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University of Pittsburgh    
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog 
  May 26, 2024
2016-2017 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Computer Engineering, BSE

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Freshman Engineering Program

All engineering freshmen pursue a common academic program, selecting a major upon completion. The freshman-year curriculum includes two specially designed engineering-oriented courses (ENGR 0011 Introduction to Engineering Analysis  and Engineering 0012 Introduction to Engineering Computing ). These courses provide freshman students with an overview of the various areas of engineering, introduce certain engineering skills and tools, and acquaint students with the engineering problem solving process. Freshman students also participate in an engineering seminar, conducted in part by the Freshman Leadership Team’s Peer Advisors. These seminars provide general information on the transition to college and the improvement of study skills and provide an overview of the various engineering fields so that freshmen can make an informed choice of majors at the end of the first year. Students are also given several opportunities to visit the various programs in order to talk to the faculty and learn about the specific academic requirements. All engineering freshmen participate in the Freshman Engineering Conference during the Spring Term. Outstanding freshman students may also participate in the Fessenden Honors in Engineering Program (See Special Academic Opportunities/Programs for details). For more information on the Freshman Engineering Program, visit

The freshman-year curriculum is detailed below:

Credits: 17

Credits: 17


* Students choose electives from an extensive list of acceptable Arts and Sciences humanities and social science courses, including a large number of languages that students are encouraged to study. Students may not take self-paced, hybrid, or online courses to satisfy the humanities/social science requirement.

Honors Courses for Engineering Freshmen

Outstanding freshman engineering students are eligible to participate in the University Honors College (UHC). Entering freshman students who are in the top 5 percent of their graduating class and have a minimum SAT I score of 1450 are eligible for honors courses. Students participating in the University Honors College may take honors courses that substitute for regular required course offerings in their first two terms. For more information on the UHC, visit

Honors courses offered include:

First Term

Second Term

Credits: 18

*Students who earn a C or higher in MATH 0235  for the first term may take UHC MATH 0240  the second term and will be awarded advanced placement credit for MATH 0220 .

Students who opt to take Engr 0711 (Honors Engineering Analysis and Engineering Computing)  in the fall term of their freshman year have the opportunity to take a unique service learning course in the second term. This course, ENGR 0716 Art of Hands-On System Design and Engineering , is only open to students who successfully complete ENGR 0711  with a grade of C or better. In this course, students will explore tools and techniques for inventing, designing and prototyping systems. Students will gain an introduction to ‘smart systems’; i.e.,automated systems that can sense the world and automatically respond in useful ways.

Writing-Designated Course (W Course) Requirement

Engineering students must demonstrate an ability to communicate effectively. This includes both written and oral communication and the ability to make professional presentations. Upon admission, students with an SAT Critical Reading score below 500 will be required to take at least one English Composition Course during their freshman year that will not count toward the Swanson School of Engineering graduation requirements.

All students must take at least one W course as part of their humanities/social science requirements. Please note that students may also satisfy the W requirement by taking a science course with a writing component. In addition, each engineering program has substantial communications components throughout the curriculum. Some programs require a specific course in communications. It is important to refer to each program’s graduation requirements to identify requisite communication courses.

For students planning on a dual degree from the Swanson School of Engineering and an A&S major, it is important to note the following: The University of Pittsburgh Composition Program has agreed that there is no need for students who have taken freshman writing through the Freshman Engineering English Writing Program to take Seminar in Composition (ENGCMP 0200 ) as well. Taking just one of these courses to meet the A&S General Education requirement for composition is sufficient to meet the composition requirement.

Computer Engineering Undergraduate Curriculum

The sophomore year (terms three and four) starts the student’s specialization with courses in programming; data structures; digital logic; computer organization and the digital systems laboratory; as well as linear algebra and differential equations;  linear systems and circuits; and electives in the humanities, social sciences, and communications skills. The junior year (terms five and six) develops the student’s knowledge in the practical foundations of computer engineering with courses in algorithm design, computer architecture, systems software, an advanced digital laboratory, and computer interfacing. These are complemented with courses in probability and statistics, as well as with electives in the humanities and social sciences. The senior year (terms seven and eight) continues the foundation sequence with software engineering and then extends the student’s experience with both technical and design electives in computer engineering. The rich set of electives available from computer engineering, computer science, telecommunications, and electrical engineering provides the student with exposure to several of the many subdisciplines within the field.

The overall objective of the computer engineering program is to prepare individuals to be confident and successful in whatever path they choose to pursue in the 21st century global economy. This includes those who move into practice within the computer engineering discipline either through employment in industry or government, or through a start-up of their own, those who move on to advanced computer study and research in graduate school, or those that move into other professions such as law, business, or management.

As indicated, the program has considerable elective flexibility. The humanities and social science electives must be selected from the list of acceptable courses compiled by the Swanson School of Engineering. The open elective may be satisfied by any University course, including band, Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), or physical education. Technical electives may include computer engineering; electrical engineering; computer science; or other engineering, mathematics, or basic science courses.

Credits: 16

Credits: 15

Credits: 16

Credits: 16

Seventh Term

Credits: 16

Eighth Term

  • COE - Design Elective - 3 Credits
  • COE - Advanced Elective 4 - 3 Credits
  • Technical Elective 2 - 3 Credits
  • Open Elective - 3 Credits
  • Open Elective - 3 Credits

Credits: 15

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