Why study electrical and computer engineering?
The fields of electrical and computer engineering are the engine that powers the technology of the 21st century. Think of any device with an energy or information technology component — that’s electrical and computer engineering. It plays a crucial role in everything from neuroscience to space exploration.
Electrical and computer engineers solve critical problems in areas like health care, sustainable energy, online security and financial services. They have the knowledge and skills to develop the technological breakthroughs that make a positive difference in society. For example, they can:
- Harness the sun’s energy and convert it into power
- Design implantable electronic devices to sense and stop seizures
- Apply what we know about flocks of birds to swarm robotics
- Create new metamaterials, like an invisibility cloak
- Revolutionize the retail industry with an app
- Leverage hardware to enable the AI revolution
What fields do electrical and computer engineers work in?
No other undergraduate degree offers students the opportunity to work in as many fields as electrical and computer engineering.
With a degree in ECE you can work in aerospace engineering, information technology, biomedical engineering, finance and banking, the communications sector, the computer industry, the energy sector and many more. Our graduates also go into law, medicine, teaching, and research. A significant number start their own companies.
Electrical or computer: What’s the difference?
Historically, electrical engineering (based on classical electromagnetic theory) came first, followed by computer engineering in the mid-20th century. Our department history reflects the evolution of the fields in society as a whole.
More and more, engineers work in teams to design and employ advanced electronics systems, like smartphones. Most of the modern devices today are a marriage of hardware and software systems. An array of sensors, signal processors, controllers, power management tools and actuators work in harmony with endless lines of code tying it all together and bringing the system to life.
Thus, the electrical engineering and computer engineering fields are converging. Computer engineers increasingly need an understanding of electronic circuits to design complex systems. Electrical engineers increasingly need an understanding of programming because software is a necessary tool for so many applications.
Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering
Computer Science is offered by the Faculty of Arts & Science and is primarily concerned with the programming side of computers, as well as computational theory, numerical analysis and things of that nature.
Computer Engineering is offered by the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering. Computer engineering students learn the hardware and software of computers.
Our undergraduate programs
The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) offers two undergraduate programs: Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering.
When you graduate, you receive a Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) degree.
The programs consist of four years of coursework. Students must complete 600 hours of practical experience, so many students choose to spend an additional year taking part in the optional Professional Experience Year (PEY) Co-op Program between their third and fourth years of study.
Learn more about what we can offer you in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Toronto!
Years 1 and 2
The first two years of study are your foundation and are the same for both electrical and computer engineering undergraduate students. Our students learn the principles of their disciplines by attending courses taught by our world-renowned faculty and gain real-world experience working with companies and organizations related to their fields of interest.
Years 3 and 4
Ultimately, as a student at ECE, you decide your own path in your third and fourth years. Your course selections at this time determine whether you will graduate as either an electrical or computer engineering.
In your final two years, you choose four areas of study that interest you and then choose two of those areas to focus on, creating your own mix of qualifications so that your degree reflects the engineer you want to be.
We have a range of areas of focus that integrate a variety of courses to offer a more specialized knowledge base. Students must focus on two of these six areas:
- Photonics & Semiconductor Physics
- Electromagnetics & Energy Systems
- Analog & Digital Electronics
- Control, Communications & Signal Processing
- Computer Hardware & Computer Networks
Minors and Certificates
You may wish to complement your electrical and computer engineering programs with a minor or certificate. These will appear on your official student transcript when you graduate.
This is a great opportunity to gain interdisciplinary experience and to tailor your degree. Are you interested in robotics? Music technology? Entrepreneurship? See the list for each, and learn about the benefits, eligibility and general requirements: