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Should I get an MS in Computer Engineering after earning my BS in Physics?

  1. Jul 3, 2008 #1
    Hey just wanted to get some advice on going to graduate school to get a masters in Computer Engineering. I wanted to know my chances of possibly finding a program and what exactly being a Computer Engineer entails.

    I am currently going into my senior year at the The College of New Jersey and will be graduating with a BS in Physics.

    Anyways I applied to a variety of REU's for the summer and didn't get accepted into any of them. I had completed an independent research project in optics this past fall, but I guess it wasn't enough. So I ended up falling back on my background in computers (worked on campus in IT) and was able to land a really good internship in IT for a pharmaceutical company. I really like the job, and am well qualified to work their after I graduate. The thing is that I like to design things, and would like to utilize more of my physics skills. The job is not challenging enough in my opinion. I really enjoy the security aspect of it though, such as penetration testing. I thought about doing quantum computation in graduate school for physics, but after I get my masters and do a thesis in it; where would I go to get a job? Also the GRE subject test in physics appears to be very daunting.

    So I have spent the last few weeks researching the topic of computer engineering and feel that it may be a very good fit. I figured that I would end up in some kind of engineering field even if I go for my masters in physics or applied physics so might as well go straight for engineering. It combines my IT/Computing background, which I thoroughly enjoy (I love messing around with Linux and John the Ripper and what not) while utilizing my physics knowledge, which I also really enjoy. In addition, a co-worker told me that an MS in computer engineering will not help, and was a waste of money. He said that if I wanted to work in security/systems engineering that I was better off working and getting experience rather than trying to go into graduate school. He also mention going and becoming an applications engineer. I could do that too, but my C++ is really rusty and I do not know javascript. I know fortran/matlab/mathematica physics/engineering languages, lol. The thing is I want to design computers/softare, maybe not at their most basic levels (circuit/programming), but at a systems interaction level or maybe encryption.

    Anyways let me know if you have any advice/stories to share it is much appreciated. I really want to know what I am getting myself into before I prepare for the GRE and start applying myself to graduate schools for Computer Engineering.

    Also what are the chances of me getting into a "decent" (Stevens Institute, NJIT, Fairfield, etc.) computer engineering program if I were to go. Would I have to become a licensed engineer to work as a computer engineer?

    rough sketch of my qualifications
    GPA: 3.07/4
    IT intern at Pharmaceutical company
    IT at TCNJ school of engineering
    Volunteered and fixed trenton inner city laptops, which were broken
    Optical Tweezers researcher
    made dean's list spring 2008

    math section did just a rough run through a while back and scored about a ~700

    The summer is almost over, and I would appreciate ANY Help for me in my search for a grad school/career path after my BS in physics. If you have any career experience/grad experience/any advice please help... Thanks I know this was a lengthy post.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 21, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 4, 2008 #2
    One thing to consider is trying to land a position at an engineering company and letting them pay for your masters.
  4. Jul 21, 2008 #3
    yea the thing is that I want to dedicate a year or two to just get my masters done with. I have a decent background, but I do not want to be an IT guy so to speak I like to design things whether its systems or software or hardware. A subject such as computer engineering and juggling a job and possibly other things would be very difficult all while trying to maintain a 3.0...
  5. Jul 21, 2008 #4
    in my opinion..prolly not. CE doesn't have huge job demands. Lots of CEs out there and wages aren't probably going to be very good. I would keep in mind how expensive things are nowadays.
  6. Jul 22, 2008 #5
    I thought the job market was supposed to extremely good for computer engineers?
  7. Jul 23, 2008 #6
    i don't mean to be sarcastic or arrogant or anything, but where did you get that idea from?

    From what ive been hearing, theres numerous problems w/ outsourcing. Lots of ppl study CE and computer science, and these just arent fields with high demand for jobs. Theres an oversupply of ppl with your backkground.

    Ask your school's career counselor. They'll definitely knoiw more than i do. Who knows, maybe i am completely wron on this. But do go ask before u commit to getting a MS. It's hard work! make sure the time and money is going to pay off.
  8. Jul 25, 2008 #7
    Taken from http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos267.htm

    Significant Points

    * Computer software engineers are one of the occupations projected to grow the fastest and add the most new jobs over the 2006-16 decade.
    * Excellent job prospects are expected for applicants with at least bachelor’s degree in computer engineering or computer science and with practical work experience.
    * Computer software engineers must continually strive to acquire new skills in conjunction with the rapid changes that occur in computer technology.

    I appreciate the advice, and just want to try and figure out where and what to study after my bachelor's in physics.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
  9. Jul 25, 2008 #8
    i guess i was completely wrong on this. hope things work out for you.
  10. Jul 26, 2008 #9
    Rass, you actually are really wrong about this. I've seen plenty of job openings for computer engineers... And the salaries are really good, too.
  11. Jul 27, 2008 #10
    i guess i got my impressions from both families and friends. They CRINGE at the thought of someone going into any field with "computer" in it..like CS or CE. I guess we all assume it's going to india and china or H1b visa workers (who will work for less) and thus an american worker will likely be fired. Or they say, your wages will be slashed. Thats whut they tell me...i dont knwo too much beyond this.

    But however, if it were up to me, i wouldnt do CE (becuz of what ppl have told me..yeah i knwo its a stupid way to think about jobs and career)
  12. Aug 4, 2008 #11
    Is it better to just do electrical? I heard that an electrical engineers are used as computer engineers all the time. Would I be better served getting an ms in electrical for more flexibility?
  13. Aug 6, 2008 #12
    hey bpair,

    liek i said, i dont know too much beyodn that general picture i wrote in the previous post...ask your career counselor.

    However, if i was in your shoes..i would not do EE either, nor CS or CE...anyhtign electrical and computer i woudl stay away from. Again, this is all jsut my opinion and impressions from what i hear from others.

    It is hard finding EE/CS/CE jobs. Altho i have a friend whos dad has a job in CE for like 10 yrs now, but he told me he was really LUCKY to get a job before the dot com bust,and he has kept it till today. but he emphasized LUCK.

    my aunt told me: EE is fun!creating technology and electronics is fun and beign creative to build these things is enjoyable. I absolutely think it is .everyone wants to do it. too much competition So ur gonan have tons of competition for the jobs u want. How stable is the job market??? How much demand is there for your kind of career interest? I donno, but all i know from the news is its been in decline. I saw on the news 2 months ago that Silicon Valley was cutting jobs..now to be fair i dont know if its jsut janitorial, secretorial, engineering, mangement jobs, etc. But i do hear from friends, relatives that EE is just not safe to go in. Everyone around me just seems to cringe at the word engineering..they're more into law, medicine, or business.

    but i only have a GENERAL impression of electronics and computer (which could be all wrogn and the job market could be great!). Im not sure bout MechE, or ChemE, or Nuc E or BioE ...or any of the other fields. Dont just box yourself into the engineering careers. re memeber science is fun! everyone wants to do it. But everyone tells me dont go into anyhtign electrical or computer.

    Again, this is jsut all hearsay..i coudl absolutely be 100% wrong on this. Ask your career counselor!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But i hope iim being useful to some extent.

    sorry to be such a downer...
  14. Aug 6, 2008 #13
    oh yeah i forgot ..i saw a couple of vids form anotyher thread talking aobut a similar thing... u might wanna check it out. its vids from Lou Dobbs's CNN show. Its a news report... remember im jsut coming at oen angle, u might want to investigate more to balance my opinion. Just trying to help thats all..

    something thats not lou dobbs :

    and since its youtube, u might get soem interesting links along the way on the "related videos" menu.

    Hope this helps... AGain, im only giving you my perspective...i coudl totally be wrong!
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  15. Aug 6, 2008 #14


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    Note that this says nothing about the impact outsourcing would have on the job market for CEs. I assume job opportunities are as applicable to foreign engineers as well as local ones.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 23, 2017
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