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 http://stats.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm
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 570 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 http://admissions.utk.edu/undergraduate/apply/requirements.shtml.
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 Arts and Sciences Exploratory students and complete appropriate mathematics, science, and other courses before applying for admission to the College of Engineering as an internal transfer student.
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 are required to own laptop computers for class work. For more information, please visit http://www.engr.utk.edu/futurestudents/computers.html.
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: www.ef.engr.utk.edu/efd
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: www.coop.utk.edu.
In addition to financial and scholarship programs available to all students, the college also provides special scholarships and support programs to minority students, including:
- Engineering Diversity Programs Office (EDP) www.engr.utk.edu/diversity/
- Tennessee Louis Strokes Alliance for Minority Participation (TLSAMP) www.engr.utk.edu/tlsamp
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: http://www.utk.edu/honors/. All major in Engineering offer honors programs also http://www.engr.utk.edu/academics/honors.html
The UT Center for International Education collaborates with the Engineering to create opportunities for engineering students to study in other countries: http://studyabroad.utk.edu/
Highlights of Computer Engineering
The EECS department is housed in a 150,000 square foot facility, which provides 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 the new building bears Dr. Kao’s 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.
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.
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.
Academic Plan and Milestones
Following an academic plan will help students stay on track to graduate in four years. Beginning with first-time, first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students entering in the Fall 2013 semester, UT has implemented Universal Tracking (uTrack), an academic monitoring system designed to help students stay on track for timely graduation. In order to remain on track, students must complete the minimum requirements for each tracking semester, known as milestones. Milestones may include successful completion of specified courses and/or attainment of a minimum GPA.
Honors Program in Computer Engineering
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 402 * for computer engineering majors and electrical engineering majors or COSC 402 * for computer science majors.
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.
For More Information
Min H. Kao Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
401 Min H. Kao Building
Knoxville, TN 37996-2100