Starting a career as a successful computer engineer can lead to a rewarding and lucrative career path. Computer science and engineering principles will continue to be applied to new applications, environments, and situations where human beings can utilize computational powers to improve product quality and service levels.
If you’re still deciding your major in university, there is no denying that computer engineering programs will contribute to a future full of job opportunities. But if you're wondering how to get that engineering degree or how to build a career in computer engineering, then it's worth reviewing how other professionals in the field achieved success in their careers. Discover how these computer engineers made a successful career for themselves.
What Do Computer Engineers Do?
Computer engineers take on the role of developing concepts for hardware and are responsible for the development of technology's physical pieces, such as the components of video game systems or computer chips for smart TVs. You can expect to complete various tasks that impact the design, testing, research, and development of computer hardware and other physical components.
For instance, your role may involve modifying the design of a computer chip, testing a router you designed or analyzing test results for a processor that you're developing for a car. If new software comes out, you may also have to update hardware so that it works effectively with the update. The company you work for and your position will impact your specific duties.
What Skills Do Computer Engineers Need for Success?
If you want to be a successful computer engineer, it's important to know the skills you need. It's essential for computer engineers to have communication and collaboration skills as they often work with various stakeholders like information technology (IT) administrators and software developers to ensure the software and hardware of a device or system work together effectively.
You should also have a willingness to learn new skills and understand the different parts of a computer system as technology often changes. You may also be required to have specific skills based on your position. For instance, radio frequency design engineer Michelle Endsley requires knowledge of electromagnetics, circuit design, and radiofrequency design to be successful in her role.
Computer engineers also require math and analytical skills and often acquire these skills via a sound education. This may include understanding various programming languages, taking information technology courses, and learning software engineering and circuit design. Some of the most successful computer engineers also hold a degree from an ABET-accredited university, college, or higher-learning institution.
While computer engineers often hold a degree in computer engineering, you can also become a computer engineer with another computer engineering-related degree, such as a computer information technology degree or a degree in electronic engineering.
How Do Computer Engineers Become Successful?
Some of the most successful engineers come from various backgrounds and go on to be successful computer engineers and even transition into leadership roles. But if you want to achieve success, it's critical to have an understanding of what it takes to accomplish your goals. Take a cue from these computer engineering professionals and learn from their success stories:
- Michael Lopp - Michael Lopp's journey to career success is one that took him from a role as an engineer at an unknown startup to the leader of some of the most innovative and largest technology companies in the United States. Lopp transitioned from his engineering role to leading a team of colleagues at Netscape. This first step into managing a team helped Lopp grow as a leader into managerial and executive positions at Pinterest and Apple. These roles enabled him to learned the importance of delegation and one-on-one sessions for improving the team and organization. He later became the V.P. of Engineering at Slack, wrote highly sought-after books on managing people and continues to inspire engineers as a leader and speaker.
- Larry Page - Larry Page's story of success, embraces creativity, and self-motivation. Page's goal was to create technology that had an impact on people's lives. Page earned a computer engineering degree from the University of Michigan and later pursued a Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University where he met Alphabet co-founder Sergey Brin. The two went on to transform their Ph.D. project into the billion-dollar company, Google is today and changed how people search for information online by developing one of the most popular search engines in the world. Page went from asking his professors to help fund Google to fronting the IPO of one of the largest tech companies in the world. Page's efforts also have led to several innovations, including driverless cars.
- Caitlin Kalinowski - As the interim head of hardware for Facebook's Oculus Rift, Caitlin Kalinowski has made a huge impact. She led the design of the virtual reality headset and had to solve the issue of including vast technology into the small headset. But her career path prepared her for this success. Kalinowski led the manufacturing and design of MacBook Air's bottom covers when working at Apple.
- Steve Wozniak - Steve Wozniak helped create the Apple computer with Steve Jobs. He started out working at Lockheed Martin as an engineer and also worked at Hewlett-Packard. But Wozniak transformed his career path by starting various business ventures, including co-founding Apple with Jobs, starting the Electronic Frontier Foundation and CL 9, which created the first universal remote that was programmable.
Whether you get a degree in computer science, computer engineering, or information technology or take a traditional route to start your career as a computer engineer, it's important to have a plan to lead you down the road to success.
The great news is that you can gain insight from professionals in the field who have the experience and expertise that led them to a successful career. By reviewing their success stories, you can get the inspiration and insight you need to carve out your path to success as a computer engineer.