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zKarp

College Major

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Im currently transferring into a new college for engineering because my old one didn't offer it and was really just a stepping stone 4 year college. It had "pre engineering" sort of that was closer to home.

My new college is 11 hours away, University of Kentucky. Now I'm stuck between various choices for a major. Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering and Computer Science. Computer engineering, from what I read, is sorta midway between the two with abit more emphasis on the engineering part.

I've enjoyed programming and coding, atleast the idea, since I was young and had my mom help my with my first VB 5, hello world project. I would love to major in something related to programming but at the same time I like electronics and how sweet it would be to know to make things.

I can't really decide what path to take. Electrical engineering has good job outlook and interesting topics but it had hard topics and doesn't satisfy my "programming drive". Computer science has more of the programming topics but the jobs are all outsourced.

From experience my physics, and electronics class, where we learned circuit theory, resistors and what now. I got a good grade in the class but it was difficult. For programming I took c programming in college, got an A+, and vb in highschool. A+ again, those classes came very easy for me.

I'm currently signed up for Computer engineering just I'm not sure if it gets specific enough in either field to be useful. Any personal experience in any of these fields would be useful. I might talk with my adviser once I get there about the three.

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To be a good candidate for a game programming job you may have to do quite a lot of work in addition to your degree coursework, regardless of whether you choose Computer Science or Computer Engineering. Either one can be a good foundation for a future game programmer.

If you choose Computer Science, make sure you supplement your knowledge by learning about how things work on the hardware side. Learn how modern architecture pipelines are laid out, learn how caches work, etc. Some CS degrees cover architecture more than others, but you can choose to take as many hardware classes as you want.

If you choose Computer Engineering, make sure you supplement your knowledge by learning some theoretical concepts about algorithm analysis, OS fundamentals, AI topics, etc. Rarely do Engineering degrees cover these topics in depth, but again, you're free to take as many CS classes as you want.

Computer Science is definitely a better map to game programming, but I'd hire a Computer Engineer in a second if he seemed to know what he was doing.

Either way, experiment with game-programming concepts (whether that's through programming a game, or implementing a rendering algorithm, etc) in your free time.

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Consider whether you can stand to spend approximately 6-10 hours programming every other night (literally) for four years worth of classes, when you consider if you want to be a Computer Science major. I'm not trying to deter you here, but honestly I had no idea coming in as to how long I would be working outside class on programming projects. I'm currently a Junior in the Computer Science track at my college, and I knew a great deal about programming before entering college and still I spend 6-10 hours on each assignment (generally 3 assignments per week, due Mon Wed and Fri). I would imagine this is how it is at other schools as well, but I know we have the highest workload in all the degree programs at my school.

However, if you don't want to spend so much time and want to get a lot of the same knowledge without all the most technical details of programming with some more emphasis on how the computer works (from a software to hardware stance) I'd suggest going with the Comp Engineering degree. It really boils down to how much programming you want to learn vs how much you want to know about how the computer works.

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It sounds like you're approaching the dilemma very wrong. Neither "major" is going to get you a free ticket in the gaming industry, so when choosing a major, you should be considering what you genuinely enjoy. Don't let grades dictate that either. If you enjoy computer circuitry and hardware, go into computer engineering. If you enjoy programming and software, go into computer science. I got into the gaming industry with a degree in Industrial Engineering (essentially applied statistics). Most people would look at that and go "that's not relevant at all" - I can't program well enough for the industry, and I can't do anything related to art or level design. My main "skill" is giving a thorough business analysis of player data and development processes, and I did enough work on a portfolio to show how I could make UI mods to make systems more efficient.

To actually get into gaming, you need to ask yourself "What skills am I going to bring to the industry?" After that, you should ask "How am I going to demonstrate those skills?" To really maximize your chances of getting in, you'll need to do a lot of work outside of your normal courses. If you want to become a coder, you need to program games that work. If you want to be a level designer, you need to make levels using Hammer, or Maya, or some other level design software, and start getting downloads. If you want to be an artist, you need to start making art samples for your portfolio. If you want to be in QA, start writing bug reports.

Know that there is no "design" position in which you can just sit around and talk about how the game should be. Every job in the industry pays you because you have a skill, and because you work hard. There is no "sit around and do nothing" job. There are so many ideas for games, improvements to games, etc. that the industry doesn't need to pay people to generate them. Literally, [b]you don't get paid for ideas[/b]. Anyone can come up with ideas for a new "raid boss" or "dungeon boss," and anyone can come up with the ideas for new characters or "champions." The industry pays you for actually having the real skills to implement them.

So if you really want to get into the industry, you should get in the habit of brutal hours of tough work. The development side of games is [i]very[/i] different from the consumption side, and you'll need to show recruiters that you're ready to be a developer, and not just a crazed consumer with "good ideas."

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[quote name='zKarp' timestamp='1307725493' post='4821762']
Im currently transferring into a new college for engineering because my old one didn't offer it and was really just a stepping stone 4 year college. It had "pre engineering" sort of that was closer to home.

My new college is 11 hours away, University of Kentucky. Now I'm stuck between various choices for a major. Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering and Computer Science. Computer engineering, from what I read, is sorta midway between the two with abit more emphasis on the engineering part.

I've enjoyed programming and coding, atleast the idea, since I was young and had my mom help my with my first VB 5, hello world project. I would love to major in something related to programming but at the same time I like electronics and how sweet it would be to know to make things.

I can't really decide what path to take. Electrical engineering has good job outlook and interesting topics but it had hard topics and doesn't satisfy my "programming drive". Computer science has more of the programming topics but the jobs are all outsourced.

From experience my physics, and electronics class, where we learned circuit theory, resistors and what now. I got a good grade in the class but it was difficult. For programming I took c programming in college, got an A+, and vb in highschool. A+ again, those classes came very easy for me.

I'm currently signed up for Computer engineering just I'm not sure if it gets specific enough in either field to be useful. Any personal experience in any of these fields would be useful. I might talk with my adviser once I get there about the three.
[/quote]


Welcome to UK first of all! I'm a computer science major there. From experience the main differences are: computer science is largely programming based with a very small array into hardware. just the top layer. computer engineering is all hardware with a small array into programming but mostly you'll be doing assembly language and such. Electrical engineering you will be working a lot with circuit logic. Mostly Gate level stuff. Also talk to Diane Freeman or Jennifer(the main cs adviser) they are both great and will help you find the right direction. also if you need anything from another student feel free to message me! =)

Also Lexington is FULL of job ops for programmers, most of which are not outsourced. Also you would be surprised just how in demand *good* programmers are in the US. It's actually hard for employers today to find programmers that know the first thing about c++ or programming in general. Not to mention UK has some excellent internship partnerships =)

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[quote name='A Brain in a Vat' timestamp='1307729786' post='4821791']
To be a good candidate for a game programming job you may have to do quite a lot of work in addition to your degree coursework, regardless of whether you choose Computer Science or Computer Engineering. Either one can be a good foundation for a future game programmer.

If you choose Computer Science, make sure you supplement your knowledge by learning about how things work on the hardware side. Learn how modern architecture pipelines are laid out, learn how caches work, etc. Some CS degrees cover architecture more than others, but you can choose to take as many hardware classes as you want.

If you choose Computer Engineering, make sure you supplement your knowledge by learning some theoretical concepts about algorithm analysis, OS fundamentals, AI topics, etc. Rarely do Engineering degrees cover these topics in depth, but again, you're free to take as many CS classes as you want.

Computer Science is definitely a better map to game programming, but I'd hire a Computer Engineer in a second if he seemed to know what he was doing.

Either way, experiment with game-programming concepts (whether that's through programming a game, or implementing a rendering algorithm, etc) in your free time.
[/quote]


Also I would like to point out that as a CS major at UK its required to take classes in which you are expected to know how modern architecture works on several levels(the prof of the class is Dr Hank Diets, worked on the first IBM supercluster, currently runs Kentucky's most powerful super cluster, and it is currently in the top 100 of the top 500 list). He requires a fairly in depth knowledge of the hardware, ISA, and assembly language. algorithm analysis(2 classes on it alone) and OS fundamentals are also requirements. AI topics isn't a requirement but is an elective choice.

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It's cheaper to go to college outside the usa. Over here there is no justification for the costs. All I can offer for a "decision breaker" is what do you want to do the rest of your life?

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