4 answers

Introductory Classes for Engineering & Psychology? Post College Quest?

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Hello, I recently have been admitted to Lafayette College as a Early Decision applicant. Since my Freshman year, I wanted get into the field of Software Engineering because I have a huge interest in technology and how it's advancing for the future. However, this year I found interest in Psychology because I want to learn about how people think and why they think certain things. I know both fields are completely different, but I wanted to see what are the type of classes that I should take in each field. I also wanted to see what are the careers available that I can look into and what are things I should do when looking for jobs? Thank you in advance. #college #engineering #psychology #software

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Gabriel’s Answer

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Hi Jesse,


Thanks for posting! To answer your academic questions you won't necessarily have to sacrifice interest in one field to study another. The reason is because the majority of undergraduate degrees allow for "elective" courses and you can take a variety of courses to fulfill the elective course requirements. Plus, every undergraduate program will have General Education courses you'll be required to take and it's rate to NOT find a psychology course built into the degree plan.


You may be interested to know that SUNY Oswego offers a Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering with an available minor in Cognitive Science (which, in simple terms, is the study of the mind). You can find that program here:


https://www.oswego.edu/programs/software-engineering-program


Another example is Mercy College which offers a B.S. in Computer Science. By the way, search for Computer Science degrees and not just "software programming" to expand your options. You'll still be able to take programming courses.
The Mercy College General Educational requirements includes the possibility of taking a psychology course and you also get 13 hours of "open electives" where you can take more psychology courses if you'd like:


https://www.mercy.edu/degrees-programs/bs-computer-science


Of course, you can look at this from the opposite view as well. At CUNY Brooklyn you can major in Psychology and then minor in Computer Science:


http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/programs/index.jsp?div=U


One thing to remember is that if you select a minor it usually adds to the credits required to earn a degree which can result in both extra time and tuition, but it does have its benefits because you'll have intensive study in two separate fields.


Also, remember that just because you major in (insert major here) doesn't mean you are necessarily tied to that career field forever. My former manager was majored in Philosophy at Notre Dame and now works as an Operations Analyst (a very technical field for a very non-technical major like Philosophy). It doesn't hurt, though, to check out career fields that are expected to grow (which means greater job security). You can find this information on the Bureau of Labor Statistics site by reviewing the Occupational Outlook Handbook:


http://www.bls.gov/ooh/


This well tell you what the employment outlook is like, provide you with salary information, etc. I hope this information helps and please continue to respond on this forum if you have more questions.

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Ken’s Answer

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Congratulations on being admitted!! Since the two areas of study are so diverse, i would suggest that you go to the counseling office and arrange to take interest and aptitude tests to help determine where you would most well fit. When you get the results, I would recommend that you go to the Alumni Relations office to arrange to talk with and visit graduates who are now working in the areas identified by those tests. Jobs and careers look and feel one way on the inside and one way on the outside. By talking with and visiting graduates in working situations, you can get a better inside view. Please keep me posted. i would like to help. I used to do college recruiting and hire college graduates, and I too often found that people had studied for a career that once they got on the job was one that they did not want. Please take great care in determining your future career selection and preparation.

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Peter’s Answer

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Some good advice is given in the earlier responses, Jesse. You might be able to combine your love of psychology with your fascination with computer programming. There is a big push in the industry to develop intelligent software that closely mimics human responses. These include a number of robotic programs and IBM's Watson. You can read about this trend in a recent issue of Scientific American. Ask your professors for suggestions for hooking up with such a Firm.

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Ollie’s Answer

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Congrats!


You've got plenty of time to explore lots of things. Keep your options open as long as you can in college.


There's a specialty field in the software engineering orbit known as "human factors" or "user experience" (UX for short). It brings together the questions of "how people think and why they think certain things" as you put it, and software tech. You'll need to learn the basics of psychology, ordinary programming, computer graphics, and the psychology / physiology of perception. When you've got those classes under your belt, you'll know enough about the fields and your interests to be able to move forward.


I suggest you spend some time looking into this UX field, even before you arrive at college. I suggest you read a few books, or at least skim them, to figure out what sorts of questions to ask your professors if you're interested in pursuing it.


The books?


Anything by Don Norman. The Design of Everyday Things is good. Prof. Norman is very opinionated and not everybody agrees with him. But he raises the key issues. http://www.worldcat.org/title/design-of-everyday-things/oclc/870646290


Brenda Laurel's Computers as Theater. It's a bit of a slog, but very interesting. Brenda worked out some interesting stuff about how computer and device user experience should engage the human need for storytelling. http://www.worldcat.org/title/computers-as-theatre/oclc/22861366


If you want to see workmanlike human interface guidelines for computer programs, Microsoft has you covered online.
https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ff728829(v=vs.85).aspx


The Apple Human Interface Guidelines date from 1987 (!!) but are still perfectly valid. http://www.worldcat.org/title/apple-human-interface-guidelines-the-apple-desktop-interface/oclc/850659713


Of course you can use your favorite search engine to look stuff up.

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