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spotch's avatar

Some quick info about the academic field of Computer Engineering?

Asked by spotch (18points) August 24th, 2009

I start classes tomorrow; I’m a junior Computer Science major. I have always been interested in computer engineering, but thought it was simply too much math and work and would take me too long (I only changed my major to Computer Science last semester). However I mapped out my courses in Computer Engineering and realized that I could get it done in the same amount of semesters as Computer Science, so all of a sudden, this window of opportunity has been opened to me.

However, I’m not entirely sure what being a Computer Engineer entails. From the classes it includes basically a minor in Computer Science, so I’m wondering

1. What kind of jobs are available for Computer Engineers, specifically? The only thing I can think of would be robotics (Which is awesome), but not much else.

2. Do the every day jobs that a Computer Engineer does include as much math as the everyday student’s curriculum? As in, Calc III (multi variable calculus), linear algebra, discrete math, etc.

I am googling away but have 24 hours to think about this, so thought I would expand my search to fluther.


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4 Answers

spotch's avatar

Also! What about majoring is CS and going for a Masters in Engineering eventually? I know you can do that, but what is the pacticality of actually getting into a master’s CE program with a BS in CS?

Shuttle128's avatar

Well, I can’t speak for computer engineers, however aerospace engineering uses quite a bit of the higher level math in everyday work. Most engineering majors will have a long list of higher level math courses you must master and will use on a day to day basis in work. I would expect that computer engineering would require a lot of diff eq as a lot of electronic devices use differential equations to describe their function. I’ve taken several electrical engineering and computer science courses (part of the AE major) and they’re not terribly hard. I’d expect a computer engineer would go into more depth with logic than I have so far.

Really getting through the math courses is the hard part. Once you’ve taken the courses the rest is just applying what you learned to real world problems. This will mean a lot of what you learned in Calc and Diff Eq will make a hell of a lot more sense. Usually there are simplifications you make in order to make solving problems much easier. (In my case almost everything in AE is highly complex and simplifications have to be made to even make it possible to solve equations, eg. Navier-Stokes equations).

Don’t forget! You can always go back to college! If you finish your major, and don’t like what you end up doing for work, you can always go back and get another degree or get a masters in a field that interests you. You’d be surprised how many jobs you can get with any old engineering degree though.


I would expect that a Computer Engineer with background in Computer Science would be preferable to one without as they’ve had formal training in both regions of what makes up computing. There is lots of very neat things that are pertinent to both fields that almost requires both fields to be understood. Not to mention salary goes like education.

phoenyx's avatar

I have have friends who majored in computer engineering, one works for Micron and the other works for Intel. One does chip design and the other does low-level programming (amongst other things). At my university, computer engineering was a hybrid of computer science and electrical engineering (you took classes in both majors, plus some just for your major) and emphasized computer electronics over electronics in general. There were the same number of math classes for the computer science and the computer engineering guys, they were just different. Although, I only had to do ordinary differential equations, while I think they had to go on and take partial differential equations as well, so maybe a bit more math and a bit harder math.

mattbrowne's avatar

If you’re worried about too much math both computer science and computer engineering might not be the best choice. Maybe some forms of applied computer technology or general information technology offers alternatives.

People who drive cars don’t need a lot of math. People who design cars do. It’s the same with computers, both hardware and software.

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