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Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Majors?

  1. Sep 21, 2013 #1
    Hey guys! I made an account finally, I've been on here forever, but it is finally time for me to ask this question now that I am in college...

    For a few years now, almost everyone I have talked to tells me that single majors in engineering are useless, and that double majors are the way to go. I am interested in physics, electrical engineering and robotics.

    I really want to be a physicist though, not sure of which kind yet, but I have loved it since high school. I have been told to get a duel bachelors in Mechanical/Electrical, or Electrical/Computer science.

    My plan here is to get one or two bachelors, then work and save up money, and then return to school. I eventually want a Ph. D in physics (like prior mentioned however, not sure in which division). Out all of the engineering degrees related to electrical and mechanical, which give me a better chance of getting a salary of at least 55k a year?

    For reference, I live in NY. I am willing to travel. I will be getting my bachelors from a good technical university (I am currently in a community college, which also helps explain financially why I need a job before going back to school.) In short, I just need a job right after college for a few years to save up some money. Which degrees related to mechanical and electrical engineering will help me do this the fastest?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 21, 2013 #2


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    I wish I really had a good answer for you. I am an electronics engineer, so I have a perspective based on that. I think there is less money and fewer opportunities in the electrical end as opposed to the computer science end. Electrical engineering is largely a grind about how to achive higher performance within bounded capabilities. Computer science opens up a universe where you can remake all the rules. Sure, Electrical engineering is about innovation, creativity, solving problems, etc, but the space you work in is bounded (of course there are pure research exceptions). In computer science you can take whole new approaches without a major research budget. You get things like google, microsoft, facebook, amazon, paypal, ebay on down to game creators and .....
    Building robotic hardware is certainly cool, but the AI and control algorithms that make it work is where the heavy lifting is. Making a faster processor makes that possible, but that is a 1000 man team. Building a motor controller is fun, but the IC's are there for you.

    I just feel that in this day and age the abundance of creative and enterpenurial opportunities in computer science have the edge.

    Physics is useful in any discipline, and you can't go wrong there. Understanding real limitations and where they come from is important.

    But in the end it is about what you have a passion for. What do you think you will never get bored learning more about. To not follow that instinct would be a mistake. I love my work, I love learning more about it every day. I don't know why, just that its right for me.
  4. Sep 22, 2013 #3
    ^I'm not so sure about that. Computer Science jobs are a lot more likely to get outsourced than EE jobs. With EE jobs, a lot of times you have to be there physically. For instance, an electric motor designer will often times be needed there to work with the technicians.

    Most mechanical/electrical engineers I know have been able to keep a steady job for a while. The computer science guys that I know of are constantly switching jobs every 2 to 5 years because they get layed off.
  5. Sep 22, 2013 #4
    So I should get a Mechatronical Engineering degree then?
  6. Sep 22, 2013 #5


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    I won't debate what is more likely to be outsourced. There are many views, and everything can be outsourced.
    If you are good (effective) and continue to grow (learn), you will always find work in any field that doesn't completely go away. There is no way to accurately guess the future. The important thing is that you do what you are passionate about and will never get tired of learning about because it will continue to try to change out from underneath you. As soon as you think you are in a groove, you will discover it is a rut. It's important that you choose what is fun for you, because that is who you are going to be.
  7. Sep 26, 2013 #6


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    I'm an electronics engineer myself, but I have a slightly different perspective. I agree with you that CS people are doing better than us at the moment with career opportunities and salary but who knows what the future holds.

    Where I disagree is in the nature of constraints. I think operating in a constrained environment is what makes my job so exciting! Trying to get adequate performance out of an older semiconductor process to save money is really hard... and very rewarding! I also love building physical things I can look at. Makes me proud to go to work every day.
  8. Sep 26, 2013 #7


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    I don't see the constraints as negative, but just as different universes. I guess I unintentionally made constraints sound negative. Some people like the freedom of fewer constraints, some people like solving difficult problems because of or within the constraints. Depends on what you like.

    A software guy once asked a hardware engineer whether he wanted to do software. The reply was "well,...", to which the software guy immediately said "nope, not for you". Software engineers have to make quick decisions and move on, hardware engineers tweak and perfect until forced to ship it, warts and all.

    The advantage the computer science guys have at the moment is the ability to do innovative things with fewer resources. Mobile apps is a perfect example. Hardware innovation takes a big budget and a big team.
  9. Sep 27, 2013 #8
    So right now I have just finished my third year of electrical engineering. Prior to this I have a degree in computer science.
    I debated a long time about whether to go electrical or not. Pretty much everyone I've talked to in the industry has said that Comp Sci + Electrical is a pretty wicked combination.

    I hope it will stay that way as I start looking for a post-degree job :D
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