(Topic ID: 232841)

Computer Engineering vs. Computer Science Degrees (School Selection)


By iamabearsfan

3 months ago



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#1 3 months ago

All:

I know some of you are of the engineering background. Some of you are programmers that have Comp Sci degrees. I have a junior in High School that was following his brothers footsteps and was planning on going to Purdue to be a Mechanical Engineer. Why? Probably because it is what he and his brother were talking about. His brother is a freshman at Purdue. Then as of recently my High Schooler stated he likes his programming classes. The kid is ripping through the assignments and has taken a liking to it. He also is really sharp (obviously got it from his mother as I wasn't that disciplined in High School!). He is likely going to have a choice of schools because he has a 36 on the ACT.

Here is my question. Should he be exploring Computer Engineering or Computer Science? With that in mind, is it worth it for him to consider some of these high-end schools. Cost is a lot higher for sure. Our plan was to move to Indiana as he graduated with the hopes of getting a few years of in-state tuition for the boys. There is a one-year cool-off period, but we would at least get a couple years of relief if we moved. Comparing that cost to an MIT is crazy. Was hoping they would have minimal student loans....but if it is an MIT or Standford, the High Schooler would graduate with a lot more debt....possibly north of 80K. Is a degree from one of those schools worth it?

Would love thoughts on both issues as what is out there on the web is very slanted IMHO.

Thanks in advance for any input...

Dave

#2 3 months ago

https://www.gatech.edu/about/rankings

Relatively cheap out of state tuition compared to lots of other schools.

Alumnus bias

#3 3 months ago

A *lot* of employers don't care if it's an ivy league school or cheaper state school.
What is frequently looked at is:
1 -- is the school accredited.
2 -- that the student followed through and completed the degree
3 -- GPA. High GPA is good but so are the middle of the road GPAs, afterall - employers know that many students cannot devote full time and must also work to pay for school. Lower GPAs - even those are fine if the student worked a full time job during school and has the proper aptitude.
4 -- Does candidate have any work history showing reliability (e.g. maintained part time job while at school).

Some computer science jobs such as programmers are very high in demand.
So are the the IT guys that can properly configure CISCO type firewalls, switches, etc and manage Windows/Unix servers. For these - as long as the candidate has a pulse, they usually get hired.

#4 3 months ago

bearsfan, we were there with my son two years ago trying to decide between a top tier school vs a good engineering school. We looked at MIT, Berkeley, Stanford and a couple others. With what I saw from MIT, and from the kids I interviewed on campus during an interviewing trip, the good majority were wanting to stay in academia and not get too far into the real world. Stanford was more hands on and being located within Silicon Valley meant that there were very good options after graduation if your son has the intrprenuial spirit. At $65,000 per year for tuition, the risk/reward starts to become a factor. Harvey Mudd and CalPoly would have been good to visit as well but we did not.
My son decided not to join the pressure cooker environment of those schools and stuck with a state school (Colo School of Mines) and loves it. They didn’t care about essays or any thing else except ACT score and grades. He says they could use a few more girls though.
With an ACT score of 36 your son should be offered a number of full ride scholarships to many very good schools.
I am a Petoleum Engineer and my son is in the Mechanical Engineering program so I really can’t help on the Com Sci question.
Good luck.

#5 3 months ago

What I have learned with my kids is that where they WANT to go, and where they are happy is what gives them the best path for success in college. That being said, one of the huge benefits of going to MIT or Stanford is that many of their classmates (friends) will go on to found/start tech companies, and I have seen that work out extremely well for a few kids that went to those schools.

Purdue is one helluva school, regardless of degree. If his brother is there, it might help make his transition easier. Good luck!

#6 3 months ago

I got a Computer Science degree from NC State. I’ve had the conversation with coworkers about whether high end schools are worth it several times.

I think that it’s valuable to have a top school on your resume to get job interviews. The people in your classes are also more likely to be valuable contacts in your career as well. However I don’t think it’s worth it. For me, the local state school provides the most bang for your buck. There is also research showing that being a top student at a average school is more valuable that being an average student at a top school. The conversation with work folks usually ends with us deciding that it depends on the kid but someone who works hard and makes the right choices is going to do great anywhere.

I preferred Computer Science to Computer Engineering because I *knew* I wanted to code. Computer Engineering students do some programming but also circuits and other things. Computer Science didn’t do those but got deeper into programming. Computer Science students also didn’t have to do differential equations which was a huge win.

#7 3 months ago

I'm an electrical engineer and worked as a project lead at my previous job. We developed industrial products for the oil and gas industry.

Part of my job was hiring and building a team of electrical, software, and mechanical engineers. I can tell you that the hardest position to fill for was electrical engineering. Mechanical engineers were a dime a dozen, and we easily had our pick from a group of great candidates. Their pay range was also lower. Software engineers can be difficult to find as well, but there are many out there who are passionate and could fill the role we needed. Software engineers commanded the highest salary. Appropriate electrical engineers were just hard to find. When I graduated in December 2007, I was one of two electrical engineers graduating with a BS at a University of 12,000 students. I've spent more time looking for electrical engineers than any other discipline.

As far as schools, I've had good experiences with all types of engineers from all types of schools, BUT the best engineer I've ever worked with had a BS degree from Northwestern. He was probably a sharp student before attending that school, but I'm sure the caliber of school helped.

#8 3 months ago
Quoted from iamabearsfan:

All:
I know some of you are of the engineering background. Some of you are programmers that have Comp Sci degrees. I have a junior in High School that was following his brothers footsteps and was planning on going to Purdue to be a Mechanical Engineer. Why? Probably because it is what he and his brother were talking about. His brother is a freshman at Purdue. Then as of recently my High Schooler stated he likes his programming classes. The kid is ripping through the assignments and has taken a liking to it. He also is really sharp (obviously got it from his mother as I wasn't that disciplined in High School!). He is likely going to have a choice of schools because he has a 36 on the ACT.
Here is my question. Should he be exploring Computer Engineering or Computer Science? With that in mind, is it worth it for him to consider some of these high-end schools. Cost is a lot higher for sure. Our plan was to move to Indiana as he graduated with the hopes of getting a few years of in-state tuition for the boys. There is a one-year cool-off period, but we would at least get a couple years of relief if we moved. Comparing that cost to an MIT is crazy. Was hoping they would have minimal student loans....but if it is an MIT or Standford, the High Schooler would graduate with a lot more debt....possibly north of 80K. Is a degree from one of those schools worth it?
Would love thoughts on both issues as what is out there on the web is very slanted IMHO.
Thanks in advance for any input...
Dave

University of Illinois is one of the best engineering schools in the country. I work with several people from there. Why not there if he can get in? A BS in Electrical or Computer Engineering would likely yield more job opportunities than mechanical.

#9 3 months ago
Quoted from G-P-E:

A *lot* of employers don't care if it's an ivy league school or cheaper state school.
What is frequently looked at is:
1 -- is the school accredited.
2 -- that the student followed through and completed the degree
3 -- GPA. High GPA is good but so are the middle of the road GPAs, afterall - employers know that many students cannot devote full time and must also work to pay for school. Lower GPAs - even those are fine if the student worked a full time job during school and has the proper aptitude.
4 -- Does candidate have any work history showing reliability (e.g. maintained part time job while at school).
Some computer science jobs such as programmers are very high in demand.
So are the the IT guys that can properly configure CISCO type firewalls, switches, etc and manage Windows/Unix servers. For these - as long as the candidate has a pulse, they usually get hired.

When you graduate from an Ivy League school, you are often recruited very hard and many offers come with bonuses that exceed tuition costs (with agreements of x years of employment). I have two friends who graduated Stamford and this was the case, as well as most of the other students in their graduating class.

#10 3 months ago
Quoted from amkirk:

I got a Computer Science degree from NC State.

Also from NC State but for EE. I think I was 15 credits short of qualifying for a Computer Engineering degree as well by the nature of the EE program but had no interest in that.

#11 3 months ago

You may want to look into the military if you want to get into the IT field. If you have a guaranteed contract, you could go in, get a security clearance, and have 4 years of IT networking experience. This translates very well into a real job nation wide at a minimum of 60k per year (likely higher with a good clearance and specialty). Additionally, you would finish up your 4 years with 0 school loans, and have the Post 9-11 GI bill if you decided you still wanted to make IT a career and it made since for your career.

Given the choice between a 22 year old with 4 years of specialized experience in the military configuring routers and switches and a 22 year old with a 4 year degree but no work experience, I'd hire the military kid every day.

Source, former United States Marine Corps communications officer. My last post was as a communication company operations officer. Our unit's purpose was to set up the command post for a division level staff (about 300 Marines) and leapfrog with another unit command post as the lines moved forwards and backwards. This involved setting up a communicaitons network on multiple networks with everything from satellite communications, to VOIP, Multi Channel Radio, Power Generation, and single channel radio.

This was in the Marine Corps... the least technologically savy of the services. You've got shipboard communications, the Air Force is nuts with tech, and the Army is getting that way too... not to mention cyber command and the intelligence agencies.

Long story short... don't discount spending 4 years in the military (with a guaranteed MOS) to jumpstart an IT career if you are interested. If done properly you can be a service to your nation, jumpstart your career, get a free education, and have the stepping stones of a successful adulthood.

Edit: And my undergrad is/was in business. Used my GI bill for a dual masters in Business Administration and Cyber Security policy... along with self study for a dozen certs (CISSP/CISM/PMP, etc.)

Edit: Cleared networking folks make much more... 80k starting up to around 160k after another decade of experience

#12 3 months ago

I have hired a bunch of Computer Scientists over the course of my career (and have degrees in computer science myself). Computer Engineering requires so much programming as a part of the degree that Software Engineering jobs are generally open to CE majors as well.

Your son will do best in the subject where he is most passionate. Both degrees have high value. Increasingly, employers are not requiring a 4 year degree (they're not necessary for many jobs, and self-taught individuals can easily rival college degreed students).

Degrees from MIT and Stanford and the like are more valuable if you have a particularly gifted student who's going to work in advanced scientific jobs (currently AI, high frequency trading, etc). But for most of software engineers (including me) you just need to be good. Most of what we build is the carpenter equivalent of cabinet building - they need to be well made and look good, but most carpenters can do it well. We're not often building the ornate interior of a cathedral.

State schools are great (nods to those of you who went to NCSU - we hire a lot of you ) depending on the program - take a look at where people are employed after graduation.

11
#13 3 months ago

I've studied these very questions for my position at work. My educational background is Comp Science and an MBA from University of Iowa. I work at one of the largest largest aerospace and defense companies in the world. I teach software engineering as the lead for our "internal university." In other words, I teach the skills to our internal engineers that they don't receive in college. One of my projects a couple years back was to evaluate the state of engineering education. What courses does a student take for each engineering discipline from Big Ten schools and the other engineering schools we recruit from. How does that match up with the skills we need as a Fortune 100 aerospace company. Here's my take as an engineer, researcher and father of a 20 year-old who is still trying to figure this thing out.

1. Computer Science (CS) or Software Engineering (SE) should be high on your list of best degrees. Mechanical Engineering (ME) is your WORST engineering degree to go into right now. MEs are having a tough time finding work in comparison to CS or SEs. We have two, top-tier engineering schools within 90 minutes of our main campus. The dean of one of these schools told me that they have 8,000 ME students and 250 SE students. This is STUPIDLY out of proportion. We provide internships and hire predominantly CS, SE, Aerospace, and Computer Engineering (CE) students. At best, MEs make up 5% of our engineers.

2. Computer Engineering is okay but you'll likely get a job coding. Maybe ASICS or FPGA development if you're lucky. Terribly boring, dead end work. And you'll be sorely lacking the skills needed for other software engineering duties.

3. Experience matters most. School doesn't matter after the first job. A highly ranked school can get you in the door of a larger company. We recruit from about 8 of the best engineering universities. But at the end of the day, we NEED and hire engineers that have the experience and skills we are looking for. Best if we can lure the best engineers away from our competitors. In my opinion, save the money by taking the first 2 years at a community college and get into a local engineering program. Some of our best engineers come from a start at a community college and then a smaller school.

4. Internships matter! Get your foot in the door and that initial experience that we look for.

5. There is a lot of group think and lack of real world experience at larger academic schools. What I mean is that the curriculum doesn't change often because "those are the courses that we've always taught." The curriculum for a computer science degree (or any engineering degree) has NOT changed much since I graduated in 1991. That is ridiculous! In my research, I've found that smaller colleges have more progressive programs with better capstone experiences, more engaged professors and a richer, more collaborative experience.

NEWSFLASH: Professors at research universities are NOT there to teach your kids and prepare them for a future job.

6. There are alternative programs that are popping up. Non-accredited. These are great options. Forget the gender studies, medieval literature and other useless liberal arts courses. Learn the skills that employers really want and you're done in 6 months. No massive student loan debt around your neck. Here's one example... https://www.deltavcodeschool.com/ This is the future of education.

THE TIME VALUE OF MONEY

Think about the time value of money. Let's compare something like Delta V code school to a BS in ME. You're out of school in less than one year with a great paying job that is literally boundless in potential. Average starting salary for a Delta V student is $58,000. You have 3 more years in the job market... years that are crucial for retirement savings. Meanwhile, you have someone getting a ME degree that racks up $100,000 from a Big Ten school. The national average starting salary for an ME is $58,000 - same as the Delta V Code School. You do the math.

My recommendations...

1. BS Software Engineering at an in-state college
2. BS Computer Science at an in-state college
3. Alternative code school - also take a few Udemy courses in data science
4. Never pay for out of state tuition - unless you a very specific goal in life, paying out of state tuition is very, very stupid - financially speaking

I would look into a degree in Data Science. This super hot and will only grow as a profession. You don't necessary need to major in Data Science but round out your degree with a couple classes in Data Science, Machine Learning, AI, etc. Udemy has great classes in these topics at they are about $20 per class.

#14 3 months ago
Quoted from amkirk:

Computer Science students also didn’t have to do differential equations which was a huge win.

Amen Brother!

#15 3 months ago
Quoted from amkirk:

Computer Science students also didn’t have to do differential equations which was a huge win.

We had to do Diff Eqs at Syracuse - I liked them (I know - sadism). It was the Discrete Mathematics for me that was the killer.

#16 3 months ago

My slant would to be towards Comp Eng. as I've been a platform/embedded developer my entire life. I enjoy "building" things, custom home-grown hardware and software systems. At my previous company I frequently recruited from Purdue, Case, VT and PSU. All produced great talent. If the interest is 'pure software' then by all means Comp Sci. What I've found is that many times the Comp Eng students tend to be more of the gear head type and fit well into smal/medium sized niche companies that are soup to nuts product development.

So it really depends upon the interest.

#17 3 months ago
Quoted from attack7:

We had to do Diff Eqs at Syracuse - I liked them (I know - sadism). It was the Discrete Mathematics for me that was the killer.

Computer Science was (and still is) at math degree at many colleges. Discrete Math was killer for me as well. Only class that was more difficult was a statistics course which was a graduate level stats course for stats majors.

#18 3 months ago

CS guy here from a junk school. If you can code and get the door open enough to prove it I don't think the school matters at all. I dunno what all HR filters out, but I'm guessing we miss out on a lot of real talent. (I work for a large cap)

#19 3 months ago

FWIW I feel I got my money's worth out of MIT degrees (even though I spent a few years paying off student loans). Pretty tough to get in though.

#20 3 months ago

I'm a software dev at a major software shop and have been in the industry for around 13 years.

RE: School choice

A prestigious school like MIT will almost certainly provide more opportunities in terms of getting a foot in the door at a Google, Microsoft, etc. However, once you've secured that Big Internship none of your co-workers will care what school you went to when they hand you your first project. It will come down to how well you perform, which is a combination of smarts, talent and work ethic.

And once you've got a few years of industry experience under your belt, almost no one--save maybe for initial screenings--will give your alma mater more than a glance while looking through your resume. I for one don't give two shits where someone went to school when I look at a resume. I even know successful devs who didn't go to school at all (just super smart and taught themselves).

So take that into consideration as you are effectively balancing short-term opportunity vs long-term debt. (Note that if successful as a software developer, your child will likely command a good salary, so the debt wouldn't necessarily be insurmountable/crushing. But that is not guaranteed.)

RE: Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering

Note that--generally speaking (depends on the shop)--a degree in Computer Science, Math, Physics, Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering can "check the box" on resume screens for entry level programming jobs. You'll need to know how to code in any case.

Also, everyone's path is unique, but for what it's worth...

I started as a hobbyist programmer at around 8, after realizing I could modify some QBasic games I had been playing. This turned into a life-long love of coding, including self teaching (loved making games) and taking classes in high school. So it seemed like an obvious choice to get into computer science.

However, I was also very interested in computer hardware. I especially enjoyed reading about current and upcoming processors from Intel and AMD, what was different about them, etc. But I didn't really understand how a computer worked. None of my HS teachers really knew, and I didn't really even know where to start online.

This bugged me because here I was making games, etc., on this box for which I couldn't really explain at a low level how it all worked.

I didn't have choices in terms of school like your son, but I had settled on a very good state engineering school. And long story short, after reading through pamphlets and speaking with an advisor, I settled on Computer Engineering as I wanted to expand my horizons and learn something truly new and interesting to me, but I didn't want to full-on commit to Electrical Engineering.

Fast forward ~3 years and I found that I loved EE and decided to basically switch (technically the two degrees heavily overlapped, so ended up with a double major simply because the EE classes I wanted to take fell outside of computer engineering).

In parallel I continued hobby coding, and had programming internships--but never pursued an EE related internship. So in sum, I graduated with an education heavily slanted towards EE, but with all of my practical experience in programming and this lead to a career in programming.

#21 3 months ago
Quoted from attack7:

We had to do Diff Eqs at Syracuse - I liked them (I know - sadism). It was the Discrete Mathematics for me that was the killer.

Don’t even remember what that was. Do remember Numerical Analysis.

#22 3 months ago

I work in the valley and the degree to have right now is anything in AI or Machine Learning. Candidates with research in computer vision or the related fields are in high demand.

#23 3 months ago

Regarding the choice of college question, my observation is that outside of select universities there isn't going to be much difference in the opportunities for the graduate.

That is to say some universities will have more value within their specific region, but say your son takes a Purdue degree to Denver. Maybe it doesn't have any more value than a Southern Illinois degree there. Depends what he wants long term.

There's a few sites that rank colleges based upon graduate income. Here's one https://www.payscale.com/college-salary-report/bachelors

There are some caveats there, e.g kids qualifying for the most selective schools are likely already predisposed to higher incomes. Those going to military academies have been identified early on for leadership abilities. Schools like the School of Mines won't have the lower earning degree programs at all. Some universities' degrees are worth more simply because the college is located in a higher income area of the country, where the bulk of the graduates will eventually work.

#24 3 months ago

My take:
Computer Engineering

Why? I went into Electrical Engineering with a emphasis on computing systems as a result I took almost as many CS courses as EE courses. I really enjoyed the CS courses; but the reality is that I would have never considered CS because it's basically a degree of washouts. IE people that can't handle the Engineering courses wash out into CS, Business, or Economics majors. That said; I did graduate in 96 so... times may have changed. Even back then; the CS majors were almost 95% Indian transfer students.

I graduated in 96... did a year at AMAT working on computer chip fab equipment then immediately got a job working for the leading CPU manufacturer with a site in Hillsboro, OR. I've been working for them for 23 years. I've held a handful of positions at this employer and have enjoyed the jobs for the most part. I've almost always gravitated toward the software roles... because I have the right logical mind to debug those systems. At the moment; I hold the title of SR Firmware Engineer so I interact with the CPU and the software which runs it (UEFI).

If I were to do it over again; I'd probably still get a BSEE... but minor in CS instead of math. I hated advanced math classes... and still do. If your son can't make it as an EE; then he could transfer to the CS college without loosing a lot of credits.

#25 3 months ago

Graduated from Radford with a BBA in Informstion Systems after switching from Computer Science (less Math). As others have said, alma mata means very little after 1st job and experience is key. Plus, what you learned in college will be obsolete in a few years (I programmed in Ada and COBOL). My advice is for your son to consider differentiation in his field of study. As opposed to being a computer scientist, specialize in AI, analytics applied to cyber security, embedded system development, etc.

If your son is looking at salary prospects, differentiation is key. At my company (Silicon Valley Unicorn focused in the sw space), developers can make low to mid 6 figures. Embedded developers make more, and my data scientists start at about 200k and go up from there. Experts focused in security and presales engineers can start at 200 and go up. Sales has the highest salary prospects due to commissions, but is a different animal entirely.

When I hire people at all levels, I try to get a feel for what moivates them and to assess if their motivations and the job aligns. Computer and tech jobs can be tricky in this regard because in some cases, you need team players, others you need lone wolfs, and in others, you need people who can be flexible. Tech people can be somewhat finicky, so alinment is key. I share this with you because these are things that your son will need to consider as he starts figuring out his direction.

#26 3 months ago

Dup

#27 3 months ago

Wow, thanks for the responses guys. From what I am hearing from my son, the selection process from the premier schools are off the charts right now. He is also a white male. He will have the numbers against him as the push for more females in STEM gains steam. But that is life and you have to deal with constraints of all sorts as you navigate through it.

I am pushing him to make some visits to all of these schools. I also want to run some models and have him understand what 60-100K of debt is really like. These are not small numbers. His big interest is robotics. To me that field is wide open and need engineers of all sorts. So to some degree, I am pushing him towards the Computer Engineering degree. I would also like to have him sprinkle in some business courses so he can get into product development. To me robotics is still in its infancy. There is going to be thousands of applications for robotics that haven't even been started yet. Once the framework is set, we are going to see so many ways robotics will be infused into our lives. On one hand it is very scary the level to which we could automate. The whole put everyone out of work scenario is very real. On the other hand, it is inevitable. Would rather him be part of the process than be eliminated.

#28 3 months ago
Quoted from ypurchn:

https://www.gatech.edu/about/rankings
Relatively cheap out of state tuition compared to lots of other schools.
Alumnus bias

This is on his list for sure. I visited this campus with my other son. Unfortunately a 34 on the ACT didn't get him in.

#29 3 months ago
Quoted from OilGuy:

bearsfan, we were there with my son two years ago trying to decide between a top tier school vs a good engineering school. We looked at MIT, Berkeley, Stanford and a couple others. With what I saw from MIT, and from the kids I interviewed on campus during an interviewing trip, the good majority were wanting to stay in academia and not get too far into the real world. Stanford was more hands on and being located within Silicon Valley meant that there were very good options after graduation if your son has the intrprenuial spirit. At $65,000 per year for tuition, the risk/reward starts to become a factor. Harvey Mudd and CalPoly would have been good to visit as well but we did not.
My son decided not to join the pressure cooker environment of those schools and stuck with a state school (Colo School of Mines) and loves it. They didn’t care about essays or any thing else except ACT score and grades. He says they could use a few more girls though.
With an ACT score of 36 your son should be offered a number of full ride scholarships to many very good schools.
I am a Petoleum Engineer and my son is in the Mechanical Engineering program so I really can’t help on the Com Sci question.
Good luck.

Colorado school of mines is on our list as well. I have a very good friend that is going to have his son go there. Looks awesome!

#30 3 months ago
Quoted from DCFAN:

University of Illinois is one of the best engineering schools in the country. I work with several people from there. Why not there if he can get in? A BS in Electrical or Computer Engineering would likely yield more job opportunities than mechanical.

Honestly Illinois worries me a ton. We are strongly considering moving out of Illinois after my son graduates. My worry is that although U of I is a great school now, it may not stay that way. I am sure funding for U of I will be stripped in the very near future. When we visited Georgia Tech last year we ran into three professors that left U of I for that very reason. One other thing. When you visit U of I, it is like visiting a foreign country. The amount of kids from outside the U.S. is off the charts there. Very segregated as a result.

They do have a great reputation though. I still think we would lean towards Purdue given the choice.

#31 3 months ago
Quoted from konjurer:

I've studied these very questions for my position at work. My educational background is Comp Science and an MBA from University of Iowa. I work at one of the largest largest aerospace and defense companies in the world. I teach software engineering as the lead for our "internal university." In other words, I teach the skills to our internal engineers that they don't receive in college. One of my projects a couple years back was to evaluate the state of engineering education. What courses does a student take for each engineering discipline from Big Ten schools and the other engineering schools we recruit from. How does that match up with the skills we need as a Fortune 100 aerospace company. Here's my take as an engineer, researcher and father of a 20 year-old who is still trying to figure this thing out.
1. Computer Science (CS) or Software Engineering (SE) should be high on your list of best degrees. Mechanical Engineering (ME) is your WORST engineering degree to go into right now. MEs are having a tough time finding work in comparison to CS or SEs. We have two, top-tier engineering schools within 90 minutes of our main campus. The dean of one of these schools told me that they have 8,000 ME students and 250 SE students. This is STUPIDLY out of proportion. We provide internships and hire predominantly CS, SE, Aerospace, and Computer Engineering (CE) students. At best, MEs make up 5% of our engineers.
2. Computer Engineering is okay but you'll likely get a job coding. Maybe ASICS or FPGA development if you're lucky. Terribly boring, dead end work. And you'll be sorely lacking the skills needed for other software engineering duties.
3. Experience matters most. School doesn't matter after the first job. A highly ranked school can get you in the door of a larger company. We recruit from about 8 of the best engineering universities. But at the end of the day, we NEED and hire engineers that have the experience and skills we are looking for. Best if we can lure the best engineers away from our competitors. In my opinion, save the money by taking the first 2 years at a community college and get into a local engineering program. Some of our best engineers come from a start at a community college and then a smaller school.
4. Internships matter! Get your foot in the door and that initial experience that we look for.
5. There is a lot of group think and lack of real world experience at larger academic schools. What I mean is that the curriculum doesn't change often because "those are the courses that we've always taught." The curriculum for a computer science degree (or any engineering degree) has NOT changed much since I graduated in 1991. That is ridiculous! In my research, I've found that smaller colleges have more progressive programs with better capstone experiences, more engaged professors and a richer, more collaborative experience.
NEWSFLASH: Professors at research universities are NOT there to teach your kids and prepare them for a future job.
6. There are alternative programs that are popping up. Non-accredited. These are great options. Forget the gender studies, medieval literature and other useless liberal arts courses. Learn the skills that employers really want and you're done in 6 months. No massive student loan debt around your neck. Here's one example... https://www.deltavcodeschool.com/ This is the future of education.
THE TIME VALUE OF MONEY
Think about the time value of money. Let's compare something like Delta V code school to a BS in ME. You're out of school in less than one year with a great paying job that is literally boundless in potential. Average starting salary for a Delta V student is $58,000. You have 3 more years in the job market... years that are crucial for retirement savings. Meanwhile, you have someone getting a ME degree that racks up $100,000 from a Big Ten school. The national average starting salary for an ME is $58,000 - same as the Delta V Code School. You do the math.
My recommendations...
1. BS Software Engineering at an in-state college
2. BS Computer Science at an in-state college
3. Alternative code school - also take a few Udemy courses in data science
4. Never pay for out of state tuition - unless you a very specific goal in life, paying out of state tuition is very, very stupid - financially speaking
I would look into a degree in Data Science. This super hot and will only grow as a profession. You don't necessary need to major in Data Science but round out your degree with a couple classes in Data Science, Machine Learning, AI, etc. Udemy has great classes in these topics at they are about $20 per class.

Wow, this is a lot to soak in. I am a CIO for a living and I would agree that more and more, experience trumps your education. I also see your point on computer vs. ME's. Although you have to do what you like. I know a lot of people that went into programming and simply didn't like it (or were not good at it....or both!). I love the Community College to Four year College model. Wife doesn't agree though

#32 3 months ago

My .02c as a computer science grad from a cheap state school:

No one really cares what school you went to after your first job. They just want to see that you’re making shit. Every interview I’ve had, no one has talked to me about college. They all want to hear what I’ve been working on and what’s on my github profile.

As far as engineering vs science, typically computer engineering has been more hardware focused and computer science has been more software. Engineering is IMHO the harder degree, and has slightly more earning potential, but not enough that it’s worth stressing about. If the kid knows electronics try the engineering track and switch to CS if they don’t like it; they share a ton of first year classes anyways.

#33 3 months ago

I had the exact same scenario when I was deciding my career path. I've been a software developer for the past 10 years. Like some have said, computer engineering is more hardware focused, but there is some software development classes that he will take along with it. Computer science is more software and design focused, but there are some hardware classes. I started as a computer engineering major and found that I enjoyed the software part more than pouring over circuit diagrams. So, I switched my major to computer science after 2 years. In my case, almost all of my credits transferred. I would suggest he enroll in the major he feels more attracted to and revisit his decision after the first year. As far as school choice is concerned, I've never worked at a company that cared about which school you went to. I've been hired and been part of the hiring at 2 different companies. Most companies hiring I.T. just want a BS in Computer Science\Engineering and a couple of years experience. The rest of the criteria really center around how well you feel the person will work with the existing team you have. Some teams work very closely and communicate a lot. Some work very independently.A lot of it comes down to personality fit. We passed over a guy that was overly qualified recently. Only reason was because we felt his personality would clash with the rest of the team. If I had to do it all over again, I would have done my first 2 years at a technical school and finished all the general ed courses. Then do my last 2 years at a 4 year college. For reference, I did 4 years in state tuition at University of South Carolina and came out of school with $50,000 in student loans.

#34 3 months ago
Quoted from iamabearsfan:

Honestly Illinois worries me a ton. We are strongly considering moving out of Illinois after my son graduates. My worry is that although U of I is a great school now, it may not stay that way. I am sure funding for U of I will be stripped in the very near future. When we visited Georgia Tech last year we ran into three professors that left U of I for that very reason. One other thing. When you visit U of I, it is like visiting a foreign country. The amount of kids from outside the U.S. is off the charts there. Very segregated as a result.

Also, couple things.

The idea that a school will go from excellent to total shit in 4 years is a bit of a stretch. Colleges, even state schools, are raking in big loan dollars. Things move in slow motion in academia. When schools are rich they blow it all on fancy buildings, administrative hires, and school sports facilities. When they're not, they don't. It hardly makes a big difference to the faculty or the quality of the programs. It used to be that Computer Science and Engineering needed huge investments in equipment and tech, and lots of money for that. Now, every kid brings their own laptop which are 1000x more powerful than the shit I used in the VAX lab.

Second, you're gonna see lots of foreign kids at state schools because cheap schools are a better investment for them, and miles better than where they emigrated from. At the time I went to school, it was weird as a random suburbs kid to actually go to school with kids from Russia, India, China. In the end, it was better for me to know and work with people from other cultures because, guess what? Immigrants and new Americans are gonna be in the workforce and probably be hiring me or be on my team. Schools feel segregated because you've got kids straight out of high school that only know one type of kid, and they were raised in suburbs where everyone looked like them. The kids that excel learn to break down those barriers and join study groups regardless. Plus you ain't going to college to make friends.

#35 3 months ago

Whatever school has a better esports program

#36 3 months ago

My two sons graduated 2.5 and 4.5 years ago. They both went to smaller North East Private colleges (Both on the A schools for B student list). They both double majored in Computer science and economics. They both have excellent jobs. One works for a big name defense contractor. The other just changed jobs from a large Pharmaceutical company and is now working for a smaller consulting firm that supports several large US companies. Both have nice bank accounts and are in the 99th percentile for income for their particular ages. The youngest is a coder ( really likes it), the older is a problem solver /project manager type. They are both now enrolled in on line Masters degree programs at a very well known Engineering school.

My lessons learned watching them go thru school and get a job.

Very few CS majors can really code to the level expected of them in the real world. Big name schools do not necessarily produce the best coders.

Math is very important.

The technical interviews they had to go thru were brutal

GPA counts "big" time in going with the larger better known companies.

Start going for internships as soon as possible. The more the better

#37 3 months ago

I agree that big name schools don’t always produce the best coders but, in general, don’t underestimate the level of education that students get at top schools (Stanford, MIT etc). On average, students from top schools would absolutley crush students from the vast majority of other schools say on a google interview/exam. So one reason these schools have top reputations and why companies fall all over themselves to hire there is ultimately based on performance.

Also, the entry bar is set so high at some schools to ensure that applicants can handle the load and competition found there. To get in already means a lot. And those that can get a degree from Stanford in comp sci (say) can handle a lot which then transfers into the workforce. I don’t have a degree from Stanford BTW.

Schools are absolutley not created equal and you would be surprised at the difference yet every school naturally will sell themselves to you as the best and downplay others. Ultimately, since it’s big business and they want your money, the largest liability one can have going in is believing that reputation of a school doesn’t matter. Reputations are ultimately built on results. Also beware that every school will craft it’s own ‘top reputation’ for marketing purposes.

Anyway, just thought I’d add a bit of a defence for school reputation.

Ultimately, if he learns some computery stuff wherever and works hard your son will be fine. My vote is for comp sci.

#38 3 months ago

An oldie but a goodie!
Screenshot_20190105-155242_Chrome (resized).jpg
http://syruptrap.ca/2014/11/coyote-in-debt-21000-after-wandering-through-university/

3 weeks later
#40 80 days ago

That's called School of Hard Knocks.
My first PC was built out of the back of a Computer Shopper back in 1990 and it didn't even have a hard drive at the time. That will put hair on your "computer" chest. That "event" eventually led me to a job with a dropped E in Hillsboro.

Never be afraid to figure stuff out on your own.

#41 80 days ago

I have a computer science degree. My son has his EE masters degree. What I would tell you is there are two different focuses. I enjoyed writing code and my son was more into circuit design. Another point to consider is my son with an EE degree had to move to a different city to really work for a company he felt was designing things he wanted to be part of. Nothing today can get done without a computer. A Computer science major can find a job in any city in the US.

Talk with your son and see what he likes to do more. If he isn’t sitting at home coding anything now, I would wonder if he really wants to be a computer science major.

#42 80 days ago
Quoted from DCFAN:

Also from NC State but for EE. I think I was 15 credits short of qualifying for a Computer Engineering degree as well by the nature of the EE program but had no interest in that.

Exact same here....I started in CPE and ended up with a degree in EE at NCSU, class of 89.

I would give NCSU more credit than the member that you replied to however. NCSU routinely ranks in the top 20 engineering schools, top 10 in Ag and Materials Engineering. The CSC department is usually around top 40, but the online CSC is ranked top 5.

#43 80 days ago
Quoted from Zitt:

That's called School of Hard Knocks.
My first PC was built out of the back of a Computer Shopper back in 1990 and it didn't even have a hard drive at the time. That will put hair on your "computer" chest. That "event" eventually led me to a job with a dropped E in Hillsboro.
Never be afraid to figure stuff out on your own.

Computer Shopper Magazine...That's a blast from the past. I was coding on TRS Model 1's and 3's, sinclairs, and the old timex PC's. Dual Floppy's and a tape drive for the OS and Programs.

#44 80 days ago

This is a no brainer. Parlay the 36 to get into a top flight school like Stanford, then learn to write beautiful code and parlay the pedigree to get a job at Amazon, Google, or Facebook. Then he’s set for life.

I live and work in the Silicon Valley.

#45 80 days ago

I've been an engineer (EE) for just over 40 years now. Attended the univ of Florida
for undergraduate, Stanford for my masters.

I would suggest going more toward a mechanical engineering degree over
programming. Software has been a hot area for so long there is now a lot
of competition for the really good jobs. With a traditional engineering degree
your son will be in a better position for stable employment. And a big part of
any engineering field these days is programming or at least a working knowledge
of how programs work.

But the most important thing is he does what he enjoys doing and feels
passionate about. All too often I've mentored students that went into
a field without really exploring others and change majors mid stream.

As far as colleges go, I've attended a state and an Ivy league college.
Very little difference other than cost. However as others have stated
he'll have a better chance at a good first job from an Ivy league college.

Good luck!
Steve

#46 80 days ago

Forgot to mention one thing; any true engineering degree will be far
more difficult than a science degree. Part of the reason is wanna be
engineers are forced to take classes in other engineering fields
where as science degrees focus on the one subject. As an example,
as an EE undergrad I had to take extensive classes in fluid dynamics,
statistics, differential equations, and a lot of other ball breaker
classes.

Anyone with an engineering degree will have a much wider background
but will have to work a heck of a lot harder.
Steve

#47 80 days ago

I'm somewhat biased since my daughter, son and son in law graduated from Purdue. My son was management, very close friends of his graduated in engineering and computer sciences and are doing very well. 2 of them started their own company's with other associates.

All in all they had a great education and a great college experience. It helps that your son is there so you can see how that's working out.

Good luck.

#48 79 days ago
Quoted from robertmee:

Exact same here....I started in CPE and ended up with a degree in EE at NCSU, class of 89.
I would give NCSU more credit than the member that you replied to however. NCSU routinely ranks in the top 20 engineering schools, top 10 in Ag and Materials Engineering. The CSC department is usually around top 40, but the online CSC is ranked top 5.

I was class of 93. I agree about the ranking. I assumed he was referring to the top 5 or 10 engineering schools that get glorified in the movies like MIT and Cal Tech. I do agree that top students at an accredited state school are likely to be more desirable candidates for jobs than average students at schools like MIT. Also, common sense and good economic sense are two characteristics that should be very valued when looking for engineering job candidates.

I have been happy with my career with the exception of graduating during a terrible recession where it was hard to even get an interview, but if I had it all to do over again I would probably have become an accountant (and CPA) because I find myself very in tune with math and financial data.

#49 79 days ago
Quoted from DCFAN:

I was class of 93. I agree about the ranking. I assumed he was referring to the top 5 or 10 engineering schools that get glorified in the movies like MIT and Cal Tech. I do agree that top students at an accredited state school are likely to be more desirable candidates for jobs than average students at schools like MIT. Also, common sense and good economic sense are two characteristics that should be very valued when looking for engineering job candidates.
I have been happy with my career with the exception of graduating during a terrible recession where it was hard to even get an interview, but if I had it all to do over again I would probably have become an accountant (and CPA) because I find myself very in tune with math and financial data.

Hard to quantify how much actual knowledge was derived from my EE degree. Probably more of the base electrical and power theory, with a sprinkle of physics. I do automation and controls now (same industry since 1993) and have owned my own company since 2000, and the technology is forever evolving, so it's continuing education outside of college no matter what one decides to pursue. I think College mostly teaches one how to think logically and problem solve. The book work past the basics is usually superseded by newer technology. All the telecom classes I took wouldn't apply now. So unless you're a History major, college degrees are more about a foundation, but you have to build on that the rest of your career.

As a side note, I notice you're living in VA. Don't know if you're still a Pack fan, but a close one against #1 VA this past tuesday, and we have VA Tech coming to town this weekend.

#50 79 days ago
Quoted from robertmee:

As a side note, I notice you're living in VA. Don't know if you're still a Pack fan, but a close one against #1 VA this past tuesday, and we have VA Tech coming to town this weekend.

My father was a VA Tech EE grad, and my uncle was a UVA EE grad. I never really loved either one of those and grew up following UNC and NC State basketball (yes both). In Virginia the rivalry between NC State and UNC was meaningless to us so I could like both and still do. Unfortunately, when I was there NC State basketball collapsed as Valvano left and Rodney Monroe and Corchiani finished their playing careers and it has not been the same since then.

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