Computer Science vs Computer Engineering

Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering Moving from High School to college is often a rollercoaster on the mind of most students. After the appliance and acceptance process, we then encounter a bigger question: What will our major be? As a computer and technology lover, I had a hard time understanding and choosing between computer science and computer engineering; even though I already knew that I wanted to study computers. People often think that studying computer science is the same as studying computer engineering, but these two important fields of computing are significantly different.

I decided to start doing some research on the main differences between both and ended up realizing that I was not the only one on this dark road. Surprisingly, many other students had the same questions I had (some of them worse), so that made me feel better. I ended up choosing computer engineering with the hopes of maybe minoring in Computer Science or Software. One other reason is the fact that my sister is already a computer science undergraduate, and we don’t really want two Sebastiaos on the same field. The goal is to take over the world in the different areas!

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But what is the difference between both? If in fact, there is any. Computer science (CS) is the systematic study of algorithmic methods for representing and transforming information, including their theory, design, implementation, application, and efficiency. The discipline emerged in the 1950s from the development of computability theory and the invention of the stored-program electronic computer. The roots of computer science extend deeply into mathematics and engineering. A computer scientist specializes in the theory of computation and the design of computers, or computational systems.

In order to own a CS degree or become a computer scientist, a student would have to take the following courses: Programming Concepts, Computer Organization & Assembly Language, Concepts & Facilities of Operating Systems, Discrete Math, Introduction to Numerical Methods, Automata, Grammars & Computability, Data Structures, Software Engineering, Ethics in Computing, Introduction to Scientific Computing and Problem Solving, Parallel Computation (Models, Algorithms, Limits), Practical Programming in C, Introduction to C++, and many others depending n the university the student chooses to attend. As opposed, Computer engineering (CEN) is the design and prototyping of computing devices and systems. While sharing much history and many areas of interest with computer science, computer engineering concentrates its effort on the ways in which computing ideas are mapped into working physical systems.

Emerging equally from the disciplines of computer science and electrical engineering, computer engineering rests on the intellectual foundations of these disciplines, the basic physical sciences and mathematics. Computer engineers are involved in many hardware and software aspects of computing, from the design of individual microprocessors, personal computers, and supercomputers, to circuit design. This field of engineering not only focuses on how computer systems themselves work, but also how they integrate into the larger picture.

In order to own a CEN degree or to become a computer engineer, a student would have to take the following courses: Introduction to Computer Systems, Computer Systems Programming, Intro to Embedded Systems, Electric Circuits, Fundamentals of Logic Design, Analytical Foundations of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Linear Systems, Electromagnetic Fields, Microelectronics, Design of Complex Digital Systems, Technical Electives, Calculus I and II, Engineering statistics, Advanced Programming Tools and Techniques, Introduction to C++ ,and many others depending on the university the student chooses to attend.

Computer engineers/scientists will be in hot demand as computer technologies grow in importance for companies both large and small. As a computer engineer or scientist, you can find employment in a variety of industries in both the public and private sectors, such as business, telecommunications, government, and health care. However, getting these jobs can become a bigger deal than it may seem because it puts you in charge of how things go technologically. So if a small mistake is made, be ready to take the blame for it. As a computer scientist, you can expect to be able to get a job in different areas of the tech world.

You are able to get a job as a Software Architect, Information Technology consultant, Project Manager, Information Technology (IT), Database Administrator (DBA), Information Technology (IT) Manager, Systems Engineer (Computer Networking / IT), Software Development Engineer, Test (SDET), Software Developer, Network Engineer, Information Technology Specialist, and many others around the computer field. Or you could just end up building the world’s most popular social network. Most people call it Facebook but I renamed it to waste-all-your-time-doing-nothing-book!

Anyways, that is an irrelevant topic; and yes Mark Zuckerberg was a computer science major who dropped out of Harvard in 2004. On the other hand, a computer engineer will sometimes be able to get some of the jobs a computer scientist is able to because CEN covers a bit of CS. So if you have a bachelor in CEN and a minor in CS or a bachelor in both, you are pretty much unstoppable in the tech world. As a computer engineer you can work as a Hardware Engineer, Systems Engineer/Analyst, Embedded Systems Engineer, Network engineer, etc.

Steve “The Woz” Wozniak, is a computer engineer who found Apple with his friend Steve Jobs. I personally share the opinion that choosing a major should not be about money. It should be about love because it will most likely be what you will end up doing for the rest of your life, and it must be pretty disturbing getting up every single morning to do what you do not love. Unfortunately, for the ones planning on studying CS or CEN, you will not be among the highest paid fellows in America. That tremendous position is taken by the Surgeons who make about $215,000 per year.

Nevertheless, you will also not be part of the highest paid engineers in America. That spectacular position is taken by the petroleum engineers who have an average starting salary of about $87,000 per year. However, Computer Science graduates can expect to be starting their career with an average salary of $60,000 (Not that bad if you are just a young individual starting a new life with few responsibilities and bills to pay). Graduates majoring specifically in computer science saw their average salary offer increase 3. 7 percent, and it is supposed to keep increasing in the upcoming years.

Plus, $60,000 is really just the start because the mid-year career average goes up to $97,000 per year. Now that we have talked about how much money you can make if you become a Computer scientist, let’s take a trip to the other side of the building. The average offer to computer-engineering graduates rose 7. 6 percent. Computer engineering graduates can expect to have an average starting salary of about $64,000 per year. And it gets better for them too because their mid-career average is of $100,000 per year (hope you are smiling if you like CEN).

Now let’s walk down to hard work and leave those facts alone for a second. I am a believer that hard work pays off and that every individual has the opportunity to make more (or less) money than what is given by these statistics. “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. ” – Unknown. Larry Page, an American computer scientist and internet entrepreneur who, with Sergey Brin (Another computer scientist), co-founded Google in 1998, is a computer scientist who makes way more money than most computer engineers and surgeons due to his hard work and dedication.

Same thing happened with Steve jobs (Apple), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Michael Dell (Dell), Larry Ellison (Oracle), Mark Pincus (zynga), and many other successful people in the tech world. So do not be afraid to set your goals high, and do not let those statistics dictate what you can do with your life. As I am assuming, if you choose one of these two (CS or CEN), you will probably be interested in more than just a quick job for a couple of months. You would want a career.

And the good news is that if you choose CS you will be in pretty good shape. Employment for computer scientists is expected to grow as fast as or faster than average compared to all other occupations for the 2008-2018 decade, and job prospects are excellent. Employment for computer scientists is projected to increase by 24% partly due to the rapid growth in computer systems design and related services industry, as well as the software industry, which is projected to be among the fastest growing industries in the U. S. economy.

Great computer scientists are likely to enjoy excellent job prospects, as many companies report difficulties finding a sufficient number of these highly skilled workers. As far as computer engineering goes, there is what I call “A bad news but not really. ” Employment of computer engineers is expected to increase 9 percent from 2010 to 2020, slower than the average for all occupations. A limited number of engineers will be needed to meet the demand for new computer hardware because more of the innovation in computers now takes place with software than with hardware.

Although foreign competition in computer equipment will negatively affect the growth of this occupation, this will be partially offset by the development of computer chips that are embedded in other electronics such as household appliances, medical devices, or automobiles. I call this “A bad news but not really” because I believe that computer engineers will not have a hard time adjusting to these changes. CEN covers a bit of CS, so computer engineers will not be 100% lost and will most likely be able to adjust with some hard work and dedication.

Do not feel discouraged if you like CEN better than CS. In conclusion, Computer related fields are substantially growing. Technology has grown so much that is has become part of our everyday life. We do not live without our cell phones, laptops, or ipads. So if you end up choosing CS or CEN, you should know that you are setting yourself up to great things in life. You are setting yourself to a great job, good money, and the opportunity to follow technology take over the world. Of course it is not going to be easy, but with hard work and dedication everything is possible.

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