MaconCatalog : The School of Engineering : Computer Specialization
 
Computer Specialization
The central focus of the computer specialization is the engineering design of systems which operate in real-time with computers embedded in the system as a component or controller. The embedded computer is often a single chip “microcontroller” or a custom designed small computer which consists of a small number of chips. A mix of electronics fundamentals, general engineering fundamentals, engineering design, and computer system principles form the computer specialization. This is obviously a rapidly expanding field of which growth is fueled by the progress in semiconductor chip size and speed. The amount of memory available on a single chip has quadrupled each three years for over two decades. Processor and logic chips are not far behind in this growth pattern and this has led to astonishing increases in the power of computers, especially at the low cost end of the spectrum. As a consequence, computers are found “embedded” in the design of everything from household appliances to automobiles. The growth in chip capacity also leads to the ability to put a lot of software on just one or two chips, enabling these embedded, low-cost computers to run more and more complex software. That drives engineering programs with a computer specialization to include not only modern programmable chip based hardware design, but also modern software design methodology in anticipation of the implementation of more and more complex software on even cheaper systems. As the Internet expands, local communication capability between computers is also rising in importance.