Frequently Asked Questions About Computer Engineering

Circuit BoardQ: What is Computer Engineering?
A: Computer Engineering is a combination of Computer Science and Engineering using both software and hardware. Computer Engineering topics include logic design, microprocessors, computer architecture, and networking. The Computer Science disciplines of programming languages, operating systems, data structure and data communications are included in CpE. The topics of circuits, electronics, and signal processing are also incorporated from Electrical Engineering.

Q: What do Computer Engineers do?
A: A typical Computer Engineer uses software tools to design, simulate, and test hardware devices and projects. Designing the successor microprocessor devices in the Pentium family is such and example: the actual design is done with a programming language similar to "C". Other Computer Engineers design "printed circuit boards" for small to large computer systems. These boards contain large-in-function but small-in-size digital logic devices, memories, CPUs and so forth. Some Computer Engineers write operating system "drivers" for computer peripheral devices and integrated circuit devices. Other Computer Engineers work with devices inside wireless devices such as cell phones or pagers, or they work on consumer products such as workstations, personal digital assistants, etc.

Q: Where do Computer Engineers work?
A: Computer Engineers are found in many different sizes and types of businesses, however, most take positions with well known companies such as Hewlett Packard, Intel, Agilent, Motorola, Sun, Microsoft, Cisco, 3COM, Altera, Xilinx, Cadence, and Synopsys just to name a few. The adventuresome work for start up companies or start their own companies, while others prefer a quieter lifestyle and work for small companies in the Foothills east of Sacramento.

Q: What's the best High School Preparation for CpE?
A: Students are advised to take as much mathematics as possible through AP Calculus, if feasible. Be sure to take the AP exam and have the information transferred to CSUS. Students should also take Chemistry and Physics. AP exam credit in either will count towards graduation. Although not offered everywhere, students are expected to have completed a programming courses in Basic, Visual Basic, "C," or JAVA. All students are expected to know and use: Windows, a word processor, a spreadsheet and data base; the WEB for information; and email for communication.

Q: How long will it take to complete the degree?
A: A full time student entering with AP credits can graduate in four years if they live close to campus, study very hard, and do not have to work to support themselves. Most students will take closer to five years to complete their degree.