Computer Engineering vs Information Technology vs Computer Science, vs EE?

<p>I'm an incoming freshmen to RPI and I just read the first semester planner and I'm not sure which classes I should take. I want a job that I think is fun and I want to deal with computers but I think creating Ipods and Flashdrives can also be fun. I want to know what makes electronics, specifically computers, work. </p>

<p>My question is, which of those majors should I take? RPI has one of the best IT programs, but I'm still not sure what that is. I enjoy groupwork, but would IT end up making me work by myself taking care of databases? That sounds like the biggest bore of a job and I wouldn't really want to spend the rest of my life doing that. </p>

<p>Which of those lets me deal with technology, specifically but not only computers, and work in groups for projects (as a future career possibly?) And if I wanted to work in a museum or something similar, do computer/electrical engineers have any jobs in them? That's just a side question.</p>

<p>I plan to minor in business as well and possibly take a dual major in two of the fields I mentioned, but I also plan to take the co-terminal master's program in 5 years, so from what I read a dual major is pointless since companies only really pay attention to the master's degree, is that true?</p>

<p>The Comp Sci/Electrical Engineering/Computer Engineering courses are pretty much similar, but I was thinking if it's worth it to also take ITWS-1100 Introduction to Information Technology to get an understanding of what IT is.

<p>Dual majoring is, for the most part, a waste of time. Spending the extra time obtaining a MS is a much better idea.</p>

<p>To give you a very broad idea of what the three fields are about:
IT - Troubleshoot computers/networks, design infrastructure
CompE - Computer hardware and software
CS - Computer software with a little hardware</p>

<p>Personally I would recommend CS, CE, or EE over IT. That's just prejudice talking.</p>

<p>I think the BLS OOH has some brief descriptions of what "information technologists", "software engineers and computer programmers", "engineers - computer", and "engineers - electrical" do and what qualifications, job security, and pay you can expect. I would check that out... just google "BLS OOH".</p>

<p>CS, CE, and EE span a digital technology spectrum from "computation" - what are problems, and how do you solve them - to "implementation" - how can I make physical devices capable of solving problems. CS focuses on the "computation" side and EE on the "implementation" side. CE is the major for the digital technology generalist, and this has both the benefits (more opportunities, broader exposure) and drawbacks (less competitiveness for specific jobs, shallower exposure) that one might expect.</p>

<p>You can check the curricular differences according to the IEEE and ACM, for IT as well. Oh, and check what ABET has to say about your school in particular, and check your bulletin to see in what ways the curricula differ (i.e. what courses does one require which are not required by the others) and ask some questions, such as: (a) which courses look more interesting? (b) which courses look more rigorous? (c) which courses look more relevant? etc.</p>

<p>And you might check out rankings for your school's programs on USNWR and see, for instance, if you have a #2 ranked CS program and a #77 EE, or vice versa. Also, enrollment statistics (1000 EE majors and 10 CS majors, or vice versa) can be an indicator of either (a) how hard (and therefore attractive to employers) is a curriculum, or (b) how popular (and possibly employable) is a curriculum.</p>

<p>Phew. Good luck buddy.</p>

<p>Even if you plan to go into I.T....I STILL say take Computer Science.</p>

<p>The "heart" of I.T. and information systems is: operating systems, database systems and computer networks. Databases store and manage data. Networks distribute the data securely...and both networks and databases must run over an operating system.</p>

<p>A CS degree will prepare you for I.T. when you add in a more practical database course/training (the CS program with give you more theory), a software engineering/systems engineering course and a project management course.</p>

<p>Developing a CompE slant is just some more hardware courses with your CS program.</p>

<p>Answer: Computer Science</p>

<p>^ Well, he says he doesn't want to do database work. I can sympathize to an extent... and it appears to me that he does not want to end up in IT/IS at all.</p>

<p>In fact, it sounds to me like Computer Engineering is the best overall fit for him, since he doesn't know exactly what he wants yet but knows that (a) he would like to work with computers and (b) he likes specific (embedded) devices, i.e., IPods and Flashdrives.</p>

<p>Of course it's possible I'm misreading the post, but only time will tell. I hope he looks into some of the differences in the subjects and gets back to us...</p>

<p>Okay, so I pretty much narrowed it down to CompE and Electrical Engineering, I can probably choose between those and CompSci after my first semester anyway, I'll just give up on IT since it just seems like it doesn't match my interests as much. Does Computer Engineering encompass Ipods and other devices as well or would electrical engineering be better for that? RPI lets people go from an EE BA to a CE MA so I was thinking about that, it didn't mention anything about going from CE to EE though so I'm not totally sure.</p>

<p>Thanks for all the advice though!!</p>

<p>"Does Computer Engineering encompass Ipods and other devices as well or would electrical engineering be better for that?"
- I'm almost sure that Computer Engineering would be better for working with embedded computing devices like cell phones, IPods, etc.</p>

<p>As far as getting into graduate programs is concerned, the best way to know for sure it to (a) find resources that spell out prerequisites for specific programs or (b) ask people what background you need. If you want to go CE -> EE, just check with programs you might be interested in (or, if you don't know yet, check with a few random ones and try to find common threads) and make sure you do the required work.</p>

<p>All of this being said, I do know some CompEng people who feel like they would have been better off going either CS or EE. There is a relatively narrow band of jobs for which CompEng majors are more qualified than their CS or EE counterparts. Something to consider if you're in the business of playing the market.</p>

<p>Do you want to design the electronics for the ipod? That would be an EE thing.
Do you want to write the firmware for the ipod and other low level code? That's closer to CE. (To be fair either a cs or an ee could do this part as well)</p>

<p>You want to write iTunes? Then do cs.</p>