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Computer Hardware Engineer?

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  • Hardware
  • engineering
  • Computers
  • College
  • degree
Last response: in Work & Education
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June 7, 2014 2:39:01 PM

Little background on myself first, I am 27 and in the marine corps as a Data Network specialist, i have my Net+, Sec+ and I am studying for my CCNA switching / routing at the moment, plan to take the test in January / February.

I get out of the marine corps in 2015 july and i was planning on attending college for either computer science, computer engineering, information technology /networking focus.

I'm not completely sure or set in a path yet, i was wondering if anyone who is a Computer hardware engineer or knows the process, can give me any guidance or tips and what their daily jobs involve and the career path / degrees or certifications to work towards are.

I have searched the web and gotten a good bit about it, i just want to hear results from real people and personal stories and struggles. Thank you for your time.

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June 10, 2014 6:52:32 AM

Trevenj said:
Little background on myself first, I am 27 and in the marine corps as a Data Network specialist, i have my Net+, Sec+ and I am studying for my CCNA switching / routing at the moment, plan to take the test in January / February.

I get out of the marine corps in 2015 july and i was planning on attending college for either computer science, computer engineering, information technology /networking focus.

I'm not completely sure or set in a path yet, i was wondering if anyone who is a Computer hardware engineer or knows the process, can give me any guidance or tips and what their daily jobs involve and the career path / degrees or certifications to work towards are.

I have searched the web and gotten a good bit about it, i just want to hear results from real people and personal stories and struggles. Thank you for your time.


Computer engineer here,

Many people are not familiar with the distinction between computer science, computer engineering, software engineering, and information technology. I'll go over each one briefly to give you a bit of an overview.

Computer Science is the study of algorithms. It's a very, very broad field and unlike engineering it's often unaccredited so employers are more likely to look into the institution that the individual attended. Contrary to popular belief, most CS programs do not involve substantial amounts of programming, it's quite abstract.

Computer Engineering (what I do) is the study of digital system design. It's very similar to electrical engineering and electronic engineering. Students in these programs will have a lot of common courses as a large amount of the subject matter is common. If you've ever asked yourself "How does a microprocessor schedule and execute CPU instructions?" or "how does image data from a GPU get displayed on a monitor?" then computer engineering is probably a great choice.

Software Engineering is the study of software design. Software engineering does overlap with computer engineering quite a bit, but the discipline's concern with electronics tends to stop at the logical interface as software engineers are rarely concerned with the physical aspects of design. A software engineer and a computer engineer that both focus on embedded systems will have quite a bit of overlap, but a software engineer that focuses on application design will not.

The Engineering profession is regulated in most countries and professional engineers are licenced by a state recognized standards body (licensure is not required for all engineering jobs though). This standards body is typically responsible for accrediting the engineering programs at academic institutions and disciplining professional engineers. Unaccredited institutions are not allowed to award engineering degrees, but may run engineering programs that award a different degree such as a bachelor of applied science. If you do choose an engineering program, make sure that it is at a reputable and accredited institution. An engineering degree (or an accredited B.ASc) is always a legal requirement for engineering licensure.

Information technology is much more applied than engineering. Most of what you have studied so far and been accredited for (Net+, Sec+, CCNA) is very IT related. If you really enjoy this stuff and aren't too concerned with knowing exactly how a Cisco router switches packets from one port to another at the gate level, or how an NIC deals with contention on a shared media then IT would be a great choice. Like CS, IT is not always accredited by a professional body and the quality of IT educations is highly variant.

I hope that this helps a bit, feel free to PM me if you have any questions.
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