Computer engineering is a discipline that blends Computer science with Electrical engineering. Being a dynamic profession, it harmonizes technology and innovation to develop computer hardware and software.
A computer engineer deals with both hardware and software ensuring that the two are smoothly integrated to function properly: thus, ensuring that computer systems are faster, safer and more reliable.
There are two main career paths in this wonderful profession – hardware and software engineering. Hardware engineering focuses on designing computer and its components such as motherboards, microprocessors, microcontrollers etc.
Software engineering on the other hand deals with designing and testing programs and applications that run on computers and mobile devices.
Together, these two have collaborated to change the world technologically and that’s why computer engineers are in high demand in different industries. They can work virtually anywhere as either freelancers, full-time employees and even as employers of labour.
Unsurprisingly, with a growing, unabated yearning for technology and its perks, industries and individuals in Nigeria are in constant need of trained and highly skilled computer engineers.
With such prospects, computer engineering in Nigeria becomes a gravy train; a hotcake! This article therefore seeks to examine how one can become a computer engineer in Nigeria.
We assume this should be a raging thought in the minds of smart people who have an interest in this field and we hope this article will shed the much-needed light.
a. It is expected that the nursery and primary school education should have been completed as laid down by the Universal Basic Education Board from Nursery I to Primary 5/6. Subjects like Mathematics, English Language, Religious Knowledge, Basic science, Social studies, Home Economics etc. must have been taken.
At the completion, pupils must sit for the mandatory Common Entrance Examination to qualify for the Secondary education.
b. The Secondary school education follows in which a student must spend a total of 6 years – 3 years at the Junior Secondary School and the other 3 at the Senior Secondary School.
Subjects taken at the junior level are more like those taught at the primary level although a bit advanced. However, at the Senior Secondary level, a student aspiring to become an computer engineer must proceed to the Science class where he will take subjects like Chemistry, Physics and Further Mathematics with other general subjects like Mathematics, English Language, Biology, Economics and so on.
At the completion of this level, a student must sit for and pass the either the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE) or the examination conducted by the National Examination Council (NECO) or both to qualify for tertiary institutions.
An aspiring computer engineer must have at least 5 credit passes in Mathematics, English Language, Chemistry, Physics and Further Mathematics.
Another requirement is that a candidate must register for and pass the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) in which he will take a combination of four subjects: Mathematics, English Language, Chemistry and Physics.
Having passed the UTME, a candidate must go through the screening process of the University of his choice and if successful, he gets admitted.
c. For Direct Entry students, the requirements include a Distinction or an Upper Credit in the ND/HND level or three A level passes in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry plus a pass in the UTME.
d. At the University level, a Computer engineering student must spend nothing less than five years. The curriculum includes both theory and practical.
Practicals go beyond laboratory work as students have to take the Students Work Experience Program (SWEP) and Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) I & 2.
These are skills developing programs designed to expose, prepare and give students the hands-on work experience they would need after graduation.
These programs form part of the grading system and they take months to complete. Also, at this level, a student must be expected to have a good grasp of Networking and Internet Technologies, Object-oriented programming, Data communication and networking, C++ programming and Mobile Application development.
e. Having completed University education and graduating, a computer engineering graduate does not become an engineer per se since he cannot attach the appellation “Engineer” to his name.
To become a registered engineer, he must be recognized by the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) which are separate and different bodies.
Nonetheless, their activities are aimed at certifying persons tested and trusted through their procedures as worthy of practicing engineering in Nigeria.
f. While the Nigerian Society of Engineers is a voluntary association created by and run by practicing engineers, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) is a statutory body set up by the Engineers (Registration) Act of 2004.
g. To become a corporate member of the NSE, an engineering graduate must have been practicing for at least four productive years which he must give a detailed technical report of. If the technical report is found to be satisfactory, he qualifies for the oral interview stage.
After a success at the interview stage, he qualifies for three NSE-organized workshops for professional improvement, continuing education and engineering etiquettes among other things.
Thereafter, a professional examination will be conducted which would include both essay writing and multi choice questions.
A final success at the examination qualifies one as a corporate member of the NSE and a genuine engineer. Benefits of membership include Award, grants and prizes to distinguished engineers; international image for members; regular workshops and conferences for members to update members about the trends in the profession; recognition by and liaison with COREN on issues relating to the engineering profession and so on.
h. Once a member of the NSE, a computer engineer becomes eligible to be registered by COREN. COREN is saddled with the responsibility of regulating and controlling the training and practice of engineering in Nigeria.
The body also ensures and enforces the registration of all engineering personnel and consulting firms wishing to practice within Nigeria.
i. Finally, a successful membership, registration and certification by Nigerian Society of Engineers and Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria makes one a computer engineer!
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