Computer hardware engineers specialize in connecting physical systems and software components together to support data-crunching operations. Usually holding at least a bachelor’s degree and various professional certifications.
Are You Thinking About Becoming a Hardware Engineer? Before setting out on this career journey, it is vitally important to research career options and prepare for interviews. Consider applying for internships to gain work experience while finding mentors.Designing Digital Circuit BoardsComputer hardware engineers use their specialized skills to design computer systems and components, investigate prospective pieces of hardware before production begins, oversee its creation and oversee any necessary modifications or repairs during its lifespan. Working solo or with teams, this career option offers them many opportunities.Hardware engineers designing digital circuit boards must account for data transmission speed when designing digital boards, requiring precise layout and routing of traces on the board as well as accurate layer thicknesses and dielectric materials. Furthermore, clock and data lines must be given sufficient spacing between them so as not to interfere with each other.Hardware engineers require expert knowledge of EDA/PCB design tools, scripting languages (Bash, MATLAB, Perl and Python), IT systems and product life cycle management processes; certification in these areas can assist them in further advancing their careers.Testing Electronic DevicesComputer hardware engineers specialize in designing, developing and testing computer systems, chips, circuit boards and devices like printers and scanners; as well as virtual reality and augmented reality technologies.Electronic design automation software and printed circuit board (PCB) tools enable designers to sketch schematics before testing for errors and compatibility issues. Furthermore, designers require excellent knowledge of scripting languages like Bash, MATLAB and Python for added versatility in designing.At times, they must conduct environmental stress tests that expose their device to conditions such as temperature or humidity to ensure its long-term safety and ensure compliance with electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) standards.Professionals specializing in this area often work alongside computer software development specialists, IT experts and senior hardware engineering project managers in order to fulfill their responsibilities. Additionally, these individuals may hold positions within specialized hardware departments at companies. Furthermore, professionals in this profession should seek professional certification – the Chartered Institute for IT and BCS offer credentials specifically relating to this profession.Troubleshooting Electronic DevicesComputer hardware engineers often focus on modifying and testing physical components to assess their functionality, using software tools to ensure compatibility with networked systems and specific applications. They may work collaboratively with IT specialists and engineering teams in fulfilling their duties.Hearsay and folklore may lead to electronic troubleshooting, but hands-on experience under an experienced tech is necessary for proper analysis. So acquire broken equipment from friends and family, yard sales, garage sales and flea markets so as to hone your skills; start with inexpensive devices such as televisions or digital cameras that are easier to repair; as your batting average improves you can progress into more challenging repairs.Establish a work area that is spacious, well lit and relatively dust free. Keep in mind that some components can be sensitive to electrostatic discharge (ESD) and will fail if touched by unprotected people.Communicating with Other EngineersComputer hardware engineers frequently collaborate as part of a team when creating new computer systems and components, which requires clear communication within a team setting. Avoid confusing team members by using too much technical jargon.Communication skills are also paramount when engaging with IT professionals and software engineers. A common issue involves hardware engineers launching into technical discussions without providing context, which can result in people disengaging from the discussion.Career as a computer hardware engineer can be both rewarding and challenging. To discover more of what’s required of this position, meet with an enrollment counselor today at WGU. Don’t wait until spring or fall semester begins to pursue your goal of becoming a computer hardware engineer…you’re more capable than you think! Start now on your path towards becoming one! It’s easier than you think!