Computer Engineering

What Is It?:

Computer engineering is a multifaceted discipline that constitutes the backbone of the booming field of cyber-physical systems. It applies principles of physics and mathematics to the design, implementation, and analysis of computer, communication, and cyber-physical systems. This discipline spans topics as diverse as radio communications, coding and encryption, computer architecture, testing and analysis of computer and communication systems, robotics, and computer vision and more broadly computer sensing. 

Computer engineering concerns itself (a) with developing devices that exploit physical phenomena to retrieve, store, process, and share information; (b) with designing hardware that incorporates such devices; and (c) with creating software that takes advantage of the hardware's characteristics. It addresses problems in design, testing, and evaluation of system properties, such as reliability and security.

For more information, please visit the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Courses That Introduce the Major:

  • CHEM 102/103—General Chemistry I / General Chemistry Lab I
  • MATH 221—Calculus I
  • MATH 231—Calculus II
  • PHYS 211—University Physics: Mechanics
  • PHYS 212—University Physics: Electricity & Magnetism

Students should consult with an academic advisor regarding course selection prior to the advanced registration period.

Possible Career Opportunities:

Computer engineers are employed in every industry. Whether it is for programming, installation of a new system, or highly specialized software – computer engineers are utilized in healthcare, transportation, academics, financial institutions, and service oriented businesses. Examples of companies that have computer engineers on staff include: Verizon Wireless, Citicorp, and Southwest airlines.

Beyond specializing in either harder or software, a computer engineer can choose a specialty. Some of the specialties are:

  • Computer validation
  • Customer service
  • Education and training
  • Emergency response
  • Forensics
  • Game systems
  • Networking
  • Processes
  • Systems
  • Technical applications
  • Telecommunications

Common Career Titles Related to this Major:

(Some careers may require education beyond an undergraduate degree)

  • Computer Applications Software Engineer
  • Computer Software Engineer
  • Computer Systems Software Engineer
  • System Analysis Engineer

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:

  • Participating in undergraduate research
  • Applying for a study abroad experience
  • Utilizing resources of The Career Center
  • Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) related to this major, such as:
    • Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering: Supports and encourages women in Electrical and Computer Engineering.
    • Illinois Robotics in Space (IRIS):Encourages and facilitates education and hands on experience in engineering and robotics, especially in the arena of space applications, for students of all ages.   

Related Skills:

  • Analytical skills
  • Communications
  • Conduct experiments
  • Design
  • Knowledge of contemporary issues
  • Knowledge of math, science, and engineering
  • Teamwork

Further Information:

For more information on what you can do with a major in Computer Engineering, visit The Career Center’s webpage: What Can I Do With This Major.

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Computer Engineering.  Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Computer Engineering.  These organizations include Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, Association for Computing Machinery, Association for Women in Computing, and IEEE Computer Society.

For more information on the classes needed for a degree in Computer Engineering, visit Undergraduate Programs.