Program: B.S., Computer Engineering

Program Description

“Nowadays the world is lit by lightning,” playwright Tennessee Williams wrote. But electrical and computer engineers prove him wrong every day.

From city lights to satellites, semiconductors, telephone switching systems and audio equipment, their work depends on electricity and the engineers who design and develop ways to harness its power.

The Computer Engineering (CompE) program bridges the curriculum gap between Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. Computer Engineers deal with the hardware and software aspects of computer system design and development. The CompE curriculum contains components of both the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering programs.

Computer Engineering majors receive a broad knowledge in the basic curriculum. Among the many covered topics are mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, electrical circuits, engineering economics, algorithms, programming and computer organization. Computer Engineering students will take coursework in a number of areas (i.e., computer architecture, digital design) from both the software and hardware points of view, allowing a broader, more complete exposure to the subject. Additionally, these curricula will be unified in the one year senior design project course bringing together the existing Electrical and Computer Engineering and Computer Science programs.

The ECE department has 17 labs associated with its ECE classes. In the labs, students work alongside professors who may be designing medical instrumentation for healthcare, designing microcontroller-based applications, developing pager and satellite communications systems, or working on innovations in electrical power systems.

All students in the EE or CompE programs take part in the department’s senior design program, modeled on industry work groups that students will encounter on the job. Like professional engineers, students design and develop a project from conception through manufacture. In the process, they gain valuable experience in working as a team and dealing with personalities, as well as technical areas.

Senior design projects have included national intercollegiate competitions. Students compete in designing a micromouse and training it to run through a 10-square-foot maze. Students also work on interdisciplinary teams to design, build, program and test an unmanned autonomous helicopter. Other projects include developing a sophisticated stereo system, a control system for a satellite tracking antenna, a television tuner, fabrication of a hybrid circuit, software-defined radio, etc.

Program Requirements

High School Preparation

It must be emphasized that this program is based on an expectation of adequate high school preparation in science, mathematics and English. High school courses should include algebra, plane geometry, trigonometry, chemistry or physics (all desirable), and four years of English. Students who have not had an adequate background of pre-engineering work in high school may be required to take some additional coursework in their first year and may not be able to complete an engineering program in 8 semesters. Entering beginning engineering students must take or be exempt from the Entry Level Mathematics Test and the Mathematics, Chemistry and English Placement Tests before registration in basic courses will be permitted.

Pre-registration Testing Requirements

CSUN requires most beginning students to take the Entry Level Mathematics Exam (ELM) and the English Placement Test (EPT) prior to enrolling in their courses. Refer to Test Requirements for further details on these exams. In addition to these general University requirements, students in any of the engineering programs may also need the following exams:

  1. The Mathematics Placement Test (MPT) is required prior to enrollment in MATH 150A. Students who have passed or are exempt from the ELM should take this exam prior to enrolling in their classes so they may be placed in the appropriate mathematics course. Students with scores of 3, 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus AB or BC tests are exempt from the MPT.
  2. The Chemistry Placement Test (CPT) is required with a score of 40 or higher prior to enrolling in CHEM 101. Students who do not receive this score must receive a grade of “C” or better in CHEM 100 before taking CHEM 101.

Transfer Requirements

All degree programs in engineering accommodate students beginning as freshmen or as transfer students. Transfer students should have completed lower division writing, mathematics, physics and chemistry courses. Courses that are transferred into the major are reviewed to ensure that they satisfy the same requirements as courses at CSUN. Courses transferred into the engineering major must have been completed with a grade of “C” or better.

Special Grade Requirements

No grade lower than a “C” will be accepted for transfer classes from another institution to the Electrical and Computer Engineering major requirements. No CSUN grade lower than a “C-” will be accepted as satisfactory for courses required for the major. More stringent prerequisite requirements may apply to some courses.

Course Requirements

The Computer Engineering program requires a minimum of 123 units total, including General Education and Title 5 requirements of 27 units, a Computer Engineering core of 90 units and a minimum of 6 units of an approved elective. Computer Engineering majors must complete a minimum of 30 semester units of upper division Computer Engineering courses in residency, including Senior Design Project I and II.

Additional information about this program and its facilities, faculty and students can be found on the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering website.

1. Lower Division Required Courses (39 units)

Note: All students must pass the English Placement Test with a score of 151 or higher before enrolling in any 200-level engineering courses.

Freshman Year

COMP 110/L Introduction to Algorithms and Programming and Lab (3/1)
COMP 182/L Data Structures and Program Design and Lab (3/1)
MATH 150A Calculus I (5)
MATH 150B Calculus II (5)
PHYS 220A/L Mechanics and Lab (3/1)

Sophomore Year

2. Math and Science Electives (6 units)

Select a minimum of 6 units from the following list with corresponding lab if one exists:

BIOL 106/L Biological Principles I and Lab (3/1)
BIOL 107/L Biological Principles II and Lab (3/1)
CHEM 101/L General Chemistry I and Lab (4/1)
CHEM 102/L General Chemistry II and Lab (4/1)
MATH 262 Introduction to Linear Algebra (3)
MATH 326 Discrete Mathematics (3)
PHYS 227/L Physics III and Lab (4/1)
PHYS 375 Quantum Physics I (3)

3. Upper Division Required Courses (39 units)

Note: All students must complete the lower division writing requirements before enrolling in any 300-level course in the major and must attempt the Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam before the completion of 75 units or enrolling in any 400-level course in the major. If students fail to do so, a hold is placed on their subsequent class registration and this may delay their graduation.

Junior Year

ECE 309 Numerical Methods in Electrical Engineering (2)
ECE 320/L Theory of Digital Systems and Lab (3/1)
ECE 340/L Electronics I and Lab (3/1)
ECE 350 Linear Systems I (3)
ECE 351 Linear Systems II (3)
MSE 304 Engineering Economy (3)

Senior Year

The senior year must include a “capstone” design experience and additional courses with design content so that the student’s total engineering program contains at least one semester of engineering design. This engineering design requirement must be taken in residency. An advisor and the department chair must approve all senior year electives.

ECE 420 Digital Systems Design with Programmable Logic (3)
ECE 422 Design of Digital Computers (3)
ECE 425/L Microprocessor Systems and Lab (3/1)
ECE 442/L Digital Electronics and Lab (3/1)
ECE 450 Probabilistic Systems in Electrical Engineering Design and Analysis (3)
ECE 492/ECE 493 Senior Design Project I and II (2/1)

4. Upper Division Electives (12 units)

Select a minimum of 12 units from the following:

COMP 322/L Introduction to Operating Systems and System Architecture and Lab (3/1)
COMP 380/L Introduction to Software Engineering (2/1)
COMP 424 Computer System Security (3)
COMP 429 Computer Network Software (3)
COMP 529 Advanced Network Topics (3)
COMP 581 Open Source Software (3)
COMP 598EA Embedded Applications
COMP598NSP Advanced Network Security Projects
ECE 422L Design of Digital Computers Lab (1)
ECE 443/L Pulse and Wave Shaping Circuit Design and Lab (3/1)
ECE 520/L System on Chip Design and Lab (3/1)
ECE 524/L FPGA/ASIC Design and Optimization Using VHDL and Lab (3/1)
ECE 526/L Digital Design with Verilog and System Verilog and Lab (3/1)
ECE 527/L Application Specific Integrated Circuit Development and Lab (3)
ECE 546 Very Large Scale Integrated Circuit Design (3)
ECE 562 Data Communication Network (3)

Note: Some elective courses have prerequisites that are not part of the required program. All courses must include the lab, if one exists. Other courses may be selected with the approval of the ECE department chair. The total number of units in the major is 96.

5. General Education (48 units)

Undergraduate students must complete 48 units of General Education as described in this Catalog.

Computer Engineering majors follow a modified General Education program depending upon the year and enrollment status as a college student. Returning and transfer students should consult an advisor before planning their General Education programs.

Computer Engineering students are required to take courses in the following GE sections: Analytical Reading and Expository Writing (3 units); Oral Communication (3 units); Social Sciences (3 units); Arts and Humanities (6 units); Comparative Cultural Studies (6 units); and U.S. History and Local Government (6 units). All other GE requirements are met through completion of courses in the major. Nine of the GE units must be at the upper division level and two courses must meet the Information Competency requirement.

Total Units in the Major: 96

General Education Units: 27

Total Units Required for the Degree: 123


Chair: George Law
Office Manager: Javier Anguiano
Jacaranda Hall (JD) 4509
(818) 677-2190

Student Learning Outcomes

Educational Objectives

The computer engineering program at California State University, Northridge, prepares a diverse group of graduates for lifelong careers in a field that will allow them to make productive contributions to society and to find personal satisfaction in their work. To accomplish this, graduates of the computer engineering programs will meet the following educational objectives:

The computer engineering program strives to prepare graduates who will:

  1. Have professional careers in computer engineering or related technical fields, or continue their studies at the graduate level.
  2. Continue their professional development throughout their careers.

Student Outcomes

  1. An ability to apply knowledge of math, science, and engineering to the analysis of computer engineering problems.
  2. An ability to design and conduct scientific and engineering experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data.
  3. An ability to design systems which include hardware and/or software components within realistic constraints such as cost, manufacturability, safety and environmental concerns.
  4. An ability to function in multidisciplinary teams.
  5. An ability to identify, formulate and solve computer engineering problems.
  6. An understanding of ethical and professional responsibility.
  7. An ability to communicate effectively through written reports and oral presentations.
  8. An understanding of the impact of engineering in a social context.
  9. A recognition of the need for and an ability to engage in lifelong learning.
  10. A broad education and knowledge of contemporary issues.
  11. An ability to use modern engineering techniques for analysis and design.