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Studies & Degrees in Computer Systems Engineering

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Courses for computer systems engineering or computer engineering involve the detailed study of software systems, digital hardware and other devices that make up a computer. The discipline integrates much of electrical engineering, as well as computer science. Aspiring computer systems engineers are taught how to design microprocessors and circuits for super computers and personal computers. They also learn how to integrate the hardware and software instead of just designing software programs. On the whole, computer system engineering is something that looks at the computer based not only on its individual parts, but as a whole system.

While developing the programs, the focus of a computer engineer remains on the digital devices, and the device-user interface. Building and developing embedded systems also forms an important part of computer systems engineering. Embedded systems refers to the integration of hardware and embedded software in machines and devices such as cell phones, alarm systems, x-ray machines, digital audio and video recorders and players, etc.  

Course Structure

A computer systems engineer needs to have an interest and aptitude for science and mathematics for understanding the functions and working of the whole system, and developing similar or better systems. Most universities offer four-five years full-time Bachelors degree courses. Masters degree and PhD programs in computer systems engineering are also offered by many universities. A Masters degree requires extensive study of mathematics. Additional five to seven years of study (after Bachelors degree course study) are required if someone wishes to have a Doctorate degree.

The first one or two years of Bachelors degree study in computer systems engineering cover topics of circuit theory, signals and systems, engineering design, dynamics and control etc. These are much similar to the fields of study of electrical and electronics engineering and telecommunications engineering. Certain basic computer programming languages like C, C++ and Java are also included in the initial part of the course. Some of the study programs require students to be trained in general engineering during the first year. It is in the third year that a student needs to choose special modules for further in-depth study. These may include studies of software engineering, embedded and real time systems, web server technologies, etc. Extensive study of the whole of computer system and its applications is something that cannot be covered within a three-four years degree course alone.

Career Prospects

With computers being indispensible for all sorts of work these days, job opportunities for computer systems engineers are plenty. When hired, their duties involve designing, developing, implementing and testing both hardware and software aspects of computer systems. Designing networks that connect two or more computer systems is also a part of their responsibility. Computer engineers are absorbed into a variety of fields, which include manufacturing, product development, telecommunications etc. Some of the most challenging yet exciting fields of work for computer engineers include design and development of military software support systems, working on radar and satellite technology and robotic equipments, motor sensor systems, and so on.