Computer Hardware Engineers

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Also known as:
Computer Hardware Designer, Computer Hardware Developer, Computer Hardware Engineer

ABOUT COMPUTER HARDWARE ENGINEER CAREERS
Video transcript

Years ago, the keyword for new college graduates was steel. Years later, the hot industry was plastics. Today, it's computers. Computer engineers design new computers and computer-related devices. They have a detailed understanding of microprocessors, computer chips, and other components, which they apply to designing circuit boards, scanners, printers, monitors, hard disk drives, and many other computer devices or add-ons.

However, since hardware is useless without software, computer engineers also work closely with software engineers to make sure that the equipment does what it is supposed to do when manufactured. To obtain a job in this field, you'll need a bachelor's degree in computer engineering, electrical engineering, or math at the very least. But for people with the interest and talent, education isn't the hard part.

The hard part is keeping up with a technology that changes almost every day. New chips, new designs, new components - the pace can be staggering. And the pressure of intense industry competition can be punishing. Some people thrive in such an environment. And the rewards for them can be significant.

SNAPSHOT
Research, design, develop, or test computer or computer-related equipment for commercial, industrial, military, or scientific use. May supervise the manufacturing and installation of computer or computer-related equipment and components.
Leadership
HIGH
Critical decision making
LOW
Level of responsibilities
LOW
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
HIGH
Dealing and handling conflict
LOW
Competition for this position
HIGH
Communication with others
HIGH
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
HIGH
Comfort of the work setting
HIGH
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
LOW
Exposure to job hazards
LOW
Physical demands
LOW
Daily tasks

Assemble and modify existing pieces of equipment to meet special needs.

Analyze information to determine, recommend, and plan layout, including type of computers and peripheral equipment modifications.

Select hardware and material, assuring compliance with specifications and product requirements.

Design and develop computer hardware and support peripherals, including central processing units (CPUs), support logic, microprocessors, custom integrated circuits, and printers and disk drives.

Confer with engineering staff and consult specifications to evaluate interface between hardware and software and operational and performance requirements of overall system.

Specify power supply requirements and configuration, drawing on system performance expectations and design specifications.

Update knowledge and skills to keep up with rapid advancements in computer technology.

Evaluate factors such as reporting formats required, cost constraints, and need for security restrictions to determine hardware configuration.

Analyze user needs and recommend appropriate hardware.

Provide technical support to designers, marketing and sales departments, suppliers, engineers and other team members throughout the product development and implementation process.

Direct technicians, engineering designers or other technical support personnel as needed.

MAIN ACTIVITIES
Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
AREAS OF KNOWLEDGE
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Design Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Physics Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Telecommunications Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
TOP SKILLS
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Writing Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.