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Computer Systems Engineer


Description

It would be hard to imagine living in a world without computers. Over the last few decades, they have entered our lives and homes and become an imperative part of our technological culture. Without the "brain surgery" of computer systems engineers, we would not have such intelligent computer hardware and software systems. Computer systems engineers are in charge of the analysis, development and operation of complete computer systems. They usually work in either the hardware or software components of engineering and develop new applications software and systems analysis.

Computer systems engineers work with the actual networks and systems within a company. They may also ensure that the existing network is effective, and determine how it should evolve to meet new requirements of the organization or business.

Computer systems engineers may also specialize in a number of different localized areas such as designing the control system for an automated production line in the manufacturing industry, creating software for digital telephone switching systems, planning and supervising the installation of a Local Area Computer Network (LAN) and developing a new operating system for a client with specific needs. They may also investigate methods of creating smaller, more powerful computer chips using VLSI (Very Large Scale Integration). Computer systems engineers work on developing new applications for computers every day.

Nowadays, there is no limit to what will be possible for a computer systems engineer to create. Since the Internet exploded into the marketplace and email became the dominant form of message communication, it is hard to imagine what will be next.

Computer systems engineers use high tech tools such as computer-aided design (CAD), appropriately designed by computer engineers, to create realistic geometric models of objects which can simulate and analyze the effects and potential problems of designs such as machine malfunctions and breakdowns. They research and evaluate each project to find the most cost-effective solutions to problems while still maintaining recognized engineering standards. They are required to constantly update their skills and knowledge in order to keep up with technological advancements in this quickly changing field.
 
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ABCO Technology

ABCO Technology is an accredited computer training academy that offers diploma programs for individual students, professionals and companies to learn different areas of Information technology and seek gainful employment.

Programs Offered:
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  Average Earnings  
Lowest 10% of Earners:
$45,890
 
Median Salary:
$74,040
 
Highest 10% of Earners:
$111,600

  Interests and Skills  
Computer systems engineers should have a natural curiosity and affinity for mechanics, mathematics and electronics. Since imprecise calculations could cause major disasters and expensive mistakes, they must be 100 percent accurate in their calculations. Their jobs are extremely technical therefore they should be organized, logical and methodical in their working habits. They must be good problem solvers and be able to come up with innovative and creative solutions to potential problems and design work. Computer systems engineers will also understand the high-tech market and be able to recognize the public and business demand for new products.

Computer systems engineers must be personable and have strong communication skills. They constantly deal with people from both sides of the professional spectrum therefore they must be able to communicate ideas and give orders in a clear, concise fashion. Experts recommend that computer systems engineers be culturally sensitive and have the ability to operate within a global context. Since computers are now an international phenomenon, it is important to sell products overseas and deal with foreign people. Finally, determination, patience and observance are three important characteristics.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Plan, design and coordinate the development of computers and related equipment
  • Analyze product and client requirements
  • Develop design specifications, including performance expectations and materials to be used
  • Build prototypes (working models) of a product, including the development of logic and digital circuit designs, and
  • test and modify the prototype prior to large-scale manufacturing
  • Analyze operating problems and make necessary modifications
  • Determine system performance standards and write product documentation
  • Modify existing hardware to meet specialized needs
  • Supervise and inspect the installation, modification and testing of computers and related equipment
  • Supervise drafters, technicians, technologists and other engineers
  • May sell computer technology
  • Since the computer industry is highly competitive, there may be a great deal of stress and pressure involved in designing hardware and software because systems engineers are trying to be the first ones to sell a product on the marketplace. In other words, many other engineers are probably working on the same project, so it can sometimes be a race to see who produces faster and more efficiently. Therefore, there are usually long working hours involved in this career; anywhere from nine to thirteen hours a day, possibly including weekend work when deadlines are looming.
  • A typical day is spent in front of a computer however; there may also be a bit of traveling involved to client's offices for meetings. A new trend becoming very common amongst computer systems engineers is working from home. If an engineer has the proper equipment, it is possible to telecommute to an office.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Computer systems engineers work in both the public and private sectors. They are employed in any industry in which computers are used and especially in companies that require complex computer networks. More particularly, they work for computer manufacturers, telecommunications companies, consulting firms, hardware and software research firms, consumer electronics companies and process control agencies. In the public sector, computer systems engineers work for different government departments, educational institutions, hospitals and research facilities.

  Long Term Career Potential  
There are many advancement possibilities for computer systems engineers. They could become computer programmers, and specialize in developing software applications, or become help desk specialists, computer technicians, or PC administrators. They can write new hardware and software programs, or systems, and even sell programs and computers. They can become IT instructors, or write information books and articles for people learning to use PCs on their own.

Some may decide to branch out on their own and open up a computer systems engineering consulting firm. This way, they can pick up new clients as they go along and even work on a freelance basis. Those working in larger organizations and companies, could also become managers and supervisors of junior engineers. Finally, computer systems engineers with PhDs could also teach at the university level.
 

  Educational Paths  
Prospective computer systems engineers should take courses in mathematics and physics while still in high school. Most university and college programs will require these subject areas as prerequisites.

Computer systems engineers require a bachelor's degree in computer engineering or in a related engineering field. Then, they must also become registered as a Professional Engineer (PEng) within an association of professional engineers to secure employment and practice in their field. Some computer systems engineers also get master's degrees in their systems engineering area, or in related fields such as business (MBA). A PhD is generally required for a career in research and development, or teaching.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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