The mobile device in your pocket is a pretty amazing piece of technology. What was once just a phone you used for emergency purposes is now a gateway to almost a million different available software applications to keep you socially connected, organized, and entertained'immersing you in a continual world of virtual engagement.
It's simply amazing that such a small device has the capacity to do so much. In less than six years, mobile software applications have been downloaded almost 50 billion times, turning the gears of a new, multi-billion dollar industry. Are you a tech-savvy math and science geek with a knack for tinkering around on computers? A post-secondary degree in electrical or computer engineering can help you with that!
Behind the degree
What do electrical and computer engineers do, you may ask? Electrical engineers employ their skills to design electrical components and systems. The manufacturing, installation, and operation of these electrical components and systems also fall under the work umbrella of electrical engineers. Computer engineers create software for digital telephone switching systems, design automation control systems, and are the brains behind Local Area Network installations'just to name a few jobs.
Parham Aarabi is an associate professor at the University of Toronto's Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. He's an international leader in mobile development and is the founder of ModiFace Inc., a facial recognition technology provider. If you're on the road to developing the latest smartphone software application, he says a degree in electrical and computer engineering is a good start.
Electrical and computer engineering is unique in that our graduates learn not only programming, but [gain] an understanding of the hardware and the limitations created by it, as well as signal processing and mathematics to analyze sensor data, says Aarabi. All of these are very unique, and essential to creating smart mobile applications. And courses taught within this degree program are tailored specifically to mobile app development.
Other degrees can be helpful, like a degree in computer science for example. With computer science, there is more focus on software than hardware, which depending on the application you have in mind can either be a pro or con, he says.
Tackling the challenges
There are challenges that come with developing high-impact smartphone applications. Aarabi says a lack of experience and unfamiliarity in programming, understanding hardware, and processing sensor data will hurt when trying to break into this industry. But a degree in electrical and computer engineering is tailored to tackle those challenges.
This degree teaches students most of what they need to create mobile technologies. The rest of students usually learn in design projects or as part of our graduate program, says Aarabi.
He advises those interested in working in this field to start building on their skills in advance. Start programming early. Once you have experimented and made a few apps, go to university to perfect your knowledge.