What is a Computer Engineer?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

A computer engineer is an engineering professional who not only possesses the training of an electrical engineer, but also has credentials related to the field of computer science. The combination of the basic engineering skills that are the province of all engineers with an extensive knowledge of software design and implementation provides the engineer with a skill set that is very attractive in the business world today.

A computer systems engineer may focus on maintaining or developing servers.
A computer systems engineer may focus on maintaining or developing servers.

Computer engineering involves many aspects of computer design, the creation of individual components for computer equipment, networking design, and integrating software options with the hardware that will drive the applications. A competent engineer can secure work in any environment where computers play a role in the operation of the business. Because the engineer will have an extensive understanding of such electronic devices as microprocessors, local and wide area networks, and even supercomputers that form the basis for worldwide communications, the career paths are wide and varied. Computer engineers can find work in such fields as telecommunications, transportation, manufacturing, and product development.

Robotics is an expanding field where computer engineers can find employment.
Robotics is an expanding field where computer engineers can find employment.

Some of the common tasks associated with the engineer include software design that is customized for a particular industry type. Operating systems that are peculiar to the culture of a given company often require the input of a computer engineer, ensuring that the functionality of the custom design meets all the needs of the application. In general, the engineer is not only part of the design process of a new application, but also continues to provide service and support as new versions of software are released, and in implementing additional customizations or fixes to existing software.

Computer engineering includes the creation of individual components for a computer equipment setup.
Computer engineering includes the creation of individual components for a computer equipment setup.

One area where opportunities are expanding for qualified engineers is in the robotics industry. The unique skills of the computer engineer is helping to move robotics forward, by making the best use of traditional electronic technology and the latest in computer generated applications. The computer engineer can find significant opportunities within robotics to purse the design of new motors, improved communication devices, and more sensitive sensors that can help robotic equipment function more efficiently.

Some computer engineers must be familiar with computer hardware issues as well as software problems.
Some computer engineers must be familiar with computer hardware issues as well as software problems.
Some computer engineers focus on designing and building consumer electronics.
Some computer engineers focus on designing and building consumer electronics.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including EasyTechJunkie, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Studying computer studies in the 11th and 12th grade is essential if you want to study computer engineering, but this also plays a role in the college you are applying to. Some do not require one to have done computer in the 11th and 12th grade, while some do. Check the college requirement for computer engineering to be sure.


I am in the sixth grade and I have to do a report on computer engineers. What kind of things can they make?


I am an ss3 student so I want to find out the courses. I want to find out the courses that are mandatory to study computer engineering as a course.


To those who are asking questions in relation to if one needs math skills to be a computer engineer: The answer is not only yes, but *yes!*

If one does not test high enough into a university to take college algebra, one may have to take developmental math I, developmental math II, and intermediate college algebra before college algebra. After college algebra, one has to take trigonometry, pre-calculus (*not* business calculus). Pre-calculus is the prerequisite for calculus I with analytic geometry, then calculus II with analytic geometry, then calculus III with analytic geometry, then differential equations.

Calculus I with analytic geometry is a requirement to take physics I with calculus/analytic geometry (not business calculus!), which you must take. I suggest taking physics I when one is taking calculus III, because in physics I, you are exposed to vectors, which you will learn in calculus III, so they fit nicely together.

One must also take physics II with calculus/analytic geometry next and usually a good path is to take differential equations at the same time. Trigonometry is also a requirement for digital logic, and programming for engineers which prepares one for micros, digital design and computer architecture. Calculus II is a requirement for engineering software tools and engineering statistics, which take one into Sig and Sys. Physics II and calculus III are requirements for circuits I, which takes one into electronics I, circuits II, EEE Solid States. Differential equations is a requirement for intermediate engineering analysis, plus some universities require even more. Don't let anyone tell you that a computer engineer does not need to know math.

If you want to be an electrical or computer engineer, then you need to love math!


I'm a student of mathcomp in 11th grade. Which courses should I take in 12th grade?


I am a Computer Engineer. You don't get paid a lot if you work for people who are scumbags. Just be wary. Don't work for big businesses like Hewlett Packard or Apple Incorporated. I have worked for both and they both are complete jackasses.


I am 13, and I live in the Middle East, but I come from the U.S. I aspire to be a computer engineer, and I already know Python, Lua, SQL, HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Bash script. Am I on the right track?


I don't suggest studying computer science in the Philippines. Maybe in Europe, or the U.S.? They probably have better programs.


I hate math but love computers. Will that mess up my major in computer engineering?


I am currently studying computer engineering here in the Philippines. What concerns me is that I am not good in computers. But I am determined to learn and as long as God is with me, I know, and I believe I can do it. Do you think I will be successful?


I have a master's degree and I am proud of it. It took me a long time but it was all worth it. Not only did I got some satisfaction of accomplishing this, but I'm going to be rich!


i have recently completed a certificate course in desktop / laptop chip level course and working as a trainee. Which course should I do for a better future? Will getting a diploma in electronics benefit me?


I´m only 13 years old. I'm from Mexico and I want to be a computer engineer. The problem is that I am very bad in Algebra. Really I don't understand anything but I'm working on that.


will a computer engineer be called as an engineer?


I love this course as a student. I'll be graduating in october 2011 and i want to proceed on to a graphic card company like ATI, Sapphire, etc. I love ICs.


do you only have to know algebra to do computer engineering. If there is more mathematics that you have to learn than please let me know.

and please would you kindly give me some tips on becoming a computer engineer?


For all of you who are asking if you need to be good at math: Yes. Math is also important in computer engineering (or almost any other engineering degree).

You will have to pass through many math classes. If you are struggling with even the simplest algebra, this is not a career for you. Math skills are probably more important than your basic computer skills (anyone can build a computer from parts; it takes much much more than that to become an engineer).


I am currently an eighth grader but I'm pretty mature, I love working with computers and I'm starting to get into computer hardware engineering. There's only one problem. I'm not the best at math, I can do it, but i had downgrade my classes from algebra to regular math, so I'm wondering if i can still make it and not be the best at math.


i have a very good background in trigonometry and algebra, including physics when i was high school so i guess I'm taking up computer engineering in college.


I'm a student of grd 10 after slc, i want to go in the field of computers and i want to study computer engineering. so i just want to know how i join after slc or what are the things that I need for CE and do I also study mathematics in this field?


A professor of differential and integral calculus said that if a student could pass these two subjects he or she will progress in the field of engineering.


i really love computers, however I'm very weak in maths. Can i improve?


do i need computer as a subject of 11th and 12th for any good college entrance, or it is not necessary?


I am a second semester sophomore in computer engineering. A B.S. typically takes four years, and some can complete their M.S. in one or two additional years.

So far, I have taken: linear algebra, vector geometry, calc 1-3, differential equations, discrete, calc-based physics 1-2(we covered all of AP physics in two weeks), circuit analysis, intro to comp engineering, intro to C++, fata structures, microprocessor system design, Unix, and signals and systems. Those are just the most related ones. Trust me, there have been more.


i just want you to show me the steps i can take to study my computer engineering education.


i have not entered into the university but i want to start reading books on computer engineering. but i don't even know the recommended books to purchase.


how can we score in engineering?


Is math used in computer engineering?


how do i become a competent computer engineer? and is math a compulsory subject. please reply


I am good in math but my weakness is designing.


what is a typical day for someone in this career/profession?


I want to learn all about computer especially when it comes in software and hardware. can you please give me some ideas on it for me to know how will i undergo with this kind of studying? i need your reply. thanks.


i am studying a diploma in computer eng. Please inform me more about this engineering and give me information about jobs after my diploma.


I am currently pursuing a computer engineering degree (BSCPE). The math involved can become extensive and tedious, but does not go as far as a math major or physics major. Calc 1,2,3 and Diff. Eq. are required.

You must also take prob + stat for engineers and linear algebra is recommended, but not required.

Most of the courses after your GEP, or associates degree as some say, are electrical engineering and computer science based. I would highly recommend that a minor in intelligent robotic systems be considered, as this is a field with a growing demand. FYI: Avg, starting salary is about 60k per year (USD).


@anon109541-78, i am a junior in high school and am already taking calculus ab, so you are really far behind. And i want to become a computer engineer as well.


@78 -anon109541 You're going to need Calculus 1, 2 and 3 for starters so that mean Pre-cal and Cal with Trig as a pre-req, Physics with Cal 1 and 2 at the minimum, along with a ton of other maths like Linear Algebra and Differential Equations. All the above mentioned is only for the two-year transferable and not the actual 4+ year degree


I am 23 and I have finished my Bachelors in Business Studies and would like to make a future in the field of computers. So, how would I choose a better college for Computer Engineering? And how much does it cost to finish the course?


how do i become a competent computer engineer?


I am 26 and am now deciding to pursue a bachelors in computer engineering. I have been out of school since 2002. I was very good at math and sciences in school. I was wondering, are there any math courses I should already know going into a bachelors of computer science. I took algebra 1 and 2 geometry and trig in high school but I forgot a lot of it because it has been so long. I am sure if I studied I could pick it up quickly.


I want a career in computer engineering. how much will i learn and is intel the only chip makers?


I am 26 and am now deciding to pursue a bachelors in computer engineering. I have been out of school since 2002. I was very good at math and sciences in school. I was wondering, are there any math courses I should already know going into a bachelors of computer science. I took algebra 1 and 2 geometry and trig in high school but I forgot a lot of it because it has been so long. I am sure if I studied I could pick it up quickly.


what qualifications do i need to study computer engineering?


i passed 10th and now i want to make career in computer engineering. What do i do now?


I am a computer engineer and i worked on different computers but at times faced some challenges, like being unable to recover system from its recovery disk. what might be the root cause?


what type of math is needed in computer engineering? is is it possible to get a job after completing computer engineering? Please reply.


what are the different courses of computer engineering?

And what type of maths do i need to study it?


Please tell me all about computer engineering. I'm getting confused about which engineering career to pursue.


i want to understand all thing about computer engineering.


i passed my 12 this year. i wish to become a computer engineer, but i need proper information about it. can you please help me? thanks.


i have done my 10 standard now and i want to pursue computer engineering? can i do this course on 10th basis? Is math very important for this subject? what level and kind of math will i learn?


i am in 12 std. and wish to do computer engineering. what are criteria required? what things should i take in to consideration. And on which subjects should i pay attention? does it have any relation with 12 computer.


What are the steps required for being a computer engineer?


can you tell me the kind of maths you need to know to become a computer engineer, and how much years you have to finish to get your bachelors or masters degree in becoming a computer engineer?


I heard computer engineering is a really good course, and is currently on top ten highest-paying majors. Is this true? Medicine and law came tops followed by computer engineering and other computing careers. Also, what is the difference between computer engineering and computer science? thanks.


I am starting college for software engineering technology this september 2010. I just wanted to know if there where any courses other then my main study that would really look good on a resume?

Also can you tell me what pays more: software engineering technology or software applications development and what the difference is between the two?


I really love computers. However if math is my weak point, can I always improve it greatly?


i am passing SSC this year. i want to became a computer engineer. will you give me guidance?


I am a computer engineer and i have been searching for a good job the last two years.

I am a good programmer plus i have many other skills, like analysis of electrical circuits etc etc. I want to invest my skills for a disciplined organization but this world does not needs good engineers.

I have applied to bigger companies of the world like GE, Microsoft and many more but all in vain. No response at all from almost 30 big organizations.


I would very much like to be a computer engineer.

and i want you to tell me the difference between information technology and computer engineering.


seriously, i want to know what it really takes to be a computer engineer. most times it's like we are relegated to the background except when you have some IT knowledge-which is very expensive. please, how can one get around to learning the real basics without paying so much.


what is the difference of information technology and computer engineering? what is much better to take to college --IT or CE?


Please how is a computer engineer useful to a country. In a way like a doctor?


what is the worst quality of this job?


What subjects do i need at leaving cert to qualify as a Computer Engineer?


I want to be a computer engineer, but i would like to know what to specialize in, so that after finishing i can easily get a good job. thanks.


what is the difference between computer engineering and computer science engineering? kamal-india


Please, i am a nigerian and i'd like to be a computer engineer but most of the schools on the net don't offer programs to african countries. how can you guys help students here in africa.


what are the opportunities for a masters degree when you study computer engineering.


do i have to go to college to become a computer engineer?


I want to be a potential computer engineer. but i just wanted to know if it would be very tough or hard to cope up with because it would include electrical engineer and computer science. Please reply to this query.


I am a computer engineering student in my last year.

I doesn't matter what you major in - it has no connection to the world outside whatsoever.

as for a job, I am currently working @ Intel Development - a pretty fun place to work in.


how do i become a competent computer engineer?


Computer Engineering is a very wide field. You can deal with hardware and software side of technology, or you can take different specialist path.


i am now a college student and i will be taking computer engineering. Is this course really hard? what are the subjects?


right now i'm taking up computer engineering don't know the reason why, but i really did enjoy it. And i still don't know what would be my specialty.


what do you do all day once you are at work?


What courses do you have to take in high school to become a software engineer?


how do i become a computer engineer?


@anon32425: Some math that I've encountered; calculus 1/2, multivariable calculus, differential equations, linear algebra, abstract algebra, advanced geometry, discrete mathematics, statistics and trigonometry. It's not too bad. I tend to think of the math as three types: calculus, algebra, and discrete. Calculus mostly for the EE, discrete for the CS, and algebra for both.


A computer engineer could very well be capable of fixing the hardware like a TV, or even the software such as MP3. Keep in mind though, many repairs on recent hardware will involve swapping out prefabricated parts, and for the most part doesn't require a vast knowledge of how the hardware works.


What's the salary difference between Manangement Info Sys and CE?


normally a salary for a CE is around $50,000 - $90,000 per annum.


What qualifications does one need to attain in order to enter the computer engineering field? -thando


can you tell me about opportunities for getting jobs after finishing the B.E computer engineering course? and also tell how much salary I can secure by being a general computer engineering?


Can computer engineering be used in game engineering? Do you like your job? Do you enjoy your work? What is your annual salary?


how much can a computer engineer with a masters degree earn? ulrich


What are some career options for computer engineers after obtaining a B E Degree?


What math will I encounter?


Does a computer engineer have to read a lot and deal a lot with statistics?

Can a computer engineer fix electronics such as computers, mp3s. televisions, bluetooths, etc...


What is the career path to becoming a certified computer engineer?


@anon16185: You should be learning Calculus, Trigonometry, and all of the basic algebras I & II.

@newguy123: Just google it, like I googled "Top 10 Tech Colleges" and I came up with some good stuff, It depends on where you are living or where you want to go.


@anon13183: Web, Software and Hardware


what type of math will i be learning?


what college do you have to go to for a major in computer engineering.


I am majoring in Computer Engineering. What classes should I take?


What are three computer-related jobs?

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