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Computer Engineering Curriculum - Effective for Students Entering Fall 2014

Computer Engineering Curriculum - For Students Entering Fall 2014 or Later

Last Updated: 10/13/2014


Computer Engineering at Illinois focuses on the development of vital computing technologies, ranging from chips to computers to networks to programming tools to key algorithms for building exciting applications. Fundamentally, Computer Engineering addresses the problem of building scalable, trustworthy computing systems, and our faculty?s interests span a broad spectrum of issues pertinent to this theme. We have taken the lead in revolutionizing many science and engineering disciplines with parallel computing, from chips to clouds to planet-scale critical infrastructures, and we have defined new standards of security, privacy, and dependability for systems ranging from small circuits to the electric power grids of many nations. Our students need a broad and sound set of mathematical and computing skills, and are well-served by a flexible curriculum that enables them to pursue topics of interest among the many subdisciplines in computing.

The computer engineering core curriculum focuses on fundamental computer engineering knowledge: circuits, systems, electromagnetics, computer systems, electronics for information processing and communication, and computer science. The rich set of ECE elective courses permits students to concentrate in any sub-discipline of computer engineering including: computer systems; electronic circuits; networks; engineering applications; software, languages, and theory; and algorithms and mathematical tools.

Program Educational Objectives and Outcomes

The Importance of the First-Year ECE Experience

First-year students take Introduction to Electronics (ECE 110) and Introduction to Computing (ECE 120). These two introductory courses focusing on analog and digital design, as well as hardware and software strategies, provide hands-on laboratory experience from the outset substantiating classroom learning of fundamental concepts in tightly intertwines fields of Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineeing. Although these classes can be taken in either order, Computer Engineering students desiring to follow a fast-track in computing relatedcourses are advised to start with ECE 120 during their first semester. In these two intriductory ECE courses students gain a better appreciation for the basic science and mathematics courses that are also taken during the first two years of study. Students gain first-hand experience in the activities of professional computer and electrical engineers and are better able to make the important decision as to whether they have chosen the major best suited to them.

Intellectual Content of the Computer Engineering (CompE) Curriculum

Student involvement in the computer engineering discipline increases during each year of the program. ECE 220, the follow-on course to ECE 120, can be taken during the second or third semester, while higher level core CompE courses are typically taken in the fourth and fifth semesters. During the last three semesters, the student chooses electives to define a curriculum meeting individual educational and career needs.

The computer engineering core curriculum focuses on fundamental computer engineering knowledge: circuits (ECE 110), systems (ECE 210), computer engineering (ECE 120, ECE 220, ECE 385, ECE 391, ECE 411), and computer science (CS 173, CS 225, CS 473). The rich set of ECE elective courses permits students to concentrate in any sub-discipline of computer engineering including: computer systems; electronic circuits; networks; engineering applications; software, languages, and theory; and algorithms and mathematical tools.

Methods of Instruction and Design Experience

Instruction is given using a combination of lecture, discussion, laboratory, and project methodologies of the highest quality. The large number of laboratory courses and superb access to advanced computer facilities provide excellent practical experience in the field. Engineering design, communication, and teamwork are integrated throughout the curriculum, including the beginning required courses, Introduction to Electronics (ECE 110), Introduction to Computing (ECE 120), and Computer Systems & Programming (ECE 220), as well as Computer Systems Engineering (ECE 391), Digital Systems Laboratory (ECE 385), and Computer Organization and Design (ECE 411), which are taken in the third year. Further design experiences occur in the elective courses.

Honors Activity

Students wishing to do honors work are encouraged to apply to the James Scholar Program administered jointly by the College of Engineering and the ECE Department. In consultation with departmental honors advisors, students create and carry out honors contracts. They must also participate in the ECE Honors Seminar and are encouraged to participate in the yearly Undergrad Research Symposium. The department offers thesis courses and project opportunities for students wishing to graduate with Highest Honors.

Grade Point Average Requirements

A student must have a grade-point average of at least 2.0 (A=4.0) in ECE courses in order to remain in good standing and to graduate.

Junior Eligibility Rule (2.25 Rule)

To qualify for registration for the ECE courses shown in the third year of the curriculum, a student must have completed, with a combined 2.25 grade point average, the mathematics, physics, computer science, and electrical and computer engineering courses shown in the first two years.

Overview of Curriculum Requirements

The curriculum requires 128 hours for graduation and is organized as follows:

Required Courses

Required courses total 75 hours

Basic Sciences and Mathematics

These courses stress the scientific principles upon which the engineering discipline is based.

Hours Course Number & Name
4 MATH 221 - Calculus I
3 MATH 231 - Calculus II
4 MATH 241 - Calculus III
4 MATH 286 - Introduction to Differential Equations Plus
4 PHYS 211 - Univ Physics, Mechanics
4 PHYS 212 - Univ Physics, Elec & Mag
2 PHYS 213 - Univ Physics, Thermal Physics
2 PHYS 214 - Univ Physics, Quantum Physics
3 CHEM 102 - General Chemistry I
1 CHEM 103 - General Chemistry Lab I
31 Total

Computer Engineering Technical Core

These courses stress fundamental computer engineering concepts and basic laboratory techniques that comprise the common intellectual understanding of all computer engineering.

Hours Course Number & Name
3 ECE 110 - Introduction to Electronics
4 ECE 120 - Introduction to Computing
4 ECE 220 - Computer Systems & Programming
4 ECE 210 - Analog Signal Processing
3 CS 173 - Discrete Structures (or MATH 213)
3 ECE 385 - Digital Systems Laboratory
3 ECE 313 - Probability with Engrg Applic (or STAT 410)
4 CS 225 - Data Structure & Software Principles
4 ECE 391 - Computer Systems Engineering
3 CS 473 - Introduction to Algorithms
35 Total

Technical Electives

These courses stress the rigorous analysis and design principles practiced in the major concentration areas of computer engineering.

Hours Requirements
28 to include at least Selected from the departmentally approved List of Technical Electives (LTE)
(i) 1 course Chosen from the departmentally approved list of EE Foundations Courses (see LTE)
(ii) 3 courses Chosen from the departmentally approved list of Advanced Computing Electives (see LTE)
(iii) one of

ECE 411 - Comp Organization & Design

ECE 445 - Senior Design Project Lab

ECE 496 - Senior Research Project AND ECE 499 - Senior Thesis

Liberal Education

The liberal education courses develop students’ understanding of human culture and society, build skills of inquiry and critical thinking, and lay a foundation for civic engagement and lifelong learning.

Hours Course Number & Name
6 Electives from the campus General Education social & behavioral sciences list.
6 Electives from the campus General Education humanities & the arts list.
6 Electives either from a list approved by the college, or from the campus General Education lists for social & behavioral sciences or humanities & the arts.
18 Total

Students must also complete the campus cultural studies requirement by completing (i) one western/comparative culture(s) course and (ii) one non-western/U.S. minority culture(s) course from the General Education cultural studies lists. Most students select liberal education courses that simultaneously satisfy these cultural studies requirements. Courses from the western and non-western lists that fall into free electives or other categories may also be used satisfy the cultural studies requirements.


These course teaches fundamentals of expository writing.

Hours Course Number & Name
4 RHET 105 - Principles of Composition
  Advanced Composition. May be satisfied by completing ECE 496 and ECE 499 or a course within either the liberal education or free elective categories which has the Advanced Composition designation.
4 Total

Free Electives

(12 hours) These electives give the student the opportunity to explore any intellectual area. This freedom plays a critical role in helping students to define minor concentrations in areas such as bioengineering, technology and management, languages, or research specialties. At least six hours must be taken for a letter grade.  Check the College of Engineering Advising Web page for recent updates. Review the CE Curriculum Map for details.

Hours Requirements
12 Free electives

Suggested Course Sequence

Please review the Catalog page for course suggestions.