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Electrical and Computer Engineering

Why Computer Engineering?

What do Computer Engineers do?

Computer Engineers design systems that build upon an understanding of software and hardware and interact with humans and the world around us. These systems can collect data from one or more sensors that detect mechanical, biological, chemical, optical, or other changes in their environment, process information efficiently on platforms that can be as small as a single chip to as large as the IBM Summit, and initiate actions automatically that will help improve our quality of life.

As a Computer Engineer, you can design:

  • Internet of Things (IoT) systems that are even better than Nest, Siri, and Alexa.
  • navigation and control systems for unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAVs) and other robotic systems or even for your next car. (Did you know that the average car has roughly 150 microprocessors?)
  • network architecture and network infrastructure that will upgrade the internet backbone, improve communications in a distributed computer network, create an ad hoc wireless communication system that is better than Zigbee, or that can be used to control a swarm of drones.
  • embedded and real-time systems that use microprocessors, systems-on-a-chip, or/and field programmable gate arrays to reduce mundane tasks in our lives and increase our standard of living.
  • high performance computer systems - quantum computers to systems that execute petaflops - that will help improve biomedical practices, solve problems related to climate change, and address other critical issues that we face.
  • cyber security systems that protect our personal data, our electoral systems, and our way of life.

Reasons why you should study Computer Engineering

  1. Almost everything with an ON/OFF switch has a microprocessor in it - and you will know how to chose the best one for the application and how to program it.
  2. You get to create products that others haven't even imagined, which makes computer engineering a great starting point for entrepreneurs.
  3. You will know how to balance software and hardware in a system to develop products that optimize speed of response, energy consumption, and cost.
  4. Your work will touch many aspects of society and improve people's lives.
  5. You will be in challenging field that always provides opportunities to learn on-the-job, in graduate degree programs, or just for fun.
  6. Your field is in high-demand career and the compensation is excellent (see sidebar).
  7. There will always be a need for technological advancements and for computer engineers to create them.
  8. You can begin to apply your knowledge and practical skills as an undergraduate during one of the numerous summer industrial internships, as part of an extracurricular design team, or as a student researcher.
  9. You will learn how to design systems that are secure from hacking and don't leave personal data open for anyone to see, creating a safer world.

Starting Salaries

According to the latest survey of graduating seniors by the National Association of College and Employers, the average starting salary for Computer Engineering graduates was $76,881, second only graduates who majored in Petroleum Engineering. According to Salary.com, recent Computer Engineering graduates earn roughly $16,000 more ($92,718) in San Jose area. Overall, graduates in California earn $5,000-$10,000 above than the national average.