Harnessing the full power of quantum mechanical systems for information processing tasks promises to revolutionize the way we communicate, compute and do science. Theoretical results such as the fault-tolerance threshold theorem tell us that large-scale quantum processors are possible, whereas constructing truly scalable devices with present day technologies remains a daunting challenge. In this talk, I'll discuss one class of promising approaches based on harnessing single electron spins in engineered semiconductor quantum dots. I'll describe how quantum confinement allows us to isolate single electrons and suppress the decoherence of their spin states; how the exchange interaction can allow us to perform fast two-qubit logic; and how the spin-orbit interaction can be harnessed via electric fields to provide fast single-qubit manipulations. Present experimental efforts in our lab to realize all of these ideas using nanowire-based quantum dots will be described.