Computer Engineering: Meaning, types and more.
Computer engineering is a discipline that combines elements of both electrical engineering and computer science. It focuses on the design, development, and integration of computer systems and hardware components.
Computer engineers work on a wide range of technologies, including computer architecture, microprocessors, circuit design, networking, and software development. They may be involved in designing computer hardware components, such as processors, memory systems, and input/output devices. They also work on developing software systems and programming languages.
What Does a Computer Engineer Do?
A computer engineer’s role is multifaceted and depends on their area of specialization. In general, computer engineers apply their expertise in computer science and electrical engineering to meet an organization’s technology needs and goals. They can specialize in various areas, including software engineering, hardware engineering, and network engineering.
- Software engineers focus on computer programming, application development, and software design. They create and maintain software systems, ranging from operating systems to smartphone apps and enterprise solutions.
- Hardware engineers design, develop, and maintain physical computer components, such as processors, memory, and storage devices. They work on system integration, ensuring that all hardware components work together seamlessly.
- Network engineers plan, design, and maintain computer networks and communication systems. They ensure the efficient and secure transmission of data across local area networks (LANs), wide area networks (WANs), and the internet.
Steps to Become a Computer Engineer
- Step 1: Interested candidates must clear the Entrance Exams administered by the Technical Education Boards of various state governments, post which selected candidates are eligible to pursue Diploma courses as per their ranks scored isn the Entrance Exams.
- Step 2: After finishing the three-year Diploma programme, students can either seek employment as a Junior Engineer or, Diploma students can also choose to complete their Engineering degree by getting enrolled in AIME (Associate Membership of Institution of Engineers). The government of India, the union public service commission, state governments, and public/private sector enterprises recognise the successful completion of AMIE’s non-formal engineering education programme as compared to a degree in engineering.
Students aspiring to become Computer Engineers, must first clear class 12 board exams with a mandatory subject combination of Physics, Chemistry & Mathematics along with an aggregate score of 60% and above from a recognised board. Listed below are the steps that must be followed in order to become a Computer Engineer by pursuing Bachelors degree for your reference,
- Step 1: Eligible students must clear various entrance exams such as JEE Main and JEE Advanced, BITSAT etc which are held by various state universities, central government organisations, and private institutions (such as IITs, BITS Pilani, and others) across India. Candidates are admitted to these colleges for a four-year degree programme based on their performance in the examination and their choice of a stream of interest.
- Step 2: After completing the degree programme and pursuing appropriate internship, the candidate is qualified to work as an assistant computer engineer in the government, semi-government, or private sector. Computer engineering graduates are mostly employed by software and IT organisations. They can also work at universities, research institutions, private and public companies, government offices, business and commercial organisations, and so on.
Types of computer engineering
Software engineering involves designing and improving software programs. This process may include analyzing a software program, collecting data, conducting tests and inventing new software programs. Professionals within this field may specialize in a certain type of software or mobile application.
Computer hardware engineering
Computer hardware engineering is the process of creating new computers and technological hardware. Professionals in this field may build computer models, test new designs and implement suggestions to increase the computer’s speed. They may specialize in a certain type of hardware or computer, such as a phone’s processing hardware.
Network engineering is the process of planning, building and maintaining network systems. Professionals in this field can work in a variety of fields, including technology. In this role, they may specialize in computer networks and systems. Their duties can include establishing network protocol, testing systems and designing networking hardware.
Electrical engineering is the process of designing new electrical systems. Professionals in this field may create, test and refine electrical equipment or processes. They may specialize in certain types of electrical systems, including smartphones or computers.
Degree levels for computer engineering
Aspiring computer engineers can pursue a variety of degrees to develop their industry knowledge and technical skills. They may specialize in areas such as information security, IT management or network systems. Most engineer positions require at least a bachelor’s degree, although some related roles or entry-level positions may accept an associate.
Professionals interested in computer engineering may pursue the following degree levels:
Professionals can pursue an associate degree in computer engineering or electronics and computer engineering technology. This degree typically takes two years to complete. During this time, students may study:
Computer engineer salary
Computer engineers, regardless of their specialization, can expect competitive salaries, which vary depending on factors such as industry, education, and experience level. Entry-level computer engineers typically earn starting salaries around $55,000, while experienced professionals can earn anywhere between $86,000 and $136,000.
In the United States, the median annual pay for different types of computer engineers are as follows:
- Software engineers: $109,020 (as of 2021)
- Hardware engineers: $128,170 (as of 2021)
- Network engineers: $120,520 (as of 2021)
These figures represent some of the highest starting salaries nationwide, and computer engineering jobs offer robust career advancement opportunities. Network engineering presents numerous options due to the availability of various certifications that do not necessarily require a degree. Employers may finance certifications and further education, allowing computer engineers to progress to senior positions over time.
The demand for computer engineers continues to rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, software engineer jobs are projected to grow by 25% through 2030, while network and hardware engineering positions are expected to increase by 4% and 5%, respectively. The rapid expansion of cloud computing and Voice over IP (VoIP) services further contributes to the growth of job prospects in the field.
Subjects of computer engineering
Computer engineering is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses a wide range of subjects. The specific subjects you study as a computer engineering student may vary depending on your academic institution and program. However, here are some common subjects that are typically included in computer engineering curricula:
- Mathematics: Computer engineering requires a strong foundation in mathematics. You may study subjects such as calculus, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, probability theory, and numerical methods.
- Physics: Understanding the principles of physics is important for computer engineers, especially when it comes to areas like circuit design, electromagnetics, and semiconductor devices.
- Digital Logic Design: This subject covers the fundamentals of digital circuits and logic gates. You’ll learn about Boolean algebra, combinational logic, sequential logic, and digital circuit design using tools like logic gates, multiplexers, decoders, and flip-flops.
- Computer Organization and Architecture: This subject focuses on the structure and organization of computer systems. You’ll learn about CPU design, memory systems, instruction sets, pipelining, and parallel processing.
- Data Structures and Algorithms: This subject covers the fundamental data structures (such as arrays, linked lists, stacks, queues, trees, and graphs) and algorithms (such as sorting, searching, and graph algorithms) used in computer science and engineering.
- Operating Systems: This subject explores the principles and design of operating systems. You’ll learn about process management, memory management, file systems, and concurrency.
- Computer Networks: This subject delves into the design, protocols, and functioning of computer networks. You’ll study topics such as network architectures, transmission media, routing algorithms, and network security.
- Software Engineering: This subject focuses on software development processes, methodologies, and tools. You’ll learn about requirements analysis, software design, coding practices, testing, and software project management.
- Digital Signal Processing: This subject covers the analysis, processing, and manipulation of digital signals. It includes topics such as Fourier transforms, filters, image processing, and audio/video compression.
- Microprocessors and Microcontrollers: This subject deals with the architecture, programming, and interfacing of microprocessors and microcontrollers. You’ll learn about assembly language programming, memory interfacing, and input/output devices.
These are just some of the subjects commonly found in computer engineering programs. The actual curriculum may vary from one university to another, but these subjects provide a solid foundation in computer engineering principles and technologies.
Computer Engineering vs Computer Science
Computer engineering and computer science are related fields but have distinct focuses. Here’s a comparison between the two:
- Focus: Computer engineering combines elements of both electrical engineering and computer science. It emphasizes the design, development, and integration of computer hardware and software systems. Computer engineers work on the intersection of hardware and software, dealing with both the physical components and the systems that run on them.
- Hardware Emphasis: Computer engineering places a greater emphasis on hardware components, such as microprocessors, circuit design, and embedded systems. Computer engineers are involved in designing and developing computer systems, from processors to networking infrastructure.
- Software Knowledge: Computer engineers also acquire knowledge of software development, programming languages, and software-hardware integration. They understand the software aspect to ensure seamless interaction with the underlying hardware components.
- Application Areas: Computer engineering finds applications in various fields, including telecommunications, aerospace, automotive, robotics, and embedded systems. Computer engineers are often involved in developing technologies and systems that require a deep understanding of both hardware and software.
- Focus: Computer science primarily focuses on the theory, design, and development of software systems and algorithms. It involves the study of computation, algorithms, data structures, programming languages, and software development methodologies.
- Software Emphasis: Computer science places a greater emphasis on software, algorithms, and computational models. It explores various programming paradigms, data manipulation, algorithm analysis, and software engineering principles.
- Theoretical Foundations: Computer science delves into the theoretical foundations of computation, including topics like automata theory, formal languages, and complexity theory. It focuses on developing abstract models and algorithms to solve complex problems.
- Application Areas: Computer science finds applications in a wide range of domains, including artificial intelligence, data science, software development, cybersecurity, bioinformatics, and computer graphics. Computer scientists often work on creating innovative software solutions and advancing the theoretical understanding of computation.
While computer engineering and computer science have overlapping areas, computer engineering has a stronger hardware focus and involves designing and integrating computer systems, while computer science is more software-oriented and emphasizes algorithms and theoretical foundations. Both fields offer diverse career opportunities and contribute to advancing technology in different ways. It’s important to consider your interests and career goals when deciding which field aligns better with your aspirations