Do I Need To Be Good At Math To Be A Computer Engineer?

You don’t need to be a math wizard but you do need to be good at math if you want to become a computer engineer. There are actually two main reasons for this. First, bachelor’s degree programs in computer engineering or computer science, which are the two most common educational preparations for a career as a computer engineer, are math-intensive. That means that if you won’t be able to pass the mathematics requirements of the course, you won’t even be able to obtain your degree in the first place.

To give you an idea of the math requirements that you’ll have to hurdle in a computer engineering program, let’s take a look at the computer engineering curriculum at Illinois Institute of Technology: In your first year, you can expect to have Calculus I and II and General Physics which is also a lot of math. Math will continue to be an overriding theme in your second year as you take up Introduction to Differential Equations, General Physics II and III, Data Structures and Algorithms, Multivariate and Vector Calculus and Discrete Structures. There will still be math in the third year since you will be studying Probability and Statistics and will be required to have a Junior Mathematics Elective. You can expect to see similar math subjects in other computer engineering programs in other schools and you need to pass all of them if you want to really become a computer engineer.

The second reason why you need to be good at math if you’re aiming for this career is the fact that exposure to mathematical concepts increases your ability to analyze problems and solve them. Let’s face it: There will be many times in your career later on as a computer engineer when you will say to yourself that you didn’t have any use for your lessons in calculus and differential equations. And this is true. In fact, you will be required to solve problems and learn concepts which you will not be able to find any use for in real life.

However, what may not be immediately apparent is the fact that exposure to these problems and the mere act of trying to answer your professor’s questions has developed your analytical and critical thinking skills. These two skills are very important when you encounter real roadblocks in trying to solve problems involving computer hardware or software. Computer engineers must be able to find solutions to the issues they encounter at work and that learned ability to think logically and probe for answers even in seemingly impossible situations is developed because of the mathematical lessons and exercises given in the program.

If you are genuinely interested in becoming a computer engineer, start your math preparation in high school. Take math classes and beef up your knowledge in science, particularly physics, as well. With this kind of early preparation and continued interest when you enter college, you should be well on your way to graduating and eventually working as a computer engineer.

Career Spotlight: Computer Engineer

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