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Need information about becoming a software engineer

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I'm doing a career research project for school and i chose software engineer. I really do want to go into this field, and i was looking for some universities that offered software enginering degrees. I didn't really find any and this aroused some questions: 1. Can you actually get a degree in "software engineering" or do you just have to major in Computer Science? 2. Is there a differtence between a computer programmer and a software engineer? 3. If there is no one degree in SE, then what might i have to study to become one. 4. What California universities offer degrees like this Thanks very much for you time. Alex Ruiz

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Many schools do now offer a degree in "Software Engineering" as well as Computer Science. From what I have been told, those who study Computer Science often study the underlying algorithms and base code of how something works. Software Engineers look at the big picture of the program, and put it together that way.

You might want to read this article.

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Quote:
Original post by Alex Ruiz
1. Can you actually get a degree in "software engineering" or do you just have to major in Computer Science?
4. What California universities offer degrees like this
Yes, I have seen schools that do offer SE degrees. I can't think of any off the top of my head. Check schools known for their engineering departments. Most schools don't offer exclusively SE degrees, but often you could get some sort of minor or concentration instead.

Quote:
2. Is there a differtence between a computer programmer and a software engineer?
Yes. Programmers tend to be the ones who write code. Software engineers will be the ones who design the code, perhaps the larger algorithms (or that might be more systems engineering), they'll define the interfaces, and as was said, the big picture stuff. Programmers are more concerned with the specific implmentation details. However, where I work, we tend to wear both hats. We do it all. We do the software design stuff, but we also code the software.

Quote:
3. If there is no one degree in SE, then what might i have to study to become one.
I'd suggest CS with a concentration in SE. Pure CS is really a branch of mathematics, but at most schools, that's not how it's taught. They almost always offer classes that are more engineering based than pure CS based. I would also suggest taking electrical or computer engineering classes, possibly a minor. It's good for a software engineer to understand the hardware level because their designs are going to need to work with the underlying software. You don't want to be the guy to design something that's impossible to implement on the given hardware, and yes, it happens.[wink]

The thing you could do is when you are in school, do lots of side project for yourself or small groups. They can really beef up a resume and it shows you have drive to go above and beyond. Plus, it gives you practical experience, which is what software engineering is all about. You don't become a good software engineer until you really start doing software engineering. It's a very hard thing to teach in the limited class time in college. You just have to do it to get good at it.

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Programmer = Typing the code.

Software Engineer = Designing and documenting the program itself.

I want to take the Software Engineering route as well and I hope to get a Software Engineering Degree.

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Don't get hung up on the titles. Despite what everyone has written, there is no standard distinction between a "programmer" and a "software engineer".

The differences between a Computer Science curriculum and a Software Engineering cuirriculum at a university depend on the university. Generally, Computer Science is under the Math department and focuses more on theory and algorithms, while Software Engineering is under the Engineering department and focuses more on application and the development process. Whether you have a degree in one or the other won't make much difference to an employer, since ultimately you need to know both.

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1) Yes
2) Not really - there are very different types of jobs, but the job titles are not consistent between different companies
3) Computer Science
4) Most them will have a CS program I imagine, unless it's a liberal arts or business college.

Software engineers write code too. Some jobs require you to write code about 1/10th and other jobs require it about 9/10th of the time. I've been a Software Engineer in both types of jobs.
The difference between a Computer Science & Software Engineer undergrad degree is probably minimal. There's a good deal of variance for the requirements of a CS degree between universities. For example some require up to differential equations, some only require mathematical analysis (simple calc I). Some require a senior project, some don't. The difference between CS & SE would be similar - it really depends on the particular university.

There's another common degree called CIS, Computer Information Systems, but that's typically has less focus on system or application programming (C/C++/Java) and more focus on administration and deployment (SQL/VB/maybe perl).

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If you are someone who's not afraid of travelling you can very well try to look at Concordia University in Montreal. Yeah ... it's very far from California and it's not even in the US but Concordia has the privilege to share most teachers from McGill University which is 20 minutes walking distance from each other. Some of you may know that McGill is considered to be Canada's Harvard but since both share pretty much the same teachers well you can be assured that the quality and level of education is very high for a very low price for both places.

Chances are, not matter how you look at it ... it will cost you less to complete a degree studying in Montreal than a year of University in California unless I'm a retard and have absolutely no clue what the h**l I'm taking about but here it's around 2000$ a year for tuition fees BUT I think it's more expansive for foreign students obviously but since so many americans come here to study... it's gotta be worth it somehow I don't know I never asked some of my pals why they came to study here in the first place

Oh yeah I forgot to tell you that Concordia offers Software Engineering in a 4 year program. McGill doesn't offer SOEN unfortunately but does offer Computer science like pretty much any university around the country.

If in any case you don't want to move out of California, which is understandable since moving out of the country is not easy or possible for everybody, then just disregard my post. I simply thought you might have found the possibility interesting to travel and study in a good university and live a cool new experience outside the country for a couple of years :D



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1. Not sure exactly what the situation is in the U.S., but here in Australia you definitely can get a degree in software engineering, like I did (Bachelor of Engineering, not of Science). Fully accredited by the Insitutie of Engineers in Australia. I'm quite sure there'd be an equivalent in the U.S., although I'm not sure how the courses would be structured or whether it has accreditation or not.

2. In theory, there's a big difference. Software engineering is much more about the whole software design process, quality control, requirements specifications and so on. In my fourth year project, as a testing and quality assurance coordinator, most of what I programmed was testing scripts, not production code. However, in practice, since there are so few software engineers fresh out of university, a graduate is likely to be working the same sort of jobs as a computer science graduate. There are some exceptions; I had a few friends who got some good jobs with large companies or with the armed forces as software engineers, and the degree does have a bit more prestige.

3. Well, if you can't do a degree in software engineering like I did, the closest equivalent would be computer science with honours. Software engineering is usually a four year course; I did the same first year as the electrical engineers, specialising in software in second year, with my third and fourth year most devoted to large software projects with classes in software engineering principles. Computer science is often a lot less rigid, allowing you more flexibility in which subjects you choose, including the software engineering ones (a lot of my classmates were computer science majors). However, computer science is usually a three year course over here. An honours year is often devoted to a large project like the software engineering students do, however it is more often research orientated than industry.

4. Don't really have a clue about the Californian universities, sorry. I'd be doing the same sort of Google searches that you would be.

Hope that is of some use!

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Guest Anonymous Poster
i would concur with one of the posters above -- there really isn't a hard line between a programmer and a software engineer. my business card says "software engineer" and i write code and design software systems. there is very rarely anybody who simply draws up a UML document and says "programmer, go make it work!" -- and if there is someone like that, they're going to be the "Senior Architect" or something like that.

to be a software engineer, you would major in computer science or computer engineering. depends on the school and what they call the program.

in california, there are two excellent schools for computer science:
University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley Unix = BSD)
Stanford University

although there are (for certain!) "pure" computer scientists that come out of the universities, there are also plenty of good software engineers.

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you even don't need to pass computer science degree to become a good programmer but it is a nice style to have those certificates .
additional certificates are here http://objectsbydesign.com/ and ICCP courses.
it is a long run and hard task but interesting .

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