Computer engineering is a discipline that integrates several fields of electrical engineering and computer science required to develop computer hardware and software. Computer engineers usually have training in electronic engineering (or electrical engineering), software design, and hardware-software integration instead of only software engineering or electronic engineering. Computer engineers are involved in many hardware and software aspects of computing, from the design of individual microprocessors, personal computers, and supercomputers, to circuit design. This field of engineering not only focuses on how computer systems themselves work, but also how they integrate into the larger picture.
Usual tasks involving computer engineers include writing software and firmware for embedded microcontrollers, designing VLSI chips, designing analog sensors, designing mixed signal circuit boards, and designing operating systems. Computer engineers are also suited for robotics research, which relies heavily on using digital systems to control and monitor electrical systems like motors, communications, and sensors.
In many institutions, computer engineering students are allowed to choose areas of in-depth study in their junior and senior year, because the full breadth of knowledge used in the design and application of computers is beyond the scope of an undergraduate degree. Other institutions may require engineering students to complete one year of General Engineering before declaring computer engineering as their primary focus.
Computer engineers continually push the capability and applicability of computers in every industry and every facet of modern life.
Computer engineers embed computers in other machines and systems, build networks to transfer data, and develop ways to make computers, faster, smaller, and more capable. Computer engineers are improving the ability of computers to "see" and "think." They are making computers more mobile, and even incorporating computers into fabrics, clothes, and building materials.
Computer engineers are concerned with analyzing and solving computer-oriented problems. CPEs understand both the hardware and the software of computers. This enables them to choose the solution that is best, not just the one they know. Sometimes the answer to making a program more efficient is a change in the computer itself. Sometimes it's cheaper and faster to change the software than the hardware. The knowledge of both the "body" and the "mind" of a computer helps computer engineers work at the microscopic level and on a large, system-wide scale.
Computer engineers use many of the principles and techniques of electrical engineering and many of computer science. Computer engineering, however, is more than a blend of two other fields.
The major technical areas of CPE:
- Design automation
- Machine intelligence
- Computer software
- Embedded Systems
Computer engineering graduates typically have some of the highest starting salaries in engineering. Computer engineers have the option of moving into hardware or software positions, or blending the two.
Typical industries hiring computer engineers, include financial services, computer manufacturers, chemical companies, defense contractors, consulting, transportation, manufacturing, and consumer goods. Computer engineers are equally successful in large multinational firms and small startups.
What Do Computer Engineers Do?
Computer engineers make computers faster, smaller, cheaper, and smarter. They design and implement hardware for next generation computing systems; design and analyze computer architectures; design and implement software for applications; design and analyze computer communication system architecture, protocol, network and hardware; design processors and algorithms for secure, efficient, and error-free transmission and storage of audio, image, and video information; and design man-machine interface systems for factory automation, control, and communication.
Career Opportunities and Job Outlook
Demand for computer engineering graduates is projected to increase in the next decade. The average 2012 starting salary for computer engineers was $67,800 for those with a Bachelor of Science degree. The mean salary in May 2010 was $98,810 for computer hardware engineers Recent graduates have been employed in the design of communication systems and processors, development of high speed computer communication systems, computer design, and software design. Purdue Calumet engineering alumni can be found in high-salaried positions at Fortune 500 companies and industry leaders like: Arcelor Mittal Steel, Advanced Micro Devices, BP, Cisco Systems, Caterpillar, Ford, Hewlett Packard, Honeywell, Johnson Controls, John Deere, Kimberly Clark, Lockheed, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, National Semiconductor, Northrop Grumman, Panduit, Proctor and Gamble, Peoples Energy, Sargent & Lundy, Siemens, Texas Instruments, United States Steel, and Westinghouse.
Faculty expertise covers a wide range of areas in computer software, hardware, and embedded systems; including software engineering, database design, computer graphics, robotics, computer architecture and organization, wireless data transfer between computers, neural computing for specialized operations, speech and speaker recognition systems, digital image processing, and immersive and interactive virtual environment for tele-rehabilitation.
Definition - What does Computer Engineering mean?
Computer engineering refers to the study that integrates electronic engineering with computer sciences to design and develop computer systems and other technological devices. Computer engineering professionals have expertise in a variety of diverse areas such as software design, electronic engineering and integrating software and hardware.
Computer engineering allows professionals to engage in a number of areas such as analyzing and designing anything from simple microprocessors to highly featured circuits, software design, and operating system development. Computer engineering is not limited to operating computer systems but is aimed at creating a broad way to design more comprehensive technological solutions.
Also known as computer system engineering.
Techopedia explains Computer Engineering
The term computer engineering is often confused with computer science, but these two terms are different. Computer scientists are responsible for electrical and software manufacturing, while computer engineers are trained to design software and perform and integrate that software with hardware components. Computer engineering also includes the engineers who write firmware specifically for embedded microcontrollers, design and develop analog sensors, design very-large-scale integration chips, and create schemes for mixed- and single-circuit boards. The engineering field of computer sciences also contributes to robotic research that requires digital systems to monitor electrical components like motors and sensors.
In 1971, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland introduced the first ever computer science engineering degree discipline. Computer engineering programs are now common across the U.S. and the world.