Computer Engineering is the marriage of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. It focuses on computing in all forms, from microprocessors to embedded computing devices to laptop and desktop systems to supercomputers. As such, it concerns the electrical engineering considerations of how microprocessors function, are designed, and are optimized; how data is communicated among electronic components; how integrated systems of electronic components are designed and how they operate to process instructions expressed in software; and how software is written, compiled, and optimized for specific hardware platforms. Therefore, computer engineers are electrical engineers who specialize in software design, hardware design, or systems design that integrates both.
Computer Science is primarily concerned with theoretical portion that deals with data, programming languages, algorithms etc. Computer scientists are focused on things like coding the programs, numerical analysis, database designs, software designs, algorithms and artificial intelligence. In other words, we can say that computer science is the study of data, methods of processing data to get some results, experimentation on data, storage, communication and access to information.
Computer Science also deals with algorithms for processing data, theory of computation, network security and privacy, cryptography, representation of data, organization of data in databases of various types and scales, statistical modeling of data in large databases for supporting inference of trends, different programming languages that are used develop various types of applications to be used for several purposes.
- What is Computer Engineering (CE)?
Computer Engineering involves a much more physical approach than computer science does. Computer engineers build computer networks, assemble hardware and embed computer systems into many kinds of objects. They might assemble circuit boards or even work in a laboratory to find a way to make computers more efficient or more portable. Computer engineers might also work with computer scientists when scientists are creating the programs that will be used with the systems computer engineers create. A small difference between the programming used in computer engineering and computer science is that engineers might create the program that makes the system work correctly and let the computer scientists create various programs for the main operating system. Understanding basic hardware components is part of both computer engineering and computer science disciplines.
Unlike computer science, computer engineering is concerned with a practical aspect or implementation of theories. It takes the theory and applies it practically in real life. It combines various fields of electrical engineering and computer science to develop computer hardware and software. Computer engineering mostly covers integration of hardware and software, electronic engineering (designing of circuits, transistors and microprocessors etc.) and software design.
Computer Engineering has two major fields of specialization, the Computer Hardware Engineering (Computer hardware engineers research, develop and design computer systems like processors, circuits, boards and networking routers etc) and the Computer Software Engineering (Computer software engineers mainly uses principles and concepts of computer science and mathematical analysis for designing, development and testing of software application).
- What is Computer Science (CS)?
Computer Science is the study of both computer hardware and software design, how data and instructions are processed, stored, communicated by computing devices. CS is the systematic study of the feasibility, structure, expression, and mechanization of the methodical processes (or algorithms) that underlie the acquisition, representation, processing, storage, communication of, and access to information, whether such information is encoded in bits and bytes in a computer memory or transcribed in genes and protein structures in a human cell.
The fundamental question underlying all of computing is: what computational processes can be efficiently automated and implemented? To tackle this seemingly simple question, computer scientists work in many complementary areas. They study the very nature of computing to determine which problems are (or are not) computable. They compare various algorithms to determine if they provide a correct and efficient solution to a concrete problem. They design programming languages to enable the specification and expression of such algorithms. They design, evaluate, and build computer systems that can efficiently execute such specifications, then apply such algorithms to important application domains.
CS deals with algorithms for processing data, the symbolic representation of data and instructions, the design of instruction languages for processing data, techniques for writing software that process data on a variety of computing platforms, protocols for communicating data reliably and securely across networks, the organization of data in databases of various types and scales, the emulation of human intelligence and learning through computer algorithms, statistical modeling of data in large databases to support inference of trends, and techniques for protecting the content and authenticity of data. Therefore, computer scientists are scientists and mathematicians who develop ways to process, interpret, store, communicate, and secure data.
The study of computer science has many branches, including artificial intelligence, software engineering, programming and computer graphics. The need for computer science as a discipline has grown as computers become more integrated into our day-to-day lives and technology continues to advance.
4. Similarities between Computer Science and Computer Engineering
Computer science and computer engineering have similarities as both have overlapping study areas which work side by side.
- In many situations, computer scientist and computer engineer work side-by-side to design, maintain and build computers, software and hardware.
- Computer science and computer engineering can be talked about without touching software engineering.
- These two degrees are very similar in a way that both study computer as a whole.
- Both computer scientist and computer engineer study inner working of the computer as well as hardware and software aspects. They also learn to use computer as tool of modern technology.
- Both these disciplines are based on good math skills.
- The job placement programs for both kinds of majors are almost same environment.
4.1 How Does Computer Science Relate To Computer Engineering?
The realization of a computing system, subject to various physical and technological constraints, is a challenging undertaking that requires a great deal of knowledge about the functionality and characteristics of the building blocks available at our disposal using today’s technologies (e.g., semiconductor technologies, optical communication technologies, wireless signaling technologies, etc.) Computer engineering concerns itself with current practices in assembling hardware and software components to erect computing engines with the best cost-performance characteristics. In contrast, computer scientists worry about the feasibility and efficiency of solutions to problems in a manner that is less dependent on current technologies. As such, computer scientists work on abstractions that hide details of underlying implementations to enable the construction and comprehension of yet more complex systems. The creative process of developing, implementing, and evaluating computing abstractions is what pushes the frontiers of what computers and computations can do. For example, the pervasive use of the Web in our society is a direct result of our ability to free Internet application developers from the lower-level implementation details of moving bits and bytes over wires from one point to another. Similarly, the tremendous advances in the use of computer animation are a direct result of the ability to free programmers from having to worry about lower-level digital signal processing techniques.
- Who is a Computer Engineer and what are their duties?
The computer engineer works in the physical world and involves understanding how we can harness the laws of physics and electronics to create better computer components. They are more likely to spend more time at a lab bench than writing code. Computer engineers also need solid programming skills. A degree in computer engineering will cover programming topics such as software design. There are many different career options for computer engineers, such as: aerospace, life sciences, mobile devices and robotics.
Computer engineers continually push the capability and applicability of computers in every industry and every facet of modern life. Computer engineers embed computers in other machines and systems, build networks to transfer data, and develop ways to make computers, faster, smaller, and more capable. Computer engineers are improving the ability of computers to “see” and “think.” They are making computers more mobile, and even incorporating computers into fabrics, clothes, and building materials.
Computer engineers are concerned with analyzing and solving computer-oriented problems. They understand both the hardware and the software of computers. This enables them to choose the solution that is best, not just the one they know. Sometimes the answer to making a program more efficient is a change in the computer itself. Sometimes it is cheaper and faster to change the software than the hardware. The knowledge of both the “body” and the “mind” of a computer helps computer engineers work at the microscopic level and on a large, system-wide scale.
Computer engineers use many of the principles and techniques of electrical engineering and many of computer science. Computer engineering, however, is more than a blend of two other fields.
Computer engineers design, test, implement and maintain computer software and hardware systems. They ensure that both the physical hardware components and software programming components work together smoothly for their clients. Some computer engineers specialize in fields such as robotics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, mobile apps and operating systems.
Computer engineer duties include:
- Conducting research on software and computer hardware
- Designing and testing computer hardware components, such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices and routers
- Writing and testing software for mobile devices and computers
- Designing, setting up and testing networks
- Managing operating systems
- Designing and testing robots
- Creating programming to support a range of products, from aircraft components to surgical technology.
5.1 Computer Engineer’s Skills and Employment Areas
Computer engineers need several soft and hard skills to help them do their job well. Such as-
- Analytical: A computer engineer’s job entails identifying a problem, developing a solution, implementing the solution and troubleshooting the result requiring a detail-oriented and meticulous analysis of each task they complete.
- Time management: Computer engineers often juggle several projects or multiple aspects of one large project. An engineer should be able to prioritize tasks, make and adhere to deadlines and create timelines for work completion.
- Communication: Computer engineers work with clients, managers, teammates, marketing departments and technicians. Clear and open communication will ensure the engineer understands the client’s expectations and that the client understands the engineer’s plan. A mutual understanding of expectations will ease a project to a satisfactory conclusion. Computer engineers should also be able to use nontechnical terms when communicating with those unfamiliar with the industry.
- Teamwork: Computer engineers collaborate on teams with designers, testers, systems experts, security experts, researchers, salespeople and marketing employees who work together to launch a product. Software engineers must be able to delegate, accept responsibilities and share ideas with all team members.
Computer engineers can find employment in different industries and can work in many different capacities. Some of the places where computer engineers can work are:
- Software or hardware corporations
- Aeronautical firms
- Defense contractors
- The federal government
- Gaming and entertainment companies
- Financial industry
- Healthcare industry
- Educational institutions
- Research institutions
- Who is a Computer Scientists and what are their duties?
A computer scientist focuses more on the abstract details of software engineering but also has much of the hardware knowledge that computer engineers have. They know how hardware and software work together and know how to design programs that take advantage of the hardware’s features. When creating their programs, computer scientists use their knowledge of numerical analysis and algorithms to ensure that a program computes its values correctly. They create software patches, complete programs and even entire operating systems, and usually work on a team within a company that includes software engineers and other computer scientists.
Computer scientists invent new technologies and capabilities in the field, which they apply to real problems in a wide range of other fields, such as science or business. This may require them to work closely with other kinds of specialists, like engineers. Some of these scientists may specialize in a particular area, including programming or data science.
Computer Science is about problem solving. Thus, the qualities of a good computer scientist include a passion for finding elegant solutions, an ability to use mathematical analysis and logical rigour to evaluate such solutions, creativity in modeling complex problems through the use of abstractions, attention to details and hidden assumptions, an ability to recognize variants of the same problem in different settings, and being able to retarget known efficient solutions to problems in new settings.
In general, computer scientists may:
- Develop and/or simplify algorithms
- Create new computing languages
- Determine new methods for working with computers
- Test new systems and designs
- Develop models and theories to address issues in the field
- Present findings to the scientific community
- Improve computer hardware performance
- Increase the efficiency of computer software and/or hardware.
Computer scientists create the brains in our smartphones, maintain airplanes positioning and stability, help surgeons do a better job and automate aspects of manufacturing, etc. The reality is, there are many different roles that a computer scientist could fill, but any computer science role is likely to involve:
- Thinking about and conceptualising computational and maths-related problems and challenges
- Developing new products or solve practical computing problems
- Conducting research involving experimentation and modelling
- Working as part of a research team with programmers, IT professionals, and mechanical, electrical or software engineers to solve problems and create new products
- Studying, experimenting and investigating technological fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics and virtual reality
- Seeking to improve the performance of existing computer systems and software
- Developing new hardware or computing techniques and materials
6.1 Key skills for Computer Scientists
- Excellent mathematics skills
- Excellent computer and technology knowledge and skills
- An ability to analyse problems and trace them to their core causes
- A systematic approach to work and problem solving
- A stickler for accuracy
- A strong ability to anticipate and diagnose problems
- Ability to organise and classify large amounts of information
- Overlap between the CE and CS Areas
Because both Computer Engineers and Computer Scientists ultimately work with data and attempt ultimately to harness meaning from it, there is significant overlap in coursework that students in the two fields take, as well as in the careers they pursue. This does not minimize the distinctive nature of the two disciplines. It simply acknowledges the fact that these types of computer professionals find context and purpose in similar kinds of projects or in different aspects of the same kinds of projects.
Both Computer Engineers and Computer Scientists advance computing technology and solve problems using computing technology. If we consider computing technology in terms of scale, Computer Engineers operate often at the microscopic and macroscopic ends of the spectrum, whereas Computer Scientists work in the middle parts of the spectrum. More specifically, Computer Engineers deal with the physics of semiconductor electronics so that they may design hardware from the integrated circuit level (small), as well as with the integration of hardware and software optimized to run on it to realize complete, special-purpose computing systems (large). Computer Scientists write the software, design the databases, devise the algorithms, format the communications, and secure the data that are processed by the hardware to make the integrated system function.
7.1 A Concrete Example: An iPhone
Consider an iPhone. Apple employs both Computer Scientists and Computer Engineers to design each new version of the iPhone. Computer Engineers (and Electrical Engineers) designed the chips that house the integrated circuits that make the iPhone’s various components (cell radio, screen, controls, memory, microprocessor) function, and they figured out how to get the various components to work with each other. That involves looking at the device at both the microscopic level and the integrated systems level. Computer Scientists wrote the operating system that manages the memory and concurrently running applications, the apps in the app store that run on top of that operating system, the packing and unpacking of data into packets for network communication and the encrypting of data so that prying eyes can’t see it. The computer scientists provide the glue pieces that bring turn the computer engineers’ beginning product – the component designs – into the computer engineers’ end product – the device on which people text, browse the web, and play Angry Birds.
From this example, it is easy to imagine, with so much dependence on each other’s functions for realizing a finished product, why there is significant overlap in the coursework Computer Engineers and Computer Scientists take, and in the career opportunities they pursue.
List of specialization areas in Computer Engineering with an asterisk (*) on those in which Computer Scientists also specialize in. In all cases of overlap, Computer Scientists focus more on the software development aspect of the specialization, and Computer Engineers study the hardware design and integration of hardware and software needed to implement that specialization.
- Microprocessor and microcontroller systems
- Assembly language (*)
- Coding, cryptography, and information protection (*)
- Distributed computing (*)
- Computer vision and pattern recognition (*)
- Computer graphics and multimedia applications (*)
- Internet computing and wireless networks (*)
- Computer architecture and embedded digital systems design
- Network security and privacy (*)
- Real-Time Systems (*)
- VLSI, VHDL, and ASICS design
- Computer internetworking and Network Protocols (*)
- Embedded software for real-time microcontrollers (*)
- Algorithms, compilers, and operating systems (*)
- Human-computer interaction (*)
- What are the differences between Computer Scientists and Computer Engineers?
Computer Engineering and Computer Science have a lot of overlapping characteristics, but the major difference is found in how their obtained skills are used. While Computer Engineering focuses more on hardware and electronics, Computer Science focuses on computer programming and software design. Both areas involve the study of advanced mathematics, physics and programming, but computer engineers are more likely to use those skills to build hardware than to build programs. Computer scientists, therefore, use their knowledge to understand how programs and operating systems work and how to create better software solutions for hardware.
Students in CE and CS degree programs take several courses that overlap between the programs. Both programs usually require multiple calculus, linear algebra, physics, computer architecture, networking and programming classes. The major difference is that computer science students take many more classes in software design, data algorithms and operating systems than computer engineering students do. Computer engineering students take several courses in electronics, artificial intelligence, digital logic circuits and digital hardware, and they tend to study more physical concepts. Both computer engineering and computer science students usually end their studies by completing a major project that demonstrates their learned skills.
- Computer science is a broader term which is based on the study of programming and hardware parts of the computer while computer engineering is concerned with the application of engineering process for creation and maintenance and design of software.
- Computer engineers focus on hardware implementation while computer scientists focus on theories and algorithms.
- Computer engineering is a combination of electrical engineering and computer science while computer science does not deal with the study of circuits, physics but do study programming and theory behind it.
- For computer scientists job titles can be Programmer, System Analyst, Business Analyst, Software Developer and Software Engineer. The job titles for the computer engineers can be Hardware Engineer, Software Engineer, and System Engineer.
Computer Science’s most popular job opportunities are Website Designer or developer, Systems Analyst, Computer Programmer/App Programmer, Data Scientist and UX/UI Designer. For Computer Engineering, the most popular career paths are QC (Quality Control) Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Computer Architecture Developer, Mobile Device Engineer and Computer Hardware Engineer.
As the two courses focuses on telecommunication development, it will allow the computer engineer and scientist to keep up with technology, ensuring that their skills do not become outdated and making them seem more appealing in comparison to those who started in the field years ago. There is also good job security and the opportunity to travel around when doing a job.
- What is the role of Computer Science and Computer Engineering for developing nation?
The role varies, depending on the nation’s level of development. In an underdeveloped nation (e.g., any of central African nations), CS role is a relatively minor supporting technology and the best use of resources is to develop infrastructure and the economy. CS, in the form of IT, can improve efficiency but such countries will primarily depend on software developed elsewhere. The most advanced nations (US, many European countries) will find more uses for software and will be major producers of software. Countries in between these extremes (e.g., Mexico) will fall in the middle, with some internal software products and limited international sales of such. But until a nation have a strong, advanced economy, software will play only a supporting role in development.
Role of computer science on developing countries would be to build an online infrastructure. So in the financial district, having online trading for the stock market will encourage investment where companies can make more money. Banks can provide online transactions and online banking can be available to anyone anywhere. Government can operate online as well. So to summarize you can deliver information at a faster rate than ever possible and having an infrastructure to support a growing country will definitely improve the overall condition of that country.
- Build systems that exploit existing infrastructure. For example, in much of Africa, there is no internet, but even the poorest village might have at least one smart phone thanks to certain government programs. Computer scientists can build banking, micro-loan servicing, health care, and mail services on top of that technology (small screens, slow CPUs, limited access, pay-per-megabyte / pay-per-message) to raise the standard of living.
- Model things effectively, whether irrigation systems or epidemics or population or wildlife migration or likely spots to find natural resources, to help the governments of those countries manage what they have and avoid exploitation
- Start a computer-related business using local people. This could be a call center, but it could also be some kind of outsourced content creation or data validation task that can be done after a short period of training.
- What are the roles of computer engineers and computer scientist in a developing digital economy in terms of infrastructure, applications and services?
Digital economy is one collective term for all economic transactions that occur on the internet. It is also known as the Web Economy or the Internet Economy. With the advent of technology and the process of globalization, the digital and traditional economies are merging into one through the aid of the computer engineer and computer scientist. This economy focuses on digital technologies and is based on digital and computing technologies. It essentially covers all business, economic, social, cultural etc. activities that are supported by the web and other digital communication technologies undertaken by the computer engineer and computer scientist.
The backbone of the digital economy is hyperconnectivity which means growing interconnectedness of people, organisations, and machines that results from the Internet, mobile technology and the internet of things (IoT). There are three main components of digital economy, namely, the e-business, e-business infrastructure and e-commerce. These components are made possible by the computer engineer and computer scientist.
There has been an immense growth of digital platforms and their influence on our lives. Digital economy is a way to utilize opportunity and has been integrated into every aspect of the user’s life, such as in healthcare, banking, education, finance, entertainment, etc, thereby influencing what consumers see on different social media (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) and popular websites (YouTube).
The ways in which computer engineers and scientists connect with others, with information, and with the world is being transformed through a combination of technologies. These technologies assist us in solve high-level problems, while big data will assist us in complex decision-making. This is the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and it is going to have a massive impact on the economy as well. The rise of the sharing economy, blockchain technology, and changes in manufacturing driven by 3D- and 4D-printing are noted.
10.1 Characteristics of the Digital Economy
Companies/establishments failing to reimagine their businesses within the new digital economy would lose whatever competitive advantage they hold in the market. Five major technology trends from computer engineers and computer scientists have joined to shape the digital economy. Hyper-connectivity, supercomputing, cloud computing, cyber security and smart products have created a world where traditional boundaries of products verses service offerings no longer exists. Individuals, businesses and societies are connecting in real-time, creating a world that is more collaborative, intelligent and responsive.
10.2 Attributes of the Digital Economy
The rise of the Internet of Things with an estimated 48 billion connections between devices by 2021, creates a business environment of endless possibilities. To successfully adapt, the computer engineer and computer scientist must first understand the five main attributes of the digital economy:
i. Digitized and Tracked.
In a digital economy, analog objects generate digital signals that can be measured, tracked and analyzed for better decision making. Lower costs for sensor technology are granting operators to drive more processing out into the field to improve forecast accuracy and increase profitability on a well level basis.
Sensor technology needs both the CE and CS talents for accurate and productive products for generating digital measurable signals.
ii. Linking assets, suppliers, workers and stakeholders by wireless communications allows people to make data-driven decisions, thereby improving network, safety, efficiency, and visibility across the enterprise. The computer engineer and scientist skills are required in developing, programming and deploying these wireless communication devices.
iii. The digital economy operates on sharing so you only buy what is needed and pay as you go. Purchasing what is needed lowers inventory costs, while buying usage as a service allows companies to pay only for the time used and value received.
Both the computer engineer and computer scientific have a role to play as true collaboration among them would assist them to provide for example in oil and gas sector, refineries and terminals to consumers, automate the replenishment of tanks, use best-buy scenarios, and plan optimized truck routes for deliveries to service stations.
iv. In digital economy, customer personalization results in customers get tailored products and experiences from their favourite brands when and where they want them. The computer engineer and computer scientist creates and optimizes for their customers personal preferences and habits.
The digital economy also allows companies to by-pass the middleman, eliminating unnecessary intermediaries or channels and creating a more direct relationship between buyer and seller.
The computer engineer and scientist develops a simplified ecosystem has less friction and lowers the barrier to entry for stakeholders and competitors in the value chain. They create remote service monitoring, which is an example of direct operations. Leveraging remote intelligence to track, monitor, manage, report, and resolve asset issues throughout the company/establishment service lifecycle eliminates the need to have full-time, local personnel.
Merits of Digital Economy
The merits of digital economy is noted by its rise to many new trends and start-up ideas, showcasing the biggest companies in the digital world such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon with the operational activities of the computer engineer and scientist. The merits are:
i. It promotes the use of the Internet
Most of your daily work can be done on the internet. The massive growth of technology and the internet that is now a worldwide network, causing an extraordinary growth in the investment on all things related like the hardware, technological research, software, services, digital communication etc.
ll. Growth in E-commerce
All the businesses that acclimatized, accepted and implemented the internet and online transaction in the last decade have flourished. Digital economy has made direct selling, buying, distribution, and marketing much easier.
iii. Digital Goods and Services
Goods are digitally available to us and so there is no need for any tangible products. This is same for services such as banking, where you can perform transactions online.
Cash transactions are becoming infrequent and most transactions/payment in the digital economy are online, thereby reducing the black money and corruption in the market and make the economy more transparent.
In the digital economy, all customers – business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer alike, want to interact with businesses when and where they want and in a fashion that is most convenient for them.
The ways in which people connect with others, with information, and with the world is being transformed through a combination of technologies. These technologies will help us solve increasingly sophisticated problems, while big data will assist us in complex decision-making.
This is the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and it is going to have a massive impact on the economy as well. Already we’re seeing the rise of the sharing economy, blockchain technology, and changes in manufacturing driven by 3D- and 4D-printing. The sharing economy is a model in which people and organizations connect online to share goods and services. It is also known as collaborative consumption or peer-to-peer exchange. Two of the best-known examples of the sharing economy are Uber (transportation) and Airbnb (housing).
Blockchain is a digital “ledger” technology that allows for keeping track of transactions in a distributed and trusted fashion. It replaces the need for third-party institutions to provide trust for financial, contract, and voting activities. Bitcoin and other digital currencies are some of the most well-known examples of applications of blockchain technology.
There are philosophical as well as practical answers to the question of similarity and difference between the computer engineer and the computer scientist. Both study the use of the digital computer as a tool that makes possible much of modern technology and the overlap between the two fields is significant. Both disciplines study the inner workings of computers and both study hardware as well as software aspects of computer systems. They study programming and basic computer operation.
Computer Science is traditionally more concerned with the theoretical underpinnings of computation and of programming; thus one typically finds courses in programming, algorithms, numerical analysis, and the theory of computation. Computer Engineering focuses on the practical aspects of development and use of computers. Courses in digital logic design and processor interfacing which build on an engineering student’s knowledge of electronics and circuits are typically found in computer engineering programs. At the intersection between them, is the computer architecture (the basic construction and low-level programming of computers) and operating systems, which are as likely to be found in either or both programs.
Computer engineers build hardware while computer scientists generally do not. However, computer scientists certainly know enough about hardware to analyze computer system operations and to interact with hardware engineers. Computer scientists know more about underlying theory of computation, programming languages, and operating systems. While computer engineers often work as programmers, most system level programs such as programming languages and operating systems are designed by computer scientists. However, computer engineers usually write the programs for computer-based systems.
Computer engineers make computer parts work together, and are responsible for the research, design and development of computer equipment like circuit boards, microchips, routers, video cards, etc. It is beneficial for computer engineers to have a grasp of computer science, as they have to design and build processors and hardware that can support a given program. As technology advances and our devices become smaller and smaller, the goal of computer engineers is to create microchips and microprocessors that work economically and efficiently. Computer scientists can talk to computers through the mathematics of the language of computers. Computer scientists understand why computers work and can create a program or operating system that does what you want it to do.
As the two disciplines work hand-in-hand with overlapping duties, there should a collaboration and partnership between them and not a feud or enmity of superiority roles.