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Questions about being a Software Engineering

  1. Oct 29, 2014 #1
    I am about to go to college, and I want to land on software developing as a career after college. I don't know exactly what kind of classes I need to take and I wonder if it revolves around more Computer Science and Programming or more Math and Physics?

    I searched online if Physics was essential and some people said it was only good to know the basics but not as much as the amount of Physics other types of engineers need. I am not sure if that is true though. Can someone shed some light please!
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 30, 2014 #2
    I don't know that you need to know any physics, and you only need a little bit of math, although it doesn't hurt to know more. The thing is that there is a wide variety of software developer jobs out there--a few of them would even explicitly call for a mathematician or physicist who knows something about programming, but that is a relatively small proportion of the jobs out there. You would usually major in computer science. Some typical courses are intro to computer science, data structures, algorithms, operating systems, or computer graphics.
  4. Oct 30, 2014 #3
    My academic background is in physics and I’m a software developer. I’ve never had any use for physics as a software developer. I’ve had a couple of jobs in biomed research where a general background in science was nice, but even in those cases it wasn’t essential by any stretch. Also, nothing specific to physics was needed or even useful for those jobs.

    Once you graduate a degree in comp sci will almost certainly do more to help you get your foot in the door than a physics degree. It will also be helpful to have that kind of background for some types of interviews.

    I’d suggest trying to get some practical experience programming while you’re still in school, maybe an internship, work-study or a part time job.
  5. Oct 31, 2014 #4
    You wouldn't need much physics but from what I see, the difference between being a mediocre programmer and a real computer scientist is knowing mathematics.
    I am doing a course on Machine Learning right now on coursera and it requires a good knowledge of linear algebra, statistics & probability and even vector calculus!
    You'd be surprised by the number of people who work in IT doing this course getting very flustered by not having a good foundation in mathematics.
    You can still learn to do ML just like you can learn to build programs with a CS degree but if you wanna produce original work then I suggest studying a good deal of mathematics.
    That's just me though, I'm in no way an expert. Also worth mentioning is that I am doing a Rice University python programming intro course as well and the mathematics there is what I'd consider middle/high school level yet people are getting frustrated because of not knowing enough.
  6. Nov 9, 2014 #5
    Thanks guys! Very helpful! I was kind of worried since Physics is the most difficult class I have ever been in so far. I really appreciate it!
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