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Computer Engineering

  1. Oct 24, 2007 #1
    Hello. I'm a senior in HS, and I'm planning on to major in computer engineering. I love computers, born and raise around them also I love engineering. I plan on going to University of Washington. My question is. Can someone please explain what EXACTLY a computer engineer does or better yet tell me what they design? I've google it, but it doesn't explain what they do. It seems like computer engineering is like a new breed of the engineering world, which I know is not.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2007 #2
    Computer systems and or parts. More systems than parts, since that tends to require a more extensive EE background than you'd tend to pick up from a 4-year program in CE.

    The degree is actually relatively new...hell, CS is relatively new, and CE is new relative to CS. UW has a pretty nice CS/CE department. Feedback from this thread & Google aside, you should really make time to visit it. They'll also be able to give you all the info your heart desires about graduate outcomes.
  4. Oct 24, 2007 #3
    I would have difficulties attempting to give a succinct definition for a computer engineer, but here are some examples of what I've seen computer engineers tasked with:

    -Figuring out how to best route traffic on a network
    -Designing a diagnostic device + interface for an MRI system
    -Developing robot AI
    -Automating a manufacturing process

    You can probably see from the examples I gave that computer engineers lie somewhere between programmers and electronic circuit designers.
  5. Oct 24, 2007 #4
    I was a computer engineer up until my jr. year then switched to Computer Science because I hated all the CE courses.

    You'll take digital design classes which you'll learn the basics of logical gates, then you'll take more advanced classes such as Computer Architecture and Design where you'll learn how memory is designed, processors are design (32 and 64) and even create your own. You can also take VLSI design and more EE courses where you do more low level circuit design as well.

    In the end I disliked computer engineering because it felt too much like an EE degree with alittle CS and I don't enjoy Circuit Design/Analysis so that was what really turned me off to CE.

    Also the courses that did invovle computers were generally so low level where you weren't doing really programming but instead modeling hardware with VHDL/Verilog and doing a lot of test bench/analysis of performance.

    With a 4 year Degree in Comp Engineering It would be tough to find a job designing processors at Intel but you'd probably end up getting a job writing test benches in VHDL/Verilog testing out the Designers work.

    To actually design hardware you'll need at least a masters degree if not a PHD from what my professors told us who works closely with Intel.

    So to list the main jobs of what a Comp Eng would be doing with a 4 year degree would probably be performance testing/embedded systems programming.

    With a masters/PHD then you can probably get hired to design hardware for computers or get into robotics, a lot more options would open up for you if you went to get your Masters/PhD theres just too much to teach you in 4 years.

    Just because you like computers and engineering doesnt mean you'd enjoy computer engineering as a major, the sad part is, you won't really know if you like what a computer engineer does until you take the core CE courses which are usually not offered until the Jr. Year. So up until the Jr. you'll think you know what they do until you get your hands dirty and actually do it. Thats when you'll realize if you love it or not.

    I also love computers and gaming but I enjoy more of the coding (software) aspect rather than the hardware aspect of computers.
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2007
  6. Oct 24, 2007 #5
    Thank you guys all for your feedback. Now I'm starting to question whether or not if I want to go into CE. Wish there was like an engineering quiz I could take, that would tell me which engineering field would be the best for me.
  7. Oct 24, 2007 #6
    You said you loved computers and engineering but what part do you love about computers and engineering?

    How do you know you love engineering?
  8. Oct 24, 2007 #7
    Please don't feel like you "have to decide in high school" though. I'm an EE student, and I didn't figure out what specific type of engineer I wanted to be till halfway through my freshmen year (that was quick compared to lots of friends too, some are still undecided)
  9. Oct 25, 2007 #8


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    My background: I'm a senior staff integrated circuit designer for a major high-performance analog manufacturer. I have a bachelor's in computer engineering and am working on a master's in electrical engineering.

    The bottom line is that computer engineering and electrical engineering are essentially the same profession. They're both heavily hardware-oriented. About 90% of the material overlaps. In the last year, EEs take a few more classes in the direction of fields, power electronics, and RF, while CpEs take a few more classes in the direction of programming, operating systems, etc.

    With a little experience, most EEs can do "computer engineering," and most CpEs can do "electrical engineering." I chose CpE because I felt my programming skills were already strong, I wanted a lot of exposure to hardware, and I didn't intend on doing any work with power electronics or antennas.

    You won't be prepared for a genuine "design" position with any kind of bachelor's degree, really -- particularly not designing microprocessors, which is one of the most highly-specialized areas of electronic design. With a bachelor's and a few years of work experience, you can easily get into ASIC design, though.

    - Warren
  10. Oct 25, 2007 #9
    I love designing things on Rhino 3D. I love making cars, electronics, anything I can think of. I've designed a future CPU. I just love seeing something that was designed on CAD or Rhino 3D, etc transform into a real life object. It just amazes me. I love computers, I love fixing them, breaking them, building them, taking them apart and putting it back together. I'm just amazed by how the computer works. I've taken all the computer classes my HS offers. Since I'm deaf, I've always wanted to design something that could make a huge impact on America as well as the rest of the world. To me, it's my way of saying thank you to the people that helped develop the digital and analog hearing aids. The aids helped me a lot and got me where I am today.

    --On the side note, thank you all engineers and scientists as well as soon to be engineers and scientists out there that are trying to make a different. You guys rock!!!:smile:

    - Brandon
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2007
  11. Oct 25, 2007 #10
    Well it sounds like you do like to design things, so maybe Comp Eng/EE is for you.

    Like dashkin said, you really don't need to know what you want to do right now, it sounds like your headed towards engineering.

    As an entering engineering student your going to take almost all the same classes, no matter what engineer you.

    Your first year you'll be just taking all the maths/physics/ and some basic programming courses.

    So an idea is, you could enter into college as a engineering major (at my school you can't even declare a major until your Jr.) so all the engineers are basically taking the same classes with some differences.

    But you can sit in on classes if you ask the professor of course. Some classes are so huge they wouldn't even notice you being there.

    You should sit in on a lecture and visually see what they are teaching, if it interests you then you will have a better idea of what exactly a Comp Eng is going to be taught by sitting in on upper level classes in Comp Eng.

    Glad to hear nothing is stopping you from doing what you want to do.
  12. Oct 25, 2007 #11
    Thanks guys. I decided to post some of my work I've done to show my skills and as well as a way for me to say thank you for your help.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v311/Sniperking/256MBRAM.jpg [Broken]
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v311/Sniperking/ibk1.jpg [Broken]
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v311/Sniperking/ibk2.jpg [Broken]
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v311/Sniperking/Alienware.jpg [Broken]
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v311/Sniperking/lambo1.jpg [Broken]
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v311/Sniperking/lambo2.jpg [Broken]
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v311/Sniperking/Lighter.jpg [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
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