Unit 2: Computer Engineering Technology: Computers and Components

This unit will focus on computers related to electronics, operation, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

Course Units and Descriptions

Use this table for an overview and navigate to each of the course unit pages.

Unit Description
Review course outline for more details
1 Safety & Career - Intro, computers, organization, safety, careers, and custom proposal
2 Computers & Components - Electronics, operation, design, troubleshooting, and maintenance
3 Digital Logic & Circuits - Binary, boolean, logic gates, counters/register ccts., calculations, design, & build
4 Networking & Programming - IP addressing, data routing protocols, services, languages, and concepts
5 Hardware Interface & Control - Student designed custom project
6 Showcase & Web Portfolio - Testing and presentation

Unit Content Activity Quick Links, Click to Jump to Specific Activity!

  1. Unit 2, Act. 1: Computer Hardware Service Maintenance
    1. (Ideas): Safety, Service, Hardware, Trouble-shooting, Electronics
      (Create): REV Q&A, Maintenance, Eval, , E-inst.

- TOP - Unit 2, Act. 1: Computer Hardware Service Maintenance next

Computer Maintenance


Part of working with computers is knowing how to maintain them by making sure they are serviced through regular maintenance and cleaning. By going through this process, students can build awareness, maintenance responsibility, and computer experience.


ProblemStudents will review

  1. related computer safety,
  2. hardware components,
  3. computer hardware maintenance procedures,
  4. troubleshooting project design process/log reporting,
  5. and electronic components.

Students will complete PDF review questions using support related resources below in the Ideas/investigation section, to show computer related information and understanding.

Students will also be given computer service and maintenance tasks to complete as focus will be on servicing and maintaining hardware components. They will start by first testing assigned computer, then clean the case and internal components. External components such as cables, monitor, keyboard, and mouse will also be inspected, located, and organized. Computer case will need to be secured to table, cables tie wrapped, and organized. Each computer will be tracked with a PDF maintenance tracking sheet showing date, student name, computer info, steps completed, self/peer evaluation, and general feedback.


Computer Hardware Maintenance

- TOP - Safety

Several safety concerns should be kept in mind when maintaining computer hardware. Turn the power off before servicing the computer by using the power button on the power supply and/or for a secondary precaution unplug the power cable also. Remove hand jewelry such as rings, watch, and/or bracelet especially if you are testing the power supply. Avoid capacitors, as they can hold a charge for a short period of time after the power is turned off. Any components that have a warning label saying they are not serviceable should not be tampered with. When moving desktop cases, when lifting use your legs, not your back. Working inside the computer case, be mindful of sharp edges such as heat fins, case edges, and sharp corners. You should be grounding yourself to prevent Safety first electro-static discharge (ESD) as some chips are susceptible to your static charge you may have built up. Keeping the computer clean inside free of dust and dirt optimize cooling, while organizing cable routing can help with air flow and ease of servicing. When using compressed air, ensure you are wearing safety glasses and using short bursts blowing from inside to out. Be careful where you point the air nozzle and it is not to be used on your own skin. If by chance you end up with an electrical fire, do not use water to put it out, as water is a conductor and you can get shocked. Instead use a type C or a type ABC fire extinguisher.

The following support links have more information related to safety when working with computers:

air reg pres

keyboard cleaning
- TOP - Service and Maintenance

General computer maintenance should be done regularly to ensure long life and optimal operation of computer system. Dust is the number one concern and can build up over time causing components to be insulated and in-turn create more heat which shortens the life of the electronic components. When in the process of servicing computers, ESD (electro static discharge) must be avoided. It is very common to use compressed air with short bursts from inside of case to out. It often necessary to temporarily remove major components because of tight space to properly clean inside the computer case and specific components. As a precaution fans should be held in place to avoid turning power feedback into power header supply and over spinning the bearings  when air forces blades to spin faster then usual. Clean micro-fiber cloths and/or anti-static wipes, along with brushes are useful to also help with cleaning in and around internal components.

Here are some related hardware service and maintenance resources:


computer components
- TOP - Computer Hardware Components

When maintaining computers, knowing about related components, safety, basic electronic components, and maintenance steps. You should be familiar with the common computer components such as the monitor, keyboard, hard disk drive (HDD), solid state drive (SSD), graphic card, sound card, memory (RAM), motherboard, central processing unit (CPU), CMOS battery, power supply, cooling fans, etc.

Below are some support resources to review and refresh:

Links SPICEj Design Process
- TOP - Troubleshooting, Project Design Process, and Log Reporting

Engineers design, invent, and solve problems to improve, resolve, safely new solutions for their community. There are several factors that support this process such as seeing the need for an improvement, technical knowledge, logical steps, creativity, use of new technology, and the use of a technical design process with most likely more than one iteration. There are many different design process breakdown models showing steps from start to finish though specific steps. The design process can be applied to many things in life, but in this case, we use it with current course related projects  

Similarly to the design process, 5 major steps to troubleshooting is to gather information, process those results, narrow down possibe causes, figure out an action plan, and then carry out that action plan. If the problem is not solved, repeat process/iteration. A shortcut tool troubleshooters use often is compare current issue with similar or repeatable know errors from a database or libraray resource source which is known as incident matching   A troubleshooter must have operational knowledge of what  you are working on is a key part of troubleshooting and should also have great communications skills, analytical skills, knowledge of component, and decision-making skills.   In order to be very effective troubleshooter having knowledge of the related system components, their dependancies, and how they interact with each other.            



In this activity we will review the PDF SPICE Design Process Model and apply it to our maintenance, service, and troubleshooting related tasks as part of an engineering log. Using the PDF SPICE Individual Task-Process Report to show your progress throughout your hands-on project will keep your work, accomplishments, and learning clear and organized, but more importantly it will also allow you to detail, summarize your project process, effort for record, and evaluation PDF (sample). In the tracking table ensure you are specific in what you (not you and your partner) accomplish and gain.

The following links show a wide variety of different design models that you can review and compare. Some process are a lot more complex and include more steps/breakdowns of the process.

comp check Links

Engineering companies require their Engineer employees to report on work accomplished through management, quality assurance, engineering, fabrication, assembly, testing, and installation documentation, so that project work can be reviewed, management can report to clients where their project progress is going, and see what each engineer employee has been doing. Report logs can be based on the project as a whole and also on the Engineer themselves. Engineers keep records/document their work which may include; research, sources, related ideas, goals, planning, calculations, specifications, process steps, time stamps and deadlines, operating procedures, scheduling, meetings, contacts, suppliers, manufactures, engineer requirements and related standards, prototype and testing, illustrations, sketches, drawings, templates, related files, certifications, approvals, etc. This information can authenticate project solutions, Engineers work, save time, save money, and is transferable to other possible projects to be reused, modified, and improved upon.

Electronics v banner
- TOP - Electronic Components

Electronics can be broken down into two classes: active and passive. Active components can control the flow of current such as transistors and silicon-controlled rectifiers (SCRs) while passive components are not able to control current by means of another electrical signal such as capacitors, resistors, inductors, transformers, and diodes. Here is a quick list and explanation of common electronic components:

electronic components
  • Resistors resists the amount of current flowing in a circuit
  • Switches are a set of contacts to make or break current flow by either a normally open or closed switch state
  • Capacitors store electrical charge/energy to reduce volatile drops and spikes in electrical ccts.
  • Magnetic or Inductive Components such as relays and transformers: are components that use magnetism to operate.
  • Piezoelectric devices are "crystal" sandwiches with vibration and AC voltage characteristics
  • Diodes will only conduct electricity in only one direction
  • Transistors are like an electronic switches capable of switching current flow and amplification
  • Integrated Circuits or ICs: are pre-designed complex circuits available in many standard configurations all in one small semiconductor chip
  • Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA) is a PCB wilt electronic components soldered on to it

Here are some support links to electronic related resources:




- TOP - Section 1, Computer Hardware Service Maintenance Review
computer hardware maintenance

Students are to review the log reporting in preparation for filling in properly for hands on computer servicing tasks. Next, students will review the following material related to the computer hardware service maintenance areas and answer the handout questions using the support information and links in the Investigation section above.

Review Questions
  1. PDF Computer Service and Maintenance Safety /21
  2. PDF Service and Maintenance Procedures /27
  3. PDF Computer Hardware Components /30
  4. PDF Troubleshooting and Project Design Process /27
  5. PDF Electronic Components /28

After completing the review questions sections above, students will be able to show their information and understanding of these areas. These review sheets will support the practical hands-on tasks in section 2, service and maintenance process, below.

- TOP - Section 2, Practical Service and Maintenance Process

Dust and debris is always a major concern for a computer's life. Keeping the keyboard and mouse clean is also important. The following steps are to be followed when cleaning your lab computer hardware assigned tasks. We will be using the Electrical Construction Shop, room 170, to service computers, where space, tools, and equipment can be utilized to maintain and troubleshoot computers. Each step to be checked and confirmed by teacher on tracking sheet.

  1. Computer Info: Model, serial number, and station location number in lab area (standing at the teachers station facing class, starting from your left in a circle to your right with teacher station as last station) on your PDF maintenance tracking sheet, and attach a printed spec sheet to tracking sheet
  2. System Check: Do a clean boot, checking that system, keyboard, mouse, optical drive, and monitor are all working
  3. Power Down: When handling computer for cleaning ensure it is shut down, main power unplugged, and avoid any jostling or impacts of case and components
  4. Cleaning: Case internals, grills, and components with compressed air in strategic short spurts to force dust out of case, remove major components such as expansion cards and/or storage, etc. to properly air and wipe down tight spots, then finish with anti-static wipes or clean cloth on large flat surfaces and heavily soiled areas of dust build-up
  5. Connections: Ensure all power and data cable connections have solid contact and optimize cable routing organization, ensure ram is fully seated and locked into place, and no loose screws or loose components inside case, and finish with case cover
  6. Case: External surfaces can be wiped down with a damp cloth
  7. Monitor: Internals to be air cleaned and external with damp cloth
  8. Keyboard and Mouse: to be cleaned also with compressed air, then with a light detergent with cotton cloth for germs, dirt build-up, and scrape any accumulated gunk off Teflon mouse coasters
  9. Exterior Cable Management: Using cable ties and cable trough to organize and minimize cable mess
  10. Case Secured: Properly space, centre case location, and secure case using two #8 * 3/4" flat Robertson wood screws through box base into computer lab table

- TOP - Evaluation:

The following is a breakdown of marks related to the computer service maintenance review questions and practical work assigned.

Evaluation Breakdown Component Descriptions Marks
Always double check that you have completed all components for full marks.
Rev. Questions - Computer Service and Maintenance Safety 21
Rev. Questions - Computer Hardware Components 30
Rev. Questions - Service and Maintenance Procedures 27
Rev. Questions - Electronic Components 28
Rev. Questions - Troubleshooting and Project Design Process 27
Total Review Question Marks 133
Computer Maintenance - ** Tested, cleaned, cables, case, & system @50% weight 100
Self/Peer Evaluation - completed prior to teacher evaluation 10*2
Maintenance Log - Filled out properly with related feedback /per day 10

** Note: Practical work marks is also dependent on number of computers/labs, avaliablity, and time constaints.

Emergency Supply Teacher Instructions

In case of emergency, this Computer Hardware review and questions is to be used if supply teacher asks you to do it. Copy the review questions to a Googel doc, then use the computer hardware article to answer questions 1-25. Answer in point form in your own words. For further advanced work, copy the Discussion Questions to a Google doc and answer questions 1-12. Marks will be based on 1/2 mark for quick/short answers, 1 mark for long/detailed answers. Pay close attention to question wording to answer each question fully.