Computer Engineering Major Guide for 2012-2013

What is Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering deals with the electronic hardware side of electrical engineering and the programming side of computer science.  Often, a student can study electrical engineering to cultivate a background in computer engineering.  However, with the increasing needs of both industry and technology that drive our future, computer engineering has now become a discipline by itself.  Typically, a computer engineering curriculum provides a background in three broad areas—hardware, software and hardware-software integration.  Students will also have the opportunity to explore fundamental topics such as microprocessors, computer architecture, digital signal processing, operating systems, data communications and other related material.  In addition, the program includes core engineering subjects that are common to all engineering disciplines.
The program educational objectives of the computer engineering program include:

  • An understanding of the engineering sciences necessary to analyze and design complex devices and systems containing hardware and software components
  • A progression of design projects and tasks throughout the program
  • An understanding of probability and statistics, including applications and discrete math
  • An understanding of mathematics through differential and integral calculus
  • An understanding of the basic sciences including chemistry and physics
  • An understanding of advanced mathematics in the areas of differential equations, numerical analysis, linear algebra, and advanced calculus
  • An orderly student progression through the program
  • Achievement of the objectives of the 13 outcomes.
    The university’s engineering programs are fully accredited by the ABET Engineering Accreditation Program.

Career Opportunities in Computer Engineering

Computer hardware engineers are expected to have favorable job opportunities.  Employment of computer hardware engineers is projected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through 2010, reflecting rapid employment growth in the computer and office equipment industry, which employs the greatest number of computer engineers.  Consulting opportunities for computer hardware engineers should grow as businesses need help managing, upgrading and customizing increasingly complex systems.  Growth in embedded systems, a technology that uses computers to control other devices such as appliances or cell phones, also will increase the demand for computer hardware engineers. A good resource is U.S Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook

High School Preparation

The College of Engineering has established admissions criteria for incoming freshmen based on several performance criteria, including completion of core academic subjects, GPA scores on these subjects and standardized test (SAT or ACT) scores. A Success Prediction Indicator (SPI) number of 60 and a math ACT of 25 or a math SAT of 620 are minimum standards used for admission to the College of Engineering. The admitted class may also be limited by space available in the College. The SPI is calculated by adding an individual’s ACT mathematics score to 10 times their core high school GPA (based on a 4.0 scale). For information on what constitutes core high school courses, please consult admission website

SPI EXAMPLE: A student with a high school core GPA of 3.5 and an ACT mathematics score of 28 would have an SPI of 63 using the formula (3.5 X 10) + 28 = 63. SAT scores are converted to an equivalent ACT score to perform this calculation.

Students who wish to pursue a degree in the College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, but do not meet the college admission criterion may enroll as University Undecided students and complete appropriate mathematics, science, and other courses before applying again for admission to the College of Engineering

How to Major in Computer Engineering

The computer engineering degree program is administered by the UT Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).  Students applying to the university should specify computer engineering as their chosen major when completing the admission form.  Students transferring from other departments within UT or from other educational institutions should contact the department for more information regarding the appropriate entry level and any additional required courses.

Requirements for Computer Engineering

The EECS department currently does not have any special requirements for admission to the electrical or computer engineering program, other than the general admission requirements for the university and the college.  College of Engineering students at the sophomore level and above are required to own laptop computers for class work.  For more information, please visit

Special Programs, Co-ops, and Internships

All UT freshman engineering students are automatically enrolled in the innovative Engage Engineering Fundamentals Program, designed to help students learn basic engineering concepts and teamwork skills through a series of hands-on projects and activities:

The College of Engineering’s Office of Professional Practice (EPP) provides income-generating opportunities for engineering students to experience real-world engineering challenges through cooperative education (co-op) and internship programs.  Both programs offer structured learning environments where students develop increasing responsibilities by holding full-time paid positions in a professional environment related to their academic and career goals:
In addition to financial and scholarship programs available to all students, the college also provides special scholarships and support programs to minority students, including:

The College of Engineering also participates in the University Honors Program, which is designed to give academically outstanding students a unique undergraduate experience consisting of special courses, seminars, mentoring and research projects:  All major in Engineering offer honors programs also
The UT Center for International Education collaborates with the Engineering to create opportunities for engineering students to study in other countries:

Highlights of Computer Engineering

The EECS department is currently constructing a new 150,000 square foot facility, projected for completion in 2011, which will provide students and faculty with state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories and research facilities.  The department also recently received a $5 million gift, which will be used to match additional donations to generate a $10 million endowment that will fund scholarships, named professorships and fellowships.  Dr. Min Kao, Chairman and CEO of Garmin International Inc. and an alumnus of the UT-ECE program, provided this transformational gift, and both the new building and the department will bear Dr. Kao, name in honor of his generosity.
EECS students also have valuable opportunities to participate in student chapters of many engineering professional societies, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) student branch; the electrical and computer engineering honor society Eta Kappa Nu; and Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society.  These groups afford members the opportunity to gain valuable experience in time management, public speaking and team work.

Ready for the World logoReady for the World

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers study abroad programs in Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, South America, and North America. Program lengths vary from mini-term trips to the entire academic year, and students may choose to fulfill general education requirements, study a foreign language, or take courses within their majors. In addition, UTK offers students opportunities for international internships.

Students are highly encouraged to begin planning early in their academic career and to consult with an academic advisor about the best time to study abroad as well as what courses to take abroad. For more information about program options, the application process, and how to finance study abroad, please visit the Programs Abroad Office website.

In recent years engineering students have studied abroad through the Global Engineering Education Exchange (GE3), participated in short-term programs led by UTK engineering faculty, and completed summer research internships in Germany. For more information about opportunities for majors in the College of Engineering, please see the section of the Engineering Outreach Office website which highlights study abroad programs for engineering students.

Learn more about UT’s Ready for the World initiative to help students gain the international and intercultural knowledge they need to succeed in today’s world.

Sample Curriculum


The information on this page should be considered general information only. For more specific information on this and other programs refer to the UT catalog or contact the department and/or college directly.

Freshman Year Credit Hours
English 101* or 118*, 102* 6
Mathematics 141* or 147*, 142 or 148* 8
Engineering Fundamentals 151 or 157, 152 or 158 8
Computer Science 102, Computer Science 160 8
Milestones:  Math 130 or higher; EF 151/157 or Physics 135/137 or higher
Sophomore Year Credit Hours
Mathematics 231, 241 or 247, 251 or 257 10
Physics 231*, 232* 7
Chemistry 120 or 128* 4
ECE 201, 202, 255 9
Computer Science 140 4
Milestones: EF 152/158 or Physics 136/138 or higher; ME 202 or CS 102 or MSE 201 or CBE 201
Junior Year Credit Hours
ECE 313, 315, 335, 351, 395 13
Computer Science 302, 311, 361 10
3 Upper Level Elective 3
2 Arts and Humanities Elective* 3
2 Cultures and Civilizations Elective* 3
Senior Year Credit Hours
ECE 451 3
ECE 400 (OC/WC)* 5
3 Computer Engineering Senior Electives 12
2 Social Sciences Electives* 6
2 Arts and Humanities Electives* 3
2 Cultures and Civilizations Elective* 3

*Meets University General Education Requirement
1 Engineering Fundamentals 157 and 158 are Honors versions of Engineering Fundamentals and students in the Honors Program are not required to take Engineering Fundamentals 402
2 Can be taken at any time

3 The following table lists the acceptable set of electives that may be taken to satisfy the upper division electives for the Computer Engineering major. The electives have been grouped into 6 suggested tracks. The tracks group related electives that a student may wish to take in order to achieve a level of expertise in the indicated area. The 500-levelcourses are listed as suggestions to students admitted in the Five-Year BS/MS Program. Among the five Computer Engineering Upper Division Electives, you must choose courses that cover 3 tracks with one of the tracks being Networking & Embedded Systems. The course distribution among the 3 tracks should follow the 2-2-1 pattern, among which at most 2 courses can be at the 300-level.

Networking & Embedded Systems Signals and Systems Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence
ECE 453 – Introduction to Computer Networks
ECE 454 – Computer and Network Security
ECE 455 – Embedded Systems Design
COSC 530 – Comp Systems Organization
ECE 553 – Computer Networks
ECE 555 – Embedded Systems
ECE 556 – Wireless Sensor Networks
ECE 316 – Signals and Systems II
ECE 471 – Introduction to Pattern Recognition
ECE 472 – Introduction to Digital Image Processing
ECE 505 –Digital Signal Processing I
ECE 506 – Digital Signal Processing II
ECE 571 – Pattern Recognition
ECE 572 – Digital Image Processing
ECE 471 – Introduction to Pattern Recognition
COSC 420 – Biologically-Inspired Computation
COSC 425 – Machine Learning
ECE 517 – Reinforcement Learning
COSC 526 – Intro Data Mining
COSC 527 – Bio-inspired Learning
COSC 528 – Intro Machine Learning
COSC 529 – Autonomous Mobile Robotics
ECE 571 – Pattern Recognition
Software Systems Control and Communications Electronics and Power
COSC 340 – Software Engineering
COSC 360 – Systems Programming
COSC 370 – Introduction to Scientific Computing
COSC 456 – Computer Graphics
COSC 461 – Compilers
COSC 462 – Parallel Programming
COSC 465 – Databases and Scripting Languages
COSC 525 – Software Engineering
COSC 541 – Database
COSC 556 – Computer Graphics
COSC 557 – Visualization
COSC 560 – Software Systems
COSC 565 – Survey of Programming Languages
COSC 567 – Graphical User Interfaces
COSC 581 – Algorithms
ECE 316 – Signals and Systems II
ECE 415 – Automatic Control Systems
ECE 416 – Computer Control Systems
ECE 341 – Fields
ECE 342 – Analog Communication Amplitude and Frequency Modulation
ECE 441 – Digital Communications
ECE 442 – Communication System Design
ECE 443 – Antenna Systems Engineering
ECE 446 – Electromagnetic Compatibility
ECE 316 – Signals and Systems II
ECE 336 – Electronic Circuits
ECE 431 – Operational Amplifier Circuits
ECE 432 – Electronic Amplifiers
ECE 433 – Introduction to VLSI
ECE 325 – Electric Energy System Components
ECE 421 – Electric Energy Systems
ECE 481 – Power Electronics

Five-Year BS/MS Program

The department offers a 5 year BS-MS program for qualified students. The primary component of the program is that qualified students may take up to 6 hours of approved graduate courses for their senior undergraduate electives and have them count toward both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Tennessee. This program is designed for students attending the University of Tennessee for their Master of Science degree because other universities may not accept these courses for graduate credit since they were used to satisfy requirements for the Bachelor of Science degree. Significant components of the program are:

  • Students must have an overall GPA of at least 3.4 to be admitted to the program. Conditional admission may be granted after completing 64 hours of required course work while full admission is granted after completing 96 hours of required course work with a minimum overall GPA of 3.4.
  • Students must at least have conditional admission before taking graduate courses for both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. All courses taken for graduate credit must be approved by the departmental chair of the program. Students admitted to the program must request permission from the Graduate School to take approved courses for graduate credit.
  • Students admitted to the program must also follow the normal procedure for admission to the Graduate School. Admission of students into this program must be approved by the department and the Graduate School.
  • Students will not be eligible for graduate assistantships until they are enrolled as graduate-level students in the Graduate School.

Computer Engineering, Computer Science, and Electrical Engineering Honors Concentrations

Students who wish to pursue the honors electrical engineering concentration, honors computer engineering concentration, and honors computer science concentration will normally be part of the Chancellor’s Honors Program.

Candidates for the honors electrical engineering concentration and honors computer engineering concentration must complete the first year courses for honors concentration in the engineering majors. Candidates for the honors computer science concentration must meet the first year requirements for the Chancellor’s Honors Program.

In addition to satisfying the requirements described above, candidates for these three honors concentrations must also satisfy the following requirements.

  • Two upper-division honors courses in computer science or electrical and computer engineering via Honors-by-Contract or Honors Independent study, or equivalent. If participating in only the Chancellor’s Honors Program, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork goes to the Chancellor’s Honors Office on campus during the first 10 days of the semester. If participating in Engineering Honors and not Chancellor’s Honors, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork is submitted the first 10 days of the semester to the engineering major department. If participating in both Chancellor’s and Engineering Honors, the Honors-by-Contract paperwork is submitted to both areas.
  • Complete a 3-credit hour senior project course. This can normally be completed as part of the capstone design course, ECE 400  for computer engineering and electrical engineering majors or COSC 400  for computer science majors.


For More Information

Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
414 Ferris Hall
Knoxville, TN 37996-2100
Phone: (865)974-3461
Fax: (865)974-5483