In Summary - Computer Hardware Engineer
The Work - Computer Hardware Engineer
Most computers are made by linking microprocessor chips, components and equipment together to form a system. The design process may begin with the computer systems analyst providing an outline specification for a computer system to meet a particular need. A team of logic designers works on the initial logic design to produce detailed specifications. They translate the ideas into detailed drawings and circuit diagrams.
A team of hardware design engineers take the design, and build and test a prototype or working model. They buy the computer chips, assemble the hardware components and build the necessary interfacing equipment. They test the prototype to make sure it meets the specification requirements, and carry out any necessary modifications to the design.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Update knowledge and skills to keep up with rapid advancements in computer technology.
- Build, test, and modify product prototypes using working models or theoretical models constructed with computer simulation.
- Write detailed functional specifications that document the hardware development process and support hardware introduction.
- Specify power supply requirements and configuration, drawing on system performance expectations and design specifications.
- Confer with engineering staff and consult specifications to evaluate interface between hardware and software and operational and performance requirements of overall system.
- Design and develop computer hardware and support peripherals, including central processing units (CPUs), support logic, microprocessors, custom integrated circuits, and printers and disk drives.
- Select hardware and material, assuring compliance with specifications and product requirements.
- Monitor functioning of equipment and make necessary modifications to ensure system operates in conformance with specifications.
- Test and verify hardware and support peripherals to ensure that they meet specifications and requirements, by recording and analyzing test data.
- Direct technicians, engineering designers or other technical support personnel as needed.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- Interacting With Computers Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Thinking Creatively Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
- Analyzing Data or Information Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Interests - Computer Hardware Engineer
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their most productive under supervisors who give clear guidelines and while performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.
They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
To be a computer hardware design engineer, you need strong technical knowledge of computers and electronic systems. You must have a flair for turning system requirements into detailed designs. You need to be able to work to deadlines and budgets; you may also need to consider the cost and availability of components.
Computer hardware engineers must be able to work as part of multi-disciplinary teams; you must have strong oral and written communication skills. You need to be able to explain complex information to others and give clear instructions.
This job requires good eyesight and normal colour vision, as you may be dealing with electrical wiring.
A willingness to learn and develop your knowledge is also important as the technology and industry is constantly changing and improving and you will need to keep up-to-date with latest developments.
Entry Requirements - Computer Hardware Engineer
Computer hardware engineers typically complete an appropriate degree programme. Relevant course titles include Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Computer and Electronic Engineering or Computer Systems Engineering, among others.
Most of the universities and Institutes of Technology offer courses in this area.
It is essential to check the course content and details to ensure the course you choose is appropriate to the branch of engineering you want to follow.
Computer hardware engineers can gain Chartered Engineer and Incorporated Engineer status, which are both highly regarded by employers throughout industry. This Initial Professional Development programme (IPD) helps develop the knowledge already acquired at degree level and helps apply this knowledge to a work situation. It usually takes a minimum of four years and includes on the job training, mentoring, job rotations and participation in professional development courses that are appropriate to your career path. See Engineering Ireland for full details.
Last Updated: October, 2014
Pay & Salary - Computer Hardware Engineer
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 25k - 70k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.