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What Is Computer Engineering?

August 13, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Computer engineering is one of the most sought engineering professions in the world. The domain exists at the intersection of innovation and technology. Computer engineering is a dynamic field that offers students varied career opportunities in both software development and hardware engineering. The advances in the computing system in various industries ranging from the healthcare sector to the aerospace industry are attributable to the computer engineering professions. Computer engineering integrates the aspects of computer science and electrical engineering to advance computer systems and networking. 

But what does a computer engineer do? Computer engineers work with software and hardware to ensure they are effectively functioning. Unlike other engineering professions, computer engineers primarily focus on technological innovations to ensure computer systems and networks are more efficient and safer. Computer engineering is categorized into two broad categories: hardware and software engineering. 

As a hardware engineer, you will focus your skills and knowledge on computer systems and computer components, circuit boards, routers, designing microprocessors, including other embedded systems. On the other hand, software engineers develop, test, and debug computer applications and programs and other devices such as mobile phones. Computer engineers’ primary qualification is earning a degree in a computer engineering program such as computer science from an accredited learning institution. Computer engineering majors and other associate degrees are likely to bolster your career, leading to higher positions in the computer engineering industry. 

Are you considering pursuing a degree in any computer engineering programs but are still worried about the degree program? Well, you are in the right place. This page will give detailed information on the critical aspects of computer engineering, including:

  • Types of computer engineering degrees 
  • Benefits of getting a computer engineering degree 
  • Industries that employ computer engineers 
  • How to choose a computer engineering degree 

Types of Computer Engineering Degrees 

Computer engineering degrees are available in several engineering colleges. The degree programs are offered in online and on-campus formats, ranging from associate degree programs to advanced engineering levels such as Master’s degree, with the highest being doctoral engineering levels. All these computer engineering levels allow students to improve their existing skills and develop new technical skills and knowledge in new areas. 

What Are the Specializations Within Computer Engineering? 

Besides being one of the most popular degree majors, computer engineering is a degree program with several specialties. Specializations within computer engineering skills prepare students to take up different career roles in computer engineering, which means that you have plenty of options to consider when you graduate. Some of the computer engineering specialties include: 

  • Hardware Engineering: Hardware engineering is the most common computer engineering specialty. The specializations train and prepare students to design and develop computer equipment and mobile devices, including the physical components. You are likely to learn embedded systems, fault-tolerant computing, parallel computer architecture, among other courses in this specialty. 
  • Software Engineering: This specialty mainly focuses on software application development. Besides, software engineers are trained on various applications, including the systems and protocols of using the developed applications. The specialty helps students learn multiple skills and knowledge include communication skills, coding and scripting, and programming. 
  • Artificial Intelligence: The term artificial intelligence is quite common. Artificial intelligence refers to a computer system’s ability to complete complex tasks, make predictions, and aid in problem-solving. The application uses various technological innovations to interpret spoken and written words, enabling it to make predictions. Besides, they also incorporate electoral engineering knowledge to help develop AI tools. Skills and knowledge learned in this specialty include predictive skills, algorithms, analysis, and mathematics. 
  • Networks: Network specialty primarily focuses on how companies and other organizations used wireless and wired networks to communicate within and outside the organization. As a professional in this specialty, your primary responsibilities will be managing traffic user access, bandwidth and ensuring the safety of both the network and devices connected to the network. 
  • Information Security: Information security, or rather cybersecurity, involves managing all the computing systems of an organization to help prevent security threats, including malware attacks, data breaches, and physical damage. The computer engineering specialization requires in-depth knowledge of cybersecurity threats. Some of the courses you are likely to undertake in this specialty include computer network security, fundamentals of cryptography, and cybersecurity. 
  • Data Science: Data science specialization leads to lucrative career paths. The term data science refers to mining large sets of data needed for analysis and interpretations. Companies use data science techniques to retrieve and process complex sets of information. Some of the career paths associated with this specialization include data scientist, business intelligence analyst, and data analyst. 
  • Human-Centered Computing: Human-centered computing is a computer engineering specialization that mainly focuses on the ways humans use computing devices and how to make computer systems more inherent to users. 

The list of specializations within computer engineering doesn’t end here. Some other disciplines that might suit your career goals include: 

  • Computer graphics and visualization 
  • Machine learning 
  • Bioinformatics 
  • Modeling and simulation 
  • Embedded systems 
  • Interface design 

What Is the Major Difference Between Types of Computer Engineering Degrees? 

 There are broad types of computer engineering degrees. All these computer engineering degrees have a common goal: to train and prepare students for various career paths in the computer engineering field. Despite the common goal, the types of computer engineering degrees vary in several aspects. Some of these aspects include: 

  • Degree program duration: The different types of computer engineering degrees have varied college durations. Associate computer engineering degrees are likely to take a maximum of two years. On the other hand, a bachelor’s computer engineering degree is a four-year course program that requires students to complete 120-128 semester credits before earning their bachelor’s degrees. Master’s degrees typically require students to complete 30-33 semester credits to earn their degrees. The Master’s degree programs, therefore, takes a maximum of two years to complete. Finally, doctoral levels, just like Master’s degrees, have fewer semester credits, taking students approximately two years to complete. 
  • Skills and Knowledge Developed: Associate degrees help students learn the fundamental skills and knowledge needed to undertake a bachelor’s computer engineering program. The skills developed in a bachelor’s program prepare students for entry-level jobs. However, advanced degree types such as master’s and doctoral degrees help computer engineers advance their careers. 
  • Specializations: Students undertaking computer engineering degrees are likely to specialize in other areas, depending on their degree levels. 

How Do You Know Which Type of Computer Engineering Degree Best Matches Your Career Goals?

The different types of computer engineering degrees are likely to land you into other career worlds, though within the field of computer engineering. Choosing the right computer engineering degree that meets your career goals is always a tall order for most students. We want to make the process easier for you. If you are considering gaining computer engineering certifications to help start a computer engineering career, you should consider an associate computer engineering degree. Earning an associate degree in computer engineering science from a college accredited by the engineering accreditation commission will undoubtedly help you make an entry into the computer engineering field. 

However, if your career goal is to land a high-paying entry-level computer engineering job, pursue a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. The bachelor’s degree program has several specializations that might lead to a variety of career options. Choosing specialty like software and hardware engineering jobs will lead to lucrative jobs in the engineering industry. Those with higher career ambitions should obtain Master’s degrees in computer engineering as this will help them advance quickly in their careers.

Benefits of Getting a Computer Engineering Degree 

Although a degree in computer engineering leads to a wide range of professional occupations, several commonalities exist among these professions, making it an excellent degree choice for a student. One of the primary significance of earning a computer engineering degree is that it leads to several creativity and innovation opportunities. Besides, the degree leads to limitless prospects due to the ever-dynamic technological trends and increased innovations. 

What Job Opportunities Does Having a Computer Engineering Degree Provide You? 

A computer engineering degree exposes graduates to several career opportunities with significant income, high job security, flexibility, and career growth opportunities. Besides, computer engineering degrees open doors to specific software development and hardware engineering careers and other engineering avenues such as systems development, networking, and information technology. 

Let’s explore in detail some of the most common computer engineering careers. 

  • Electrical Engineering Technician: Believe it or not, a computer engineering degree enables you to pursue a career in electrical engineering. Electrical engineers are responsible for developing, designing, and testing various devices such as mobile phones, computers, laptops, and home gadgets. They also assist electrical engineers with the building of components of computers and other electronic devices. 
  • Software Developers: If you have a passion for coding and programming, then software development is the ideal profession for you. Information technology companies highly seek software developers. To succeed in this profession, you must have a good command of programming languages such as Java, Perl, Ruby, Scala, and more. Besides, you must possess the analytical and technical skills to need to solve software-related issues. 
  • Big Data Engineer: Big Data Engineers build, test, and maintain scalable Big Data ecosystems for various organizations in different sectors. They work collaboratively with data analysts, data architects, and data scientists. These are always the most sought computer engineers after software engineers. 
  • Data Analysts: As a data analyst, you will spend most of your time collecting data from various sources. The data analyst profession is the link between business and data science. They are responsible for data optimization to ensure accuracy and quality. 
  • Computer Network Architect: Computer network architects design, develop, and manage data communication and networking systems. They also maintain the system by regularly upgrading hardware like routers and adapters and software such as network drivers. For efficiency, a computer network architect must have a deep understanding of its operations to help design and develop the organization’s appropriate network systems. 

The list of career options in a computer engineering field is quite endless. Other major top careers that might interest you include: 

  • Data scientist 
  • Computer Programmer 
  • Information systems manager 
  • Computer systems analyst 
  • Machine learning Engineer
  • Database administrator 
  • Information security analyst 

What Will You Learn in a Computer Engineering Degree Program? 

The computer engineering degree curriculum, especially that of computer engineering master’s, is quite complex. If you consider pursuing the degree program, be ready to take many technical engineering courses, math, and technical sciences. Before earning your degree, you will have to prove that you have understood and prepared to apply the various engineering concepts. This will entail a lot of problem-solving and fieldwork activities. Unlike other engineering majors, computer engineering majors focus more on network communications, programming, and database administration. 

Here is an overview of some of the courses you will possible learn in a computer engineering degree program: 

Math and Science

You will take more math and science courses during your computer engineering education. For the engineering program to achieve accreditation, its curriculum must consist of several math courses, including:

  • Discrete math
  • Statistics
  • Probability
  • Differential and integral calculus
  • Linear algebra
  • Physics
  • Differential equations
  • Chemistry

Computer science, which is also an integral part of computer engineering, is studied and tested. You will learn an introduction to computing and programming, mathematical foundations of computing, and data structures studied in-depth in a computer science major. 

Engineering Courses

Typically, you can never obtain your computer engineering degree without undertaking lots of engineering courses. These engineering courses help teach students various engineering concepts, such as designing and developing components of electrical devices such as computers, phones, and other home gadgets. Even though the engineering curriculum varies from one university to the other, students must be ready to undertake several engineering courses such as:

  • Algorithms
  • Microprocessors
  • Programming
  • Software engineering
  • Electrical circuits

Who Would Benefit from A Computer Engineering Degree? 

A computer engineering degree will benefit students who are good in math and sciences. Besides, students with a passion for coding and programming are better prepared to benefit from the degree. Additionally, individuals seeking to pursue high-income careers, increased flexibility, and high growth potential should pursue the program. 

Industries That Employ Computer Engineers 

As earlier indicated, the computer engineering degree program exposes engineering students to diverse career options in various sectors of the economy. Advancing your computer engineering degree to high levels could be quite beneficial to a professional as the higher degrees help boost your career. In this digital era, it is hardly difficult to find an organization with computing networks and systems. Due to this, computer engineers have become more popular and in high demand. 

Which Industries Do Most Computer Engineers Work in?

Several industries are always in high demand for computer support specialists due to increased digitalization and innovations. In this section, we will explore some of the sectors that are likely to employ computer engineers. 

  • Computer systems Industry
    The computer systems industry absorbs a substantial number of computer engineers. The industry is mainly involved in designing, developing, and integrating computer hardware and software. Computer engineers are highly trained with the right skills, including programming knowledge needed to perform such duties. Various labor reports indicate that the computer system is the highest paying industry for software engineers. 
  • Electronic Component and Product Manufacturing Industry
    This industry also employs a large percentage of computer engineers. Companies within this industry are mainly involved in the manufacture of electronic components essential for the transportation, communication, and industrial sectors. With the increased demand for electronic components, the need for computer engineers is likely to grow. Hence, if you are looking forward to a high growth potential career, consider the electronic component and product manufacturing industry. 
  • Computer & Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing Industry
    Business companies within this industry manufacture computer components such as printers, webcams, keyboards, monitors, and mice. They also manufacture other products such as biometric readers, ATMs, and point-of-sale terminals. These companies require computer engineers’ expertise and knowledge to help design, develop, and test their products before releasing them into the market. 

What Are Some Unusual Jobs You Could Hold with A Computer Engineering Degree? 

There exist several unusual jobs that one might do with a computer engineering degree. Some of these jobs include: 

  • Social Media Product Manager: As a social media product manager with a computer engineering degree, your skills and expertise in algorithm and probability to help the social media giant determine the feasibility of new products in the market. 
  • Robot Designer: Robots are currently invading every industry, from medicine to the aerospace industry. With a computer engineering degree, you might pursue a career in robot designing by helping robot manufacturers design and develop robots. 
  • Mobile Applications Developer: Developing mobile applications requires special skills such as proficiency in programming language and math skills, which are learned by studying computer engineering degree programs. 
  • Professional hackers: Despite the negative things associated with hacking, there is a high demand for skilled and ethical hackers. These hackers’ primary responsibility is to protect organizations from cyberattacks. Hacking requires computer engineering skills such as coding and programming, software development, and in-depth knowledge of hardware and software. 

What Types of Companies Hire Someone with A Computer Engineering Degree? 

Every computer engineering graduate’s dream is always to work for one of the largest tech companies in the world. With the best degrees, you will likely get a job in one of them. Why is it essential to work for such companies? This page gives an overview of the various types of companies hiring computer engineering graduates. 

  • Google: Landing a job opportunity at Google is a dream come true. Why? It is one of the highest paying companies, especially computer engineers, and the company has a flexible working environment and excellent remuneration packages. 
  • Microsoft: Working for Microsoft is immensely satisfying. However, be prepared that, as an employee, you will be expected to deliver and perform highly as the company is quite involved. 
  • Apple: Apple offers exceptional salaries and perks. Despite high demands to deliver, the benefits and bonuses will be worthwhile. 
  • Amazon: Working for Amazon as a computer engineer is quite rewarding as it provides the space needed for career development. However, getting a job in the company is quite hard. Be ready to toil for it.

How to Choose a Computer Engineering Degree 

If you consider pursuing a computer engineering degree, you have made an excellent choice. The degree major does not only lead to terrific job prospects but also an exciting and challenging field. However, a problem always arises when you have to choose a computer engineering degree program. Choosing the right computer engineering degree programs could be quite devastating because the numerous colleges and universities offer the degree programs. This article will help you make the right decision. 

Where Are the Top Computer Engineering Degree Programs? 

Computer engineering degree programs are offered in several colleges across the country, both on-campus and online. A large number of computer engineering programs make it challenging to choose the best one. However, with the right information on computer engineering, the selection process can be relatively easy. Here is where you can find the best computer engineering degree programs: 

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    MIT should be your destination if you are looking for a top-class school offering the best engineering degree programs. The school has several research centers that would help you achieve your education goals. MIT is ranked highly among engineering schools. The school also provides coaching and mentorship to students. 
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
    The engineering college is ranked 7th among all public universities in the country. Computer engineering from Georgia Tech helps students learn and develop the technical and analytical skills needed to pursue various computer engineering careers, such as hardware engineering. The program offers multiple programs such as computer applications, computer networks, digital design, and more. Graduates from the school have a high acceptance rate in the job market. 
  • Stanford University 
    Stanford University is one of the best research institutions in the world. The computer engineering degree programs are the most prestigious in the country. The university is not only the best in computer engineering but also electrical engineering and computer science. The school’s computer engineering major allows students to specialize in various areas in the engineering field. 
  • University of California Berkeley 
    The University of California Berkeley has consistently been ranked among the top universities, both nationwide and worldwide. The university offers an electrical and computer engineering program under the prestigious electrical engineering and computer science department. This program is likely to benefit computer hardware engineers. Students will learn proficient knowledge of computer engineering techniques under the program, including software development, programming languages, software and hardware integration, and coding. This prepares students for various careers, including software engineering. The school also offers master’s degree and online bachelor programs. 
  • Carnegie Mellon University 
    Carnegie Mellon University began in 1900 as a research university. The college has received engineering awards, with the most recent being ranked 15th among universities with the best engineering and technology programs. CMU offers a BS in electrical and computer engineering. The program allows students to gain substantive knowledge and expertise in the field of computer engineering. Some of the possible specializations include hardware systems, software systems, among others. 

Other universities with top-notch computer engineering degree programs include: 

What Do the Best Computer Engineering Degree Programs Have in Common? 

Despite computer engineering degree programs being offered in varied colleges and universities, they have some commonalities. For instance, all computer engineering programs focus on the intersection of innovation and technology. To this effect, students learn various engineering aspects that help prepare them for multiple roles in innovation and technology companies. Besides, all the computing engineering degree programs’ curriculum must ensure that students cover common math, science, and engineering courses before completing the course. Bachelor’s programs take a minimum of four years, while master’s degree programs take close to two years to complete.

How Can You Determine If a Computer Engineering Degree Program Is Right for You?

Determining the right type of degree program could be difficult. Before choosing a degree program, you considered several factors to ensure that it is the right degree program for you. First and foremost, you need to consider your capabilities, especially when it comes to the field of math and engineering. Go through the program’s curriculum to determine if you are passionate about some of the program’s courses. If you feel they meet your capabilities, go for it. 

Secondly, you need to choose a computer engineering degree program that best suits your career goals. Computer engineering program exposes several job options. However, you need to consider a program that will allow you to specialize in a particular field that you regard highly. Lastly, always consider computer engineering degree programs that fit your financial capabilities. Computer engineering degree programs vary considerably in terms of fees and other expenses. 

In Summary 

Computer engineering is one of the fastest-growing professions in the world today, mainly due to the increased technological advancement and innovations. The digitalization of business processes has led to the increased demand for computer engineers with proficient skills and knowledge in computing systems and networks. When you think of how quickly technology has advanced in the last several decades, it’s hard to believe that more advances are to come. But they are, and those in the computer engineering field are well-poised to take advantage of this growth. Some of the most sought-after computer engineering professions include hardware engineer, computer software engineer, software developer, data analyst, information security analyst, and several other related jobs. 

To gain entry into the computer engineering profession, one must first obtain a computer engineering degree from an accredited institution. You might opt to start your education by first enrolling in an associate degree program. However, with the right qualifications pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering would be quite beneficial as it helps you learn the fundamentals of computer engineering. Besides, a bachelor’s degree will enable you secure high-paying jobs in top-notch companies. In case you want to bolster your career quickly, pursue a master’s degree in computer engineering. 

Computer engineering programs are offered in several universities, making it hard to choose the right program to enroll in. However, with the information that we provided and a little bit of your own research, we are confident that you will be able to select a computer engineering program with ease. Ensure that the chosen program aligns with your career aspirations to avoid future regrets. Earning your degree is just a stepping stone to your career. Finding the right job is another uphill task. Nonetheless, you will land a job in the top tech companies with the right qualifications and certifications, and finding the right computer engineering program is the best place to start.

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