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Computer Engineering

Essay for Carnegie Mellon #2 and NPSE Scholarship

Describe your reasoning behind choosing your major.

Kathryn Rivard; Computer Engineering

     One thing I have always liked about the field of Computer Engineering is that it is vastly applicable to many careers, depending on the focus I choose. There are opportunities to research and develop new hardware, and opportunities to install and maintain that hardware in the field. I could troubleshoot individual computers, or I could design and manage vast networks of machines. I need only to choose.
     At this point in my life I am inclined towards networking and IT, more software -centered aspects of Comptuer Engineering. My junior year I took part in my schoolÕs Computer Troubleshooting class, in which I designed and administered an ASIP network of 150 users who were taking Keyboarding. I was also on the main task force for maintaining three hubs, student and teacher computers, and peripherals throughout campus. This was a lot of fun for me, because not only did I get to be a part of the entire process of a network in terms of design, creation, and maintenance, but I was also able to experience the Òwild cardÓ aspect of solving individual computer problems. I like to think I would enjoy doing these sorts of things for a living as well.
     Another area of Computer Engineering I think I might take to is the more Electrical Engineering side of the field, in terms of how the actual bits and pieces of the hardware all work together to perform the hundreds of thousands of calculations it takes to run a modern computer. I have some experience in this side of CE through building Rube-Goldberg type devices for Science Olympiad. The easiest way to link the 60 or so energy transfers in the device between mechanical, electromagnetic, chemical, heat, and electrical energy is to use electronic circuits. We end up using so many electronic sensors all linked together on the same circuit board that being able to read a schematic is essential for fixing things when they break. Each successive year we end up with increasingly complicated logic to give us more efficient use of the different energies, and my dadÕs old electronics texts come in handy. Though I donÕt have as much hardcore experience with the technical side of Computer Engineering as I do with the software side, I still think it is a career I would enjoy.
     No matter which focus I choose to tackle in studying Computer Engineering, I know IÕm going to end up with valuable and marketable job skills. ThatÕs a given. What IÕm really excited about is all in the getting there. ThereÕs nothing better than furrowing my eyebrows over a tough concept or impossible problem and suddenly seeing a straight path to the answer. Answers lead to more questions, questions lead to confusion, and confusion hopefully leads to research and thought and more answers. ThatÕs definately what I hope to find in college, and hopefully continue throughout the rest of my life.

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Copyright 2001 Katie Rivard <> Web Services available, email for info.