Analog Design Degree, Certificate and Training Program Information
Computer hardware engineers do the heavy lifting when it comes to analog design. They develop, design and test, overseeing manufacture and installation of computer hardware. This includes analog design of circuit boards, computer chips, computer systems and related equipment. They are responsible for most research, design and development in computer technology. Degrees and certificates should concentrate on electronic engineering rather than electrical engineering.
Associate of Applied Science in Electronics Engineering Technology
The terms electrical and electronic are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Computer hardware engineers (analog designers) follow the electronics track. This A.A.S. degree turns students into technicians who mostly troubleshoot and repair electronic systems. Some assist engineers in designing new products, testing systems prior to manufacture or selling electronic components and systems. Analog designers usually must continue education beyond this degree level.
Applicants take placement tests in reading, writing, computer literacy, pre-algebra and algebra. When deficiencies are noted, they must successfully complete remedial or developmental courses. Therefore, enrollees do best with a solid background and good grades in high school mathematics.
Two-year community college degree programs usually include general education subjects, such as English composition, American government, arts and humanities, behavioral sciences and study methods and skills. The electronics core consists of:
- Intro to digital electronics
- Programming in C: direct current
- AC circuits: concepts, laws, behaviors
- Analog electronics theories and design
- Programming basics: methods, logic and data
- General survey of chemistry
- Ethics and responsible engineering
- Technical writing
- Intro to physics
Popular Career Options
Graduates who wish to enter the job market should consider Certified Software Development Associate credentials, which validate understanding and skill in fundamental software development practices. This is obtained from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society. Career opportunities include:
- Entry-level programmer
- Computer operator
- Electronics technician
Memberships in professional societies and associations provide opportunity to attend conferences, seminars and webinars, to take online courses and fast-track training classes. These groups maintain libraries for members filled with abstracts, periodicals, news articles and other cutting-edge information. Those who wish to pursue careers as computer hardware engineers move on to earn 4-year degrees.
Bachelor of Science in Electronics Engineering Technology
Engineering technology graduates, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported, are not always viewed as equal to graduates with degrees in engineering. Some employers regard technology program graduates as being more than a technician but less than an engineer. As a group, however, these graduates earn some of the highest average starting salaries. That's because graduates are equipped to apply knowledge and adapt to emerging electronics engineering technologies. They create design systems, components and processes independently and in teams (www.bls.gov).
High school chemistry and physics, mathematical analysis, geometry, two years of algebra and college algebra (or the equivalents) are among the prior courses that may be required. Students who have already earned an associate's degree in electrical, electronics and computer engineering will typically be able to transfer those credits into the bachelor's degree track.
The sequence in which courses are taken is an important part of the technological training for this profession. Lower division requirements usually include basic courses in logic design, circuit analysis, engineering mechanics, C programming and college composition. There are many upper-division courses offered in conjunction with lectures, seminars, workshops, projects, labs and work experience. School coursework covers the following topics:
- Analog and digital electronics
- Network analysis
- Electromechanical conversions
- Physical electronics
- Signals and systems: random and probabilities
- Intro to microprocessors
- Engineering and economics
- Computer networks and internets
- Computer hardware system design
Prepared with an understanding of the applications for electrical, electronic and magnetic phenomena, these graduates step in to such positions as:
- Design engineer
- Product engineer
- Computer engineer
- Research engineer
- Electronics engineer
Engineering faculty positions definitely require graduate training, as do some research and development program participants. However, the majority of entry-level engineering jobs do not require a graduate degree. Many experienced engineers pursue graduate degrees to learn new technology, advance into managerial and business positions and broaden or deepen their education.
Master of Science in Electrical Engineering
Students who pursue this master's degree, which may further specialize in analog and mixed signals, will gain fundamental understandings of broadband and RF circuits, amplifier design, data conversion, voltage regulators, RF integrated circuits design, signal integrity and power supplies. Graduates can perform research and solve design problems, using engineering principles. Most candidates balance a heavy academic load with work and personal lives, contributing experience and innovation to their programs.
Incoming master's degree students are expected to be able to program and be up to speed on systems and languages. If they haven't learned these earlier, a computer science class or short course can fill the gap.
Partnerships formed between universities and local industry help develop curricula that provide the state-of-the-art information and skills needed by employers. Evening classes accommodate schedules and part-time enrollment in the case of working professionals. A partial list of topics includes:
- Amplifiers: operational, differential and transconductive
- RF circuits: mixers, oscillators, synthesizers
- Broadband: phase locked loops and CDR circuits
- CMOS imaging technologies and analog overview
- Analog to digital converters
- Semiconductor devices
- Architectures: analog circuits and systems
- Management of power
- Date converters
- Radio frequency IC
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Employment of engineers is expected to grow 11%, about as fast as the average for all occupations from 2010 through 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. However, employment growth for computer hardware engineers is expected to be a slower 9%, the result of foreign competition combined with an increased emphasis on software instead of hardware. The median wage for computer hardware engineers in May 2012 was reported to be $100,920, with the top 10% earning $150,130.
Professional engineers who offer service to the public must be licensed. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) requires engineers to hold degrees from schools it accredits; along with an accredited degree, the group requires four years' work experience and completion of a state exam. New engineers take the first-stage exam upon graduation and, thereafter, are commonly called engineers in training (EITs). Once work experience is met, EITs sit for the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Periodic re-licensure usually requires continuing education.
Professional certificates are available at every degree level and, in fact, some may not require a degree at all. Colleges, universities and professional societies and associations offer online and on-campus classes for working professionals. Many certificate programs are self-paced and require completion of three to eight intensive courses. Certificates include:
- Analog circuit design
- Advanced project management
- Advanced computer security
- Interactive and dynamic formats
- IC design and techniques
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