Computer engineering (also sometimes called computer systems engineering) is a specialized discipline that combines electronic engineering and computer science. A little-known subdivision is the study of computer engineering technology, which studies the techniques and applications of computer engineering with less emphasis on the mathematical and scientific theory. A computer engineer is an electrical engineer with a focus on digital logic systems, and less emphasis on radio frequency or power electronics. From a computer science perspective, a computer engineer is a software architect with a focus on the interaction between software programs and the underlying hardware architecture.
Computer engineering degrees have been added to a number of schools' degree programs since the early 1990s. Some schools have integrated computer engineering, along with software engineering, into their electrical engineering departments, while others such as MIT, Harvard and UMich, to name a few, have chosen to merge electrical engineering and computer science departments instead.
Since computer engineers are mainly focused on electronics and computers, their courseloads tend to involve fewer courses on natural sciences such as statics or dynamics (mechanics) than traditional engineering programs. Instead, courses on fundamentals of computer sciences are taught.
Areas of specialty (theoretical)
- Computer programming
- Computer architecture
- Computer security
- Digital control theory
- Digital signal processing (DSP)
- Software engineering and others.
Areas of specialty (professional)
There are several specializations within computer engineering:
- System Architecture: Overall organization of the computer; division of work between hardware and software; interfaces.
- RTL/Chip design: Conversion of architecture to a hardware specification
- Layout: Conversion of design to transistors
- Fabrication Process: Development of the underlying semiconductor technology.
- Package/Board design: Design of PCB's (Printed circuit boards) and packages.
- System Integration: Construction of the whole computer using multiple chips and boards.
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