Hardware engineering is a sub-discipline of electrical engineering, which focuses on the development of the electronics inside various technologies. Electronics are most commonly developed onto printed circuit boards, also known as PCBs. Most technological devices around you have PCBs, as any software cannot run without the necessary hardware. If you’ve ever opened up a computer, TV, digital camera, remote, phone, game console, etc., you have probably noticed a board, often green in colour, with a bunch of tiny squares and rectangles on it.
These small components are the electrical components that allow your device to perform its function. The black squares are ICs (integrated circuits), which can perform specific functions related to signal processing, power regulation, computing, communication, and so much more.
The job of a hardware engineer is to choose these ICs based on the specifications required for the system and analyzing the IC datasheets to find a suitable part. After the parts have been chosen and validated, the hardware engineer is then responsible for creating the full circuit schematic which outlines the connections between ICs and other components. During this process, they also must perform circuit analysis calculations and use circuit simulation software to gain confidence that their design will meet specifications. After the circuit schematic has been completed and reviewed, a PCB layout engineer is responsible for the physical placement and routing of these electrical components on the PCB. Once the team of hardware engineers review and approve the board for manufacturing, the design files are sent to a fabrication house where the PCBs are built and assembled. It is then the hardware engineer’s job to test these PCBs to make sure they are working as expected within the design requirements before it is approved to be produced for the final product.