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Computer Engineering vs Chemical Engineering?

bray93bray93 Posts: 81Registered User Junior Member
edited April 2011 in Engineering Majors
I can't seem to decide which one I should major in. The only reason why I'm considering Chemical Engineering is, to be honest, that I took AP Chemistry and thought it'd be easier for me in college since I took this class. However, I soon came to realize that I deal with computers more everyday in my life than I do with chemicals. I'm always amazed with how computers are built and all. But there are some aspects I need you guys to enlighten me in. I want to know their comparison in:

a. Job Outlook with bachelor's? with master's?
b. Salary with bachelor's? with master's?
c. Difficulty of the courses?
d. Which one is more interesting, in your opinion?

My GPA is around 3.7. My SAT score is 1820. I took AP Chemistry and currently I am taking AP Calculus and AP Physics. I scored a 4 on the AP Chemistry. Judging from my academics here, do you think I will be able to handle those "hard classes", if there's any?
Post edited by bray93 on

Replies to: Computer Engineering vs Chemical Engineering?

  • skbryanskbryan Posts: 251Registered User Junior Member
    Just as a heads up: AP Chem covers basic Chemistry and you'll probably get no credit for that class if you're a science or engineering major. If you're majoring in something like Art, then it'll probably fulfill your science requirement. Same with AP Physics B (not C). Covers basic Physics and won't really count for scientists and engineers. At my school they only take C credit for biology majors if you get a 5 on the exam. You have to take their courses for physics/chem for engineers/scientists. AP Calc (which is pretty easy btw) however counts for credit. Check with the school you want to go to before you think you can skip science classes.

    Chemical Engineering isn't all about Chemistry. It's a mix of Physics and Chemistry in your engineering classes.

    I'd say if you really like Chemistry and Physics and interested in doing hands-on work, then go for Chemical Engineering. Otherwise, go for Computer Engineering.

    I'm a Computer Science major. I was considering CompE but realized that I do not want to work with hardware (I'm not really into circuits and all that jazz).

    Will you be interested in working with hardware? If yes, go for CompE.
    Are you like me and want to focus on software and other computing fields? If yes, go for CS.

    Computer Hardware engineers make more money on average than Software engineers, but there are fewer hardware jobs out there as well. A lot of CompE majors end up working with software probably because of this fact or because they become more interested in software once they graduate (but who knows).

    I would say that the CompE major is one of the hardest since you dip into electrical engineering and computer science. You go into theoretical and practical things.

    List of CompE classes you'll take (at my school, but probably the same at most schools that have CompE majors take half EE and half CS)
    http://student.engr.ucr.edu/majors/CompE%202010.pdf

    CS classes:
    http://student.engr.ucr.edu/majors/CS%202010.pdf

    Chemical Engineering classes (you take a lot of science classes, including OChem)
    http://student.engr.ucr.edu/majors/CHEM%20Biochem%202010.pdf
  • bray93bray93 Posts: 81Registered User Junior Member
    I like Chemistry and Physics but not to the extent where I want to apply them in my everyday life, you feel me? CompE or CS? Hmm..I'd probably go for CompE because people say that it is most diverse when you look for jobs. Unlike CS, CompE is a little bit of EE and CS so that means that its job variety is greater than that of CS.

    But is it true that computer engineers have hard time looking for jobs?
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 36,822Registered User Senior Member
    Regarding your question on job and career prospects:

    The UC Berkeley career center surveys bachelor's degree graduates about their post-graduation activities (employed, grad school, seeking employment, other). (Note that there is both a Computer Science major in the College of Letters and Science and an Electrical Engineering and Computer Science major in the College of Engineering.)

    As far as which is more interesting, you could go in taking math, physics, chemistry, and computer science, then deciding which of chemistry and computer science is more interesting to you (math and physics are needed for all types of engineering). However, if one or both majors is impacted and hard to get into at the university you attend, that can make changing majors difficult.
  • bray93bray93 Posts: 81Registered User Junior Member
    Thank you so much! That site was really helpful! ;)

    Any other opinions?
  • bray93bray93 Posts: 81Registered User Junior Member
    Bump! I need more opinions. :/
  • JavacrunchJavacrunch Posts: 13Registered User New Member
    Hello bray93,

    Chemical Engineering deals heavily with chemical processes and so it is quite different from traditional chemistry taught in high school. I was a big fan of chem as well as one of my close friends, but she switched to Computer Engineering after realizing that it didn't deal much with the chemistry she fell in love with in high school. If you like chem, major in Chemistry, not Chemical Engineering. ChemEs have a very nice starting salary, but Computer Engineers have pretty much caught up with them in recent years and I'm confident CompE starting salary will surpass ChemE in just a few years. With the demand for computer expertise rising as companies rely more and more on technology, computer engineers with find nice job prospects, but at the cost of some jobs being outsourced to India and China due to cheap labor.

    Also, if you are the kind of person that likes to "see" and interact with the stuff you're studying, you might want to choose CompE. As you said, you use your computer everyday so it is nice to be able to see your textbook material in real life. We're currently designing a microprocessor in my computer architecture course so it is really really cool to understand why and how my computer does certain things. I really am CompE biased at the moment just to be fair, so take my ideas as an insight into one side of the story. This is why I chose CompE and I do not regret it one bit. Every single company needs a computer scientist/engineer in some department, but as for a ChemE, your window shrinks very quickly. Hope you enjoyed my biased advice. Good luck!
  • bray93bray93 Posts: 81Registered User Junior Member
    Hey Javacrunch,

    What about Computer Engineering courses? How difficult are they?
  • bray93bray93 Posts: 81Registered User Junior Member
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