Computer Science or Software Engineering?

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    Woof, woof! zacs7's Avatar
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    Computer Science or Software Engineering?

    Alloha!

    The end of the year is approaching, and I will be starting university next year (but it's time to put down my course preferences). I have two courses in mind, the first being Computer Science a 3-year ~79 points (out of 99.95 state-wide scaling) course, or a 4-year ~76 points Software Engineering course.

    So my question is, what would be the major job differences between the two? Currently I'm interested in embedded systems and hardware, but I do enjoy programming (as a hobby at least). Is there more of a demand in one of them? Does one pay better?

    As you will notice, CompSci is only 3-years, which means 1 year less debt for me, but it's slightly harder to get into (not that it should be a problem).

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Fear the Reaper...
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    Comp Sci = more theoretical
    Soft Eng = more practical

    But if you're interested in hardware, don't they have Computer or Electrical engineering ?
    Teacher: "You connect with Internet Explorer, but what is your browser? You know, Yahoo, Webcrawler...?" It's great to see the educational system moving in the right direction

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    You will have to specifically look at the source curriculum, but I suspect "Software Engineering" sounds like a softball version of Comp. Sci.

    When you compare the courses, be sure to check for a few specific things...
    • Does one require you to spend at least one complete course using Cobol or Visual Basic? Drop it.
    • Does one lack any of the following courses? They should all be present in a good degree program.
      • Operating Systems (Interprocess communication)
      • Compiler Design (Parsing)
      • Computer Architecture (Processor-Level design)
      • Computational Theory (Turing machines)


    And there is always the option of Computer Engineering, which is an EE/CS hybrid.
    In any case... try stuff out. It's not the end of the world to change majors, especially if you do it in the first two years.
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    The superhaterodyne twomers's Avatar
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    Maybe electrical engineering (I swear I'm not recruiting ). I do a lot of sw/hw stuff at the moment.

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    and the hat of wrongness Salem's Avatar
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    Echo Happy_Reaper on that.

    CompSci is all very well if you want to discuss the theoretical aspects of single algorithms and techniques, and maybe even produce simple programs which demonstrate the ideas.

    SwEng is about taking a whole host of different ideas and combining them into a complex program. Almost all s/w of any important is designed, written and tested by teams of people, so anything which prepares you for that is a good thing.

    > Does one pay better?
    1. What's hot at the moment won't necessarily be so in 3 years time, and certainly won't be for the duration of your career.
    2. Being stuck in a job you hate needs a truly vast amount of money to make it tolerable. Pick Law or Accountancy in that case.

    > but I suspect "Software Engineering" sounds like a softball version of Comp. Sci.
    When I did my SwEng degree, it was very much the other way round. Mere Comp Sci types could pick and choose from a wide range of modules, whereas the SwEng people had to eat the entire menu, even the really chewy items.
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    At my uni it's Computer Science, Computer Information Systems, and Computer Engineering.
    CS accounts for theory and application of algorithms and languages. We cover a huge range of stuff over a huge range of languages(C, C++, Java, VB, Python, Matlab, and more). I feel this is the best all around degree.
    CIS focuses mainly on networking and IT work. The curriculum dictates you must take two programming classes, but most of the CIS people in them just cheat their way through.
    CE goes into the physical architecture of the computer, and they actually design a fair amount of hardware. Of course when you design hardware you have to have software to go with it so they learn some assembly and some C.

    Of course this varies from school to school. Talk to the heads of the departments about what each program sets out to do, and decide from there.

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    Woof, woof! zacs7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Salem
    When I did my SwEng degree, it was very much the other way round. Mere Comp Sci types could pick and choose from a wide range of modules, whereas the SwEng people had to eat the entire menu, even the really chewy items.
    It's the same story now, ComSci students have more freedom to choose electives, so you could choose things from Software Engineering.

    I'll look into it further, thanks everyone

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    One thing to consider is that your education becomes less and less important with more and more work-experience. So whilst it makes a big difference to your first and second job, the further into your professional career, the less important your education becomes, and more important part is your work-experience and where you've gone with that.

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    Ethernal Noob
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    Quote Originally Posted by zacs7 View Post
    It's the same story now, ComSci students have more freedom to choose electives, so you could choose things from Software Engineering.

    I'll look into it further, thanks everyone
    Check out the coursework for both degrees at my unversity it's similar.
    http://www.cis.fiu.edu/programs/unde...es/plan.cs.png
    http://www.cis.fiu.edu/programs/unde...s/plan.sdd.png

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    chococoder
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    as said, get educated in something outside computers but with possibly a strong IT related component.
    Electrical engineering, engineering physics, things like that.
    Most colleagues I've had over the past decade were physicists, biologists, and mathematicians, with the odd chemist and radio newsreader (no kidding) thrown in.

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    Its weird how Compsci requires higher than Soft engg, cuz at my U its directly opposite. Just be sure that in some universities if you want to be a soft engg you would need to endure the general engineer courses, which is Calculus I,II,III, Physics, Linear Algebra, Engineering Design, Mechanics I and Chemistry.

    They can seriously whoop you if you arn't that good in any of the above subjects.
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    Woof, woof! zacs7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by firyace View Post
    Its weird how Compsci requires higher than Soft engg, cuz at my U its directly opposite. Just be sure that in some universities if you want to be a soft engg you would need to endure the general engineer courses, which is Calculus I,II,III, Physics, Linear Algebra, Engineering Design, Mechanics I and Chemistry.

    They can seriously whoop you if you arn't that good in any of the above subjects.
    Exact opposite over hear, There are a Calc 1 & 2, physics 1 & 2 units too - but only in computer science

    And you need at least a 20 (out of 50, scaled) for 2nd level high-school maths (Foundation, Further, Methods, Specialists). Which is damn easy. But over hear, the score for courses is based on demand, a low score means they need people, and aren't getting them and a high score means they don't need that many people - so it eliminates the 'stupids'.

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    In an ideal world you'd learn both the theoretical pinnings of CS, and the discipline of writing clear, maintainable code, which comes from engineering.

    I have to take issue with the comment that software engineering is merely "soft CS." Some of the absolute WORST code I've ever seen was written by CS Ph.D's. Computer science is not about being a good programmer, really. A lot of incredibly intelligent people just barely squeak by. Fortunately, programming is often not required at all in CS research.

    Consider the difference between a physicist and a civil engineer. The engineer is not merely a dumber version of the physicist. He/she is specially trained not only to understand the physics, but apply it safely and economically while interacting in a team of other engineers.

    The physicist may have deeper and more specialized knowledge, but that doesn't make him qualified to design a bridge.

    So you need to ask yourself, are you interested in CS as a scientific endeavor, or are you aiming to enter the industry and write solid code? A software engineering program might be better preparation for such a career path, depending of course on the quality of the program.

  14. #14
    Ethernal Noob
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    But then again, just because a few CS students write bad code, that doesn't mean that CS students in general are inept and unable to create code at all. In all of my programming courses I have probably gotten no less than a B in my assignments, I've done simple to hard programs and since my univ doesn't really have a distinguished software development course work (and the one it has is maybe one or two courses extra for Software development, so the CS course and the Software engineering are pretty much the same coursework.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zacs7 View Post
    Exact opposite over hear, There are a Calc 1 & 2, physics 1 & 2 units too - but only in computer science

    And you need at least a 20 (out of 50, scaled) for 2nd level high-school maths (Foundation, Further, Methods, Specialists). Which is damn easy. But over hear, the score for courses is based on demand, a low score means they need people, and aren't getting them and a high score means they don't need that many people - so it eliminates the 'stupids'.
    Guess different school requires different stuff from students then. At our place, the demand for both software engg and CS are pretty low though, which I don't really know the reason even till this day. But then I am really curious as to what the software engineers have to do for you guys? I thought that all engineers (at least in the university that I am in) has to endure a wide variety of stuff (Softies also need to learn electric circuits in my U too) and that CS people in the U are more focused such as taking Pascal, Linear Algebra, Abstract Algebra and so on. I have never heard of CS people taking calculus ever at U.
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