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Computer Engineering Overview


  Computer engineering encompasses the design and application of analog and digital devices and systems, including computer systems. The field is both analytical and creative, because the problem-solving and development process often results in the creation of the newest technologies that integrate computing capabilities of hardware and software.

  The undergraduate Computer Engineering program at Johns Hopkins is offered through the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in collaboration with the Department of Computer Science. Hopkins also offers undergraduates degrees (a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts) in Computer Science. There is significant overlap between the two programs, both of which are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), however there are more similarities than differences between the two disciplines.

  Computer engineering encompasses the design and application of analog and digital devices and systems, including computer systems. The field is both analytical and creative, because the problem-solving and development process often results in the creation of the newest technologies that integrate computing capabilities of hardware and software.

  The undergraduate Computer Engineering program at Johns Hopkins is offered through the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in collaboration with the Department of Computer Science. Hopkins also offers undergraduates degrees (a Bachelor of Science or a Bachelor of Arts) in Computer Science. There is significant overlap between the two programs, both of which are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), however there are more similarities than differences between the two disciplines.



Computer Engineering Career Options


  Simply put, computer engineers analyze, design and evaluate computer systems, both hardware and software.8 Within these broad parameters are areas of specialization that are continuing to develop and evolve as the field progresses:

  • Coding, cryptography and information protection – the development of protection devices for digital images, music and other information from errors in transmission or storage, copyright infringement and other forms of tampering
  • Communication and wireless networks – the exploration of wireless communication capabilities including new frequency bands and increasing the efficiency of current bands
  • Compilers and operating systems – the development of customizable operating systems, libraries and applications via new operating system architectures, transparent program analysis techniques, post-link-time code transformation algorithms and quality assurance techniques
  • Computational science and engineering – the application of computational methods and simulations to formulate and solve complex mathematical problems in engineering and the physical and social sciences
  • Computer networks, mobile computing and distributed systems – the construction of integrated environments for computing, communications and information access over heterogeneous underlying technologies
  • Architecture, parallel processing and dependability of computer systems – research projects that address all aspects of reliable, testable, secure, high-performance computer systems
  • Computer vision and robotics – the development of visual sensing, representation and manipulation of the environment, including improved human modeling, image communication and human-computer interfaces
  • Embedded systems – the enhancement of speed, reliability and performance of systems through embedded computer technology
  • Integrated circuits, VLSI design, testing and CAD – the enhancement of speed, reliability, and energy-efficiency of Very Large-Scale Integration (VLSI) circuits and Microsystems, and the automation of the design process
  • Signal, image and speech processing – the development of improvements in human-computer interaction, speech recognition and synthesis, medical and scientific imaging, and communication systems.

  These areas of specialization, as well as new ones, will change and progress quickly as technology develops. Regardless of their area of expertise, computer engineers must constantly update their knowledge of the newest technological developments and trends in order to stay relevant within the field.

Careers in computer engineering can be found with prominent employers such as

  • Apple Computers
  • AT&T
  • Cisco Systems
  • Dell
  • Fujitsu Siemens Computers
  • Google
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • Iomega
  • Microsoft
  • Motorola
  • Panasonic
  • Raytheon Company
  • Sony Electronics
  • Sun Microsystems
  • Texas Instruments
  • Toshiba
  • Verizon
  • Yahoo
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • NASA
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology
  • US Air Force
  • US Army
  • US Central Intelligence Agency
  • US Department of Energy
  • US Department of Defense
  • US Department of Transportation
  • US Naval Research Lab
  • US Navy
  • 3M Worldwide
  • Adelphia Communications
  • ADT
  • Advanced Micro Systems
  • Alcatel
  • Alcoa
  • Ansys
  • Applied Digital
  • Blackberry
  • BMW International
  • Boeing
  • Delphi-Packard Electric
  • Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.
  • Federal Express
  • Ford
  • Genentech
  • General Dynamics
  • General Electric
  • General Motors
  • Honda
  • Honeywell
  • Hughes Network Systems
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Meade Instruments Corporation
  • Merrill Lynch & Co.
  • New Piper Aircraft
  • Nuance Communications, Inc.
  • Procter & Gamble Company
  • Samsung
  • Siemens Automotive Corporation
  • Toyota Motor Sales, Inc.
  • UPS
  • Westinghouse


Computer Engineering Career Prep


  Employers look for graduates with exemplary academic credentials and experience with a variety of computer systems and technologies. Practical experience via internships and engineering competitions is highly valued. While some large firms do offer comprehensive training programs for recent undergraduates who lack real-world experience, internships are highly recommended as the field is becoming increasingly competitive. The Computer Engineering department at Hopkins requires that undergraduates incorporate twelve credits of advanced laboratory and design experience to reflect their individual interests, and undergraduates should take advantage of this excellent opportunity to demonstrate aptitude in a specific area of computer engineering of their choice.

  Students interested in pursuing careers in computer engineering should develop strong communications skills, as computer engineers in a professional environment often communicate directly with clients while assessing their needs and implementing solutions. Thus, the ability to listen, evaluate needs and communicate and implement solutions effectively and efficiently is crucial. Computer engineers need to communicate effectively with each other as well, as most projects are handled cooperatively in a team setting. To help foster these skills, the computer engineering program integrates team projects into many of its courses.

  The ability to multitask is also useful, since engineers often work on multiple projects simultaneously. As such, computer engineers should be willing to continually acquire knowledge based on the projects on which they are working. For instance, if one is designing billing software or an electronic medical record database for a hospital, a computer engineer should be willing to learn the basics of the healthcare industry to help facilitate the project.

  With additional knowledge, computer engineers will continue to advance in their careers as they acquire more skills, experience and responsibility. Entry-level positions might consist of testing the designs of more experienced engineers, but gradually an engineer will begin helping to design and develop software until one might ultimately become a project manager or manager of information software. More experience and or an advanced degree in computer engineering or business can lead to more lucrative positions such as chief information officer, systems designer or work as an independent consultant.



Computer Engineering Alumni


  Hopkins Computer Engineering alumni go into a variety of career fields. The Career Center has surveyed recent graduates about their academic and career plans 6 months after graduation. Here is a summary of their responses.

Hopkins Alumni in Computer Engineering

Additional Alumni Profiles

    Networking with alumni and other professionals who work in these fields can help you learn very specific information about a career field. Use Johns Hopkins Connect to contact alumni to ask for their advice. You may also find professional contacts through professional associations, faculty, friends and family.

    For more information on what you can do with a Computer Engineering Major go to What can I do with a major in Computer Science or What can I do with a major in Engineering.

    Want to know more? Read our Hopkins Career Profiles on Software Development and Engineering. If you would like to talk about how your search is going, we invite you to make an appointment with a Career Counselor by calling 410-516-8056.

  LinkedIn.com - a professional networking site where you can identify Hopkins alumni. Join the LinkedIn Johns Hopkins University Alumni Group to add over 4000+ alumni to your network.


Computer Engineering Grad School


  The Career Center is here to help you navigate the graduate school search process. Click here for guidelines and preparing for Graduate School and Professional School.

  For information on the specific programs, the best people to talk to are the experts in your field you wish to study, faculty members and graduate students in that specific discipline. We strongly encourage you to talk with your advisor and other faculty members with whom you have a good working relationship. This will also help when you request letters of recommendation. The Career Center has a handout to guide you in asking for letters of recommendation.



Computer Engineering Societies


  Honors Societies and Professional Associations provide opportunities and resources to learn more about computer engineering, gain experience in the field and network with other computer engineering professionals. The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering sponsors a chapter of Eta Kappa Nu, the Electrical Engineering honor society, which students with outstanding academic records are invited to join during their junior and senior years.

  Additionally, the department sponsors a student chapter of the IEEE Computer Society, which has nearly 100,000 members and is the world’s leading organization of computer professionals. Other professional organizations include the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s oldest and largest education and scientific computing society, and the Association for Women in Computing, dedicated to the advancement of women in technology fields.



Computer Engineering Links