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A hardware engineer is a professional who works with hardware in various stages, from design to maintenance. The hardware engineer has to know how to work with things such as circuits, components and integrated circuits. His or her role is specific in today's highly virtualized computing world: The hardware engineer is responsible for the physical "guts" of an IT system, whatever that consists of: from servers to RAID or storage media, from PLCs to routing hardware - the hardware engineer worries about the physical electronics.
Hardware engineers may design, develop or test computer systems such as servers, rack setups, physical data partitions or any other type of hardware serving an IT architecture.
The role of the hardware engineer is changing over time. As more of the design process shifts to software systems, hardware engineers concentrate on how to build effectively, and how to support data-crunching with physical hardware systems. For example, a modern hardware engineer may spend a lot of time walking around a data center, checking on physical systems, as software engineers and artificial intelligence workers direct all of the vastly complicated activity happening within that physical data center.