What Do Computer Engineers Do? Would you be thrilled to be at the forefront of creating the next generation of microprocessors and hardware that will drive new types of artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and “thinking” machines that have the capacity to self-evolve?

Do you want to be knowledgeable about complex topics such as logic design, microprocessor system design, computer architecture, and computer interfacing?

Are you interested in an exciting job that allows you to develop and implement new software applications, as well as enhance the capabilities of already existing networks?

The rapidly-evolving field of computer engineering offers unique opportunities to make a real difference by designing computer hardware and software found in everything from cars to video games to life-saving medical equipment!

Computer engineers

  • Research, design, develop, test, and oversee the manufacture and installation of computer hardware, including
    • computer chips
    • circuit boards
    • computer systems
    • related equipment such as keyboards, routers, and printers
  • Design and test circuits and other electronic components.
  • Focus on computer networks for the transmission of data and multimedia.
  • Work on the interface between different pieces of hardware and strive to provide new capabilities to existing and new systems or products.


  • Artificial intelligence: help create computer systems that simulate human thinking, learning, and reasoning abilities.
  • Operating systems and networks: design, develop, and operate software and network systems.
  • Computer design: research and test electronic computer components including microchips, microprocessors, and circuit boards.
  • Computer software: work to develop computer software to research and solve problems.
  • Robotics: plan and produce robotic systems to be used in a variety of industries.

Famous Computer Engineers

  • Radia Perlman (commonly referred to as the “Mother of the Internet” and most famous for her invention of the spanning-tree protocol, which is fundamental to the operation of network bridges)
  • Ellen Ochoa (designed optical systems for Sandia National Laboratory and developed computer systems designed for aeronautical expeditions at NASA’s Ames Research Center)
  • Sundar Pichai (computer engineer and current CEO of Google Inc., dubbed as the “man behind Google’s most important products)
  • Markus Persson (developer of Minecraft, one of the most popularly played video games across the globe)
  • Jeff Bezos (American technology entrepreneur and founder of e-commerce giant Amazon.com)
  • Jack Dorsey (American businessman who co-founded Twitter, one of the top 10 most-visited websites in the world)
  • Garrett Camp (Canadian entrepreneur who co-founded StumbleUpon and Uber)
  • Jan Koum (Ukrainian-born American Internet entrepreneur who co-founded the mobile messaging application WhatsApp)

Areas of Employment

  • Computer manufacturers
  • Financial services
  • Chemical companies
  • Defense contractors
  • Consulting firms
  • Transportation
  • Telecommunications
  • Product development
  • Nanotechnology
  • Healthcare
  • Green energy
  • Aeronautics
  • Consumer goods
  • Web development
  • Information technology
  • Database administration

Career Guidance Suggestions for Pre-University Students

Coursework to consider:
  • Pre-algebra
  • Geometry
  • Advanced algebra
  • Engineering fundamentals
  • Chemistry
  • Calculus
  • Trigonometry
  • Statistics
  • Computer applications
  • Differential equations
  • Physics
  • Economics
  • Robotics
  • Programming
  • Electronic systems
  • Networking and security
  • Signal processing
  • Circuit analysis
  • Logic design
  • Microprocessors
  • Digital communications
Suggested extracurricular activities:
  • Competitions
  • Summer programs
  • Afterschool programs
  • Clubs
  • Internships
  • Online puzzles and games
  • Online courses
  • Maker Faires
  • Design projects
Local programs offered by
  • Science centers and museums
  • Professional societies like IEEE
  • Universities
Important Skills
  • Technical skills: be able to demonstrate technical expertise in their field of study, whether in software or hardware computer design, systems integration, or networking and security.
  • Communication skills: communicate information effectively, both to scientific and non-scientific audiences.
  • Research skills: conduct independent research, as well as identify, review, evaluate, and apply information from other sources.
  • Problem-solving skills: be able to integrate their advanced expertise with new knowledge in order to solve complex engineering problems.
  • Math skills: apply various mathematical concepts (geometry, statistics, algebra, etc.) to real-world situations.
  • Design skills: use the fundamentals of design techniques to develop new computer systems and products.
  • Management skills: understand basic concepts related to project planning, organization, and risk and cost assessment.

Links and Resources