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Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering

  1. Aug 8, 2007 #1

    well i am undecided about my major... i wud like to kno wat wud better sute me.... here a little about my self ... well i like math and i'm very well good at it... i dont really like science BUT i love the idea of earning more money as a CE... BUT chemistry and physics are required :yuck: ... from my understandin CS is more a bout math and theory, i dont like theories much, i think is kind of a waste of time, but den again i need that for my own knowledge... i guess.... CE is more hands on BUT SCIENCE KILLS ME! i need help o:)

    i am starting as a freshmen in college now and i dont kno what to major on... so i wud like to hear every ones opinions and advices but if there is anyone who actually major in one of them to tell me if da science in CE is too hard for some1 who doesnt like science much, or if the theories in CS is too boring for a non-reader like me. :biggrin:

    key notes:
    -i like math
    -i want to focus on softwares AND hardware as an equal
    -dont like science
    -dont like history
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 9, 2007 #2


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    Sounds like CE, but this would really depend on the school you're going to. There are a lot more jobs for programmers than asic designers, although the asic guys probably make more on average. Embedded firmware (a type of software) jobs generally pay more than generic software (like Windows programming) jobs, but again, there are far fewer embedded firmware jobs than general programming jobs.
  4. Aug 9, 2007 #3


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    - Thats good. You'll find yourself taking some courses on signals as a junior/senior. Then there are more specialized courses for CEs such as DSP (digital signal processing). You'll also find yourself taking a bunch of courses that EEs take (which are math intensive).

    - Well in my school CE is just this. You take of bunch of programming, computer architecture, analog and (more) digital circuit design courses with the final hope of integrating all of these skills to make useful computer controlled systems.

    - You don't to like every aspect of it. Liking electrodynamics would be nice though. You should pay special attention to your courses in electricity and magnetism.

    - Me neither

    - CEs have the ability to be very flexible. They can specialize in anything from circuit design (analog and digital), computer controlled systems design, embedded systems design and programming to name a few.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2007
  5. Aug 9, 2007 #4


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    Look at the syllabus, sometime CS and CE are the same course but one offered through the engineering dept and one through the science dept.
  6. Aug 9, 2007 #5
    thank you all so much!! well it really helped me... but i think that in the college i want to take CE it has chemistry and physics, and omg when i read that i almost had a heart attack :surprised and also it is much more about hardwares than softwares.. so hmmm i dont kno...:confused:

    And in that same shool CS is more math and HISTORY! :zzz: 2day i went to register to my classes and well since i'm still undecided i am startin with liberal arts in a community college then transfer into a 4 yr. college after this one semester :rolleyes:

    YOU are absolutely right! i should research more in deph the classes offered in each major in the shool i want to go to :biggrin: THANX!:tongue:
  7. Aug 10, 2007 #6


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    Just so you know, all engineering schools (regardless of specialization) will most likely require to take a year of general physics and at least one course in chemistry.
  8. Aug 10, 2007 #7


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    My advice:

    1) Learn how to properly use the english language. I don't mean to "pick" on you exactly, but you'll never get a decent job of any sort with the kind of spelling and grammar you're using here. If you're not a native english speaker, use your college years to improve your use of the language. "Net speak" is practically offensive to many people.

    2) You will never succeed in any kind of technical field if you are unwilling or unable to complete basic science courses. In fact, you do not deserve a degree in a technical field with the attitude that you currently have toward topics like physics and chemistry. I understand that many people find physics to be terrifying, but really, get over yourself. You'll only be required to take a few physics classes, and they're quite necessary for you to understand enough about the world to be a successful engineer. You do understand that engineers (particularly EEs) are effectively applied physicists, right?

    3) You will be able to change your major without penalty up until your second or third year. You don't have to make a final decision as a freshman.

    4) If you want to study hardware and software in equal depth, CS will not please you. You may be required to take some basic perfunctory hardware classes, but CS, in general, has very little to do with hardware.

    - Warren
  9. Aug 10, 2007 #8
    OUCH!! kind of harsh there, but yea you are totally right, i was just typing like that because i was typing fast and well it becomes a habit :blushing: hehe

    but certainly, if i want a better future for myself i will have to bare with it. I guess and hope it won't be too much for me. :shy:

    oh and another question... can i major in CS and minor in CE or vice-versa? or not possible... :uhh:

  10. Aug 10, 2007 #9


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    At my university they offered CS, CE and CSE, CSE being in the middle of the two. I actually got confused for a while and was taking some CSE courses that i didn't need for my CS degree, but at least i learnt the basics of CPU design from it.
    CS involves more theory, which i enjoy, and more software oriented courses such as Operating Systems and Algorithms. There are plenty of courses shared between these majors, so it's not a fine line. They're both very interesting and exciting, and you can always take a specific course in each to get a feel for which one you like better.
  11. Aug 10, 2007 #10
    THANX! you enlightened my day :!!) hehe... that is true, i will take a class or two and see how it goes with both and well hopefully i make the best decision :biggrin:, and well i guess theory ain't that bad, i love computers so what best than to learn the history and theories of it :tongue:
  12. Aug 11, 2007 #11
    Do you not like science because you're bad at it or because you just don't like it?
  13. Aug 11, 2007 #12
    Here's my input, I'll be a junior EE this fall.

    1) If you want hardware + software balance, do CE.

    2) I was terrible at chemistry... I took it, got a C. I moved on. My EE & CS GPA is a 3.7. Just because you can't do chemistry doesn't mean you should give up on being a computer engineering major.

    3) I agere with chroot regarding the basic sciences -- you need to know them, or at least have some sort of background in them. Sure, my chemistry grade wasn't great, but I did come out with a general view of what I need. I doubt I'll be using the specifics of general chemistry, but it's good to have the basic knowledge in order to succeed. In regards to physics, the mechanics/kinematics part may not be important to you later down the road. You'll most likely have a mechanical engineer on your team in the real world, let he/she handle that. You'll need to have a firm understanding of Physics II (Electricity and Magnetism).

    4) I'm guessing you don't "like" physics/chemistry is because you haven't sit down for a few hours everyday and try to study it. Remember, if you do engineering, you'll be studying a whole lot. I can't stress that enough, you'll have lots of classes, with 3 hour labs, plus homework to do each night (in most cases). Be prepared to sit down and learn the material, it's not going to come easy to you like everything did in HS.
  14. Aug 11, 2007 #13
    I remember i had a chemistry class which i didnt pass, but then i took summer school and i passed it with a 95... it's just that i'm not really into science, it's harder for me to study because i find no interest in it either, i dont know if it was because of the poor science teachers i had in my life but yea...

    WoW, yes you are right... i think i'm just scared at the fact that now in college i'm going to just have to give it my all, and study, do alot of work... H.S. was nothing to me, i never actually studied for any class and i always did good in all my classes. I'm just not used to it, i was actually leaning towards CS because it's easier and it deals more with math, and well you're right i shouldn't just give up on engineering because i dont like science. :redface: THANKS!
  15. Aug 13, 2007 #14
    I bet you I Hate chemistry more than you do. Seriously.

    I hate to say this, but the only science course that you'll see come back to you is Physics II, electricity and magentism. For EE/Comp eng students, you won't see kinematics after you finish with Physics I. I haven't had any chemistry pop up, only a little in Semiconductors class, but that was manageable even for me.
  16. Aug 13, 2007 #15


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    You can generally take a minor in computer science, but rarely can you take a minor in computer engineering. In fact, if you major in CE, a minor in CS may be almost automatic, requiring only a couple of additional classes.

    - Warren
  17. Aug 13, 2007 #16
    True. In my school, you can't minor in CS if you're majoring in CE. You can only minor in CS if you're majoring in EE, weird ... I know.
  18. Aug 13, 2007 #17
    It's not weird. There is a lot of overlap between CS and CE.....
  19. Aug 13, 2007 #18
    Here's a link to the degree plan for CE at my school (click the boxes to get a brief description of the course)

    http://www.ece.utexas.edu/undergrad/preq_ce_0608.html [Broken]

    And here's CS:

    http://www.cs.utexas.edu/academics/undergraduate/degrees_courses/course_flowchart/flowchart.pdf [Broken]

    As you can see, at least at my university, CS is much more involved in the theories of programming and could almost be considered a very specific math degree. CE, however, is basically an EE degree with an emphasis on programming. CE's take a dedicated course on electro-magnetism for instance; something which a CS major would never have to even contemplate taking. In fact the basic sequence for a CE varies from EE only in the fact that they take Discrete Mathematics in lieu of Linear Algebra. So, at my school at least, you better at least like (and hopefully love) physics if you want to take CE.

    I would definitely look at comparable course requirements for your university, because CE varies alot from university to university.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  20. Aug 13, 2007 #19
    ohhh ... alright... thanks :biggrin:
  21. Aug 14, 2007 #20
    hmmm about thaaaat:uhh:... physics in my H.S. everyone made it sound like a impossible to pass class, and well i avoided it by taking another class which was environmental science. it gave me the other science credit i needed and well what i'm trying to say is that i never really experienced physics, i know wat it deals with but that's about it... so i guess i wouldn't really know if i hate it or end up loving it or it's just not in my interest like all the other sciences :confused:
  22. Aug 31, 2007 #21

    Regardless of your preference over the courses, if you want to be an engineer in US, you have to take those basic science courses.

    Specifically speaking, If you want to work in the US, you will take FE Exam (Fundamentals of Engineering). To do well on the FE, it is a good idea to take those classes you mentioned.

    If you are going to be a computer science major, this really doesn't apply to you (But still wouldn't hurt to know them).
  23. Aug 31, 2007 #22
  24. Aug 31, 2007 #23
    At my university only one semester in basic chemistry is required for engineers. I got a C+ in it because I took it first semester when I didn't understand how to learn. I wouldn't let an aversion to chemistry hold you back.

    As for physics, why are you afraid of it? If you had a bad experience in high school, could it have been an issue with the teaching quality or your study habits?

    Whatever you choose, go to the department website and read the overview they provide. Take a look at the course sequence and read the course description, so you understand what you're really going to be learning for the next four years.
  25. Aug 31, 2007 #24
    On that note at my school and most you can go CE then it requires only an extr 30 hours to get a second bachelors. After you have your CE degree you only need 10 hours of CS based classes and then just take 20 hours of other interesting classes or push-overs if you wish and boom you have both. My dad knows the head of the engineeing department here and he said that the CE is enough the difference is very minute and in a sense CE's are more versatile when coming to job selection.
  26. Oct 6, 2008 #25
    CE is just CS with electrical engineering classes thrown in. Honestly, at this point I'd say don't worry so much about choosing because the general courses you have to take for both majors are practically the same.

    As for hating physics, I despised it with a passion when I was in high school, but when I had to take it again in college, I actually took the time to understand it and in the end I found it very interesting. So if you don't like science now, chances are you haven't really given it a chance.

    As for being good at math... I really wouldn't let that be the sole decider of which major you will be taking. High school math and college math are two very VERY different things. I myself excelled greatly in highschool mathematics and it can be fun in college, but its alot of work. When you take difficult math courses for your major (ie. Upper level calculas, differential equations, linear algebra) you'll find yourself spending many hours in the library regardless of how much you currently excel in math.

    So what I'm saying is in the end, don't let your current strengths/weaknesses in certain fields make you choose your major. Choose your major based on what you want to do when you get a career and if you really want it you can work hard enough to succeed in any of the classes required whether or not you're good at it.

    A final note...

    Don't pick a major because it "looks so darn good on paper". I know many people who choose majors in career fields they don't even wanna work, only because it looks good to an employer. I know people who take electrical engineering even though they wanna take a business management type career path simply because it "looks good on the resume"... trust me, if you do that you will hate life.
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