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Topic: I need a computer engineer (Read 688 times) previous topic - next topic

Sean Murphy

I have a very small college research paper coming up for my Foundations of Engineering class, and I am in need of an "interview" with a computer engineer (or someone with a job applicable to computer engineers). This interview can take place virtually, so I am hoping that someone can stumble across this thread and answer a question or two for me.

Why did you become a computer engineer?
Why did you choose this job?
What is the main thing about CE that makes it separate from other engineering?
What is something interesting about CE?
Anything else that you want to add...?

You don't have to answer all. I just need a little something.
Also, please include your name.
Thank you very much!!!

Coding Badly


Is that a "Computer Engineer" by the Texas definition or by the definition used in the rest of the United States?

a.d


Is that a "Computer Engineer" by the Texas definition or by the definition used in the rest of the United States?


Do they differ?

justjed

#3
Oct 22, 2011, 10:42 pm Last Edit: Oct 22, 2011, 11:08 pm by justjed Reason: 1


Is that a "Computer Engineer" by the Texas definition or by the definition used in the rest of the United States?



I don't know what the Texas definition is either. Maybe you need a big hat? :)

For that matter, 'computer engineer' is pretty tough to nail down. I know people who are 'real' engineers -- defined by having passed the requisite certification tests and are licensed, who look sideways at the term 'engineer' applied to most computing disciplines. Whether they have a valid gripe, I don't know, but I'm generally of the opinion that words have meanings, in some cases more narrow than others, and when we stop honoring that, then we lose some descriptive ability.

I'm wondering what's covered in a 'Foundations of Engineering' course. I don't at all disparage, for example, writing accounting apps in MicroFocus COBOL. But it isn't engineering.
... it is poor civic hygiene to install technologies that could someday
facilitate a police state. -- Bruce Schneier

Coding Badly

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Do they differ?


Yes.  To put "engineer" in your title requires a license.  As far as I know, Texas is the only state to have that requirement for "Software Engineer".

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Maybe you need a big hat?


...and lots of cattle.

westfw

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Why did you become a computer engineer?

Growing up in the 60s was an exciting time, what with the Space Program and all.  I was always interested in science (pretty much ANY science.)  As time went on it became clear that I wasn't likely to ever be Astronaut material, and electronics became the major focus of my efforts.  In highschool I took what electronics classes that existed (which were pretty good.)  In 11th grade, I took the computer science class, where we wrote BASIC programs on a timesharing system via ASR33 teletypes.  And the Altair and other "microcomputers" were starting to show up.  I decided that what I probably wanted to do was BUILD COMPUTERS.  I went to college aiming at a degree in Electrical Engineering, which seemed like the closes match at the time.
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Why did you choose this job?

It's more like it chose me.  (see above.)  In those days, EE and Computers were not so obviously related (and in particular, the EE program where I was didn't understand that EEs might have to write software.)   I enjoyed the software classes (I took a lot, since I knew that would be part of BUILDING COMPUTERS) more than the EE classes.  By the time graduation rolled around, I was pretty sure I had picked the wrong major, but it was too late.  Also, it didn't really matter.  By then I had been using the ARPANet, and got my first job via contacts I had made there, doing "networking stuff" (where EE and CS were closer together.  I actually built one piece of hardware; a device to convert a 6bit 150bps newswire link to 8bit 300bps "normal computer serial" data.)  Since then, I've primarily been a software person (doing networking), although at the "lower levels" where the EE background has come in handy ("systems programming", "embedded systems", "operating systems", "device drivers", "infrastructure", etc.)

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What is the main thing about CE that makes it separate from other engineering?

For software engineering, you have the combination of "immediate gratification", "reuse", and "failure to fail."  If your electronics project breaks, you might have to start over with new parts.  If your SW breaks, you fix it till it works.  And then you can easily make it better, or different, or save it off to backup storage and keep it forever (not that you'll necessarily be able to read it N years later...)  I had a revelation in HS that most the individual electronics projects I had made could be programmed into one of the neat little microprocessor boards that were starting to show up...

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What is something interesting about CE?

It changes quickly.  The job you thought you were doing is going to be significantly different in a couple years.  Probably in unpredictable ways.  This can be good, or bad, but it's always "interesting."  Also, you get to help change the world.  Probably as a small cog in a big machine where no one notices you, but you can still pick up a bit of warm fuzziness.

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Anything else that you want to add...?

As others have said, "Computer Engineering" is a broad field, covering everything from designing the chips to implementing artificial intelligence.  And that's just "pure" CE.  Most other fields these days will use computers as tools, and they need CE support to do that.  I mean, this whole Arduino thing started as a means for Artists to be better able to use computer technology, right?  Know enough about computers, and you can "dabble" anywhere.

Graynomad

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...and lots of cattle.

You can of course be "All hat and no cattle" :)

______
Rob
Rob Gray aka the GRAYnomad www.robgray.com

Sean Murphy

Westfw, thank you so much! That response was exactly what I was looking for.

Justjed, Foundations is a one credit hour course that explains the difference among the types of engineering and introduces topics like dimensional analysis, Excel, and the creative process. For someone like me who has been designing circuitry, writing oodles of code, and making things for several years now, it is a rather boring and nearly pointless course. However, it did help me realize that what I want to be doing is more along the lines of CE instead of EE.

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