What Does A Computer Hardware Engineer Do?

"I would like to work in the computer industry so I’m currently looking at possible occupations that I can take part in. I’m particularly interested in working with computer hardware. Can you please tell me more about this job? What does a computer hardware engineer do?"

asked by Jonah K. from Tempe, Arizona

The physical components of a computer system are built by computer hardware engineers. They research, design, manufacture, test and install such parts as chips, servers, circuit boards, routers, keyboards and printers. They are at the forefront of new developments in computer technology.

Before they can start making new computer hardware, hardware engineers have to create blueprints of the equipment that they intend to build. Making these plans entails a lot of research because they have to make sure that the hardware they intend to build is not only better than its previous versions but also has the features that customers want. Computer hardware engineers have to be constantly updated on the current trends in computer engineering as well as the advances in new technology.

Computer hardware engineers then get to the process of manufacturing the prototypes of hardware components. Once the preliminary models have been made, they perform the preliminary tests to determine if it works as it should. If the prototypes need to be tweaked, they make the necessary adjustments and modifications. Once the models are ready to be manufactured for consumers, computer hardware engineers oversee the entire process. In case hardware fails, computer engineers are also responsible for diagnosing the problem and undertaking the necessary repairs.

Since computer hardware needs to work with existing software, hardware engineers need to collaborate with software engineers in the course of their duties. In addition to their knowledge of hardware components, hardware engineers also must possess knowledge of basic programming and coding. In the development of new mobile phones, for example, both hardware and software are developed simultaneously. This makes it necessary for both hardware and software computer engineers to collaborate.

Computer hardware engineers also work on developing non-computer devices that have processors and computer components in them so that they can connect to the Internet. These include vehicles, medical devices, mobile phones and home appliances like thermostats that can be controlled remotely.

Majority of computer hardware engineers are employed by companies in computer systems design and related services industry. Their work is mostly confined to laboratories which focus on building hardware systems and peripherals as well as testing them. Due to the nature of their work, they need more than the technical knowledge about computer hardware.

They must also be naturally curious, analytical and attentive to detail. They must also possess problem solving skills since designing and developing computer hardware is a complicated process. Since they will also be working with different kinds of individuals in the computer industry as well as interacting with users who do not have the technical knowledge they have, computer hardware engineers should also know how to communicate clearly with others.

Career Spotlight: Computer Hardware Engineer

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