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Why are so many Electrical Eng. B.A. programs paired with Comp. Sci B.A.

  1. Feb 4, 2010 #1
    Why are colleges nowadays not offering Electrical Engineering B.S., but Electrical Engineering+Computer Sci B.S.?

    Why is computer science so vital to electrical engineering?

    For example, on the website assist.org, which lets you see which schools offer a particular major, it lists a lot of schools as having Electrical Engineering and Computer Science B.S. , together, all in one sort of thing,
    rather than just an Electrical Engineering B.S.

    Like this: (The abbreviations are for the names of the schools, they're all in California, like UCSD means University of California San Diego)
    Computer Engineering B.S. (Electrical Computer Engineering) (UCSD)
    Electrical and Electronic Engineering B.S. (CSUS)
    Electrical Engineering and Computer Science B.S. (UCB)
    Electrical Engineering and Computer Science/Materials Science & Egineering B.S. (UCB)
    Electrical Engineering and Computer Science/Nuclear Engineering B.S. (UCB)
    Electrical Engineering and Society B.A. (UCSD)
    Electrical/Electronic Engineering B.S. (CSUC)
    Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology B.S. (CPP)
    Electronics Materials Engineering B.S. (UCD)
    Engineering B.S. with Audio Engineering Option (CSULB)
    Engineering B.S. with Biomedical and Clinical Engineering Option (CSULB)

    Source: http://www2.assist.org/exploring-majors/findDiscipline.do
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 4, 2010 #2
    My impression was that the programs which mixed computer science with electrical engineering were typically titled computer engineering.

    In any case, the reason it is important is that these represent a specific skill set, which should turn out graduates that are well-trained to do low level programing. My guess is that this is the ideal skill set to do things like write hardware drivers and other low level operating system components, embedded systems, et cetera (Computer Science programs typically cover this too, but not as thoroughly).
  4. Feb 4, 2010 #3
    Most of those schools also offer EE as far as I know, but EE +CS is basically some schools method of offering Computer Engineering.

    'cause EEs really should know how to program?
  5. Feb 5, 2010 #4

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    It is because computer science as a field in and of itself is a relatively new concept. Up until the 1970s, there was no such thing as a computer science major at most schools. Instead, computer science was treated as a division within either the mathematics or electrical engineering departments. Some schools still do that.

    Look at Berkeley, for example. Their EECS department comprises two divisions, EE and CS. There is little cross-over between the divisions. The courses are labeled by division, not department. An electrical engineering student can graduate from Berkeley having only taken the requisite introductory computer science classes required of all engineering students. That student might have done some programming in Matlab, but that Matlab programming isn't real computer science. Even more extreme, a computer science student can graduate from Berkeley without having taken any electrical engineering courses whatsoever.
  6. Feb 5, 2010 #5
    And my school does the flip; EE and CS are two distinct departments, and computer engineering is run as an interdepartmental program. This leads to all the Computer Engineering students being treated as EE and CS students simultaneously for things like accounts on computers and advisers who need to sign off on things (we go to the CS department for matters that concern CS and the EE department for EE favors) and the school distributes CompE advisement over the CS and EE department (purely a matter of letter of the alphabet, which ends up hurting students who lean towards one discipline and get an adviser out of the other.)

    Why is that extreme? A CS kid never needs to know any of the stuff covered in a CS program, whereas just about every engineer needs at least basic programming skills. (Intro CS is required for every engineering major at my school, intro circuits for about half the majors.)
  7. Feb 5, 2010 #6
    A lot of ASIC/FPGA design (which would typically be EE work) is done using hardware design languages such as Verilog (which ends up looking a lot like the programming a CS major would do).

    CS and EE are a very natural combination.
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