It depends on one’s goals.
If you intend to work in the U.S. computer engineering field as a computer engineer, you probably need to enroll in an ABET-accredited program. There really isn’t getting around that.
Now, many of the jobs, especially software jobs, don’t require ABET accreditation. And perhaps some hardware jobs don’t either. But once in a while, it comes up. More importantly, ABET-accredited programs are generally the better programs.
If you’re studying computer engineering in preparation for a college program, or to be able to take a role requiring some knowledge like sales or marketing, then I would look for online introductory programs (which several other answers already mention) and textbooks, some of which are quite easy to read. For example, Patterson and Hennessy’s textbooks for computer architecture are both easy to read and the overwhelming standard textbook on the topic. Mano and Kime is the most common logic design textbook.
That being said, those free programs weren’t around when I was in high school, given that I was in undergrad with the YouTube founders. How did I get started?
- To do computer engineering, you need the right mathematics and physics background. Do well in high school courses.
- You can build up intuition about computers by constructing and dealing with your own. When I was in high school, plug-and-play wasn’t standard yet, and Linux had just been released, so it was harder than it is now in several respects. Computers are also a lot cheaper now: I think my desktop in 1996 cost about $4000.
Many of the best computer engineers I’ve known liked to both experiment and dive deep into studies. I would recommend the two pronged approach for anyone looking to get into the field.
Dinesh recommends the following next steps: