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What type of engineer uses the most math?

jeff27jeff27 Registered User Posts: 7 New Member
edited December 2011 in Engineering Majors
Hi, i was wondering what type of engineer use the most math and problem solving in their jobs. I love math and am interested in computer software engineering but i'm not sure if they really use math or problem solving of if it is just applied things please help.

Thanks, in advance
Post edited by jeff27 on

Replies to: What type of engineer uses the most math?

  • wdaveowdaveo Registered User Posts: 405 Member
    My son considered all the different engineering disciplines but has chosen computer science - because of the math and problem solving aspects. He is not so interested in the 'hands-on' that you would likely get with engineering.

    (Sorry...I know this doesn't answer your question. Hopefully someone else will chime in.)
  • cosmicfishcosmicfish Registered User Posts: 4,213 Senior Member
    It depends on the specialty - within each field there will be some jobs that require extensive math and others that require little more than arithmetic. ALL engineering jobs require problem solving - it is basically the job description.

    If you looking for the most math-intensive programs, I would put CS, EE, and aerospace at the top of the list, but ME uses a lot of math as well and I am simply unsure of the rest.
  • xraymancsxraymancs College Rep Posts: 4,262 Senior Member
    All engineering disciplines require a significant amount of mathematics. Engineering is, by nature, applied and has a lot to do with problem solving although maybe not in the way that you are thinking. You ask about "computer software engineering" and this is sort of a mixed term. Computer Engineering is about hardware as well as software and is very mathematical. On the other hand Software Engineering is often found in a computer science department and involves applying engineering and mathematical principles to software development (and it is often more or a professional specialization than a major for a bachelor's degree). Computer Science itself is often highly mathematical.

    So, bottom line, they are all mathematically oriented but Computer Engineering, Software Engineering and Computer Science are all a bit different. If you want to get a better idea just go to a university web site which has all three and look at the curricula.
  • broken_symlinkbroken_symlink Registered User Posts: 690 Member
    i am a computer engineering and pure math double major with a physics minor. for my computer engineering major, i take cs and ee classes. so far, i've found the ee classes to be far more math intensive than the cs classes.
  • GLOBALTRAVELERGLOBALTRAVELER Registered User Posts: 2,886 Senior Member
    Scientific software engineers will use a lot of math on their jobs. Also, a niche field/industry that has been gaining steam over the last 10 years is the area of computational engineering...also called computational science.

    My first intention was to go into scientific software development (many moons ago) which is why I majored in computational mathematics (which is basically a hybrid math/CS degree).
  • hesdjjimhesdjjim Registered User Posts: 561 Member
    In mechanical engineering, control systems involve tons of math. Many people shy away from control systems, but if you get good at it, you will likely become a hot commodity for engineering employers.
  • aegrisomniaaegrisomnia Registered User Posts: 1,026 Senior Member
    I think you can find people using little or lots of math in any engineering or technical discipline. That being said, here are my thoughts (as a guy who did math in school and who does software now):

    Computer science can mean a lot of math or a little math, depending on your interests and where you go to school. It's not the kind of math most people probably think about when they talk about "math" in the context of engineering; however, computer science students get the opportunity (that's one way of saying, heh) to do kinds of math that most engineering students don't... combinatorics, logic, proofs, etc. Generally speaking, though, these kinds of math courses are the bane of most undergraduate CS students' existences (or so I'm told). You'll never be asked to solve a diffy-Q in a CS course, unless you're taking some sort of numerical methods course or something. In a real sense, though, CS is - like mathematics - a formal science, so everything you do (except in parts of some computer architecture/hardware courses that are more like EE-lite for CS majors) can be seen as "mathematics"... techniques for managing memory, scheduling processes, sorting numbers, constructing universal Turing machines, writing a program that adds a list of numbers, etc. All of it's math.

    Industrial engineering (or operations research) is heavily based on mathematics as well, probably moreso (as a proportion of time spent in the curriculum) than most other "engineering" majors. The key words here are probability and statistics, and you can probably swing a degree in this area in more than a few directions. As far as I know, there's not a lot of empirical science behind this kind of stuff... it, too, is based more on a formal science, although I don't think it's technically as "mathematical" as some (perhaps more rigorous than the norm) CS programs.

    I feel like Mechanical, Aerospace, Civil, Electrical, etc. are probably pretty much a wash. If you can handle Calculus I-III, Linear Algebra and Differential Equations, you won't need to learn anything else in any real depth in order to get the gist. That's my impression, anyway, and is based only on anecdotal evidence and reviewing a few undergraduate curricula. It's the lack of "physics" content behind the other two that makes me think those are probably the top contenders... and the fact that, historically, they have come from mathematics, rather than physics.
  • HPuck35HPuck35 Registered User Posts: 1,630 Senior Member
    How much math? It truely depends.

    I am a retired aerospace structural engineer and I used a lot of math on the job. My master's degree was in applied math. A lot of engineers in my specality do a lot of finite element work but I didn't. I was doing a lot of hand solutions, developing new analysis methods, etc.

    I believe that one needed to be just as hands on (maybe even more so) than any other engineer. After all, what you are doing is using math to describe the physics of what the hardware is doing. You have to understand the hardware in great detail to do that correctly.
  • MyHipieMyHipie Registered User Posts: 49 Junior Member
    CS uses different type of math - discrete math and combinatorics.

    EE, ME, and AE use different type of math - more like calculus.
  • rogracerrogracer Registered User Posts: 1,205 Senior Member
    It is not my field, but I am told that the communications branch of electrical is likely the most math-intensive. You need 20 credit hours or more of graduate-level math classes before you can make meaningful research contributions.
  • Ari7Ari7 Registered User Posts: 489 Member
    CS uses different type of math - discrete math and combinatorics.

    EE, ME, and AE use different type of math - more like calculus.

    Definitely agree with this. I've never considered myself a math person throughout HS and into college, but I've found that I really enjoy the math that I do in CS. Its a different way of thinking (reminds me more of the logical thinking you do in Geometry/Physics). Not liking HS math shouldn't necessarily scare you off from CS.
  • scofield1990scofield1990 Registered User Posts: 91 Junior Member
    I think CS and ECE students uses more advanced math. But as a civil I use a lot of math but they are not hard at all, just calc and dfq.
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Registered User Posts: 7,102 Senior Member
    Some of you guys are pretty funny.
  • aegrisomniaaegrisomnia Registered User Posts: 1,026 Senior Member
    Ha ha funny, or... funny?
  • boneh3adboneh3ad Registered User Posts: 7,102 Senior Member
    Maybe a little of both?

    The idea that you can describe a particular engineering specialty as a whole as having math that is x hard vs. this other specialty which has math that is y hard is just laughable. There are so many subdisciplines in each field using different types and amounts of math and absolutely none of us know enough about all of them to make that kind of call even if it could be made.
This discussion has been closed.