What is Computer Engineering?

Computer engineering is a discipline that applies the principles of computer science and electronic engineering to design and develop computer systems and technological devices. Those who work as computer engineers design, test and integrate software with computer hardware to create a computer system. Learn more about computer engineering in this article.

Differentiating Between Computer Engineering and Computer Science

Many people confuse computer engineering with computer science. Some even assume that they mean the same thing. Computer scientists deal with the design of software and computer applications while computer engineers design such software and integrate them with hardware components. Computer engineers also design large integration chips, build analog sensors and create schemes for mixed and single-circuit motherboards.


The existence of computer engineering dates back to the 1970s. In 1972, the Case Western Reserve University officially unveiled the first computer engineering degree program in the US. 30 years later, computer engineering programs have increased to 250 across the country. Because of the increasing job requirements for professionals who design and manage computer systems, some universities offer specialized programs such as computer hardware engineering, robotic engineering and software engineering.

Importance of Computer Engineering

Computer engineering allows things to happen. Without it, the modern-day world would be at a stand-still. We interact with aspects of computer engineering right from the workplace to our houses. It has made life easier, enjoyable and fast-paced. Thanks to computer engineering, we can now use mobile phones, laptops, microwave ovens, desktop computers, security alarm systems, laser equipment, automobiles and many others.

Computer Engineers

Computer engineers are the ones responsible for actualizing the concepts of computer engineering. Using the knowledge and skills they have learned, computer engineers design, test, implement and monitor software and hardware that make a computer system. Computer engineers enjoy a lot of respect from their peers and other professionals because of the technically sophisticated nature of their jobs. They also earn better salaries when compared with other professionals. Their average salary per year is $115,080, which is quite remarkable. The entry-level salary is $47,000. Top earners make more than $150,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Becoming a Computer Engineer

Before you even think of the lucrative salary you will earn and the respect you will enjoy as a computer engineer, you must learn how to get there. The first step is to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in an accredited university. You can pursue bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or software engineering. You can also pursue a bachelors degree in electrical engineering with a concentration in computer engineering. This is especially important if you want to work with high-speed circuitry and microprocessors.

Though it is possible to find a job with an undergraduate degree, you need to pursue a graduate degree to qualify for better-paying positions. If you want to qualify for a management position, you can choose to pursue Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in technology. You also need to specialize and earn a certification. You can specialize in computer hardware engineering, software engineering, cryptography, information technology or computer networks.

Related Resource: How Can You Specialize an MBA Degree?

Computers play a critical role in everyday life. Without them, there would be no smooth operations in schools, hospitals, governmental agencies, financial companies, manufacturing sector and many other places. Through computer engineering, we can now design software, hardware and other technological devices that enhance smooth operations in these institutions.