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What is Computer Engineering?

By Melissa McKean
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Computer engineering is the process of analyzing and designing all hardware, software, and operating systems for a computer system. It is the combination of two fields: computer science and electrical engineering. Computer science and engineering are often confused as being the same, but these two fields differ greatly. While the responsibilities of computer scientists consist more of electrical and software engineering, computer engineers are also trained in software design and the integration of hardware and software.

Computer engineers also focus on computer networking. They must utilize their knowledge and understanding of the design of logic and microprocessor systems, as well as computer architecture and computer interfacing. During their work, computer engineers may find themselves with answers to major computer dilemmas, creating the next big technological solution.

Case Western Reserve was the first university to offer a computer engineering program in 1971; however, now there over 100 accredited universities worldwide. Students who wish to major in this field must have a strong background and understanding of mathematics and science. If a student excels in these subjects, computer engineering will most likely be a comfortable fit for them. Computer engineers also must possess strong detail orientation, teamwork, and analytical skills. Good communication skills are also needed, because computer engineers often need to go outside the lab to deal with customers, and other professionals.

The field of computer engineering is broad, but there are many smaller areas that most students focus on. Sometimes a person studying to become a computer engineer will choose to major with an emphasis on computer architecture, or the way information is organized internally. Other possible areas of study are database systems, operating systems, or software engineering. If a student chooses to study any one of these, or a variety of other areas, they will bring a specialized advantage to the field of computer engineering.

This field is constantly growing and changing due to the rapid pace of technological advancements. It is important, therefore, that professionals are continuously improving and learning new things to stay on top of all new developments. Computer engineers are often required to attend training seminars created by vendors, hardware and software manufacturers, colleges and universities, or other private institutions.

At some point, computer engineering branches off into two directions. A professional must decide whether he or she wants to stay focused on the technological side of the field, or pursue a career that combines technology and management. If the latter option is chosen, he must further his education with additional business and finance courses, and may be required to get an MBA.

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Discussion Comments
By anon946646 — On Apr 21, 2014

Is ITT tech the best college for computer tech, or are there others?

By anon938106 — On Mar 08, 2014

Even this course is good due to the high tech digital world. You should also learn from the start. Start from yourself. Study and examine what you like. Some factors you should consider to be a successful professional are:

Interest (in what field or degree?); capacity (ability of brain to do so); financial (expenses may be higher to this course). Interest covers an estimated 50 percent. Capacity covers 40 percent and finance covers 10 percent. So you should consider the priority, which is the thing you are interested in. Make sure you have enough knowledge to deal with it, because only good engineers can get good salaries.

By anon205340 — On Aug 12, 2011

I'm a first year computer engineering student. The computer engineering course is very challenging. You also must know how to use high technologies using a computer, like robotics or other high technologies. For me, computer engineering and electronic and communication engineering are also related.

By anon155420 — On Feb 23, 2011

@anon32501: Electrical and computer engineering coursework tend to run in tandem, but in the later years of your academia, they branch into their more specialized courses.

As for IT vs CE, IT is more focused on the software and networking side of computing, while CE is more focused on the actual hardware that controls the computers.

By anon131318 — On Dec 02, 2010

if i were you, i would choose to be a computer engineer. i'm a student taking this kind of course, and as far as i know, computer science and i.t. are just under a computer engineer course.

By anon111016 — On Sep 14, 2010

According to me, computer engineering is better. It is your choice what you want to become.

By anon91590 — On Jun 22, 2010

i would very much like to be a computer engineer but i got kind of confused about the difference between IT and computer engineering. can you help me?

By anon73704 — On Mar 29, 2010

I don't know whether to choose the engineering field. But I'm quite interested in the computer field.

May I have suggestions choose either IT or Computer Engineering?

By anon62694 — On Jan 28, 2010

am confused in choosing a course for myself. i don't know weather to go for a computer engineering, or computer science. i love the two programs but still need more light on them. can you please help me.

By anon32501 — On May 22, 2009

"Is computer engineering a branch of electrical engineering or are these two different programs?"

I also want to know about other main branches of electrical engineering.

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