Overview of Computer Engineering


Computer engineering is a branch that combines many fields of electrical engineering and computer science required to enhance computer software and hardware. It is necessary for computer engineers to have experience in electronic engineering , software skills, and hardware-software integration instead of only software engineering or electronics. Computer engineering is necessary for many software and hardware aspects of computing, from the design of microprocessors, microcomputers, personal computers, and supercomputers, to simple electronic circuit design. This field of engineering not only concentrates on how computers themselves work, but also how they integrate into the larger image.

 Usual jobs involving computer engineers include writing firmware and software for embedded  microcontrollers, fabricating VLSI chips, designing analog detectors, designing operating systems, and designing mixed signal circuit boards. Computer engineers are also related to robotics research, which depends heavily on using digital systems to control and observe electrical systems like sensors, motors, and communications.

In many universities, computer engineering students are allowed to select classes of in-depth study in their junior and senior year, because the full breadth of understanding used in the fabrication and application of computers is beyond the target of an undergraduate degree. Other institutions ask their students to finish one year of general engineering before selecting computer engineering as their primary focus.

In 1968, Ted Hoff et al at the Intel Corporation invented the first microprocessor, which was the basis of personal computer. The Intel 4004 was a four-bit processor produced in 1971, but in 1973 the Intel 8080, an eight-bit processor, made the first personal computer.



In 1972, the first computer engineering degree in the US was established at Case Western Reserve University. In 2004, there were 170 ABET-accredited computer engineering programs in the US. In Europe, accreditation of computer engineering programs is done by a different agencies part of the EQANIE network. Due to the growth in job requirements for engineers, who can concurrently develop hardware, software, firmware, and manage all forms of computer systems used in industry, some tertiary school around the world offer a bachelor's degree generally called computer engineering. Both of the computer electronic engineering programs include analog and digital circuit design in their curriculum. As with most engineering disciplines, having a good background about mathematics and science is necessary for computer engineers.


2.   Practicing Computer Engineering

In nearly most countries, a Bachelor's degree in engineering is the first step towards professional certification and the degree program itself is certified by a professional organization. After finishing a certified engineering degree program the engineer should satisfy some requirements such as, work experience requirements before being certified. Once he certified the engineer gets the title of professional engineer, in the US, Canada and South Africa, chartered engineer, in Pakistan, India, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Zimbabwe, chartered professional engineer, in New Zealand and Australia, or European engineer, in much of the European Union.

advantages of certification change depending upon different countries. For instance, in the United States and Canada, only certified engineers may practice engineering work for public and private company. This requirement is announced by state and provincial legislation. In other countries, no such legislation exists. Practically all certifying bodies have a code of ethics that they expect all engineers to abide by or risk expulsion. Such organizations play a critical role in maintaining ethical standards for the profession. Even in jurisdictions where certification has little or no legal bearing on work, engineers are subject to contract law.

The average starting salary in the US for a BS for computer engineer is $89,000 per year. Factors affecting salary: Experience, skills, internship, geographic location, project and design experience, and size of company. The average mid-career computer engineer salary is $105,000 per year. In Saudi Arabia, the average starting salary for computer engineering BS holder is around 140, 000 RS.

3.   Specialty Areas

Computer engineering has many sub-disciplines, the most popular of which are listed below.

Control engineering: 



The modeling of a diverse range of dynamic systems and the design of controllers is one of the main tasks of control engineering. To implement such controller’s computer engineers can use electrical circuits      , DSPmicro controller sand PLCs. Control engineering has a huge range of applications from the flight and propulsion systems of commercial airliners to the cruise control     control present in many modern cars. It also plays an important role in industrial automation. 


Control engineers utilize feedback when designing control systems. In a car with cruise control  the vehicle's speed  is monitored and fed back to the system which adjusts the power output accordingly. Where there is regular feedback, control theory is used to determine the system responds to feedback.


Design of IPads, tablets, and supercomputers:


Computer engineering deals with computer systems and the design of computers. The design of new hardware, the design of IPads,  tablets and supercomputers or the use of computers to control an industrial plant are also considered. Computer engineers have the ability to work on systems that contain software . However, the design software systems itself is in the domain of software developers, which is considered a separate discipline. Desktop computers can be considered as a tiny fraction of the devices a computer engineer can work on, as computer-like architectures are now found in a range of devices including video game consoles and DVD players.


Signal, image, and speech processing:

Computer engineers are responsible for developing improvements in human-computer interaction such as, signal processing, speech recognition and synthesis, image processing, and medical and scientific imaging. Other work in this area includes the development of computer vision such as recognition of human facial features.


The analysis and manipulation of signals


 is the main task of signal processing. Signals are divided to analog or digital signals. In analog signals, the signal varies continuously according to the data, but in digital signal, the signal varies according to a series of discrete values representing the information. For analog signals, signal processing may involve the filtering or amplification of audio signal for audio equipment or the  modulation  and demodulation of signals for telecommunications.


Integrated circuits and VLSI design:


This specialty of computer engineering requires having good experience about electronics and electrical systems. Computer engineers working in this subject work on improving the speed, reliability, and energy efficiency of next-generation Very Large-Scale Integration (VLSI) circuits and microsystems. An example of this area is work done on reducing the power consumption of VLSI algorithms and architecture.