A Rewarding Career as a Computer Engineer

When i was in college, I was friendly with a lot of computer engineers.  It was the mid-90s after all, and computers were the cutting edge, so the best and brightest were heading into that field to get degrees that would propel them to fortune and adventure.

Or so they thought.  Little did they know that, because of the nature of computer technology, rapid changes in both software and hardware could make even the most hard won computer engineering degrees obsolete within a few short years.  It's a lesson in the modern market:  In order to remain a viable commodity in today's world, you have to constantly update and upgrade your base of knowledge and skills.  Thats one way in which computer engineers are much like the computers themselves:  Without constant attention to detail and maintenance, you'll fall behind the rest of the pack!

Think about it.  Just a few years ago I bought a desktop computer with a 250 gig hard-drive that was, at the time, gigantic.  Now you can get a cellphone with that much memory.  1 and 2 terrabyte hard drives can be found at places like CostCo for just a few hundred dollars.  And that's before you get into ram upgrades, new video cards, new processors... all of this stuff is borderline obsolete almost the moment it hits the shelf.

If you want another great example, think about the United States Air Force's pride and joy, the B-2 Stealth Bomber.  It's still called "state of the art", but that art would be the art of late-70s computer engineers or, in other words, nothing modern at all.  The stealth fleet actually uses old 486 processers, relics of a pre-Intel technical stone-age that the pilots flying those planes probably don't even remember.  You'll find more advanced electronics in a children's toy (seriously, my PSP can out-compute a Stealth fighter's hardware) than you would in the premiere bomber created in the history of mankind.

So be aware, computer engineers, if you're thinking about taking that path, that your education will not end once you leave college (with or without diploma).  There is a world of continuing education that beckons, and you'll have to heed its call if you wish to remain in demand as a viable employee for modern businesses.

Of course, that doesn't mean that a degree in computer engineering isn't worth pursuing.  On the contrary, because of the flexible nature of the field there's always going to be demand for people with expertise in that area.  As long as you keep up with new technology to a reasonable degree, you'll always be somewhat in demand.  It's the closest thing to a "sure bet" going right now.

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