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Similarities Between Computer Science and Computer Engineering

Filed in Education by on March 19, 2020

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Similarities Between Computer Science and Computer Engineering

Computer Science and Computer Engineering: Students considering a career centered on computers and computing often ask for clarification about the difference between computer engineering (CEN) and computer science (CS). I will put this clear to you the difference from their learning materials to job opportunities.

Computer Science and Computer Engineering

Just before we dig in to know these difference, below is the point of what I will be discussing with you

Computer Science is traditionally more concerned with the theoretical underpinnings of computation and programming; thus one typically finds courses in programming, algorithms, numerical analysis (how do you guarantee a number produced by a computer program is accurate), and theory of computation (what can and cannot in principle be computed) in Computer Science departments.

Many CS departments at U.S. universities were offshoots from math departments in the 1970s, and the emphasis on providing a rigorous mathematical foundation for the computing disciplines is still evident in many CS curricula.

Computer engineering programs largely developed in engineering departments strong in electrical engineering. Computer Engineering focuses on the practical aspects of the development and use of computers.

Courses in digital logic design and processor interfacing which build on an engineering student’s knowledge of electronics and circuits are typically found in CEN programs.

At the intersection between CEN and CS are courses in computer architecture (the basic construction and low-level programming of computers) and operating systems, which are as likely to be found in either or both programs.

At UMaine, Computer Science is a department in the College of Arts and Sciences, while Computer Engineering is a program within the College of Engineering. Computer science majors follow the Arts and Sciences curriculum while Computer Engineering majors follow an Engineering curriculum.

The difference between these two degrees is the difference between the two colleges: science aims to deepen a basic knowledge of a specific field, while engineering aims to combine innovation and technology.

Computer engineers build hardware while computer scientists generally do not. However, computer scientists certainly know enough about hardware to analyze computer system operations and to interact with hardware engineers. Computer scientists know more about the underlying theory of computation, programming languages, and operating systems.

While computer engineers often work as programmers, most system-level programs such as programming languages and operating systems are designed by computer scientists. However, computer engineers usually write programs for computer-based systems.

Since engineering is the application of the principles of basic science to the solving of problems within constraints (that is, building things!), computer engineering is engineering applied to computers and computer-based systems. In other words, computer engineers build computers such as PCs, workstations, and supercomputers.

They also build computer-based systems such as those found in cars, planes, appliances, electronics, phones, communication networks, and many, many other products. Computer engineers typically design not only the hardware but also much of the software in computer-based systems.

You live and breathe computers, and you can’t get enough. Everything about them fascinates you, and you dream of the day you’ll get to play with them all day, every day, for a living. But when you look through potential degrees, you can’t figure out the differences between computer sciences vs. computer engineering, so you find it challenging to choose the right program for you. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, but don’t worry – we’ve got your back.

Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering: Learning Materials

Computer science students learn how to build computer systems, and how to solve problems on computers and other electronic technologies using data storage and processing.

Computer science students learn a variety of computer languages and computing environments, which helps them master a range of skills from creating computer graphics, through developing and analyzing numerical and mathematical algorithms and complex networks, operating systems, and building and storing databases, to improving human-computer interactions.

Computer engineering students, on the other hand, are somewhere between computer science and electrical engineering. Therefore, you’ll probably find system operations and computer architecture courses in a computer engineering degree as well.

However, computer engineering programs focus on the development, prototyping, and design of both software and hardware, as well as the integration of the two.

As a result, they put a big emphasis on the physics and manufacturing of physical devices and integrated circuits. Computer engineering students learn to master robotics, pattern recognition, speech processing and so much more.

Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering: Job Opportunities

Graduating with a degree in computer engineering opens diverse doors to students. They can develop and manufacture aerospace, automotive, fuel, water, medical and telecommunications systems, and devices, to name a few options.

Among others, they can also develop computer architecture systems and equipment, including circuit boards, routers, and sensors. If they prefer to develop software, computer engineering graduates have enough training to land jobs in this field.

But if you’re looking at computer science vs. computer engineering when it comes to landing a job as a programmer, a degree in computer science is probably your best bet.

Computer science students can often land a job in their profession while still moving through their degrees. Some of them will start programming right away, while others will start in technical support roles or QA (quality assurance of software products).

As they gain knowledge and expertise, computer science graduates can specialize in computer and app programming, as well as automation roles, but they can also develop network systems, databases, and websites.

Every industry needs the skills computer science graduates to have because every industry these days has software products, apps, and websites, so there are no limits to what computer science graduates can do.

Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering: Further Higher Education

A critical part of the computer science vs. computer engineering discussion is what options are out there in case you want to pursue further higher education after your bachelor’s degree.

Computer engineering graduates might want to get a master’s degree in the field of computer engineering’ to advance their careers or get higher salaries.

In their master’s, computer engineering graduates can choose to specialize in a certain industry (like aerospace) or to specialize in robotics, computer networks, project, and product development, or the development of wireless networks or very large scale integration circuits.

If you want to lead a company’s technological strategies and execution, computer science vs. computer engineering discussion is a matter of specialty.

Both degree programs enable you to be eligible to get a master’s in business administration (MBA) with a focus on technology, which will help you move up the ranks to management roles like a CTO (chief technology officer) or CIO (chief information officer).

Some computer science graduates will want to focus on technology in their master’s degree. In this case, choosing a master’s program that focuses on information security or information systems, databases, optimization or artificial intelligence might be a better choice. Computer Science: Bachelor’s or Associate Degree?

If you’re contemplating whether you need a degree at all, or if you’re too overwhelmed by the cost of a bachelor’s degree, it might be best to get an associate degree in computer science. Unlike a bachelor’s degree, it takes 2 years instead of 4 to complete it, which means smaller tuition costs and less time living off student jobs.

But take into consideration that you’ll likely have to work much, much harder to prove yourself than a bachelor’s degree graduate when it comes to landing your first few jobs – and your paycheck will be smaller too, at least in the first few years. Also, advancing to higher positions might require you to complete a bachelor’s degree – maybe even a master’s degree.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ques.: What is Computer Science?

Ans.: Computer science (CS) is the study of computers and algorithmic processes including their principles, their hardware and software designs, their applications, and their impact on society.

Ques.: What other classes are available if I am interested in taking more Computer Science classes?

Ans.: Other programs provide computer science coursework such as Code.org, C-STEM, Project Lead the Way. Please visit these websites directly for more information.

In addition, there are various digital media courses, programming and coding courses that are available to students interested in going beyond computer science introductory coursework.

Ques.: How do you know students are successful in Computer Science?

Ans.: Several of the classes offered have assessments, rubrics, and other tools to measure student success in the Computer Science courses.

Ques.: What is computer engineering?

Ans.: Since engineering is the application of the principles of basic science to the solving of problems within constraints (that is, building things!), computer engineering is engineering applied to computers and computer-based systems.

In other words, computer engineers build computers such as PCs, workstations, and supercomputers. They also build computer-based systems such as those found in cars, planes, appliances, electronics, phones, communication networks, and many, many other products. Computer engineers typically design not only the hardware, but also much of the software in computer-based systems.

Ques.: What set of skills do I need to be a computer engineer?

Ans.: All scientists and engineers need a firm foundation in basic science and math. They also need to be able to work in teams and to communicate their ideas both verbally and in writing.

Computer engineers specifically are comfortable with both hardware and software. Depending on where your interests lie, either one can be emphasized.

Ques.: What job opportunities are there for computer engineers?

Ans.: Computer engineers work for computer companies such as Intel, HP, and Texas Instruments, and also in industries that build or use computer-based systems, such as telecommunications, automotive, aerospace, etc.

Many computer engineers also get jobs as programmers. While they have less programming experience than computer science graduates, their understanding of hardware gives them an advantage in dealing with overall systems.

Ques.: What degree plans are there for computer engineers at the University of Houston?

Ans.: There are two ways to become a computer engineer at the University of Houston. One way is to be an electrical engineering major with emphasis in computer engineering. With this plan you get a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (BSEE) degree.

I call this the computer engineering OPTION within electrical engineering. The other way is to be a computer engineering MAJOR. In this case you receive Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering (BSCPE) degree. (Why BSCPE and not BSCE? Civil Engineering already had BSCE!.)

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