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  1. #1
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    Future Programming (Comp Sci) Student

    What's going on guys, i am getting out of the Navy here in about 3 weeks; i have already enrolled in college and planning on starting in August. My current degree i'm pursuing is some form Computer Science or Computer Engineering. The college guidance counselor i am speaking is telling me to take Programming Fundamentals, Networking Fundamentals and a class on computer hardware to see which of the class's sparks the most interest.

    I am wondering, in this community, if anyone works in fields professionally that might be able to give me some insight on what to except it the variations of classes i might take for any of these Comp-related courses; and also what i might be expecting to do at a job when i graduate.

    Any input's would be awesome, juts trying to see what is ahead of me.

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    Computer science is very high level stuff. Algorithmic design and analysis (lot's of math and proofs), software engineering, testing, documentation, etc.

    Computer engineering is about half hardware and half low level programming. You'll learn about circuitry, how to design a CPU, electrical interfaces, etc. And then there's firmware and driver programming, and a little bit of high level stuff (not nearly as much).

    It all depends on what you want to do after you graduate. Typically, computer science people end up as developers, and computer engineering people end up as either hardware designers or low level developers. Both are really rewarding and pretty good paying jobs, so it really depends on your interest.

    I am doing an electrical and computer engineering degree (entering third year), but working as a game developer for internship because I have been programming for about 5 years now on my own. But I'm also into robotics and hardware/electronics design, that's why I'm doing electrical/computer eng.

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    Well i am going to be going to a program at KU (Kansas University) and am in a bit of a bizzar situation. I have been building computers for me and my friends for about a year now, i really enjoy picking through components and matching price to performance; i haven't done much (if any) in the form of programming except a basic 101 class on HTML coding in high school.

    I am thinking i'd like to do hardware development or network management for a company. From those sounds does Computer Engineering sound more like the proper route?

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    the way you're putting it you're going into comp sci or engineering because you enjoy building pcs.. neither of them, although engineering is close, is not the same in any way to building a pc and researching cost v performance.

    comp sci (programming) a lot of times will have the graduate in a cube-farm at X company or in the basement in the same situation plugging away at code for hours on end.. I started out in comp sci until I got to intern at a company as a programmer.. switched majors quick cause that just wasn't for me

    comp engineering is close to building as you'd learn how to build the hardware you like to mess with.. not quite just building pcs for friends, but still in the ballpark.

    theres also MIS (management of information systems) which is a mix of business and computers (mostly database work) which puts you into the position of being the "middle man" between pure business types and comp "geeks" (using the word lightly.. dont hate!) Usually in business the 2 types do not interact well with eachother.. MIS puts you as a consulting/mediating arm to be able to translate business into comp sci with minimal programming.. or you can focus more on the database aspects as I did and deal mostly with database programming which is mostly SQL

    if what you really really like doing is working with comp parts etc you might wanna just think about getting some certificates for the time being and working on getting into a place that allows you to do something aloong those lines
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    If you like to build (as in assemble) computers and do maintenance, that would be Information Technology (IT). Unfortunately I don't know much about it. It's very different from comp sci and comp eng, though.

    Computer engineering is more like designing an actual CPU with Intel, or video card, or a motherboard (the board itself).

    University education is not really required for assemblying PCs. A few online tutorials will do .

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    Well i mentioned that i like building PCs and working on them; this is basically just sparking my interest. I am hoping to get a degree to either work on the actual hardware chips that make computers run or just managing a network. I am thinking from what i've been reading doing some form of IT or MIS work.

    How difficult would you guys think these types of courses would be for either of these fields?

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    managing a network you'd go CIS or MIS, building hardware you'd go engineering

    Any of the 3 mentioned are semi-heavy in math, the CIS and Engineering would be heavier since they both require things like discrete math which doesnt even look like math half the time. MIS since its business related will make you take statistics/economics/finance/accounting..
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    If you're looking into working with hardware, CS is the worst possible choice you could make. As somebody once put it, "computers are to computer science as telescopes are to astronomy". As a 3rd year CS major, I can say that if you don't love high level, theory based math (think combinatorics and discrete math), you aren't going to like your CS courses.

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    Member technoViking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trombe View Post
    If you're looking into working with hardware, CS is the worst possible choice you could make. As somebody once put it, "computers are to computer science as telescopes are to astronomy". As a 3rd year CS major, I can say that if you don't love high level, theory based math (think combinatorics and discrete math), you aren't going to like your CS courses.
    I agree but it all depends on the college. I graduated with a CS degree and very close to getting a double major in CE but didn't want to do the design project lol.

    Anywho, our CS degree is very close to Comp Eng. If you take the right electives its basically a comp eng degree. So we got a fair amount of hardware and EE in CS. Other CS though are very high level and don't touch any EE courses.

    All in all if you aren't good in Math or Physics you will fail horribly in an engineering degree. I took way more math, physics, and engineering classes than I did computer classes for sure. They actually changed the courses because they were finding out the seniors had NO IDEA how to program and they were comp sci degrees.

    I think college helped my problem solving skills but really I'm not using hardly anything I learned in college other than the problem solving skills. Internships is what landed me the job I have now for sure.

    Also your signature is hilarious!
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    Quote Originally Posted by technoViking View Post
    I agree but it all depends on the college. I graduated with a CS degree and very close to getting a double major in CE but didn't want to do the design project lol.

    Anywho, our CS degree is very close to Comp Eng. If you take the right electives its basically a comp eng degree. So we got a fair amount of hardware and EE in CS. Other CS though are very high level and don't touch any EE courses.

    All in all if you aren't good in Math or Physics you will fail horribly in an engineering degree. I took way more math, physics, and engineering classes than I did computer classes for sure. They actually changed the courses because they were finding out the seniors had NO IDEA how to program and they were comp sci degrees.

    I think college helped my problem solving skills but really I'm not using hardly anything I learned in college other than the problem solving skills. Internships is what landed me the job I have now for sure.

    Also your signature is hilarious!
    Pretty much spot on.

    At UIUC CS is a very broad and high level top down view. EE is just circuits. CE is actual hardware and actual programming.

    Btw, hi, technoviking!
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    Quote Originally Posted by technoViking View Post
    I agree but it all depends on the college. I graduated with a CS degree and very close to getting a double major in CE but didn't want to do the design project lol.

    Anywho, our CS degree is very close to Comp Eng. If you take the right electives its basically a comp eng degree. So we got a fair amount of hardware and EE in CS. Other CS though are very high level and don't touch any EE courses.

    All in all if you aren't good in Math or Physics you will fail horribly in an engineering degree. I took way more math, physics, and engineering classes than I did computer classes for sure. They actually changed the courses because they were finding out the seniors had NO IDEA how to program and they were comp sci degrees.

    I think college helped my problem solving skills but really I'm not using hardly anything I learned in college other than the problem solving skills. Internships is what landed me the job I have now for sure.

    Also your signature is hilarious!
    My alma mater is similar to this, where in CS we were taking digital logic and architecture. After my junior year I switched over to Information Systems which is basically database design from the ground up.

    This discussion does bring up another item: Not all colleges are equal with respect to their program's intentions. Some colleges might go heavier in to low level stuff and some might stay relatively high level. You would want to know up-front what you're getting in to.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrGrass1987 View Post
    Well i am going to be going to a program at KU (Kansas University) and am in a bit of a bizzar situation. I have been building computers for me and my friends for about a year now, i really enjoy picking through components and matching price to performance; i haven't done much (if any) in the form of programming except a basic 101 class on HTML coding in high school.
    I am EE at KU and all majors in the dept will take a intro to C++ course and an intro to digital logic (design from logic gates) so you will get a fair idea if you want to be computer eng or science.

    But to give you an idea of the courses you will take, and a brief summery of them try This
    It's hard to look at it like a learning experence.

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    Member Sorin's Avatar
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    I love programming and can't get enough of the various programming course at my community college, but I'm not overly fond of higher level math and anything beyond intro physics. I'm good at math, I just really don't like the higher level stuff that takes an hour to solve one problem. I tried looking at what sort of software development oriented majors there were at my desired school (SJSU), and the only thing was Software Engineering. I don't know why it's even a separate major because 95% of the courses say "See CSxxx for course description" (CS131 or CS195, etc). CS and CE aren't even that much different to begin with there, so they're all basically the same major. Craplods of math and physics and general hardcore engineering stuff.

    Anyway, my real question is, how much of all that ridiculous math and physics is actually used in software development, aside from projects here and there you might end up on that are based around said math and physics? I've read some articles written by professional programmers and software developers and they mostly all say they hardly use it at all, if ever. It's pretty annoying.

    Quote Originally Posted by technoViking View Post
    I agree but it all depends on the college. I graduated with a CS degree and very close to getting a double major in CE but didn't want to do the design project lol.

    Anywho, our CS degree is very close to Comp Eng. If you take the right electives its basically a comp eng degree. So we got a fair amount of hardware and EE in CS. Other CS though are very high level and don't touch any EE courses.

    All in all if you aren't good in Math or Physics you will fail horribly in an engineering degree. I took way more math, physics, and engineering classes than I did computer classes for sure. They actually changed the courses because they were finding out the seniors had NO IDEA how to program and they were comp sci degrees.

    I think college helped my problem solving skills but really I'm not using hardly anything I learned in college other than the problem solving skills. Internships is what landed me the job I have now for sure.

    Also your signature is hilarious!
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    I graduated with a CS degree a few years ago. I've been at the same job since graduation doing database front ends (SQL and .Net programming) and I use discrete math on a daily basis (db tables are nothing more than sets, set theory anyone?). While I do not use my physics/calculus very often (it does randomly come up), if I had ended up at a research facility or a bank I would have more than likely used that stuff on a daily basis (compounded interest, population growth, best fitting curves, etc). It is nice to have the chunks of math because you never know where you will end up after school, and you never know what you will be doing at said place. </math + cs rant>

    That being said, if you want to design chips and such I would suggest going CE or EE (depends on the school). These will have more hardware than coding over a CS degree and will get you closer to the gate level than an IT degree. If you want to do networking go with IT or IS. These will give you basics of where to place servers/routers/etc and such without dunking you into too much math/programming. If you want to program go with CS.

    In a possibly over simplified description of these...
    CS = programming + math
    CE/EE = gate level hardware + math + little programming
    IS/IT = networking/hardware + little math
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    Member technoViking's Avatar
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    Hey ShadowPho its been awhile!

    Sorin, yah I ended up in San Jose working for Cisco Systems. Its a pretty good job but I can't see myself here forever. I think 3 years and I'll be jumping to another company, so many choices out here!
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  16. #16
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    Listening to your counselor may well be your best bet all around. Anything with "engineering" in it is going to take at least some math skills (If it weren't for Industrial Engineering I would say all engineering is heavy into math). You don't seem to come across as the math type, you clearly seem like a builder. You will definitely want to steer yourself towards some form of IT degree.

    I have gone both routes myself so I can speak with clarity. I finished 119 credits in Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering before leaving to be a programmer during the tech boom. Way back. Working as a programmer, I finished my degree in IT just 'cause. Later on, when tech crashed I moved into a financial company and ended up in IT there. Pretty much get to build out a lot of work areas (on the computer end) and constantly swap out parts on boxes that have issues. There is always something to do, not to mention server maintenance.

    Oh, then I ended up being an officer in the Army Signal Corps. Go freaking figure.

    Here is the big thing though: don't think that getting the correct course selection in college will make as big of a difference as many make it out. Either as a professional programmer for several years or IT for several years or an Officer, the tech jobs are very light on tech. It all comes down to people skills. Your problems are tech, but the solutions are for people, not machines. Some person has a problem, and you need to use tech to solve that problem. If you fix the problem perfectly using tech but the customer does not feel you solved the problem, what will your college course tell you to do then?

    Your choice of degree program is definitely important and I admire your research into making a good decision. Think of it as equivalent to your military technical school, though. It teaches you the skills and background knowledge to do your job, not how to do your job. When you get into the workforce, look for a mentor willing to teach you and that will play a far greater role in your career.

    I would even strongly suggest going to a big company out of school as they tend to have better initial job training programs. I tried both a big company and a small company so I understand the importance. At the big company, I spend 6 weeks in training before I ever did any real work. When they threw us into real work, it was gradual and not at full speed. Large organizations, like the military, understand the importance of training.

    So, think about it, but don't stress out too much. Any of the degrees mentioned above are just fine. Just be sure to finish them.

    Feel free to PM me for any info that may help.
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    For people considering a Computer Science degree with the intention of working as a programmer, I think the best advise I can give is to make sure to take a few classes on databases and to take advantage of cooperative education employment through your school. Nearly every job for businesses require some level of database work.

    A co-op job has two benefits - it gets your foot in the door for networking and it gives you a chance to see the kind of stuff that goes on in development. Most of these jobs will be for in-house applications and support, but that is okay.
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  18. #18
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    I would do Electrical engineering if you like hardware
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    The problem with EE is the heavy math. Unless you love math it's a bad idea. If you're really good at math then it's a no brainer to do it.

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