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Probable CE major looking for advice

  1. Mar 7, 2012 #1
    Hello all,
    I have been giving some very serious thought to my future education and career lately. I have always considered becoming a CE major, but I wanted to get some advice before I dive into it.

    A little background about myself...
    I am 25. I have been in school 4 separate times and dropped out each time due to different reasons. I'm not stupid.. in fact, I consider myself to be extremely bright. I dropped out of school because I lacked discipline, which living on my own and getting kicked around at my crappy low-wage jobs has taught me.

    I love computers, math, and science. Also, I build computers in my spare time for fun. I have a beast of a pc, by the way.. i5 2500, 12 gigs of ram, dual NVIDIA GTX550... anyways... I'm wondering if CE is really the major for me because of one simple reason. I REALLY do not like programming. I find it tedious and boring. I can program, and I have taken classes in it before.. I just genuinely dislike the process.

    I'm smart enough, I'm ready to go back to school and do things the right way, and I'm driven enough.. I just really dislike programming.

    Do you think that this is the major for me? What kind of careers will be available? And if you could estimate some of the salaries in these fields I would appreciate that all as well..

    Thank you in advance for your responses.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 7, 2012 #2
    Not sure about CE at your particular school but you would generally have to take between 2-4 courses involving a significant programming project, like compilers/operating systems/etc.

    Personally I'm doing a math/CS double major, and while I don't particularly like programming, I don't mind it that much and I think it would be useful to learn about hardware and stuff even if I'm doing more theoretical things like algorithms/AI/etc.

    But if you absolutely despise it, you're probably not going to get through a course where you need to build an operating system in C, for example. In that case, you should probably consider an applied math major. If you're good at math and know how to program, you can skip all the intro CS courses (intro programming, intro algorithms, etc.) and just start taking whatever interests you in CS.
  4. Mar 7, 2012 #3
    Thanks for the response.

    You mentioned I could skip all the intro courses and just dive straight into CS courses. From what I understand, CS is software (programming) and CE is both with an emphasis on hardware. Is this true? If so then I wouldn't want to dive into CS because it really sounds like something I wouldn't enjoy.
  5. Mar 7, 2012 #4
    So at my school CS is more theory oriented, there's really no software courses that are required besides the intro ones. With sufficient math background you can just jump straight into the more theoretical courses.

    The only thing is that there seems to be this idea among CS people that you learn better by building things, so that's why they make people build compilers/operating systems/etc. in those respective courses, so you have to do a bit of programming there. But if you just want the more theoretical side of CS and you like math, you don't have to take those courses.
  6. Mar 7, 2012 #5
    I'm a computer engineering major and I'm a senior at UCF. I might be able to give you some pointers.

    First off, why do you want to do computer engineering? To design computers? Well, let's see what goes into that.

    Computers engineering often has a lot to do with microcontrollers. Embedded systems often has you programming a microcontroller in a low level language such as C or assembly.

    Computer architecture and organization classes might interest you, since it involves the design of computer systems and you can choose to focus on things like performance and throughput.

    When you're designing digital circuits, you may end up using a programming language such as VERILOG to design them. It's actually called a hardware description language.

    You will have to become a pretty good programmer in the four years of taking computer engineering. Those were the most "hardware" courses I could think of, and they still involve a little bit of programming. There are plenty of intense programming courses such as System Software, Operating Systems, Software Engineering, etc.

    If you think you wouldn't mind taking a little bit of programming, but you really want to design hardware, I would point you towards electrical engineering. It's a big field, involving lots of math, physics, and electrical hardware (digital & analog). You would never be asked to program an operating system as an electrical engineer, but you will definitely have classes that involve designing electrical hardware.

    The point is this: As an electrical engineer you can choose to specialize in computer systems, and you won't be forced into taking all the software classes that you don't like. It may take until your senior year to be able to pick the electives you want, but I think it'd be much better for you.

    You will have to learn lots of things that are not directly related to computers (analog circuits, semiconductors, power systems), but they are indirectly related and they lean towards the side of more physics, less software.

    It's all a spectrum, and you could probably get away with a CE degree, but in my opinion you wouldn't like it.
  7. Mar 7, 2012 #6
    GREAT ANSWER, thank you.

    I think EE may be what I'm looking for judging by this information. My brother is an EE major at university of cincinnati.. I'll ask him about it.

    again, I appreciate the thoughtful response. I will heed the advice and look further into CE vs EE
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