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MAE major considering Software Engineering

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  • Thread starter jaredmt
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  • #1

Main Question or Discussion Point

I am a Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering major in my senior year and I enjoy it but I'm starting to think that I might be happier doing Software Engineering.

as a note: I'm not really that interested in a career as computer programmer because they seem to make half the income as SE and I think software engineers get to use more brain-work/creativity.

I will be 25 when I get my B.S. in MAE. At that point I should have a full-time job, so if I go back for another bachelor's degree, it would take probably 4 more years.

does anyone have any general advice? should I pursue a bachelor's degree more related to software engineering? I'd like to go to graduate school at some point but I don't know what major to go for.

say I go and learn everything on my own about software engineering. Is it likely or even possible that I could skip the B.S. courses and go straight to graduate school for software engineering?

my college offers Electrical and Computer Engineering. Honestly, I'm not that interested in electrical engineering. How important is it for software engineers? I'm most interested in making useful business applications. I enjoy making programs for my girlfriend/friends/family.

thanks for any help

I should probably also ask: what majors could translate to a career in software engineering? my college offers:
-computer science (but isn't this more for computer programmers?)
-electrical and computer engineering (I don't like the electrical part)
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Answers and Replies

  • #2
Software engineering and programming aren't very different, so to become a software engineer you will end up doing a lot of programming. The best degrees to get a job as a SE are SE or computer science. Computer science is totally fine and most software engineers actually have a CS degree not a SE degree because CS degrees are offered everywhere. The main difference between CS and SE is that SE is actually a branch of CS. CS is more general and you have the option to pursue different fields (e.g computational complexity, numerical analysis, computational mathematics, artificial intelligence, hardware) not covered in a typical SE degree. But you can also take courses in software engineering within you CS degree which is what you want to do.

If you don't want to do another 4 years of B.S, you should look for places that offer graduate degrees in applied computing, they are 1 or 2 year programs without research and only require you to be familiar with basic programming (material covered in 1 or 2 programming courses). They roughly cover the following topics which should prepare you for a software engineering position.
Data Structures & Algorithms, Systems Programming, Programming Methodology, Software Engineering I, II, III, plus some more advanced topics.

Also, you can start taking CS courses in your college and delay your graduation for another 1-2 years. However, I don't think it is a good idea to take up a double major in CS because then you have take a lot of theory courses that aren't very useful for a SE job.
I should emphasize that you don't need to go back to school for another 4 years.
  • #3
Thanks! that was very informative.

so, do you think it is possible for me to just take a few important CS courses and get into a graduate program more related to SE such as CS?

by the way, all the courses you mentioned I am definitely interested in taking. spring semester, I'm taking Numerical & Computation Analysis (CS course). I am currently studying all topics covered in Programming Methodology I (ECE course) on my own and hoping to override into Programming Methodology II in fall 2011 (my last semester)
  • #4
By all means Yes, if you are already taking numerical analysis and learning programming methodology on your own you might even be able to get into grad school for software engineering. However, you should spend at least 1 more semester taking a few more CS/SE courses. Most people think that it is very difficult to get into a graduate program different from what you studied as an undergrad. This couldn't be more wrong. Graduate programs are very specialized as opposed to undergrad programs that are meant to give you a broad education. For example, in a CS undergrad degree you probably have to take courses in all fields of CS and the truth is that although a course in graph theory or Computational Complexity or advanced natural language computing might come handy to you as a software engineer you can do very well without.They are not even pre-requisites for for any graduate course in SE. Bottom line is that, with only a few courses you can get into a SE program even at a top school (if you have the grades and everything).

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