Is Computer Engineering "inferior" to EE and CS?

  • #1
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I've heard some people saying that Computer Engineering is not highly valued by employers because it typically doesn't delve too deep in electrical engineering essentials (at my college, CompE's takes Circuits classes, Digital Systems, some microcontroller classes, electromagnetics and basic electronics. EE's would have more classes on electronics, electric and magnetic materials, polyphasic circuits, power generation, etc...). Also, it lacks some advanced CS concepts (like Graphs and Automata Theory, Compilers, etc...).

So, what I've heard is that companies prefer to hire EE's to design the hardware part and CS's for the software part.

Is that true? Are Computer Engineers considered more of a "jack of all trades"? I ask because I'm very interested in the field, but some of the opinions concern me.
 

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  • #2
wukunlin
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My 2-3 years of industry work and job searching experience is in agreement of what you have heard.
It doesn't make that specialization "inferior" but their is higher chance of putting yourself in an awkward position in the job market.

Edit: forgot to add, if you are interested in computer engineering, you better make up your mind whether you prefer the hardware or the software component of it. When I thought of it back when I was studying, I always though designing IC will always be more interesting. When I actually had the chance to look at someone doing some design work with Cadence and the sorts, turned out it isn't my cup of tea and was glad I didn't go down that path.
 
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  • #3
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I've heard some people saying that Computer Engineering is not highly valued by employers because it typically doesn't delve too deep in electrical engineering essentials (at my college, CompE's takes Circuits classes, Digital Systems, some microcontroller classes, electromagnetics and basic electronics. EE's would have more classes on electronics, electric and magnetic materials, polyphasic circuits, power generation, etc...). Also, it lacks some advanced CS concepts (like Graphs and Automata Theory, Compilers, etc...).

So, what I've heard is that companies prefer to hire EE's to design the hardware part and CS's for the software part.

Is that true? Are Computer Engineers considered more of a "jack of all trades"? I ask because I'm very interested in the field, but some of the opinions concern me.

Computer Engineering is a specialized form of Electrical Engineering, so EE is the more general one between the two but it's goals are also different from CE.
 
  • #4
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My 2-3 years of industry work and job searching experience is in agreement of what you have heard.
It doesn't make that specialization "inferior" but their is higher chance of putting yourself in an awkward position in the job market.

Edit: forgot to add, if you are interested in computer engineering, you better make up your mind whether you prefer the hardware or the software component of it. When I thought of it back when I was studying, I always though designing IC will always be more interesting. When I actually had the chance to look at someone doing some design work with Cadence and the sorts, turned out it isn't my cup of tea and was glad I didn't go down that path.


If I may ask, what do you work with now?
 
  • #5
wukunlin
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If I may ask, what do you work with now?
I ended up doing electronics manufacturing. Having a mixture of background knowledge helped. Although the lack of rigor is making me consider switching...
 
  • #6
Dr. Courtney
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In general, no. But in some schools, the computer engineering major may be dumbed down for students who can't handle EE.
 
  • #7
wukunlin
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Yeah, definitely take some time to look through the courses. Computer Engineer at my university was basically a mixture of EE and Software Engineering, combining these two into a single specialization sacrificed some breadth and depth
 
  • #8
StatGuy2000
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In general, no. But in some schools, the computer engineering major may be dumbed down for students who can't handle EE.

That is surprising to read about, because in Canada, that is simply not the case. In actual fact, in most engineering schools (including at my alma mater), computer engineering tended to have stricter requirements than electrical engineering in terms of admissions.

I should also add that (at least in the case of my alma mater) the first 2 years of both programs are practically identical, with specialization taking place beginning in 3rd year. I believe the same is the case at the University of Waterloo, one of the leading schools for engineering in Canada (several of my friends pursued engineering degrees from there).
 
  • #9
Dr Transport
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In the last company I worked for, 3 of the 4 people in the 2011-13 timeframe I hired had Computer Engineering degrees, they understood the interface between hardware and software much better than either pure EE or CS majors.
 
  • #10
jasonRF
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I am an electrical engineer who has been in industry for nearly 20 years, and in my experience computer engineering is not inferior or less rigorous at all. It is simply different. The most irreplaceable person on the last large project I was on was the computer engineer: none of the many software or electrical engineers had the skill set required to do his job. As in Dr Transport's case, it was the intimate understanding of the software/hardware interface that was crucial.

I have no idea about job markets, but the world is becoming more automated and computerized, so I would expect computer engineering to be a reasonable career path for someone interested in the field.
 
  • #11
wukunlin
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In the last company I worked for, 3 of the 4 people in the 2011-13 timeframe I hired had Computer Engineering degrees, they understood the interface between hardware and software much better than either pure EE or CS majors.
In your opinion, do you think this understanding is acquired from work or does the foundation have to be laid during their studies? Just curious[emoji4]
 
  • #12
Dr Transport
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In your opinion, do you think this understanding is acquired from work or does the foundation have to be laid during their studies? Just curious[emoji4]

Both, with that these individuals were able to make immediate impacts on major computing systems faster than seasoned veterans.
 
  • #13
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You should focus on enjoying your classes and enjoying your career path, rather than trying to figure out what employers want. If you enjoy your classes, you will generally become more valuable to an employer than somebody who despises the classes they had to take to get a degree. I chose CpE because I did not want to take classes like fields or power, for which I had zero interest in. I enjoyed every CpE class I took. You can always specialize in EE or CS by taking electives in those areas.

That being said, I think the CpE degree can be thought as more of a generalist type of degree than either EE or CS, but few employers are going to turn away a successful CpE grad who enjoys their classes.
 

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