Faculty of Physics and AstronomyComputer Engineering

The discipline of Computer Engineering is an interface between Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics, and Physics.

The study of computer engineering consists of the study of the architecture, design, and assembly of computers, communication networks, and embedded systems at the hardware level, as well as the programming of hardware-related software.  When quick and efficient solutions for shortening the time needed to perform sophisticated calculations are needed, precise knowledge of computer hardware is indispensable. To gain this knowledge, hardware such as “normal” CPUs, computer clusters, graphic cards, or self-assembled, normally reconfigurable, specialised computers are studied. At the institute, research at all levels is done under the heading “Application Specific Computing”. The construction of application-specific hardware is another core subject, covering topics ranging from analogue chips for sensor applications and mixed-mode systems to highly complex digital communication ASICs. In the area of Robotics, fault-tolerant, autonomous systems are built, which show intelligent behaviour based on advanced control technology. The research results are applied in national and international projects in the fields of Physics, Astronomy, Medicine, Biology, etc.

Special Features and Characteristics

The Computer Engineering degree programme includes numerous options and a high degree of practical relevance. The programme is tightly interconnected with natural sciences research at and around Heidelberg University.  

The skills and competencies conveyed in this programme for handling the complexity of modern information technology systems meet with the increasing demands of the industry. Students enrolled in this degree programme at Heidelberg University receive the best possible preparation for their future careers. The programme is strongly application-oriented and provides essential practical experience. In addition, students benefit from a variety of collaborations with national and international industry partners. Students interested in research can join in these activities at an early stage and also have many additional opportunities to gain practical experience even during the course of their studies.

Research

The primary research focus of the participating chairs consists of four areas of specialisation: 

Hardware Design

  • design of analogue, digital and mixed-mode microchips 
  • fast interconnection networks 
  • sensors, sensor systems and readout chips 

Application-specific high-performance computing 

  • distributed computing 
  • programming and efficient use of specialised computers (graphic maps, multi-core, FPGA co-processors) 
  • scientific applications 

Robotics, Biomechanics & Biomedical Engineering

  • Modeling, simulation and optimization in robotics
  • Design and control of real systems in robotics and rehabilitation 
  • Use of the latest sensor technology  

Occupational Areas

Possible career areas include the fields of computer cluster assembly and operation, detectors’ and hardware development, measurement technology, hardware-related programming (embedded systems, wireless, etc.), audio technology, vehicle control systems, and security technology.

Insights

While studying physics, I realised that I was more interested in solving IT-based riddles than doing tedious lab work. Also, most physicists don’t have extensive IT knowledge despite the existing need in this field.

Olaf Pichler, 27, Computer Engineering, 2nd semester Master