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Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering

SeattleSolSeattleSol Posts: 52Registered User Junior Member
edited December 2012 in Engineering Majors
I want to eventually startup my own company either during or after college. Would you guys recommend Computer Science or Computer Engineering? I myself would rather do Computer Engineering, but I've seen a lot of start up founders with Computer Science degrees.

Another point I'd like to make mention of is that there are a lot of CEO's with Electrical Engineering degrees, and Computer Engineering is a mix of both EE and Computer Science.

Any suggestions?
Post edited by SeattleSol on
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Replies to: Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 36,085Registered User Senior Member
    At colleges where there is a distinction, computer engineering is usually more hardware oriented, while computer science is usually more software and theory oriented.
  • terencterenc Posts: 1,127Registered User Senior Member
    It depends on what you want to do. If you want to make software, you would to major in CS (computer science). If you want to build a physical electronic product, majoring in CE (computer engineering) provides you with exposure to electronics.
  • EntezioEntezio Posts: 87Registered User Junior Member
    I was just about to make this same exact thread lol...

    Well by my logic I think CE is more for a CEO than CS because in CE you're BUILDING a new computer from scratch up while CS is more of adding software onto someone else's creation (Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to be exact).

    In my opinion, staring at a screen being the code dog for a company is boring as hell, I'd much rather create computer hardware. Hell, if you become a professional in CE you could come across an amazing invention! Don't get me wrong, CS is well paying and all but by your and mine needs I'd think CE is the way to go.

    This thread helped me a butt load xD

    Edit: Oh yea, and I think a lot of people are doing CS because it focuses much more on one thing and that is programming. I just looked it up, CE also involves programming but not as intensely, it's more broad.
  • SeattleSolSeattleSol Posts: 52Registered User Junior Member
    @Entezio

    For the reasons you mentioned, I would much rather do CE. I think with CE I may have a better chance with coming up with a physical object rather than just a program or website. But because CE has some programming classes, I could do both. To me, it sounds like CE is the way to go, but could somebody give me reasons as to why a potential startup founder would choose CS over CE?
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 36,085Registered User Senior Member
    It really depends on what product or service your startup would sell. Some are more software oriented, while others are more hardware oriented.
  • SeattleSolSeattleSol Posts: 52Registered User Junior Member
    @ucbalumnus

    What if I am unsure of what my product would be? Lets say I have to declare a major but I want to eventually start up a business. I am unsure as to what the product or service would be, but I am open to both hardware and software or a combination of both.

    What would, in your opinion, be the best route to take?
  • sciencenerdsciencenerd Posts: 1,456Registered User Senior Member
    I say CS is better because it's easier to make a software product than a hardware product. With a software product you can somewhat easily create a program, test it, refine it and etc. Look at the mobile app market and how many people have made start-ups that way.

    With CpE it will be much harder to actually make a product (although it depends what product). You also have to have it fit certain market standards and comply with regulations.

    Go for CS!
  • SeattleSolSeattleSol Posts: 52Registered User Junior Member
    @sciencenerd

    Interesting perspective. I definitely see your point. Is CS any harder than CE?
  • terencterenc Posts: 1,127Registered User Senior Member
    Well by my logic I think CE is more for a CEO than CS because in CE you're BUILDING a new computer from scratch up while CS is more of adding software onto someone else's creation (Bill Gates and Steve Jobs to be exact).

    In my opinion, staring at a screen being the code dog for a company is boring as hell, I'd much rather create computer hardware. Hell, if you become a professional in CE you could come across an amazing invention! Don't get me wrong, CS is well paying and all but by your and mine needs I'd think CE is the way to go.
    This is really not true. Nobody builds their computer from scratch anymore. Nobody designs a computer from scratch anymore either. And even if they did, that would have no bearing on the kinds of skills a CEO needs (people skills, management skills, marketing skills, communication skills, business strategy skills, etc.). That being said, a tech entrepreneur needs those skills AND technical/engineering skills (side note: a lot of those skills are soft skills that you don't necessarily need a formal education for).
    And neither Gates nor Jobs ever really majored in anything. Gates studied mostly software for the period of time he was in college, and Jobs was more of a manager than an engineer.

    And you probably don't know this, but electrical engineering involves sitting in front of the computer all day as well, typically designing circuits/logic gates and using a hardware design language like Verilog (CE is a blend of electrical engineering and computer science).
    What if I am unsure of what my product would be? Lets say I have to declare a major but I want to eventually start up a business. I am unsure as to what the product or service would be, but I am open to both hardware and software or a combination of both.
    Hardware and software are quite different fields.
    My advice is to take 1-2 introductory CS courses and 1-2 introductory electronics courses (maybe your freshman year?) in college, and then decide on a major based on your experiences with those classes.

    CS is not necessarily any harder with CE.
  • SeattleSolSeattleSol Posts: 52Registered User Junior Member
    @terenc

    Although slightly off-topic (but very relevant), wouldn't going in to college undeclared affect my chances of getting in? And what if I decided to go to a school the requires you to declare a major, such as Cal Poly?
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 36,085Registered User Senior Member
    SeattleSol wrote:
    wouldn't going in to college undeclared affect my chances of getting in?

    It depends on the college, and sometimes the division within the college.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 36,085Registered User Senior Member
    SeattleSol wrote:
    What would, in your opinion, be the best route to take?

    Whatever major allows you to fit a broad selection of courses in both hardware and software topics into your schedule. Depending on the college, this may be either major.
  • bomerrbomerr Posts: 1,246Registered User Senior Member
    CEOs have electrical engineer degrees because this degree was the engineer degree to get back in the before computer engineer or computer science degrees existed.

    Honestly you have to take the classes and figure out what you like more.
    Personally I agree with sciencenerd.

    CpE designs computer circuits and systems. How many co are doing that?

    CS is more broad, most big companies have an IT department. You could work from writing the next version of iMovie to managing a server / database or creating the next big iPhone app. CS is more versatile IMO.

    I think a CpE would have an easier time learning CS if he needed but in that case the CpE training would most likely be a waste. As for course load CS is easier than CpE because CpE requires learning the CS stuff and the EE stuff.
  • terencterenc Posts: 1,127Registered User Senior Member
    @SeattleSol: For the colleges that require a declaration, read up on their change-of-major policies and see how hard it is to change from CS to CE (there's quite a bit of overlap, so it might not be very hard at all!)

    Don't try to prematurely optimize things you don't have enough personal experience in.
  • sumzupsumzup Posts: 799Registered User Member
    As for course load CS is easier than CpE because CpE requires learning the CS stuff and the EE stuff.

    Not really. In order to bridge the gap between CS and EE, CE majors usually end up trading away more depth in either "parent" major.
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