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Computer Engineers
Who are they and what do they do?

Most universities offer computer engineering as either a degree, sub-discipline of electrical engineering, or offer a dual degree in both electrical and computer engineering. Because computing has become so much a part society, it is hard to separate what an electrical engineer needs to know and what a computer engineer needs to know.

It is safe to say that computer engineering is a combination of elements of electrical engineering and computer science, which deals with the design and utilization of computers. Computer engineering seeks to match efficient digital devices with appropriate software to meet the scientific, technological, and administrative needs of business and industry in a global economy.

What A Computer Engineering Curriculum Should Provide
A Computer Engineering curriculum should provide students with a foundation in basic science, mathematics, and the humanities. Written and oral communication skills should be emphasized and developed throughout the program. Also, team project work and an appreciation of the ethical and professional responsibilities of an engineer should be present in any computer engineering program.

Some of the more recent developments in computer engineering include digital and microcomputer applications, digital signal processing, image processing, telecommunications, computer architecture, electromagnetic compatibility and computer vision. These areas are emphasized along with digital system design, embedded systems design, operating systems, and other more conventional subjects in computer engineering. Extensive use of the computer as a tool for mathematical analysis, design, data analysis, and instrumentation is emphasized. The repetitive nature of the design cycle and the need for simultaneous documentation and development are emphasized through team project work.

Employment Opportunities
Computer engineers specialize in areas like digital systems, operating systems, computer networks, software, etc. Professionals in the computer engineering field have at least an undergraduate degree; however, many professionals employed in the computing industry have advanced degrees. Graduates of computer engineering find employment in a variety of settings, such as universities, industry, and government organizations. Here is a very short list of research and vocational areas related to computer engineering. An expanded list can be found in Careers in Computing , a publication of the IEEE Computer Society.

Computer Design and Engineering — Design new computer circuits, microchips, and other electronic components.
Computer Architecture — Design new computer instruction sets and combine electronic or optical components to provide powerful but cost-effective computing.
Information Technology — Develop and manage information systems that support a business or organization.
Communications Systems Engineer – Design, integrate, and deploy digital and optical communication systems.

Computer engineers have extensive training in the areas of electrical engineering and computer science which are attractive combinations to potential employers and allow the student to continue studying in graduate or professional schools.

Computer engineering has grown and matured into a dynamic major helping to propel the wave of technological growth in the world. Computer engineering programs provide students with a background that prepares them for careers as lifelong learners since it is imperative that computer engineers maintain their technical competence in a field that is developing and changing so rapidly.

Provided by Frederick C. Berry, Professor and Head, Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.

1. Careers in Computing. (2003). [Online].
2. IEEE Computer Society. (2003). [Online].

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