Computer Engineering

Topics: Electrical engineering, Computer, Computer science Pages: 6 (1702 words) Published: July 23, 2008
Careers In Computer Engineering

Careers In Computer Engineering

While financial analysts, government officials, and employment specialists frequently disagree on conditions existing in the American economy today, everyone concurs with the idea that a college graduates possessing a degree in the field of computer engineering is in the enviable position of being able to pick and choose among job offers with several major computer companies and other Fortune 500 employers.

Over the last five years, demand for computer engineers has grown due to the rapid growth and advances in the computer industry. Computers are everywhere, and they are utilized to perform a variety of functions. In industry, computer-aided drafting programs are used to design manufacturing processes which provide a high degree of efficiency and quality. The popular ATM, or automated teller machine available at many banks, is operated through interlocking computer networks, and a person several thousand miles away from home can obtain quick cash from a machine at any hour of the day or night.

A person with a degree in computer engineering has many options for a career. Many colleges offer electrical engineering curricula and computer engineering may be an offshoot. The University of Delaware describes a person with a degree in electrical engineering as a "generalist," with computer engineers as "specialists" who spend their time focusing on computer architecture and compiler design (University of Delaware / which_degree.html).

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, considered one of the best schools for computer study, offers a similarly structured program (Glass 91). While both degree programs require courses in electronics theory, devices and circuits as well as basic and advanced theories of the nature and uses of electricity, the computer engineering curriculum also includes courses on hardware applications, programming languages, software design, and artificial intelligence applications (Massachusetts Institute of Technology / m6a.html).

One of the most fascinating fields today is the development of artificial intelligence or the design of computers that emulate human thinking processes. Artificial intelligence has been used to replace the drudgery of assembly-line work in major manufacturing facilities, but it has also contributed significantly to the advances in medical science as well. MIT's Artificial Intelligence Lab has been developing a miniature robot, called a microbot, which can find its way around obstacles, can move toward or away from a light source, and grasp objects with a tiny claw (Nadis 9). While the first successful microbot is controlled by a human at a computer console with a joystick, researchers are working to have the device operate more independently (Nadis 9). The practical applications of the microbot to medicine are reducing the amount of discomfort in diagnostic testing of internal organs by taking biopsies and stemming bleeding, as well as in surgical applications where the device may be used to assist in joint replacement and other procedures (Nadis 9). Researchers are working to reduce the size of the microbot so that it may be induced into the body in the form of a pill where it will travel through the blood vessels to perform the desired function (Nadis 9).

The IBM computer Deep Blue in a widely publicized event won five matches when pitted against world class chess player Garry Kasparov in 1997, but computer scientists credit its victory to the combination of a huge database and lightning-fast processors (Simon 23). In Texas, Doug Lenat, formerly of the MIT faculty, is teaching his computer common sense statements such as water is wet or birds have feathers in the hope that it may be able to someday reason and solve problems on its own (Smith 38). Computer engineers may also choose to design software for a variety of uses, from games and educational programs which are run on a home PC to...

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Glass, Robert L. "Computer Science Ph.D. Production - More Institutions, Fewer Degrees, More Students," The Journal of Systems and Software (1997): November, Vol. 39, No. 2, p. 91.
Gornstein, Leslie. "Engineers Cashing In as High-Tech Firms Face Shortage of Qualified Workers," Fort Worth Star Tribune (1997): June 16.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1998). "Course 6: Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences." http://registrar.mit.edu/catalog/m6a.htm
Nadis, Steve
Schmidt, Jennifer. "Choice Companies," Computerworld (1997): November 1, p. 82.
Simon, Herbert A. And Munakata, Toshinori. "AI Lessons: (Artificial Intelligence: IBM 's Deep Blue Chess Computer)," Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery (1997): August, Vol. 40, No. 8, pp. 23-26.
Smith, Gina. "Of Minds and Machines (Artificial Intelligence)," Popular Science (1997): April, Vol. 250, No. 4, p. 38.
University of Delaware (1996). "UD ECE Undergraduate Program, Which Degree or Concentration Should I Take?" http://www.cis.udel.edu/ee/undergrad/which_degree.html
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