You don't have to understand how it works. You have to understand the philosophy behind it. It's the "everything is a file" Unix philosophy, and it's ages old (in computer time, of course).You can have a similar experience just by instaling the Cygnus suite on your Windows machine or something similar to it.
You can do wonderful things with something like that, that are very hard to do on a Windows machine or a Mac. And of course, there are many things that become harder to do.
But if you don't understand the philosophy behind it, knowing what makes it tick won't help. No amount of time and effort will compensate that.
I wrote my dissertation with LaTeX 6 years ago and it was a joy. All my colleagues used Word and it was a painful experience for all of them (some lost tens of pages at a time). I'm pretty sure that none of them would have benefited from switching over, even if they were graduating in CS, because none of them got the point about it. Not for being stupid, but because they had a different mindset and couldn't grasp the simple concepts behind it, and the best solution was to stick with what they were used to. As for UNIX being a perfect tool for computer enginners, I must disagree. It's the other way around. If you're a computer enginner and you don't grok UNIX, you either are into low level/embedded systems or you choose your career wrong.
I don't say that you "must" have to work on UNIX as a computer engineer, I say you need to have a certain level of proficiency with it. You never know when you need it. And it's frequently better paid than MCSE.