Online computer engineering degrees equip students with skills working in both computer hardware and computer software, and the integration of the two. Students will learn how to design and build computer devices, and write software programs and design software systems. Other skills include designing digital systems, high-level computer programming as it is applied to engineering, and designing operating systems. Students are trained to implement their knowledge of computer hardware and software to solve real-world engineering problems.
At the bachelor’s level, computer engineering is a rigorous online program in which students must demonstrate proficiency in advanced mathematics and the natural sciences, such as calculus, differential equations, chemistry, engineering physics, and statistics. Lab-based science and design courses must be taken on a physical campus and are not included as part of the online curriculum. Students will also take general engineering courses in statics, dynamics, thermodynamics, and mechanics of materials. Since computer engineering encompasses the design of electrical components, students also take courses in both electrical engineering and computer science, like circuit analysis and design, microcomputer systems, network theory, and signals and systems.
While computer engineering is similar in some regards to computer science and the two disciplines share some of the same course work, they do differ in some important ways. Computer science emphasizes theory of computing, programming, and the algorithms that drive computation, while computer engineering focuses more on the practical application of computers and computer systems and emphasizes problem solving, according to the University of Maine’s Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.
Graduates of computer engineering degree programs may go on to become computer engineers who design and build routers, personal computers, supercomputers, microprocessors, and semiconductor chips. They may also test new hardware that they have designed or oversee manufacturing of hardware.