(Topic ID: 232841)

Computer Engineering vs. Computer Science Degrees (School Selection)


By iamabearsfan

3 months ago



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#51 79 days ago
Quoted from DCFAN:

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.

Amazing what just a few years difference makes...I attended from the championship years through the 87 acc championship year. Laid out a year for back surgery then finished in 89. We've got a good one in Keatts now...we will make noise again in the tournaments...just a matter of time.

Anyway back to engineering talk...didn't mean to divert the thread

#52 79 days ago

Since you are in northern IL, I'd suggest looking at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). I received my BSEE there in 2003. They are a private college, so tuition is more, but there is a lot of scholarship and financial aid packages to help offset. MSOE is focused on undergrad engineering and all professors are there solely to teach, so there are no teachers assistants, no faculty research taking away time from students, etc. MSOE also focuses on real life application, so the lab/hands-on portion of the curriculum is a point of emphasis (not just theory all day long). They offer computer science along with engineering disciplines in software, computer, electrical, mechanical and industrial. An alumnus made a large donation for a new computer science/AI building that is currently under construction. Being a relatively small school, I really got to know my professors and classmates. I would suggest taking a tour on one of the open house days.

#53 79 days ago
Quoted from robertmee:

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.

You could afford floppy's for them?!?!
I still have my CTR-80 for loading programs onto my old TRS-80 Model 1 from Cassette.
I got interested in electronics when I saw an article in the high school library -- "Build the Cosmac Elf computer" in a 1976 Popular Electronics magazine. Back then you could buy tons of miscellaneous parts from "Poly Paks" grab bags at dirt cheap prices, I think they pretty much sold factory floor sweepings. Some little operation known as "Digikey" also ads in the back for cheap parts as well. Then there was James Electronics - bit of a name change since then. Yes, this belongs in the "you know you're old thread".

Back on topic --
Where I'm at - we put far more emphasis on the type of degree and the individual's knowledge than where the degree came from.
A true EE degree had a lot more math back ground in addition to other engineering type classes (I loved engineering statics class). By the time an EE got out of school - he could design the hardware AND the software to run on the hardware. Most of today's software guys can design the software but have no clue about how the hardware works. My favorite was when I gave instructions to a software guy on how to make a product work -- a VME bus communications board. Write to this register to do this, read from this register to do that..etc. When I was done he had one question -- "what's a register?"

#54 79 days ago
Quoted from G-P-E:

When I was done he had one question -- "what's a register?"

Did you send him to the manager of a Grocery store via a pinkslip?
Cause yeah; umm... that's bad.

#55 78 days ago
Quoted from robertmee:

Amazing what just a few years difference makes...I attended from the championship years through the 87 acc championship year. Laid out a year for back surgery then finished in 89. We've got a good one in Keatts now...we will make noise again in the tournaments...just a matter of time.
Anyway back to engineering talk...didn't mean to divert the thread

24 points at home? I don't know if Keatts is the answer. I don't get my hopes up anymore.

#56 78 days ago
Quoted from DCFAN:

24 points at home? I don't know if Keatts is the answer. I don't get my hopes up anymore.

Yeah...sad sad sad. At least it was a record setting performance....lol As for Keatts he can't shoot the ball. Beverly missed wide open shots...0-13. That's not on coaching.

#57 78 days ago
Quoted from DCFAN:

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

I graduated in 2002 basically face first into the dot com carnage. Had to hustle on the help desk at a pharma company for a year and got lucky that a contact put a good word in for me.

People really discount how a few years either way mean a huge amount to your future earnings potential. I also bought a condo in 2006 so I am excellent at timing all markets wrong.

#58 78 days ago
Quoted from G-P-E:

You could afford floppy's for them?!?!
I still have my CTR-80 for loading programs onto my old TRS-80 Model 1 from Cassette.
I got interested in electronics when I saw an article in the high school library -- "Build the Cosmac Elf computer" in a 1976 Popular Electronics magazine. Back then you could buy tons of miscellaneous parts from "Poly Paks" grab bags at dirt cheap prices, I think they pretty much sold factory floor sweepings. Some little operation known as "Digikey" also ads in the back for cheap parts as well. Then there was James Electronics - bit of a name change since then. Yes, this belongs in the "you know you're old thread".

Don't forget B & F Enterprises of Peabody, Mass. But Poly-packs was my favorite mail order place. They were great as Olson Electronics shut down....

#60 78 days ago

If you just want to program, getting a CS degree makes a lot more sense than a CE degree (I have a CE degree). All I bought myself with my CE degree is a lot of additional math and EE classes that are 10x harder than the CS electives, all to get the exact same job in the end. Corporations are so desperate for programmers right now that it doesn't matter and probably won't for a long time in the future. If I had to go back and do it again, I would have gotten the CS degree and saved myself a bunch of money and headaches.

#61 78 days ago

I'm a mechanical engineer, BSME 02 from SUNY Buffalo. But I went back to school and got a degree in computer science because it turned out that there was so much overlap. I was designing heat exchangers, but the tech is so old that I was able to write a program to do most of my job. In my area, mechanical engineering didn't pay that well, but software engineering did. I all but abandoned my mechanical engineering past and i'm a full time software engineer now. I love having the mechanical background and I still love manufacturing, but there's just no money in it in comparison.

I don't see the value in out of state tuition. Right now my alma mater is about 8k per year and i have yet to meet someone that can do anything that i can't. You don't buy intelligence.

#62 77 days ago
Quoted from robertmee:

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.

This so much...

Getting a job is more about proving ability - not reusing what you were taught in college. In my era of the nineties... we were in the phase of “everything is moving to software..”. So as a EE, all the work was in software, and very few chairs for actual hardware folks. Same applies today... there is work that is very specialized and hard to fill... but there are wayyy more jobs available in software still.

And your ability to work in the current technologies and hot topics is far more important than your pedigree of degree. People want quick ramp up and quality output.

If you know you want to code...and are fine with that... stay CS and focus on project work and experience more than pedigree. Consider who the school is a feeder to and where internships and what work outside school is accessible while there.

The problem with CS is there are a gazillion of them and differentiation is hard.

An engineering degree will allow you to work in nearly any field. Plus, you can still take Coding classes to scratch that itch.

It usually boils down to someone trying to chase a special type of work... and how much they are willing to sacrifice to get it (wait, move, pay, etc). Or go into a much bigger pool and then fight off the competition... but starting can be easier.

We called mechanical engineering “pre business”... because it was the discipline most engineers switched to before they dropped out of the engineering school entirely and switched to business majors

TL :DR - CS is fine, but don’t rely on your degree to land a job

#63 77 days ago

I have a Computer Engineering degree. When I explain what it is to people I say that it is basically an Electrical Engineering degree with a Computer Science minor. Both degrees were from the Electrical Engineering department and at the time there were only six classes difference between EE and CP (computer engineering). A lot of people got a double degree rather than getting a Masters in one or the other. On the other hand Computer Science is not an engineering degree and was run by the math department. There is almost no overlap in classes. For instance, when I took chemistry, physics and statics/dynamics classes; I took them with the chemistry, physics and mechanical engineering majors. Computer Science also took chemistry and physics but at a much more remedial level similar to the honors level classes I had in high school.

Nothing wrong with Computer Science, but if the kid has the aptitude I would definitely suggest Computer Engineering as not only a better education, but to open more doors. Sure they might end up programming for a business and not need the science background, but who knows? Might end up designing robotics or something and really need the engineering background not only to pass the interview.

I work as a contractor for NASA and hire entry level engineers every year straight out of college. I have never hired a Computer Science major for one simple reason: NASA won't let me. They have a list of accepted degrees and CS is not one of them even with a Masters. We hire Electrical, Computer, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineers predominately.

#64 77 days ago

^ John, I'd be very interested to know what your experience has been with recent graduate engineers. I've worked in automation for manufacturing for the past 30 years, and have seen a seismic shift in the abilities of graduate engineers. Especially disciplines that actually require work outside of a pc and a bean bag chair. Noone wants to work in the dirt anymore.

#65 77 days ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

We called mechanical engineering “pre business”... because it was the discipline most engineers switched to before they dropped out of the engineering school entirely and switched to business majors

Quote of the month right there. I will use this one.....

#66 77 days ago
Quoted from robertmee:

^ John, I'd be very interested to know what your experience has been with recent graduate engineers. I've worked in automation for manufacturing for the past 30 years, and have seen a seismic shift in the abilities of graduate engineers. Especially disciplines that actually require work outside of a pc and a bean bag chair. Noone wants to work in the dirt anymore.

I've been pretty impressed with the younger engineers that we have hired. Most of them recently have had Aerospace Engineering degrees. When you talk to them, they made that decision because they wanted to work on rockets or fighter planes. So they chose a degree to work on something they think is cool, rather than just going through the paces because their parents wanted them to go to college. I've been lucky enough to spend a lot of time working along side SpaceX engineers and can tell you they all work hard and long hours, just like I did back in the day. They want to work there because it is cool to be part of such cutting edge work and they get to see their capsules dock with the Space Station. The programmers get to program autopilots and systems to fuel the rocket at the pad instead of working some mundane database in sector 13G of some business that pumps out widgets.

#67 77 days ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

We called mechanical engineering “pre business”... because it was the discipline most engineers switched to before they dropped out of the engineering school entirely and switched to business majors

Industrial was the last stop before dropping out of engineering. Anyone that started out in industrial was immediately doomed to business.

#68 77 days ago
Quoted from John_I:

I've been pretty impressed with the younger engineers that we have hired. Most of them recently have had Aerospace Engineering degrees. When you talk to them, they made that decision because they wanted to work on rockets or fighter planes. So they chose a degree to work on something they think is cool, rather than just going through the paces because their parents wanted them to go to college. I've been lucky enough to spend a lot of time working along side SpaceX engineers and can tell you they all work hard and long hours, just like I did back in the day. They want to work there because it is cool to be part of such cutting edge work and they get to see their capsules dock with the Space Station. The programmers get to program autopilots and systems to fuel the rocket at the pad instead of working some mundane database in sector 13G of some business that pumps out widgets.

That's good to know. In my industry I see a dying breed. The engineer that can solve mechanical and physics problems and program machinery. Most of the new era of graduates I see are book smart but lack practical thinking and problem solving. And don't seem to have the initiative to correct their deficiencies.

#69 77 days ago
Quoted from yaksplat:

Industrial was the last stop before dropping out of engineering. Anyone that started out in industrial was immediately doomed to business.

Lee Iacocca did ok with his Industrial Engineering degree.....

#70 77 days ago

I just want to add... there are obviously valid (and great) reasons to have a mechanical engineering degree... or other degrees that are poked at..

MEs did a lot of stuff I never wanted to touch (material science, fluid dynamics, etc).. but in many ways within an engineering school it can be portrayed as the 'general ed' version.. when your school is full of specialized programs. Most of the cross-program riveralies were just about stereotypes poking fun.

However, I do believe still.. decades later.. that an engineering degree that includes the full, proper general engineering education (maths, physics, and sciences) produced rounded graduates that could excel anywhere.. surviving the gauntlet showed that students could put in the hard work, had the fundamentals, and the specifics to a field could be learned. It was a proving ground.

Computer Engineering was starting as I was finishing school.. and at my school, they made room for the CS classes by taking away the sciences the students had to take. Like dropping from 2 chemistry classes to 1 and let them take some of the 'gen pop' versions of physics vs the versions the rest of engineering and physics students took. That to me undermined some of their credibility of their engineering school title... but maybe it's not wrong.

I didn't do ANYTHING unique to my major until my 3rd year... and in hindsight I do wish that was different.

#71 77 days ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

I just want to add... there are obviously valid (and great) reasons to have a mechanical engineering degree... or other degrees that are poked at..
MEs did a lot of stuff I never wanted to touch (material science, fluid dynamics, etc).. but in many ways within an engineering school it can be portrayed as the 'general ed' version.. when your school is full of specialized programs. Most of the cross-program riveralies were just about stereotypes poking fun.
However, I do believe still.. decades later.. that an engineering degree that includes the full, proper general engineering education (maths, physics, and sciences) produced rounded graduates that could excel anywhere.. surviving the gauntlet showed that students could put in the hard work, had the fundamentals, and the specifics to a field could be learned. It was a proving ground.
Computer Engineering was starting as I was finishing school.. and at my school, they made room for the CS classes by taking away the sciences the students had to take. Like dropping from 2 chemistry classes to 1 and let them take some of the 'gen pop' versions of physics vs the versions the rest of engineering and physics students took. That to me undermined some of their credibility of their engineering school title... but maybe it's not wrong.
I didn't do ANYTHING unique to my major until my 3rd year... and in hindsight I do wish that was different.

ME's in my career and experience actually make better automation engineers, because they understand machinery, physics and dynamics. It's not always just programming, but understanding a machine's limitations.

2 weeks later
#72 57 days ago

Let me start by thanking everyone that has responded to this thread. I often will post off-topic questions to this group and every time I am just amazed at the breadth of knowledge and background this forum offers. Pinball is one of the best examples of electro-mechanical. It has been a special hobby that I was able to do with my boys growing up.

Now back to the topic. As this thread has grown, I have been talking to my son about the options that are out there. I think at this point he is leaning towards a CE degree. I think one of the main reasons is we both see robotics just taking off. Even though he may be a coder in the long run, having that base science knowledge of engineering seems to be valuable. I am excited for the boys either way. My older son who is a freshman at Purdue just joined the Baja racing team and is having a blast in their program so far. Really seems to like it a lot. To me, they should make such clubs a requirement. Make the kids work as a team to make something with a solid goal. It cracked me up. He called home and said we had to send him more pairs of jeans. I knew then he was on to something good!

#73 57 days ago
Quoted from iamabearsfan:

He is likely going to have a choice of schools because he has a 36 on the ACT.

Very impressive ACT score! I'd be very proud of that. Encourage him to take every part of the application process seriously. If the application requires an essay, write a great essay, and not about what every other applicant is writing about. Those don't get read. The most selective school my youngest applied to was UF. She got in with a 1300 SAT. That's probably a bottom 10th percentile score for this year's admissions. There are applicants with 1500+ SAT scores scratching their heads wondering why they weren't accepted. In every other measure, she is exceptional, but I am fairly certain the essay was the difference.

Please keep us updated!

#74 57 days ago
Quoted from mcluvin:Very impressive ACT score! I'd be very proud of that. Encourage him to take every part of the application process seriously. If the application requires an essay, write a great essay, and not about what every other applicant is writing about. Those don't get read. The most selective school my youngest applied to was UF. She got in with a 1300 SAT. That's probably a bottom 10th percentile score for this year's admissions. There are applicants with 1500+ SAT scores scratching their heads wondering why they weren't accepted. In every other measure, she is exceptional, but I am fairly certain the essay was the difference.
Please keep us updated!

They never read the essays. They're just a way so they can say that the reason they didn't accept you was because of it. It gives them something not metric related.

#75 56 days ago
Quoted from taylor34:

They never read the essays. They're just a way so they can say that the reason they didn't accept you was because of it. It gives them something not metric related.

We have a very good family friend that recently retired from admissions from a very large well known university. In this case, she informed us they do read the essays. They only do it though, once they clear out thousands of apps based on scores. They pick a basement score and then start the process of looking at everything else. Even then, she said they are reading literally thousands of essays.

What was more informative when she talked to me was about the pressure they have on their team to still select foreign students because they pay the most. In addition, the demographic pressures are in full force. She told me a female minority can have ACT's two to three points different now. That doesn't paint a pretty picture for my kid. Some would say that isn't fair. I tell my son that life isn't fair and now you have to work a little harder. Personally I think this pushing everyone into STEM is going to backfire. I think it would be a shame to have our best and brightest kids all pushed into one area of discipline. We need them spread out across all disciplines.

Okay, back on topic.....looks like we may be taking a college trip out east over spring break. Other than MIT, what should we check out? We were thinking Carnegie Mellon, although that goofy school is even 5K more a year than MIT! We also may take a visit to Georgia Tech again. I visited that school with my other son and really liked it.

One last thing. Do you guys think that the region of where you go to school has an impact on where you will live and/or get a job? I say this because I really don't want my kids settling in Illinois. Our state is a HUGE mess and frankly will be in some serious trouble for the decades to come. The corruption in this state is off the charts. I personally think it is going to drag the whole region down over time. Any thoughts on this one would be appreciated as well.

#76 56 days ago
Quoted from iamabearsfan:

Okay, back on topic.....looks like we may be taking a college trip out east over spring break. Other than MIT, what should we check out? We were thinking Carnegie Mellon, although that goofy school is even 5K more a year than MIT! We also may take a visit to Georgia Tech again. I visited that school with my other son and really liked it.
One last thing. Do you guys think that the region of where you go to school has an impact on where you will live and/or get a job? I say this because I really don't want my kids settling in Illinois. Our state is a HUGE mess and frankly will be in some serious trouble for the decades to come. The corruption in this state is off the charts. I personally think it is going to drag the whole region down over time. Any thoughts on this one would be appreciated as well.

If you can afford them, the big name schools are worthy of evaluation. If you plan on taking huge loans, I'm not a big fan of the big name schools. Plenty of lesser name, more affordable schools that provide a great education. You should watch this 20-minute video, it's profound and relevant to this topic. Talks about EICD (Elite Institution Cognitive Disorder

I went to school in upstate New York and spent most of my career in Silicon Valley. For any field, you should go where the "action is". I've lived in 7 states over my 25 year career. I understand moving is stressful and isn't for everyone, but it's helpful if you are interested in staying on the bleeding edge of tech. The day's of working for the same company for your entire career have diminished greatly.

#77 56 days ago
Quoted from taylor34:

They never read the essays. They're just a way so they can say that the reason they didn't accept you was because of it. It gives them something not metric related.

I've heard from 2 different sources (one being an admissions officer) that they don't read the essays written about the same BS that 9 out of 10 applicants write about. I don't know, but my kid got accepted to UF with a 1300 SAT and I can just about guarantee nobody had the same essay topic as her. There are kids at her school that were rejected with 1400+ SAT scores. Maybe it was just luck, but you try to rationalize.

#78 55 days ago

GPA matters if you want to go to grad school. If you can produce a 3.5 or better GPA in undergrad chances are you get a free ride in grad school, if you're not too picky.Where I work, we don't look at any candidates under a masters but never at their GPA. A good skill set for science is: (applied) Math with lots of stats and linear algebra and good coding skills. Database experience never hurts. Other than pinside, youtube and pinrepair I get some of my education from edx.org. there you find many course and mini degrees ranging in price from free to maybe $2000. The python class from MIT is very good. Also took R from Microsoft. Best is you can study from the privacy of your home computer.

#79 55 days ago
Quoted from Yoski:

GPA matters if you want to go to grad school. If you can produce a 3.5 or better GPA in undergrad chances are you get a free ride in grad school, if you're not too picky.Where I work, we don't look at any candidates under a masters but never at their GPA. A good skill set for science is: (applied) Math with lots of stats and linear algebra and good coding skills. Database experience never hurts. Other than pinside, youtube and pinrepair I get some of my education from edx.org. there you find many course and mini degrees ranging in price from free to maybe $2000. The python class from MIT is very good. Also took R from Microsoft. Best is you can study from the privacy of your home computer.

Who says you have to go to grad school? If you ask me, that’s 2 or 3 years of extra school keeping you out of the workforce where you are gonna make great money anyways.

You can make $150K with just a few years experience as a software engineer. I’m also involved in the hiring process and we really don’t care a ton about grad degrees. Maybe if you are gonna specialize in vision, robotics or other fields you might go to Carnegie Mellon or something. But otherwise, get your degree then get a job; I wouldn’t noodle on a grad degree

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