Academic Timeline

Each of the four years in the curriculum followed by a typical computer engineering undergraduate student has a distinct flavor in terms of the types of courses taken, academic goals, and milestones achieved.

The following sections present an overall picture of these four years, provide a sense of the progress made toward graduation, and list specific things to do in order to stay on track. Included with graduation checks and guidelines are steps to take by students who would like to pursue graduate studies in the framework of the BS/MS program.

Freshman Year

photo of students in a classroom

Coursework: Besides completing a number of units to fulfill parts of the general education requirements, a CE freshman prepares for specialized subjects in the major by taking mathematics, physics, computer programming, and writing courses. Some students may already enter the pre-major with credit for certain courses through appropriate AP or equivalent credit.

Learn and Experience: Mathematics, basic science, programming, and writing courses provide tools that render specialized courses taken by students in later years both accessible and enjoyable. Two required 1-unit freshman seminars, taken during Winter and Spring, introduce the students to interesting technical and research problems in Computer Engineering via tutorial / overview lectures and mathematical / logical puzzles.

Curriculum Reminders and To-Dos

  • Discover Engineering (CE Freshman) Meeting: Students will be notified via U-Mail in the Fall
  • Advisor Assignment: check with the ECE Student Affairs Office (Trailer 380, Room 101)

Sophomore Year

photo of students in a computing lab

Coursework: Basic hardware and software courses begin the journey toward professional standing in computer engineering. Hardware-related courses introduce students to circuits and logic design, while software-related courses deal with advanced programming topics and systems software. Exposure to mathematics and physics subjects continues in this second year.

Learn and Experience: The foundations of students’ understanding of computer hardware and software are laid in the sophomore year. By the end of this year, students have become sophisticated computer users and have acquired a basic understanding of how the underlying circuits of typical electronic digital computers work.

Junior Year

photo of students in a digital lab

Coursework: The most important and widely applicable topics in computer engineering constitute the focus of courses in this third year. These include courses on computer design, system architecture, data structures, and operating systems. Most students also complete the general education requirements during this third year.

Learn and Experience: Mastering technical hardware and software topics, that form the common language of computer engineering, is required for understanding other upper division courses, but it also forms a foundation for many graduate-level courses. Given that CE students branch out into different specialty areas during the senior year, this common core knowledge is important for effective communication among colleagues in the workplace and in other teamwork contexts.

Curriculum Reminders and To-Dos:

  • Mandatory Junior Meeting: to discuss Senior Electives and B.S./M.S. Program. Students will be notified via U-Mail in the Fall.
  • Deadline for Submission of Senior Elective Sheet due last day Spring Quarter
  • Deadline for BS/MS Application in ECE: last day Spring Quarter

Senior Year

photo of student working on senior project in a lab

Coursework: The focus in this fourth year is on elective subjects and the Senior Capstone Project. A key component in elective units is the choice of two different 2-course sequences (Senior Sequence Courses). Such sequences are available in computer networks, computer-aided design of integrated circuits, very-large-scale integration, multimedia computing, distributed systems, programming languages, real-time computing/control and signals & systems.

Learn and Experience: Two-course sequences (see Senior Sequence Courses and Senior Elective Sheet) provide specialization and depth in areas of interest to students. Other electives allow exploration of additional areas for breadth. The senior capstone project, viewed as an academic career highlight by most students, provides an opportunity to complete a team project, starting from problem definition and ending with the demonstration of a fully functional and tested product during a gathering known as “The Senior Capstone Project Event Day.”

Curriculum Reminders and To-Dos

  • BS/MS Students: See ECE Student Affairs Manager if advancing to MS status
  • M.S. or M.S./Ph.D. ECE Graduate Application: December 15th
  • Meet with the Undergraduate Staff Advisor to double-check that all graduation requirements are completed