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Computer Engineer: A Career With Better Perspectives

18 Dec 2018

A discipline that integrates several fields of computer science and electronics engineering is called computer engineering. It is required to develop computer hardware and software. The professionals who study computer engineering gain training in electronic engineering, software design, and hardware-software integration instead of only software engineering or electronic engineering. There are various hardware and software aspects in which the computer engineers are involved. From the design of individual microcontrollers, microprocessors, personal computers, and supercomputers to circuit design, computer engineering covers all. It focuses on how computer systems work and how they integrate into the larger picture. 

The usual tasks of computer engineers include writing codes of software and firmware for embedded microcontrollers, designing VLSI chips, designing analog sensors, designing mixed signal circuit boards, and designing operating systems. Also, there are various other spheres in which computer engineers are suited like robotics research, monitoring of electrical systems like motors, communications, and sensors. The students of computer engineering in some institutes are allowed to chose areas of in-depth study in their junior and senior year. 

The field of computer engineering began in 1939 when John Vincent Atanasoff and CliffordBerry developed the world’s first electronic digital computer through physics, maths, and electrical engineering. They by working together created the Atanasoff-Berry computer which is known popularly as ABC. This took 5 years to complete. In 1972 at Case Western Reserve University, United States, the first computer engineering degree program started. As of 2015, the number of computer engineering programs were 250 in the US. The requirement of engineers is increasing drastically as they can design hardware, software, firmware, and manage all forms of computer systems used in industry. Both computer and electronic engineering programs include analog and digital circuit design in their curriculum.

For computer engineers, it is also important to keep up with rapid advancements in technology. They need to study and keep learning throughout their career. Most jobs in this field which are entry-level require at least a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering. One must learn an extensive range of mathematics such as calculus, algebra, and trigonometry. A computer engineering is similar to electrical engineering but with some courses added to the curriculum. 

Computer engineering is divided into two specialties: software and hardware. The estimate ten-year growth from 2014 to 2024 for computer hardware engineering was 3 percent and there was a total of 77,700 jobs that same year. The expected ten-year growth as of 2014 for computer software engineers was 17% and there were a total of 1,114,000 jobs that same year. 

Specialty areas

There are various specialty areas in the field of computer engineering:

Coding, information protection, and cryptography: For developing new methods and for protecting various information, computer engineers working coding, cryptography, and information protection. This includes digital images and music, fragmentation, copyright infringement, and other forms of tampering. Examples include work on wireless communications, multi-antenna systems, optical transmission, and digital watermarking. 

Communications and wireless networks: This specialty focuses on communications and wireless networks, work advancements in telecommunications systems and networks, modulation and error-control coding, and information theory. It also includes high-speed network design, interference suppression, modulation, design, and analysis of the fault-tolerant system, storage, and transmission schemes. 

Compilers and operating systems: This sphere focuses on compilers and operating systems design and development. The engineers of this filed develop new operating system architecture, program analysis techniques, and new techniques. 

Computational science and engineering: This is a relatively new discipline. Computational methods are applied to formulate and solve complex mathematical problems in engineering and the physical social sciences. 

Embedded systems: This specialty enhances the speed, reliability, and performance of systems. These are found in many devices from a small FM radio to the space shuttle. This field includes system-on-chip design, the architecture of edge computing, and the internet of things.

To become a computer engineer, you must consider pursuing a degree in computer science or another closely related field. Some computer engineers learn on their own without any formal education. In addition, a formal education aspiring computer engineers should use their free time to keep up on the latest trends. A major percentage of computer engineers possess at least a bachelor’s degree in computer science or another related field. Entry level positions or vacancies in this field require a bachelor’s degree. 

Computer science is the next most common major or computer engineers. It takes a more theoretical approach to information technology. It also focuses on the codes that make the computer work. Computer science and engineering is an academic program which is offered by many universities by integrating the fields of computer engineering and computer science. This is considered as a sub-field of electronics engineering. This program aims at designing, developing, and troubleshooting computing devices like robots, smartphones, computers, supercomputers, networking devices, and database system.

Students can browse through the Future Bright Programs tab and Career Guide tab in the FairGaze portal to learn about Computer Science engineering.

By: Preeti Narula

Posted By - Assistant Editor