your focus. Here are a few examples:
  1. Hardware Systems
  2. Distributed Computing
  3. Robotics and Cybernetics
  4. Embedded Systems
  5. Computer Graphics and Visualisation
  6. Medical Image Computing
  7. Computer and Network Security
Engineering Specialisations
Engineering Specialisations
                 

Computer Engineering classes

To know what you’ll actually study, check out the curriculum before choosing an academic programme and don’t rely only on the title of the programme. If you have other questions, contact the university or college where you want to apply. They’ll be more than happy to help you.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some typical classes offered by general Computer Engineering degrees:
  1. Introduction to electronics
  2. Circuit analysis
  3. Signal processing
  4. Engineering computing
  5. Embedded systems
  6. Computer networks
  7. Computer vision
  8. Autonomous robotics
  9. Programming principles
  10. Computer architecture
Good to know: If you plan to study abroad in the United States, some computer science schools offer the opportunity to study a double major in both Computer Science and Engineering. It’s a great way to make the best of both worlds, but it’s also more challenging than a regular degree.
Computer Engineering students working on small robot

Best universities offering Computer Engineering courses

Since we’re talking about universities, specialisations, and classes, we’ve decided it would also be useful to list the best computer engineering schools in the world. Based on the QS Rankings 2021 created by TopUniversities, the top 10 is:
Scientists
Scientists
  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the USA
  2. Stanford University, the USA
  3. Carnegie Mellon University, the USA
  4. National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore
  5. University of California Berkeley (UCB), the USA
  6. University of Oxford, the UK
  7. Harvard University, the USA
  8. University of Cambridge, the UK
  9. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland
  10. ETH Zurich, Switzerland
This isn’t the only top 10 list with the best universities offering Computer Engineering degrees. Other rankings might use different evaluation factors.

Computer Engineering skills 

To succeed as a computer engineer, you need to develop or improve abilities like:
  1. Analytical thinking
  2. Problem-solving
  3. Creativity
  4. Critical thinking
  5. Attention to details
  6. Technical writing
  7. Programming
  
Engineering Skills
Engineering Skills
         
With the use of these skills, computer engineers find new solutions that make our devices faster, safer, and more power-efficient. If you’ve ever wondered how new phones or computers are better than previous models, it’s thanks to all the hard work put into designing faster components and more optimised operating systems and applications.

Computer Engineering jobs and salaries

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for future computer engineers looks stable. Based on their data, Computer Engineering jobs are expected to grow 2% by 2029.
Still, don’t make the mistake of thinking it will be easy. The competition for good positions is high, and knowledge from classes isn’t enough. To stand out among other applicants, you should invest in your career early: look for internships, get involved in research projects, and learn on your own.
These are some of the most popular Computer Engineering jobs. We’ve also included the annual salaries in the US based on data from Glassdoor.
Computer Engineer – 92,000 USD
Computer Architecture Developer – 85,750 USD
Systems Engineer – 77,750 USD
Network Engineer – 72,350 USD
Firmware Engineer – 98,250 USD
Mobile Device Engineer – 91,700 USD
Quality Control (QC) Engineer – 44,400 USD
So, what does all this information mean?
That future computer engineers don’t need to worry about job opportunities despite the highly competitive market. You’ll have a well-paid job, and your salary will increase with experience. Computer Engineering jobs are also safe from the automation process, which looks likely to take out many work opportunities in the future.

FAQ

1.Where do computer engineers work?
Computer engineering professionals work in research labs, private sectors, and federal, state, and local governments. If you want to become a computer engineer, consider pursuing the specialization or focus area that interests you most. You can start researching engineering jobs by browsing job posts. Even if you aren’t yet ready to apply, this exercise can help you get a feel for the differences in responsibilities and pay from industry to industry.  
2.How to become a computer engineer
Sixty-six percent of computer engineers have a bachelor’s degree, 14 percent have a master’s degree, and 11 percent have an associate degree [3]. Twenty-eight percent of computer engineers with a degree pursued a computer engineering major. Other relevant areas of study include computer science and electrical engineering. 
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