Computer engineering is one of the three internationally accepted and closely related subdisciplines of the traditional field of electrical engineering (electrical engineering, electronic engineering and computer engineering). Computer engineering is the most dynamic and rapidly growing engineering discipline in the vast and constantly expanding field of information and communication technology (ICT). There is hardly a technological system in the world that does not rely on computer engineering. It involves a combination of electronics, computer systems (hardware and software) and communication systems. A computer engineer is someone with a talent for optimising electronic systems with dedicated computing systems and control software. This includes computer and communication networks of all sizes – from a couple of microcontrollers to the worldwide web. It is essential to know what this career entails before enrolling for the programme.
A computer engineer has a good understanding of the basic sciences and a sound education in the theoretical and practical aspects (including design methodology) of electronics, digital systems, computer systems and control software. With the dramatic increase in computing and storage capabilities, as well as a decrease in size and cost, most technological systems include components of computer engineering.
The computer engineering degree at the University of Pretoria was developed in 1998 to deliver graduates who can undertake the most demanding challenges of the ICT world in all its forms. Examples of computer engineering include cellphone technology, car control computers for engine management, entertainment systems, security systems, air-conditioning, active suspension and the anti-lock braking system (ABS). These all use the principles of sensing, computing and actuation under optimised software control. This is the fastest growing new discipline in engineering with job opportunities all over the world.
Computer engineering is used in the following fields in particular: telecommunications, computer networking, cellphone operations, computer system companies, military technologies (avionics, night vision, electronic warfare, smart bombs, drones, laser target designators), transport technologies (toll roads), internet banking, security systems, consumer equipment, modems, handheld scanners, voting, medical systems (portable and remote diagnostic recorders), robotics, entertainment equipment, global positioning system (GPS) navigation, measurement and control software, and fibre-optic networks (self-healing networks). A computer engineer has to be innovative and stay abreast of new technologies and developments in software and hardware. Many computer engineers move very quickly into management, where their analytical, synthesis, managerial and leadership skills are used to reach the highest levels of corporate management.
The aim of computer engineering is to integrate electronic, computing and control systems in the best way possible to ensure fast, small and powerful systems. Typical subsystems include sophisticated software for artificial intelligence, biometrics, radio frequency (RF) subsystems and realtime applications, software engineering, human language technologies, e-commerce, m-commerce, billing software, data security and various networking applications, such as storage area networks.
For more information, please consult the Faculty webpage.
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Computer engineers are active in all fields of the information superhighway and the information and communication technology (ICT) world, which include computer systems, software engineering, computer and communications networks, wireless sensor networks, embedded software, electronics, smart control systems and automation, data security, e-commerce, pattern recognition (face and speech recognition), and artificial intelligence. They specialise in combining hardware, software and communication technologies to optimise system performance.
4 years, full-time.