Computer engineering, also called computer systems engineering, is a discipline that integrates several fields of electrical engineering and computer science required to develop computer systems. Computer engineers usually have training in electronic engineering, software design, and hardware-software integration instead of only software engineering or electronic engineering. Computer engineers are involved in many hardware and software aspects of computing, from the design of individual microprocessors, personal computers, and supercomputers, to circuit design. This field of engineering not only focuses on how computer systems themselves work, but also how they integrate into the larger picture.
Usual tasks involving computer engineers include writing software and firmware for embedded microcontrollers, designing VLSI chips, designing analog sensors, designing mixed signal circuit boards, and designing operating systems. Computer engineers are also suited for robotics research, which relies heavily on using digital systems to control and monitor electrical systems like motors, communications, and sensors.
The first accredited computer engineering degree program in the United States was established at Case Western Reserve University in 1971. As of October 2004, there were 170 ABET-accredited computer engineering programs in the US. Due to increasing job requirements for engineers, who can concurrently design hardware, software, firmware, and manage all forms of computer systems used in industry, some tertiary institutions around the world offer abachelor's degree generally called computer engineering. Both computer engineering and electronic engineering programs include analog and digital circuit design in their curricular. As with most engineering disciplines, having a sound knowledge of mathematics and sciences is necessary for computer engineers.
In many institutions, computer engineering students are allowed to choose areas of in-depth study in their junior and senior year, because the full breadth of knowledge used in the design and application of computers is beyond the scope of an undergraduate degree. Other institutions may require engineering students to complete one year of General Engineering before declaring computer engineering as their primary focus.