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.