Computer engineering is a branch of engineering that is essentially a blend of several computer sciences and electrical engineering topics. This article will help you decide for yourself how hard computer engineering really is.
Before we move on it is imperative to point out the difference between Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Electrical Engineering.
Electrical engineering is an engineering discipline that principally deals with the practical application of electricity, electromagnetism, and electronics. On the other hand, computer science is the study of algorithmic processes and computational machines, and it mostly focuses on the software side of things.
Computer engineering is a mix of the two fields. You will encounter theoretical courses such as data structures but also acclimatize yourself with many lab courses. In short, a computer engineering degree is easier than an electrical engineering degree but harder than a computer science major. We will now go over the difficulty of a computer engineering degree in detail.
Is Computer Engineering Hard?
Computer engineering is hard. Computer engineering is not easy because you have to take several difficult math courses and integrate various computer science and electrical engineering concepts. However, compared to other engineering majors, computer engineering is not the most difficult.
Difficult Quantitiatve Courses
Most students struggle with an engineering degree regardless of which branch they pursue. This is because engineering majors take similar courses in the first two years. These quantitative classes help you learn the rudiments of math, science, and engineering before you can progress to more technical classes.
You will typically study the following core courses in a computer engineering major: Calculus I, Calculus II, Calculus III, Differential Equations, Physics I, Physics II, Linear Algebra, Probability and Statistics, Mechanics, Introduction to Algorithms and Programming, Data Structures and Program Design, Advanced Data Structures, Electricity and Magnetism, and Electrical Engineering Fundamentals.
As you can see for yourself, many of these classes are touted as some of the hardest undergraduate courses. Data Structures and Calculus II, in particular, have a notorious reputation for their difficulty.
Challenging Technical Classes
Upon the completion of the core courses, you will find yourself grappling with tough technical classes in order to graduate with a computer engineering degree.
You will study more advanced computer science courses such as system security, operating systems, network software, and embedded applications.
Students struggle with these lessons since they are very theoretical. Moreover, some of these courses may require students to submit projects to demonstrate their understanding of the underlying principles.
Computer engineering students also have to take several gruelling electrical engineering lectures. Electrical engineering courses are renowned for their demanding lab sessions and perplexing concepts.
Some of the technical courses you may take at your college include introductory and intermediate electronic circuits, image processing, and integrated circuit design.
Devloping Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
Both computer science and electrical engineering require strong critical thinking skills. Looking at the big picture without ignoring the small details is almost second nature to engineers. Similarly, computer engineers must take into account a multitude of factors before they can finalize a product.
For instance, when designing a microchip for a laptop, a computer engineer cannot ignore the heat emitted or the weight of the chip itself. This is because companies are aggressively marketing smaller and lightweight laptops. Chips generating very little heat would be a welcome surprise as it could lead to laptops without fans.
Problem-solving is what engineers are paid for. Engineers need to analyse problems, experiment with different prototypes, and then come with a suitable solution. Universities strive to improve the problem-solving abilities of their students. These reasons explain why a computer engineering degree is so hard to pursue.
Mastering Practical Skills and Theoretical Knowledge
Computer engineering requires a great deal of theoretical knowledge as well as practical application. Computer engineering is a highly interdisciplinary degree and it feels like you are studying two entirely separate majors.
The computer science aspect of computer engineering is highly theoretical. You will be dealing with the software side of things. Comparatively, you can expect to master the hardware, design, and electronic characteristics of a system in the more applied electrical engineering courses.
Is Computer Engineering Harder than Computer Science?
Computer engineering is harder than computer science but not by much. A computer engineering degree is more difficult than a computer science one because you have to take more math courses, additional electrical engineering classes, and several practical lab sessions.
Computer engineering and computer science are quite similar in many regards. Both these degrees have several of the same math and science courses. The first two years of college are almost indistinguishable when comparing the two majors.
However, computer engineering has some additional math courses like Calculus III. It also has complex electrical engineering classes in the third and fourth years. Finally, computer engineering is a more practical degree than computer science; this is apparent in the extra lab sessions computer engineers have to take. These factors combined make computer engineering harder than computer science.
Is Computer Engineering Stressful?
Computer engineering is quite stressful. Like other engineering degrees, computer engineering requires a logical and technical mindset, a will to work hard despite failures, and many challenging and difficult courses. These factors together make computer engineering a nerve-racking and stressful field.
Working at a computer engineering job is just as stressful as studying at university. You will be under constant pressure to perform and have to work with a wide range of colleagues and nearly impossible deadlines.
More often than not you will have to take work home and constantly improve your skill set by taking certifications and courses. This will leave you with very little time for recreation. Unless you have remarkable time management skills, you will have to sacrifice some aspects of your life which you previously enjoyed.
Computer engineering is a high-pressure field. You will have to be at your very best throughout the day. You will have to use your prior knowledge in unfamiliar contexts. Every day you will be presented with new challenges. This will lead to a lot of personal growth but leave you stressed at the same time.
Can I be a computer engineer if I’m bad at math?
You cannot be a computer engineer if you are bad unless you are willing to drastically improve your mathematical abilities. You will have to take several math courses in college and apply those concepts wherever you work at. As a result, you must be good at math to study computer engineering.
Math becomes an increasingly abstract subject as you progress into more advanced classes. Even students who did well in high school math; struggle with the math courses at college, particularly in a computer engineering major.
The good news is that most students can significantly upgrade their mathematical abilities. Math courses on YouTube, Coursera, EdX, and Khan Academy are perfect for this task. You can also take private tutoring if nothing else works.
However, if you feel that you still struggle with maths despite trying your best, then you should consider other options. There are a plethora of fields you can choose from that are less math-intensive than computer engineering.
Is Computer Engineering a good career?
Computer engineering is a good career as it will provide you with awesome benefits, multiple opportunities due to a high demand in tech-related fields, high paying jobs, respect in the workforce, and a chance to improve the lives of people around you.
The rapid proliferation of technology in different sectors of society has opened up many jobs opportunities for computer engineers, computer scientists, software engineers, and IT specialists. Tech-related professionals are more in demand today than ever before which has led to a drastic increase in their salaries and benefits.
Moreover, computer specialists also have the chance to dramatically impact the lives of the people around them. By creating new software, microchips, and other hardware components, computer engineers can make our lives easier and better.
However, computer engineering comes with its own challenges. Computer engineering is a highly stressful and competitive field. Computer engineering jobs are not monotonous or repetitive, instead, they demand creativity, innovation, and solving problems.
Generally speaking, engineering is considered to be one of the hardest majors at college. Computer engineering is no different. Despite the fact that students find computer engineering hard, students can usually overcome the difficulty through consistent practice and regular revision.