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Old 05-02-2013, 12:24 PM   #1
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Computer Science/Computer Engineering majors

My son (a freshman) is thinking of declaring his major in computer science or computer engineering. He previously was considering Political Science, but, I think, wants a more practical degree.

Is there anything you can tell me about it? He's always been decent/good in math (mostly A's, some B's), but not a math genius. Will that be an issue?

TIA!
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Old 05-02-2013, 12:33 PM   #2
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Well all programs are different, but in mine, I was required to take 3 semesters of upper level math and 1 semester of upper level statistics. I ended up taking Calc 1,2,3 and some stat course that I don't remember. But I've always been good at math and like it.

Really Comp Sci is more about logic and algorithms than computational math. Your son might want to take an intro programming class before he declares that major. Most Comp Sci degrees are based in computer software engineering.
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Old 05-02-2013, 12:41 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nette View Post
Well all programs are different, but in mine, I was required to take 3 semesters of upper level math and 1 semester of upper level statistics. I ended up taking Calc 1,2,3 and some stat course that I don't remember. But I've always been good at math and like it.

Really Comp Sci is more about logic and algorithms than computational math. Your son might want to take an intro programming class before he declares that major. Most Comp Sci degrees are based in computer software engineering.
Thank you, I'll talk to him about that. I think he is leaning more towards computer science than computer engineering.
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Old 05-02-2013, 01:24 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Liberty Belle View Post
My son (a freshman) is thinking of declaring his major in computer science or computer engineering. He previously was considering Political Science, but, I think, wants a more practical degree.

Is there anything you can tell me about it? He's always been decent/good in math (mostly A's, some B's), but not a math genius. Will that be an issue?

TIA!
What college math has he taken? Calc 2 was a weed out course here.
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Old 05-02-2013, 02:44 PM   #5
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What college math has he taken? Calc 2 was a weed out course here.
I'm embarrassed to say that I don't know. I *think* Calculus (1).
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Old 05-02-2013, 03:05 PM   #6
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As someone with a BS in CS and 25+ years work experience, here's some things to consider. If your child is thinking about going for a "computer" related career, I'd recommend they look at from the system's design or project management angle instead of hoping to become a programmer. IT jobs have changed a lot since 2000. Planning, requirements gathering & design, and project management are still largely done in-house, but more and more companies are outsourcing (often overseas) actual code development. I'm not saying that one cannot get work as a developer today, but a kid that can demonstrate that they can work with a customer to determine what type of application will meet their needs, can offer suggestions to the customer, can effectively document the user requirements and translate them into good design specifications will have more job opportunities than one that can list a number of computer languages that they know and say they're good at creating databases and writing queries.

In addition, unless your child wants to work within the computer industry itself, I'd have them also look at (if they have one) the business school for a program in Informatics, or Business Information Systems.
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Old 05-02-2013, 03:11 PM   #7
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As someone with a BS in CS and 25+ years work experience, here's some things to consider. If your child is thinking about going for a "computer" related career, I'd recommend they look at from the system's design or project management angle instead of hoping to become a programmer. IT jobs have changed a lot since 2000. Planning, requirements gathering & design, and project management are still largely done in-house, but more and more companies are outsourcing (often overseas) actual code development. I'm not saying that one cannot get work as a developer today, but a kid that can demonstrate that they can work with a customer to determine what type of application will meet their needs, can offer suggestions to the customer, can effectively document the user requirements and translate them into good design specifications will have more job opportunities than one that can list a number of computer languages that they know and say they're good at creating databases and writing queries.

In addition, unless your child wants to work within the computer industry itself, I'd have them also look at (if they have one) the business school for a program in Informatics, or Business Information Systems.
I second this as someone who started towards a CS degree, switched to business, and now have a career that merges both skill sets. Geoff's post is spot on.
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Old 05-02-2013, 03:14 PM   #8
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I think the degree requirements will vary, depending on whether computer science is in engineering or arts and sciences at his school. My son's program was in the engineering school, which worked out well for him because he initially was majoring in mechanical engineering. The first-year classes were very hard, but I can't tell you how many math classes. He had credit for two calculus classes and one stat from AP. I know he had to take another stat and several math, but some of them may have been because he was originally an engineering major.
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Old 05-02-2013, 06:50 PM   #9
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I'm not sure I agree with the PPs that most software engineering is going overseas. Here in Austin, there is a shortage of good programmers. My company (and many others) are still hiring developers.
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Old 05-02-2013, 07:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Geoff_M View Post
As someone with a BS in CS and 25+ years work experience, here's some things to consider. If your child is thinking about going for a "computer" related career, I'd recommend they look at from the system's design or project management angle instead of hoping to become a programmer. IT jobs have changed a lot since 2000. Planning, requirements gathering & design, and project management are still largely done in-house, but more and more companies are outsourcing (often overseas) actual code development. I'm not saying that one cannot get work as a developer today, but a kid that can demonstrate that they can work with a customer to determine what type of application will meet their needs, can offer suggestions to the customer, can effectively document the user requirements and translate them into good design specifications will have more job opportunities than one that can list a number of computer languages that they know and say they're good at creating databases and writing queries.

In addition, unless your child wants to work within the computer industry itself, I'd have them also look at (if they have one) the business school for a program in Informatics, or Business Information Systems.
Agreed. Being able to specify what a system is to do is key. I have 33 years in the field and we are doing more work into software that writes large portions of the application software making for less actual coding. But , considering how badly Disney does web software there may be plenty of work there for any competent person.
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Old 05-02-2013, 07:56 PM   #11
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I'm not sure I agree with the PPs that most software engineering is going overseas. Here in Austin, there is a shortage of good programmers. My company (and many others) are still hiring developers.
You must not work for Dell.

But, yes, it is true Austin is still a hotspot for programmers. My husband is looking to hire quite a few right now.
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:01 PM   #12
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My DH is a CS major. He had to do three semesters of Calc and all sorts of other math classes (differential equations, linear algebra, etc). He had enough math to do a math minor. Then, when he graduated in 2007, could NOT find a job . We did not want to move at the time, but he would have done better in a different area.

BUT

Now he has a good job, not in programming, where they utilize his programming skills (and that he probably got because of those skills). Guess they looked better than my liberal arts degree after all
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:16 PM   #13
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You must not work for Dell.

But, yes, it is true Austin is still a hotspot for programmers. My husband is looking to hire quite a few right now.
No I don't work in Hel... I mean Dell.
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:18 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Geoff_M View Post
As someone with a BS in CS and 25+ years work experience, here's some things to consider. If your child is thinking about going for a "computer" related career, I'd recommend they look at from the system's design or project management angle instead of hoping to become a programmer. IT jobs have changed a lot since 2000. Planning, requirements gathering & design, and project management are still largely done in-house, but more and more companies are outsourcing (often overseas) actual code development. I'm not saying that one cannot get work as a developer today, but a kid that can demonstrate that they can work with a customer to determine what type of application will meet their needs, can offer suggestions to the customer, can effectively document the user requirements and translate them into good design specifications will have more job opportunities than one that can list a number of computer languages that they know and say they're good at creating databases and writing queries.

In addition, unless your child wants to work within the computer industry itself, I'd have them also look at (if they have one) the business school for a program in Informatics, or Business Information Systems.
This is all very, very accurate. DH has a CS degree and he does very little, if any, coding at all. He needs to understand it, obviously, but the majority of his days are spent in scrum meetings, sprint planning meetings, etc. Its all on the business side of things. Most, if not all, coding is done off shore. DH is very happy in his career, but I don't think this is what he envisioned when he originally chose to be a CS major 15 years ago.
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Old 05-02-2013, 08:45 PM   #15
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I'm not sure I agree with the PPs that most software engineering is going overseas. Here in Austin, there is a shortage of good programmers. My company (and many others) are still hiring developers.
I never said "most"... When I first started my career I worked as part of a corporate MIS department that was filled with programmers that wrote and maintained the vast array of custom written applications my company used. Over time, the trend within corporate IT shops is to shift to COTS (customized off-the-shelf) applications and trim the numbers of in-house programmer/developers. Just four years ago in my IT department we had about six developers... today we have two. The bulk of what development/support work we need done is farmed out to a firm in Russia. My last major project was coded mostly in India on a fixed-bid basis. However, almost all of the business analysis, requirements gathering, application design, and such is still done in-house by employee resources. This is the primary "growth" area for IT jobs. Add to that if you get formal training in project management.

Now, if you're working for a company that is producing applications as a product to market and support, then yes, they will need a good deal of development resources. And yes, programmer jobs in the US certainly still do exist... particularly if you want to work as a contract worker. But the heyday of CS degree holders being in strong demand as programmers has long passed.

To drive that point home, here's a recently published report from the Economic Policy Institute that found the demand for "STEM" (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) workers peaked in 2000 and we are now graduating far more young adults with STEM degrees than we have openings for. In particular:
Quote:
In computer and information science and in engineering, U.S. colleges graduate 50 percent more students than are hired into those fields each year; of the computer science graduates not entering the IT workforce, 32 percent say it is because IT jobs are unavailable, and 53 percent say they found better job opportunities outside of IT occupations. These responses suggest that the supply of graduates is substantially larger than the demand for them in industry.
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