When you think of a computer engineer, what kind of images pop up in your head? What is that person doing right now? What is he or she like? If you are an engineer, you should know this answer. At least I hope so. But if not, you are probably thinking of some quiet, nerdy, super smart, lonely guy sitting in his cubicle, typing some code that makes no sense. Some engineers may be like this, but I can tell you from my undergraduate experience that students studying to be computer engineers, and even graduated computer engineers, need a lot more skills and do a lot more work than that to be successful. Here are some required qualities of undergraduate computer engineers:
- Computer engineers need to know how to write well, and do it often during their job
One big misconception of engineers in general is that they don’t write much at all in their job. However, this is not the case. When asked what other field of study would help undergraduate computer engineers, Dr. Richard Enbody, a computer science professor at Michigan State University, said, “Something involving writing — it is the hardest thing to learn on your own.” Whether it is writing memos to your higher ups about your project you are working on, or you are sending a request for materials or time, writing skills are needed in order to stay organized, stay professional, and quite frankly, get what you want.
Even in computer programming, a task that is all done on a computer, writing is still used to get things done. My own experiences confirm the need for good writing skills. In my first programming class I took at Michigan State University, my professor told us students that in order to code most efficiently, a key step was to write down and plan out how we were going to tackle the problem in order to stay on track and not lose focus. This advice helped me immensely, as writing code became so much quicker and easier after first writing it down. And trust me, computer engineer undergrads will take a lot of programming classes
- Computer engineers need social skills (I know, shocking, right?)
Being able to communicate ideas and collaborate with others is a big part of any engineering job, because most projects engineers take part of are done in groups. In my time as an undergraduate computer engineer, there would have been no way I could have finished a project to create a lego robot I was given without a group and social skills.
Computer engineers need social skills to get a job in the first place. Making connections with others in the field is a huge advantage, and knowing how to answer interview questions is also a big asset. Luckily, a nice reward of this major is that job opportunities are huge. You learn a lot of different skills that can apply to many fields, so if the first interview doesn’t go well, don’t sweat it too much; there are so many more positions open. A lot of engineers dream of working for big companies, like Google, which is a nice concept, but it is not an easy position to get into. However, because the demand for computer engineers is so high, because of the need for new technology, job security and opportunities for that career is very high
- They know a lot more than just what their field requires
No, computer engineers don’t just know how to sit and build computers. Colleges prepare computer engineering students for a wide variety of tasks, like coding, computer hardware and software development, working with groups and writing memos, and the list goes on. They take classes pertaining to computer programming, computer architecture, software development, and even about electrical circuits.
The classes required are in wide variety as well. One class I am required to take to graduate is biomedical instrumentation. When I first saw it on the list, I wasn’t sure why it would be of use. I don’t know the first thing about biology, anyways. However, computer engineers are able to take up jobs that are so varying and unlike one another, and some jobs work with the technology behind medical instruments and so many other technologies. They may even find jobs in other fields, like electrical engineering or computer science. Computer engineering can be for anyone, no matter their interest.