Many ECE students will design embedded systems in industry. To do this well they need to pull together concepts from a variety of fields (such as compilers, computer architecture, operating systems, testing and development) and understand how they relate to embedded systems. This course covers these concepts from that point of view and uses various hands-on programming projects to examine major concepts. Students use a 16-bit microcontroller board with powerful software development tools to develop their embedded systems.
As a part of my NC State class ECE 306 (Intro to Embedded Systems), I built a remote control line-following car. The car uses a Ti MSP430 micro-controller at its heart, with a secondary control board built to control the power, motors, LCD screen, and IoT functionality. To improve the functionality of the base car, I designed and 3D printed a housing for the sensors to increase the functionality and allow for better positioning. I also wanted to improve the remote control aspect, so I wrote an Android App with a built in Joystick to relay commands to the car over Wi-Fi.
Zach Hannum, B.S. CPE & EE, 2017
What is Computer Engineering?
Computer engineering, the fastest growing engineering field for the past few years, is a very broad discipline that addresses the relationship and interactions between software and hardware in solving real engineering problems.
This includes such diverse areas as biomedical devices, environmental controls, automobile control systems, and intelligent vehicle highway systems, voice/speech recognition, computer intelligence, and cellular communications.
Computer Engineering or Computer Science?
What sets computer engineering apart from either electrical engineering or computer science is that it combines expertise in both electronic hardware and software design. The computer engineer has the understanding to evaluate the possible trade-offs between hardware and software and to provide the best system at the lowest cost, that is, the optimum design for a computer-based system.
In different jobs or at different times, the computer engineer may focus more on software or on hardware, but an appreciation for the integration of the two is always implicit in the work. While design is the heart of the engineering profession, computer engineers perform other functions in research and development, manufacturing, technical sales, management, and teaching.
Computer Science primarily deals with how to solve computation using computer systems, hence there is more emphasis in software. Computer Engineering primarily deals with how to build computer systems, hence there is more emphasis in hardware and low-level software that make up the systems.