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Civil Enginereing, Computer Science, or both??

RodeoSWRodeoSW Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
My community college offers an Associate of Applied Science in Computer Programing as well as an Associate of Science in Engineering with a computer science concentration which will transfer to a university. Which of these two degrees is more valuable and will be best for the long run? Do you think that the AAS degree in computer programing is good enough to get in the job force faster and holds its weight compared to going for the AS and then transferring to university for BS in Computer science? I am currently majoring in the AS in Engineering. My concern is if I should take the AAS in computer programing and jump in the work force to start gaining experience, or be patient and go for BS in computer science route, and then do some internships or co-op for experience. However my experience is in residential and commercial construction for the past 20 years and I have more than 8 years as a self employed general building contractor. I am currently majoring in Engineering and with my experience in construction, wanted to either become a Civil Engineer and minor in computer science or even get a second degree in computer science (just to have two good options and be more marketable), as I am not opposed to learning something new. I am interested in both and am trying to make up my mind. I'm starting my sophomore year this spring and need to decide quick. Another factor that I need to include is my age. I am already 35 years old. What is your opinion on which route would most likely suite me best. Something that will best suite me as a feel I have another good 30 or more years ahead of me to have a great career. Thank you for your input.

Replies to: Civil Enginereing, Computer Science, or both??

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 75,482 Senior Member
    Will the AS degrees require significantly more course work than you will have to take anyway to prepare for transfer to a university in civil engineering or computer science?
  • RodeoSWRodeoSW Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Hello ucbalumnus, the AS is about 73 credit hours and the AAS is 62-63 credit hours, however if I was to concentrate in Civil and pursue a CS degree aswell, I could take about 9 credit hours of the CS courses at the my community college that will transfer to university. At the university, they offer a second BS degree in computer science for 30 additional credit hours of CS course after a BS in civil Engineering. 15 of those credit hours would give me a minor in CS which I would have already taken 9 of those at community college. a couple of the CS courses overlap with CE course due to there being programing courses in the CE curriculum. I would say that With the AAS I would be done in 3 terms less than if I would go the university route in either CE or CS, now of course if I chose to do Both the CE and CS I would add an additional year of school. I'm trying to determine the opportunity cost of the AAS route vs. CS or CE AS . I'm just not sure what route I want to take. I would be happy with either profession. However I could jump-start a new career in programing in a shorter time, I would also be content with that, being that there is a lot of opportunity for programers as well a CS here in my state of New Mexico at the national labs, I think an AAS in programing would could also lead a good job down the line with the experience I would gain by just getting the AAS and getting to work. But if the BS In Engineering would help me make more money I would concentrate on going that route. It just seems like programers and CS make more money than Civil. So I'm just trying to decide what to do. Which profession is more promising? Im thinking, there will always be a demand for both and I should be pretty safe with either choice but i would rather have the more promising career.
  • xraymancsxraymancs Forum Champion Graduate School Posts: 4,644 Forum Champion
    Be careful. Not all universities accept more than 60 CC transfer credits. Both careers can provide a good income but I would recommend against taking two degrees, which will take you an extra year of study. If you are interested in Chemical Engineering, then get your AS and then when you are in a 4-year school take some programming electives. You will likely have to learn Matlab anyway for your CHE degree and that will get you familiar with programming. Remember that having a CS degree is not required for a software job. There are lots of programmers who have other degrees.
  • RodeoSWRodeoSW Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    Thank you xraymancs. That does makes sense. Its actually Civil engineering but I get you. I was leaning towards that route as you suggest.
  • turbo93turbo93 Registered User Posts: 2,858 Senior Member
    I have degrees in both and work as a software engineer (etc). In both cases the answer is 'it depends'. Civil is probably harder to complete and not as many jobs. But there is a bit of 'natural talent' involved in becoming the type of CS person who can make the big bucks; I can pound Timoshenko's book into sophomore students' heads and by the end of the semester they'll likely know the material. I can pound Dijkstra's books into students' heads and while most will know the material by the end of the semester, not all will have the 'natural talent' for it.

    With your construction management experience, have you looked into Construction Management as a major?
  • RodeoSWRodeoSW Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    turbo93 thank you for the reply. I been waiting to get feedback from someone like you that has insight in both fields. I did inquire into construction management and my adviser said that going into civil would leave me with a smother transition in construction management vs. construction management going in civil. I am however interested in CS I have been learning coding and I am a green horn in CS but I have been doing work in HTML for now. I like it and I like the challenge of learning programing. I get more and more interested in CS. So since there are some programing classes that I need to take that are required for for fields, I figure I see how well I like CS. I will also look into construction management as an option more. How is a good way for me to see if I have the natural talent to continue to pursue CS. I have lots of natural talent in whatever I put my mind to. Also the more and more I study CS on my own I become less and less intimidated by it. I guess maybe I should study Timoshenko and Dijkstras' books. thanks again for the input.
  • STEMFamilySTEMFamily Registered User Posts: 1,327 Senior Member
    Have you actually checked into the requirements for programming jobs in your area? I'm sure there are programming jobs that do not require a CS degree but, in my experience, the labs only hire people programmers with CS degrees. My experience is on the technical side, not the business side, but even most technicians and administrative assistants have a Bachelors degree in something.

    Timoshenko was a mechanics person who laid the foundation for subjects like statics and mechanics of materials that you will see in Civil Engineering, not a CS person. I think the contrast between the two subject areas was @turbo93's point, and I fully agree. I also have a BSCE (worked in the consulting business many years ago) and advanced engineering degrees but I have been doing engineering software development for several years now,

    I don't think the extra time to get a CS minor or CS degree really buys you anything for a career in CE. While some programming experience would be valuable, it would be the basic skills not the things that are taught in upper level CS classes. IMO, the most valuable programming experiences for BS level civil engineering would be in Matlab, excel, and/or python.
  • Fsswim1Fsswim1 Registered User Posts: 87 Junior Member
    @turbo93 What "natural talent" are you refeering to turbo?
  • RodeoSWRodeoSW Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    @STEMFamily thank you for the input. Yes I have been looking into programing job requirements and I have found that for many openings experience is key, and having a portfolio of project to show your experience, there are also some decent jobs requiring at least an associate degree in programing, CS, or related field to start and I imagine that after a few years of on the job experience the years of experience equal to the BS degree. My community college AAS degre in programing covers Java, C++, C#. I am only three trimesters away from the AAS in programing vs. six with the AS in engineering with CS concentration. Im taking classes toward engineering now and should have a better idea of which route I will take by the end of this spring term. But its on my mind and just wanted to get as much input as I possibly can to help me decide either way. Thank you again for your input, and if you have anything else to recommend, I'm all ears.
  • STEMFamilySTEMFamily Registered User Posts: 1,327 Senior Member
    edited January 2015
    I'd say it really depends on what you want to do. The opportunity costs to get a CE or even a CS degree will probably not be overcome by higher salaries in those fields as opposed to starting earlier with the AAS. A starting BSCE would likely pay less than starting with the AAS in programming although your construction work experience would probably boost the starting CE salary some. The only thing I can think of that would be a detriment for the AAS programming degree is if it limits your opportunities to advance but I think that would be company specific and there are IT management opportunities in a lot of companies.

    Also note that upper level CS classes are more math and theory intensive than the freshman/sophomore programming classes so while liking programming is important, it is not necessarily sufficient. CS is much more than just programming.

    If you really are interested in pursuing a BS degree, you should talk to advisors in CE and/or CS at the university and find out exactly how many of the CC credits will actually count toward either degree. There may be a lot of elective credits that would transfer but not count toward the degree and thus extend the time more than you may think. The only way to be sure is to talk to someone whose job it is to know these things.
  • RodeoSWRodeoSW Registered User Posts: 6 New Member
    edited January 2015
    Noted. Thanks again! :) @STEMFamily‌
  • turbo93turbo93 Registered User Posts: 2,858 Senior Member
    edited January 2015
    The 'natural talent' of seeing both the forest and the trees at the same time. The ability to think bottom-up and top-to-bottom at the same time. The skill to dig into someone's code you've never seen before and immediately gel with the dude who wrote it and make changes. CompSci depends on the heroics of individual coders as much as it depends on coding standards, software engineering methods, and the like. One needs to be humble when needed and thick skinned where needed. You could spend a week on a bug only to have the intern show you the issue is not where you thought it was.

    Civil Engineering, and engineering in general, by comparison, depends less on 'talent' and intangibles and more on experience and knowledge. I was a ho-hum CE student who, in the late 1970's, realized that life is too short to be doing structural calculations by hand. So I bought a programmable calculator and later a Pocket Basic computer and did some pretty interesting pieces of software for it. That's when we barely knew the difference between GOTO and GOSUB. Did surveying, structural analysis, concrete, foundations, and of course the bane of calculations, metal and wooden structures and plates & shells. Got involved with the college's minicomputer running real BASIC on a terminal. Didn't take me long to start selling software I wrote. The rest is history. That was 30+ years ago. Since then I've programmed IT, software tools, and embedded, from Linux to QNX to Windows to no OS.

    I just finished a few components of a humongous HTML5/CSS/Javascript embedded system graphical user interface. Not the easiest, and not so obvious especially when the hardware is just as suspect as the software, but with a bit of talent and lots of coffee and donuts we got it to work.

    My older daughter is graduating this May with an Architecture degree, and talking to her I find I still remember a lot from my CE college days and Timoshenko (took a bunch of studios too), probably more than I do of Dijkstra (I have been known to Google arguments in the C library). My younger one took AP Comp Science in HS and did not find it as easy as I told her (and she's a 4.0 UW junior). Some people get it, some don't. It's like teaching writing.
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