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What do engineers and computer scientists do?

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A mechanical engineering student works with heat exchange equipment in the Fluids lab

Could you be an engineer or a computer scientist?

  • Do you like creating things?
  • Are you good at solving problems?
  • Can you think outside the box?
  • Do you wish things worked better - and think you could improve them?
  • Do you want to have your pick of exciting, high-paying jobs?
  • Would you like to change the world?

If yes, then engineering or computer science might be for you! Engineering and computer science are exciting technical fields, essential to today's modern life. As an engineer or computer scientist, you'll use your problem-solving and teamwork skills to work on real-world problems. You'll see the results of your efforts and have a chance to make an impact on society.

Career options

Engineers and computer scientists are found working in almost every field. From health care to entertainment to the environment -- plus traditional fields like telecommunications, energy systems, and automotive or aerospace design -- you're sure to find a field in which you can excel. Learn more about the exciting career options.

You'll find our graduates in jobs like:

  • System Architect and Technical Team Lead, Google Inc, Mountain View CA
  • Game Designer, Microsoft, Redmond CA
  • Software Development Engineer, Amazon.com, Seattle WA
  • Senior Design Engineer, Nokia, Burnaby BC
  • Engineer, Daimler Chrysler Aerospace, Richmond BC
  • Software Engineer, Electronic Arts Canada, Burnaby BC

It's challenging work, but it's very rewarding. Rewarding intellectually, because you get to work on interesting problems, and rewarding financially as well. UVic Engineering and Computer Science students make about $45,000 while going to school as part of the co-op program. After graduation, 94% of our grads immediately find work, with average starting salaries about $56,000.

What is engineering?

Engineering is a field that applies the discoveries of science to the design and creation of things that are safe, reliable and practical. The things that engineers design and create depend on which branch of engineering they're trained in. See our programs page for more information about the branches of engineering we offer and our research section to learn more about the groundbreaking research being done here.

All our engineering programs get you ready to be a professional engineer, which has a precise, legal definition in Canada. Engineers must have taken certain courses and have practical experience and ethics training. There are some jobs that only professional engineers can legally do -- usually things involving safety or security.

What is computer science?

Computer science is the study of how computing devices can extend and support the abilities of the human mind. In the beginning, most of computer science focused on mathematical abilities. Today, computer scientists work on systems that can extend and support a wide range of abilities -- everything from our abilities to socialize and relate to our abilities to reason and strategize.

What's the difference between your programs?

Given the definitions of Engineering and Computer Science (above), here are some areas that engineers and computer scientists work in:

  • A mechanical engineer is involved in the design and study of physical and mechanical systems, such as: power generation, transportation vehicles (ground, aircraft, watercraft), fluid dynamics, machine design, biomedical-mechanical systems, mechatronics and robotics, heating and air-conditioning.
  • An electrical engineer is involved in the design and study of various electrical and electronic systems, such as: electricity and electric circuits, electromagnetism, electronic devices, control systems, signal processing, computer design, telecommunications, sensor design, biological-signals, and biomedical imaging, mechatronics.
  • A computer engineer is similar to an electrical engineer, but focuses extensively on computer applications, such as: electronics, computer hardware design, microprocessors, software and operating systems design, embedded systems and microcontrollers, mechatronics.
  • A software engineer applies fundamental engineering principles to the development and design of software. This includes software sub-disciplines involving: design, development, testing, maintenance, process improvement, software architecture, compilers.
  • A computer scientist is involved in the study of the theories of information and computation, and practical techniques for their application in computer systems. This includes areas of work such as: algorithms and data structure, programming languages, databases, visualization and computer graphics, security and cryptography, artificial intelligence, computer music, computer games.

Find out more

If engineering or computer science sound like what you've been looking for, learn more about the programs and options waiting for you and have some of your frequently asked questions answered.

Student stories

Liuguo ZhangLiuguo Zhang's working for Need for Speed

As a five-year-old boy in Haikou, China, Liuguo Zhang received a gift that would shape his future. "My dad bought me the Nintendo entertainment system," says the computer ace. "Working in the game industry has been my wish since I was very young."

One of UVic's top students in the computer science program, Zhang is living his dream as a software engineer at Need For Speed (NFS) in Vancouver, a developer of electronic sports games and franchise of Electronic Arts, the world's largest computer game publisher.

Read the whole story.

Cambria HansonCambria Hanson spent a work term at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

In Cambria Hanson's first-year mechanical engineering class, a professor drew an inverted triangle on the board to represent everything students would learn and highlighted its tip to show what proportion they would actually use in the workplace. But while working on a project for NASA last fall, Hanson used everything in the triangle and more.

Hanson spent her final co-op work term as a research and development intern at the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the lab where NASA develops their Mars rovers. She tested a rock-sampling component called CHIMRA (Collection and Handling for In-Situ Martian Rock Analysis), which will be one of many new parts on the next rover to be shot up to the red planet.

Read the whole story.

Read more student stories and alumni profiles.

Contact a recruiter

Recruiter Margaret GwynMargaret Gwyn is the recruitment officer for Engineering and Computer Science at UVic. Please email Margaret or phone her at 250-472-4205 to arrange a classroom visit, book a web session or tour, or if you have any questions about our programs.


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