When you’re looking for a high-flying tech career, it’s difficult to know what area to go into.
While the traditional Computer Science degree is fine at the bachelor’s level, when you are considering taking a master’s, it’s another matter. At that point, you need to specialize by doubling down in the area that either you’re most interested in or if you’re keen on a top-tier salary, then the better paying career choice.
Last Mile Delivery and Computer Engineering Overlap
With all the interest in the last mile delivery to get goods either from a local vendor or a local warehouse direct to the customer’s doorstep, many methods are being sought to achieve that in record time. There are special delivery companies like PostMates and Deliv that help larger retailers and online companies get goods from their warehouses to customers directly without them needing to hire their own delivery teams. However, even this is under threat as it’s being developed.
Some companies are trying out drone-based delivery options too. Amazon and UPS especially. Also, FedEx is using autonomous robots to deliver packages, which cuts down on the staff needed to do so. Addresses nearest to their local depot with an unobstructed route are the most likely candidates for this type of limited delivery system.
And then there are driverless vehicles now too.
Engineering and Advanced Mobility is Getting Hot
Electrical and computer engineering is a hot topic right now. There’s considerable growth in the marketplace with companies in Silicon Valley and in San Francisco looking for the best talent to hire their latest recruitment drives.
Indeed, in the Bay Area, some engineers who are working on autonomous driving for cars have seen salaries just in 2017 get well past the usual six-figure level for computer engineers into the $250,000-300,000 region, including bonuses. Such is the demand for knowledge, experience, and talent in the area of programming, digital signaling, and creating dynamic systems.
What Do You Do If You’re Attracted to This Field?
You’ll need a Computer Science degree to get you started. It’s necessary to have a solid grounding in the basics first. Understanding different computer languages, how databases and networks operate, and where it all fits together provides foundational knowledge.
From there, extending your skills with a two-year electrical and computer engineering masters degree is the next step. A strong interest in automated systems for vehicles, modeling and creating simulations, and digital signaling and processing (to help computers understand where vehicles are traveling to) is highly advantageous too.
What’s the Most Interesting Field to Get Into?
Self-driving or autonomous cars is perhaps the most interesting. Certainly, studying for an IT mobility-related degree puts you in the driving seat with a career in this area.
It’s a highly technical and challenging field. Not every company has reached the same level of development. It’s a growing field of interest with different states allowing specific use of driverless vehicles whereas other states are taking tentative first steps.
Nevertheless, interest in the idea of not needing a taxi driver to take you somewhere because a computer is doing the driving is a potential cost saver in the eyes of consumers. Because of public interest, more often states are legislating to allow some use of self-driving vehicles, which has helped grow interest in this highly technical subject.
Are You Interested in Artificial Intelligence?
While you might think there are other places to work where you can pursue your AI interest, there’s a unique challenge with autonomous driving when it comes to AI.
While we as humans learn how to recognize a car, a van, a bicycle or a pedestrian crossing the road, computers don’t automatically know how to do that. Similarly, with drivers/vehicles needing to obey road regulations and road sign indicators (including electronic displays on the highway to slow down due to an accident), how does a computer begin to understand it? And how can they make the right decision every time?
It’s perhaps one of the greatest challenges to people who live and breathe AI. There’s so much that a self-driving computer must know in order to drive a car safely and not get into an accident. If that doesn’t sound complicated enough, think back to the failed Mars landing with ExoMars where a computer misunderstood the readings due to the orbiter going into an uncorrected spin and turned off the engines to slow descent due to mistakenly believes the orbiter was underground! AI is tough to get right.
Digital Signals and Image Processing Is Your Specialty?
To understand what is being seen, the images from front and rear-facing cameras on an autonomous vehicle have to be broken down to be understood.
The computer will already have a map for the location with roads indicated, upcoming junctions and the like, but it’s what’s not expected that’s more of a problem. Images must be processed and turned into digital signals that a computer can use to readily identify obstacles in the road, road signs, and anything unexpected. The little kid that runs into the road to collect their ball and forgets to check the traffic first. An outdated map against a recently torn-up road. These are the kind of things that can trip up a self-driving vehicle, leaving the driving computer bereft of ideas about what to do next.
The better job that someone working in this area does, the more capable the vehicle will be driving itself. It’ll be adept at moving around obstacles, slowing down earlier than a human would have responded to it, and knowing how to resolve unusual situations without the system crashing.
If you love working with computers and code, but don’t want to be an unimportant developer at a 3rd level startup that’s not going places, then you need to get into an in-demand field. Cybersecurity is one of those areas, but that doesn’t suit everyone. Autonomous vehicles are all the rage right now with several companies putting considerable resources into delivering a workable driverless vehicle with an impeccable driving record that puts mere humans to shame. It’s not an easy challenge but one that’s interesting to pursue each workday for sure.