Computer Science or Software Engineering

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#1 15yearoldCoder  Icon User is offline

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Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 20 January 2011 - 12:56 PM

I'm an high school student and I will be going off to college soon. I want to know what course will be better for a main focus on programming and just programming. I want to just mainly focus and study programming. I want to know which course will be better suited to my needs software engineering or computer science. If you know any other courses that are mainly programming focused, please let me know so I can check them out. If there is anyone out there who has taken both courses, please help me. I don't know if this is in the right forum but since this is a forum for students, then I thought why not get the answers straight from the people who are studying and taking this courses. Anyways, if you have an opinion please let me know. I want to know that decision I'm making will be the right one.

All the courses I'm considering:
-Computer Engineering
-Computer Science
-Computer Systems Science
-Software Engineering

Please let me know which one of these has a big/main programming focus and would be the best suited for my needs.

This post has been edited by 15yearoldCoder: 20 January 2011 - 01:17 PM


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Replies To: Computer Science or Software Engineering

#2 hookiethe1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 20 January 2011 - 01:47 PM

I think computer science is the one you want. I believe that computer engineering has a hardware focus as well as software, and software engineering has a lot in common with computer science but with more of a management perspective. Not sure what's involved with computer systems science.
You should look at the school you plan to go to and check out the course list for each degree, that should give you a pretty good idea of the focus of each.
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#3 Brewer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 20 January 2011 - 04:30 PM

I agree with hookiethe1, but I just want to add a couple of things.

1. Computer Science is a lot more theory than application. A degree in Computer Science does not automatically make you a programmer; in fact, I know a guy with a Computer Science degree who is a terrible programmer, he works on algorithm development. :P

2. Computer Engineering, like hookiethe1 said, is more hardware than software. You would get some programming experience with this program but this is most likely not what you want. Remember though, take what I say with a grain of salt. Check out the course listing at your university, it will be different that the course listings here at my university.

3. Software Engineering is a degree for people who want to be picky with their terms. In all honesty, we have a Software Engineering "specialty" in our Computer Science faculty and you have to take 2 courses that a normal Computer Science major doesn't. Like I said though, check your own listings before making a decision.

I will suggest a degree in Computer Science. You will take some courses that you will hate, but that can't really be avoided. In fact, it is to be recommended. Doing things you don't want to is part of life so you better get used to it.

Hope this helped!
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#4 darek9576  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 20 January 2011 - 06:44 PM

Computer Science normally involves a lot of theory as someone above has mentioned eg. Theory Of Computation where you learn about Big O, Efficiency of algorithms, running times, Graph Theory, Finite Automata, NFA etc. I think Software Engineering is for hard core programmers as not much theory is invoved. I might be wrong. Always, i guess it depends on the college and courses you intend to take. You just might go for lets say CS or SE and then pick courses/modules which focus on programing.
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#5 15yearoldCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 20 January 2011 - 06:58 PM

The university is Michigan Tech University (MTU.edu). This is the university I want to go to but since I'm not off to college yet, that might change so I'm referring to all universities in general (only if I could get into MIT). Anyway, I just want to know in general and based off of people experiences which course would be best.
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#6 Brewer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 21 January 2011 - 09:51 AM

This might sound a tad bit elitist, but judging from MTU's CS departmental website, I would never go to that school for Computer Science. If they can't be bothered to create a half decent website then I can't be bothered to pay them for my education.

That aside, let me break down what courses these different programs have to offer you:

The Computer Science program at MTU requires that you complete two seperate courses Introduction to Programming I and II (CS1121 and CS1122). There is also a course called C for Java Programmers which leads me to believe that these intro courses will use the Java programming language. Courses are also offered in Discrete Structures, Data Structures, Concurrent Comupting, Systems Programming, and Algorithms.

Computer Systems Science appears to be for those who are interested in working in network administration or maybe network security. This track requires a lot of the same courses as the Computer Science track but also requires courses in Networks, Network Administration, Operating Systems, and Computer/Network Security.

Lastly, the Software Engineering track looks like it is designed for those people who want to move into a position where they help lay out the foundation for the software that their company develops. Once again this track entails a lot of the same courses as the regular Computer Science tracks, however there seem to be quite a few additions. In the Software Engineering program you will have to take an "Introduction to Software Engineering" course, which sounds like complete bologna. You will also need to take a class on Databases and a class on Computer Architecture.

Here is a link to a .pdf file that you can use to compare the requirements of each degree.

Hope this helps!

P.S.: As for MIT, that is a teriffic choice. Looking back I wish I had better grades in high school so I could do their EECS program!
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#7 15yearoldCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 21 January 2011 - 10:43 AM

Lets say I got into MIT, what will you recommend. Just want to know. I think I might not go to MTU because as you said the school is about engineering and computing but they can't make a decent website.

My top 5 are:
-MIT
-University of California: Berkeley
-Michigan State University
-Stanford University
-Carnegie Mellon University

If anyone has gone to any of these schools, and taken any of the courses. Let me know your about your experience so I can FINALLY make my decision. My parents want me to make the best decision where their money can go far. They are both doctors so money is not really an issue. Anyway, what people say makes me make a better decision and I will know that I'm making a good decision.
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#8 Brewer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 21 January 2011 - 12:09 PM

As I said, had I been able to go to MIT I would have gone with the EE/CS track. Try Googling "Opencourseware"; it is a website owned and operated by MIT that provides numerous video lectures, assignments, and course notes from courses that were actually taught at MIT.
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#9 15yearoldCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 21 January 2011 - 02:40 PM

View PostJambr, on 21 January 2011 - 12:09 PM, said:

As I said, had I been able to go to MIT I would have gone with the EE/CS track. Try Googling "Opencourseware"; it is a website owned and operated by MIT that provides numerous video lectures, assignments, and course notes from courses that were actually taught at MIT.


Thanks. Just hope the course I pick will enable me to be a good software dev
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#10 Brewer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 21 January 2011 - 04:56 PM

In all honesty, the courses you take don't matter if you REALLY want to be a developer. The classes you take will earn you a degree, you can teach everything to yourself.
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#11 15yearoldCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 21 January 2011 - 05:12 PM

View PostJambr, on 21 January 2011 - 04:56 PM, said:

In all honesty, the courses you take don't matter if you REALLY want to be a developer. The classes you take will earn you a degree, you can teach everything to yourself.

Thanks for all your help. :rockon:
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#12 nooblet  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 23 January 2011 - 02:38 AM

View PostJambr, on 21 January 2011 - 12:09 PM, said:

As I said, had I been able to go to MIT I would have gone with the EE/CS track. Try Googling "Opencourseware"; it is a website owned and operated by MIT that provides numerous video lectures, assignments, and course notes from courses that were actually taught at MIT.



Why didn't you just do EECS as a different school. What does it matter if it's MIT or not. I mean MIT got a great curricula and all but you could have still taken that track somewhere else.
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#13 xTorvos  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 23 January 2011 - 03:57 AM

I just wanted to point out that (Michigan aside) the schools you listed great schools that are almost guaranteed to have great CS departments. Get good grades, get letters of recommendation from your professors, join clubs, and start saving up so that you can get into these schools. You have the advantage that you started looking early as many people don't look until it's too late.

Ok, that aside, Software Engineering would be the program you are looking for if you just want to be a programmer. However, many employers want to see Computer Science on your resume because it means that you can think above just writing code. You understand efficiency better and can make more informed decisions. You will learn the basics of how to program with a CS degree, but the rest will be up to you to do on your own time. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as you can learn the languages you want to learn as opposed to those you're forced to learn.

I guess the question is: do you want to be a Software Engineer *cough* code monkey *cough*, or do you want to be a Software Architect/Theoretician who could be a programmer if he wanted?
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#14 15yearoldCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 23 January 2011 - 12:09 PM

The only reason I picked MTU was u could major in Software Engineering and minor in CS or vice versa. So u could get the best of both worlds.
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#15 D.Mulroy  Icon User is offline

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Re: Computer Science or Software Engineering

Posted 23 January 2011 - 03:42 PM

Just a tip of advice, don't worry too much about college at this point in time. By my guess you are a sophomore in high school. You have two years yet to decide this stuff, don't fret about it now. Use this time to develop your skills further and fine what really does interest you.
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