12 Replies - 11962 Views - Last Post: 13 September 2010 - 02:53 PM

#1 Brewer  Icon User is offline

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Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

Posted 12 September 2010 - 09:20 AM

My school offers a degree in Electrical Engineering that has a fair few programming-based classes. Is it common for someone with a degree in Electrical Engineering to work as a Software Engineer?
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Replies To: Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

#2 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

Posted 12 September 2010 - 09:54 AM

I can't say it is extremely common but it does happen quite a bit. Often times electrical engineers design things like control systems which can involve software. Essentially programs used to control how electrical systems behave. How software controls the steering and guidance system of a missile to its target or how the software controls the muffin machine at a bakery.

Of course if you want to write software exclusively for a living, you should be looking into a computer science or software engineering degree not an electrical one. Electrical engineering is dealing with the flow of electrical systems, electronics or electromagnetism.

:)
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#3 Brewer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

Posted 12 September 2010 - 10:01 AM

That's the thing: I don't know that I would be happy doing nothing but programming all day, every day. Don't get me wrong, I love programming. But I love it as a hobby, I love it because I don't have to do it non stop. I think the hands-on part of Electrical Engineering mixed with the programming is the perfect combination for me!
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#4 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

Posted 12 September 2010 - 10:17 AM

Software engineering isn't just writing code all day (even though there is a lot of it). It is also designing systems, collecting data to determine how the system is built, UML diagrams, sequence diagrams, meeting with clients, planning how to switch over a system and more. It is a form of engineering so it does involve everything from planning to implementation to testing to maintenance.

It is just engineering using software instead of actual electrical systems.

:)
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#5 Brewer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

Posted 12 September 2010 - 01:00 PM

Sorry, I didn't mean to say that it was all programming. What I should have said is that it is at least 95% computer based. I think that I need physical, hands on work too.
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#6 elgose  Icon User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

Posted 12 September 2010 - 04:13 PM

Have you considered Computer Engineering (assuming your school offers it)?

It may be your happy medium between CS and EE.
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#7 Brewer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

Posted 12 September 2010 - 05:15 PM

I have considered the possibility, but I decided that Electrical Engineering would give me more options, should I decide not to work with computers in the future. There isn't much chance, but I would rather be prepared.
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#8 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

Posted 12 September 2010 - 05:21 PM

It also gives you less CS/theory that you would want if you were to work as a developer. Diversification is always good, but so is saying "this is what I want" and going for it. You can always dual major or minor in something if you are interested or want it as a backup.
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#9 elgose  Icon User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

Posted 12 September 2010 - 05:41 PM

.TheEngineer said:

I have considered the possibility, but I decided that Electrical Engineering would give me more options, should I decide not to work with computers in the future. There isn't much chance, but I would rather be prepared.


Honestly, if you're that worried about not working with computers in the future that CE isn't an option, SE or CS may not be the best route for you.

You may consider taking some SE/CS-related classes while pursuing EE as electives to see if it meets your fancy?

.TheEngineer said:

I think the hands-on part of Electrical Engineering mixed with the programming is the perfect combination for me!

What you are describing is CE, not SE, EE or CS alone.
(By the way, CE does not mean PC's only i.e. robotics)
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#10 Brewer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

Posted 12 September 2010 - 06:06 PM

I am slightly concerned that Software Engineering might not be right for me. I get frustrated when I can't figure out the answer to something and I generally give up trying after a while. However, I love working with computers. Sounds like a bit of a paradox, huh?
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#11 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

Posted 12 September 2010 - 06:18 PM

Take Intro to Programming and another basic CS/SE type class as an elective. If you get through those classes and say "I hate this, I can't do this," then maybe SE/CS isn't for you. When I was just starting out programming (pre-DIC), I got the same way at times. Four years later after writing a ton more code and finding DIC, I've had the opportunity to work as an IT professional. If you enjoy it and keep writing code, it gets easier. The key to programming is problem solving. However, it isn't for everybody, and there is also something to be said for knowing that.

Also keep in mind that tons of freshman have undeclared majors, and lots of college students switch majors. I consider my parents highly intelligent people, and they both switched majors. My dad from Biochem on a pre-med track (after three years) to Mass Comm, and my mom from accounting to management. My dad was at the hospital one day visiting someone, and that's when he figured out he didn't want to be a doctor. You may say the same thing about programming once you get more experience. Or you may decide to change your mind. That's what college is about, and that's why you have general requirements and electives. :)
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#12 Brewer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

Posted 12 September 2010 - 06:27 PM

The only problem is that I am paying $10,000 a year for school, need to make up my mind soon. ;)

I think after I get to take a programming class or two then my interest in programming will be renewed. The problem is that at the moment I find that I get stuck in any direction that I go. I feel as if I have hit a plateau in my learning, which is sad because I don't know that much!
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#13 keakTheGEEK  Icon User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering with an Electrical Engineering Degree

Posted 13 September 2010 - 02:53 PM

I had an internship during my senior year in college as a Software Engineer for a telecommunications company. The department I had my internship in did low level driver development for Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Networks (GPON). Most of the Software Engineers (more than half of the department) had degrees in Electrical Engineering (some Computer Engineering also). Most of the development consisted of programming for ASICs, FPGAs, PLCs, etc. There definitely was a lot of programming involved, but there was also a lot of having to read and understand various different circuit diagrams/schematics.

From my experience, people with EE degrees becoming Software Engineers is quite common. This could also be due to the area where I went to college and mostly grew up which is commonly referred to as California's "Telecom Valley" (North of Silicon Valley). There are a lot of Telecommunication companies out here. I have interviewed with some others and the Software Engineers having EE backgrounds seems like the most common theme. I have some friends from school that graduated with EE degrees and ended up with programming jobs also.
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