Student on his laptop

What is Computer Engineering?

Computer Engineers apply algorithmic and digital design principles to design, build, and test computer software or hardware components used for information processing, communication, and storage - typically embedded in larger engineered systems and in distributed, networked environments. Application areas include communication, automation and robotics, power and energy, health care, business, security, entertainment, and many others. By their choice of elective courses, students may focus on the following broad domains:

  • Systems for communications, control, or power.
  • Digital hardware design and embedded computation.
  • Software systems and software engineering.

As a computer engineer, you might design custom digital computing hardware such as a video decoder for an MPEG stream. You might embed a microprocessor as a monitoring or controlling element in some other system. For example, in the biomedical area, we are starting to see implanted electronics such as a deep brain stimulator to combat symptoms of Parkinson's disease. You might develop the software that allows mobile wireless devices to communicate in a secure fashion, or even the next exciting game or web service.

The Computer Engineering Program is controlled and administered by the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. More information is available by contacting the Electrical and Computer Engineering Undergraduate Office.

Academic Curriculum in Computer Engineering

The curriculum is designed to teach those fundamental physical and engineering sciences that form the basis of the work of computer engineers. It consists of prescribed core courses complemented by five technical elective courses, two natural sciences elective courses, and four complementary studies elective courses.

The normal recommended program involves a course load (excluding seminars and work reports) of five or six courses per term. Laboratory exercises are compulsory where they form part of a course. Approval from the Department is required for departures from this recommended program. Permission to carry more than the normal load in any one term is at the discretion of the Department and is dependent on both the student's previous term average and their cumulative average.

Each cohort is a blend of electrical and computer engineering students and these students share all courses in the first three academic terms. The next three academic terms see two shared core courses, two program-specific courses, and an elective of each student's choice. The last two years see all electrical and computer engineering students merge again to take their chosen technical electives in each student's own personal areas of focus.

There are six co-operative work terms and the normal rules of The Co-operative Education System apply, as further described in the Engineering Work Terms section. With permission, the requirement for co-operative work terms may be reduced by one four-month work term.