Computer Engineering & Computer Science

What is a Computer Engineer? What is a Computer Scientist?

Computers are used in almost every aspect of our lives today from desktops at home and work to large systems supporting government and industry to supercomputers and grids of networked processors expanding the frontiers of science and technology. Jobs for qualified computer scientists and engineers are among the fastest growing occupations.

The terms “computer engineering” and “computer science” are sometimes used interchangeably and, in fact, the job tasks may overlap to some degree. For example, both may design complex software systems.

Computer engineers apply professional engineering knowledge of computer hardware and provide balanced hardware/software engineering expertise. They design, construct, and operate computer systems. Some specialize in digital systems, operating systems, computer networks and software engineering.

While computer scientists must have a working knowledge of hardware, their emphasis is on computer theory, algorithms, data structures, programming concepts and languages, and computer architecture. This knowledge can be used to store, manipulate, transform or present information through computer systems.

A basic primer of the terminology common to both computer engineering and computer science includes:

Hardware - The electronics and modules that comprise the basic machine.

Software - Programs (instructions) that produce control and communication within the computer and peripherals.

Algorithms – Procedures which convert general instructions into ordered steps which the computer can execute.

Graduates of U of L’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering have a background in both computer engineering and computer science.

Why Major in Computer Engineering & Computer Science?

The explosive impact of computers on our everyday lives has generated a need to design and develop new computer hardware and software systems and to incorporate new technologies in a rapidly growing range of applications. The tasks performed by computer engineers evolve quickly, reflecting new areas of specialization or changes in technology, as well as the preferences and practices of employers. Computer engineers are at the forefront of exciting technological change!

According to the U. S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook, software engineers are projected to be one of the fastest growing occupations over the 2002-2012 period. Highly favorable opportunities are expected for college graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or computer science and with practical work experience.

Results of a 2003 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers indicated that starting salary offers for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering averaged $51,343 and those with a master’s degree averaged $64,200. Bachelor’s graduates who attended schools where only a computer science degree was offered averaged $47,109.

Who Hires Computer Engineering & Computer Science Majors?

The number of computer hardware engineers is relatively small compared to the number of professionals who work with software or computer applications. Hardware engineers held about 74,000 jobs in 2002 compared to 675,000 software engineers.

Computer engineers work in a variety of environments, such as computer and electronic product manufacturing, other businesses and industries, academia, and government. They are often part of a team comprised of design, engineering, manufacturing, and marketing. Telecommuting is a growing opportunity for computer professionals. They normally can have flexible work arrangements due to the increased bandwidth of the Internet.

Instead of asking, “Who will hire me?” with a CECS degree, you will be able to ask, “Where do I want to work?”

Where are Our Alumni?

The following illustrates the diversity of careers that can evolve from a background in CECS.

Mark Baker – Embedded Systems Software Engineer, Boeing, St. Louis, MO

Angela Ciliberti-Riedling - President & CEO, Silicon River Technologies, Louisville, KY

Tarek El-Sadany - Vice President Global Product Support, Oracle Corporation, Redwood Shores, CA

Rohit Sahasrabudhe – e-business Architect, IBM Developer Relations, Austin, TX

John Salazar - patent attorney and partner, Middleton-Reutlinger, Louisville, KY

Computer Engineering & Computer Science at Speed School

The Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department (CECS) offers two accredited degrees: the four-year bachelor of science degree (B.S.) which is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, The B.S. is also accredited by the Computer Accreditation Commission of ABET. The five-year master of engineering degree (M.Eng.) is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, The department also offers a master of science degree (M.S.) in computer science and a Ph.D. in computer science and engineering.

As freshmen and sophomores, students develop a solid foundation in science and engineering principles along with a background in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Courses include mathematics, physics, chemistry, computer science fundamentals, programming, computer graphics, circuit analysis, logic design and computer interfacing. Laboratory facilities and three semesters of on-the-job learning through the Cooperative Education Program provide hands-on experience.

The curriculum for juniors and seniors focuses on artificial intelligence, computer simulation and computer electronics design, microcontrollers and microprocessors, software engineering, and computer networks. In addition, upperclassmen may participate in cutting edge research areas such as:

  • Bioinformatics
  • Database and data mining
  • E-commerce and web-based services
  • Information assurance/security
  • Intelligent systems and robotics
  • Mobile networks and distributed systems
  • Multimedia and bio-imaging
  • Software engineering


Computer Engineering & Computer Science Department Highlights

  • The only department in the commonwealth with both computer science and computer engineering accreditations.
  • Three faculty recipients of the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Awards.
  • Internationally recognized faculty.
  • Vibrant and active student body involved in the community and the profession.
  • State-of-the-art computer and networking laboratories.
For Additional Information

J. B. Speed School of Engineering
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY 40292

Computer Engineering & Computer Science Dept.
Duthie Center for Engineering
University of Louisville
Visit department website
Phone: (502) 852-0468

Office of Admissions
Phone: (502) 852-4672