What can I do with a degree in Computer Engineering?

UC staff monitor the Bluefern IBM supercomputer

Computers are at the heart of innumerable modern products, most of which would not be identified as computers. Computer engineers develop the electronics and software for such "embedded" computers. Computer Engineers combine strong technical and scienctific knowledge, creativity, and design skills to develop practical solutions to real world problems.

Computer Engineering combines knowledge of circuit theory and digital electronics with computer programming, systems and networking. This provides students with the knowledge and expertise to create the next era of reliable, smart electronic embedded devices.

With about half of New Zealand's ICT industry located in the Canterbury region, Christchurch is the ideal location for such skills, offering abundant opportunities for work experience and excellent employment opportunities for graduates.

Through their Computer Engineering degree graduates develop a valuable set of skills that are transferable to a range of careers. These skills include:

  • Creativity and innovation
  • Understanding of computer hardware
  • Designing programs, writing code and testing software
  • Applying engineering and scientific knowledge in real-world situations
  • Analytical, logical and quantitative thinking
  • Technological understanding
  • Problem solving.

Applied learning is an important part of your degree, through work placements, consulting projects and team projects. These experiences can deepen your skillset, awareness of others, working knowledge and employability.

Computer Engineering graduates are able to develop hardware and industrial software, so the range of industries in which computer engineers are found is extensive. There are plenty of exciting job opportunities locally, nationally and internationally.

Graduates are able to find employment in both public and private sectors, including:

  • Government
  • Telecommunications
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation
  • Product development.

Many find employment with companies who create devices with embedded systems.
Recent UC graduates have found roles in :

  • IT companies eg, Tait Communications, Intergen
  • Internet giants eg, Google
  • Smart technologies and network connectivity companies eg, Allied Telesis Labs, Silver Peak

Systems, Aviat Networks, PMC Sierra

  • Banks eg, Kiwibank
  • App developers eg, Smudge Apps
  • Technology companies eg, ABB Ltd
  • Software companies eg, ARANZ Geo
  • Electronics manufacturers eg, Toyota Tsusho Electronics, Dynamic Controls Ltd
  • Energy companies eg, Cortexo
  • Medical innovators eg, ARANZ Medical, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare
  • Tracking systems companies eg, Blackhawk Tracking Systems, Telogis.

Computer Engineering graduates are employed in a wide variety of jobs — see some examples below.

Note: Some of the jobs listed may require postgraduate study. See the ‘Further study’ section.

Computer systems engineer

  • Designs complex systems based on computers
  • Researches and develops hardware and software modules for products eg, healthcare products, telecommunications systems

Embedded systems engineer, firmware engineer

  • Creates and programs embedded software (firmware) in electronic devices
  • Assists in manufacturing and design
  • Works on debugging and testing firmware

Hardware engineer

  • Designs the physical components of computer systems
  • Researches and tests hardware components
  • Considers the costs of hardware to end users

Software engineer, graduate software engineer

  • Analyses customer needs, evaluates computer software and researches new technologies
  • Identifies solutions and develops software programs for new products
  • Manages software development projects

Systems developer

  • Works with both hardware and software systems to analyse and resolve system faults
  • Designs and writes diagnostic programs, operating systems and software
  • Troubleshoots inefficiencies, system security

Design engineer, junior design engineer

  • Uses software/technology to develop new ideas
  • Designs and tests prototype components
  • Liaises with suppliers, manufacturers
  • Oversees quality control

Software developer

  • Identifies requirements and writes programs
  • Tests programs and systems are working
  • Maintains and upgrades programs
  • May develop and integrate technical aspects of websites along with other workers eg, designers

Test analyst, validation tester

  • Designs and develops tests for computer software and systems to detect problems
  • Identifies defects and bugs, and suggests fixes
  • Records issues and tracks solution results

Mobile application developer

  • Researches the user market, and works with clients to meet their needs
  • Builds and tests mobile applications
  • Uses coding techniques and software

Telecommunications and network engineer

  • Designs and maintains telecommunications equipment and systems
  • Supervises the installation and use of equipment
  • Provides training to staff after installation

Entrepreneur and CEO

  • Develops an idea to form their own business
  • Gets involved in a start-up

Get started with Entrepreneurship here.

As they progress, students and graduates often join professional bodies or organisations relevant to their area of interest. These organisations can provide regular communications and offer the chance to network with others..

Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can provide avenues to keep up-to-date with industry knowledge, networking opportunities, events and job vacancies.

For more information

see the Computer Engineering subject page