5 answers

Whats the difference between computer science and computer engineering?

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Those that are looking to go into one of these fields should know the difference. I went to UIUC for an event called SAIL for computer science and wondered if computer engineering was the same. #computer-science #computer-software

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5 answers

Cody’s Answer

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Hi Jonathan,


I graduated with a computer engineering degree. Its is very similar to a CS degree with some distinct differences.


If you study Computer Science, you will mostly be studying computer programming. You will learn from the low level of networks and systems code to the high level of computer graphics, and maybe mobile and web applications.


Computer Engineering on the other hand is sort of a hybrid major of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering. A Computer Engineering curriculum will usually share the exact same classes as CS, at least for your first couple years. In addition to that, you will also take basic circuits classes, and you will learn about computer hardware. In my program we also had special computer architecture and microcontrollers classes.


So, in deciding between the two here are some things you should consider:
Did you enjoy any physics classes that you've taken?
Would you like working hands on with circuits?
Are you interested in making things with microcontrollers? (microcontrollers are the boards that run things like your car, your microwave, your smart home, and robots).
Are you interested in designing and learning about the computer itself, not just the software?


If you answered yes to any of those, you might like a Computer Engineering degree. If you are more software minded, stick with CS. Either is great in terms of job opportunities.


Also I graduated as a Computer Engineer, but I now work in software. I found computer hardware and EE very interesting, but for my day to day work, I like to do software and leave the circuits as a hobby. That is the nice thing about computer engineering, is that you can really find a job in either the hardware or software world.


Hope that helps you out. Feel free to reach out.


Cheers,
Cody


Edit:
Wanted to add that you can also get a Software Engineering degree, which is CS with a focus on making real world consumer or enterprise software. This would mean you take mostly CS with an emphasis on managing your projects and working with the latest tools and software used in industry. This is best if you know you want to work for a big software company.


In the computer world we often talk about low level and high level. High level would be making a web or mobile app. Low level software would be working on Operating Systems or Networks code (think working for Microsoft on Windows, apple on iOS, or Cisco writing router software). And even lower level is working on the computer itself, designing the hardware or the most fundamental operating system code.


From high level to low level the degrees are
Software Engineering (Apps)
Computer Science (Apps, OSs, Networks, and everything between)
Computer Engineering (OSs, Microcontrollers, Computer Processors, Memory, etc)
Electrical Engineering with computer emphasis (Transistors, Gates, Circuits and Signals)

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John’s Answer

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it is of my opinion that CS is more software and coding and CE has more focus on the hardware components and machine code.

you can work in either area with either degree but there may be a few jobs that specifically require a CS or a CE degree.
I have a CS degree but I think a CE degree may be a bit more prestigious being an engineer degree versus a science degree, but i do not know.
I do know that CS degrees are offered at more colleges than CE degrees. For the most part, either degree will suffice to get yourself into the market.
Once in, you will learn skills more specific to your role or career path. Things that are not covered in your degree. I have been in IT for over 15 yrs
post graduation and I everything I have worked with or done was not taught at my university in my degree plan. Dont sweat it, pick one and
dont look back.


Hope this helps

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Vincent’s Answer

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Computer Science focuses on the software/algorithm/mathematical theories for Computers. Here you'll learn strong programming skills, how to write efficient algorithms and determine the complexity for it, and more advance topics such as AI, machine learning etc. Upon finishing, the typical career path would be R&D for Computer Science or Software Engineering where you would develop applications.


For a lot of Universities, Computer Engineering is a mix between Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Typically, there would be some base required classes to give you basic knowledge of programming/circuits, but once you reach upper division (~3rd year), you'll be free to choose the path you're more interested in. A lot of people in CE that chooses to head towards more Computer Science side can work with Operating Systems, Network etc. Others that gear more towards Electrical Engineer would typically work with Embedded Systems/robotics, etc.

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Deepa’s Answer

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Hi Jonathan,
I have always thought that computer SScience deals with programming methods and coding in various languages and creating the source code of a language itself where as computer engineering deals with the hardware material, vlsi design, and things like that!!!
That has been my understanding of computer and related technology. ...ofcourse there is this in between concept po f system software which consists of writing the code to directly handle hardware....extensively used in robots! !!!
Good day,
Thanks ,
Regards Deepa

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Pranshu’s Answer

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I did Computer Engineering as Bachelors and Computer Science as Masters. That way I covered both streams. Did I use them in my job.


Sometimes. Many times not.


It depends on personal interest also.

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