Nav: Home | Inst. | Burs. | Careers
Computer Hardware Engineer
Computer hardware engineers design, develop, implement, evaluate and maintain computer systems, and equipment that forms part of that system. In addition to design and development, computer hardware engineers may supervise the manufacturing and installation of all computer-related equipment. This is basically an Electronics Engineering degree with more computer courses.

Computer hardware engineers were, and sometimes are still, called computer systems engineers. However, computer systems engineers need to know about both hardware and software engineering.

The term hardware refers to all physical aspects of the computer, such as central processing units (CPU's) computer chips, microprocessors, custom integrated circuits, and peripherals such as printers, disc drives scanners, keyboards, modems and related equipment. In some cases, they develop special purpose "embedded" products that use computer technology, for example, embedded computers are used in applications ranging from refrigeration equipment to car engines and aeroplanes.

Computer hardware engineering is a specialized field very closely linked to the field of electronics engineering. In South Africa most computer hardware engineers study electronics at university or a university of technology, with specialization subjects in computers and computer-related equipment.

The rapid integration of mechanical and electronic systems means that all fields of engineering require some aspects of computer hardware knowledge. Computer hardware engineers are also required to have a strong all-round computer knowledge including some knowledge of support logic and programming.

The rapid advances in computer technology are largely as a result of the research, development and design efforts of computer hardware engineers.

Consulting opportunities for computer hardware engineers tend to 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, will also increase the demand for computer hardware engineers.

Many computer hardware engineers are employed in computer and data processing services and in office equipment manufacturing firms, but many are also employed in communications industries and engineering consulting firms.

Satisfying Aspects
- work variety
- intellectual challenge
- problem solving
- creative thinking
- good salaries

Demanding aspects
- working long hours can be stressful and tiring
- the long period of preparation and study required to register as a professional engineer
- having to continue your education throughout your career to keep up with the latest technological advances and developments in your field

- excellent oral and written communication skills
- inquiring and inventive mind
- good decision-making and problem-solving skills
- aptitude for Mathematics and Science
- ability to teach others
- good time management skills
- innovative and technical skills
- able to work both with others and on your own
- enjoy detailed work that requires precision
- able to manage and organize projects
- keenness to learn, combined with logical reasoning

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended subjects: Information Technology, Computer Applications

Note: The Engineering Faculties of some unversities offer a support programme to help students to become self-sufficient and capable of completing the very demanding engineering courses. The programme is aimed at students from communities which lack proper education facilities.

Degree: BEng Computer Engineering - UP, NWU, or Electronic Engineering - most universities, e.g. NWU, UP, UJ, UKZN.

Computer hardware engineers must have a 4-year degree in computer engineering or a related discipline such as electrical engineering. Some employers hire only computer hardware engineers who have a Master of Science (MSc) degree in electronic / electrical engineering. A doctoral degree in engineering is generally required for a career in research and development, or as a professor of engineering.

A person who has obtained a recognized BSc (Eng) or BEng degree is eligible for registration as Engineer in Training. After gaining at least 3 years of appropriate practical experience, a computer engineer may register as a Professional Engineer under the auspices of the Engineering Council of South Africa.

- Companies that supply computers
- Government departments
- Provincial administrations
- Computer bureaus
- Such companies as: Spoornet, Telkom, Denel
- Universities and universities of technology
- Any company or business using computer systems and networks.
- Self-employment, a registered engineer with the necessary experience and initiative, as a consultant

Computer Society of SA   
P O Box 1714
Halfway House, 1685
ICT House
546 16th Road
Constantia Park [Unit No.3]
Tel: (011) 315-1319 Fax: (011) 315-2276

Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA)
Private Bag X 691
Bruma, 2026   
Tel: (011) 607-9500 Fax: (011) 622-9295

Society for Professional Engineers
P O Box 78433
Sandton, 2146
Tel: (011) 783-0765

Engineering News Magazine