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Alpha_ProgDes

What do you expect a Software Engineer to know?

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I don't know if there is actually a formal, standard, consistent defintion of what Software Engineering is, but I would like to know what people think a Software Engineer should know. I would think that things like Code Reviews and refactoring would be basic for the SE. And I would think that knowing concepts such as SOLID would be mandatory. Understanding and implementing Design Patterns would be expected, I would think. Though which Design Patterns that a SE should or would know, I don't know.

 

So is there anything that you would expect a SE to know? Assume that you are hiring and the person is not fresh out of college.

 

A secondary question but related question: What do you expect someone with a B.Sc. in SE to have learned? Or put a slightly different way: What classes or concepts should be mandatorily taught in a SE curriculum?

Edited by Alpha_ProgDes
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How is that different from the similar question asked three weeks ago?

 

Honestly, I don't understand how it's similar. Secondly, I didn't even see that thread 3 weeks ago. That thread is talking about someone with a CS degree trying to make in the Game Dev industry. I'm talking about someone with a job title of SE doing work related to SE, not CS, not AI, not level design, not graphics.

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I got a SE degree at Oregon Tech. As far as I can tell, it was just a CS degree where some theory courses were replaced with development-process courses (things like software lifecycle, very rudimentary business management, some introductory classes explaining different software development strategies, etc.)

I guess the only thing I would really expect an SE degree holder to have compared to CS is that they have a good idea of what to expect when negotiating with other departments and stakeholders. Though this is easy to learn on the job if you start out with a CS degree, kind of like how a SE will learn more of the theory side of things on the job. Edited by Nypyren
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How is that different from the similar question asked three weeks ago?


Honestly, I don't understand how it's similar. Secondly, I didn't even see that thread 3 weeks ago. That thread is talking about someone with a CS degree trying to make in the Game Dev industry. I'm talking about someone with a job title of SE doing work related to SE, not CS, not AI, not level design, not graphics.
In that case, will you please refine your question?

Software Engineer is usually used to represent the broad family of jobs.

You might start out as an SE1, advance for a decade or two and become a senior SE, and eventually a principle SE.

I expect an entry level software engineer to have the same competencies that were laid out in the previous thread.

Over the years I expect the software engineer to advance in his career from the role of being mentored at the entry level, to being independent, to the role of mentor. All of those jobs among the entire spectrum are called software engineers.

For example I'm still a software engineer even though I've been programming for nearly two decades. My job requirements and responsibilities are vastly different than a software engineer hired freshly out of college.
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I got a SE degree at Oregon Tech. As far as I can tell, it was just a CS degree where some theory courses were replaced with development-process courses (things like software lifecycle, very rudimentary business management, some introductory classes explaining different software development strategies, etc.)

I guess the only thing I would really expect an SE degree holder to have compared to CS is that they have a good idea of what to expect when negotiating with other departments and stakeholders. Though this is easy to learn on the job if you start out with a CS degree, kind of like how a SE will learn more of the theory side of things on the job.

 

Isn't that more MIS than SE?

Edited by Alpha_ProgDes
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I got a SE degree at Oregon Tech. As far as I can tell, it was just a CS degree where some theory courses were replaced with development-process courses (things like software lifecycle, very rudimentary business management, some introductory classes explaining different software development strategies, etc.)

I guess the only thing I would really expect an SE degree holder to have compared to CS is that they have a good idea of what to expect when negotiating with other departments and stakeholders. Though this is easy to learn on the job if you start out with a CS degree, kind of like how a SE will learn more of the theory side of things on the job.

 
Isn't that more MIS than SE?
Oregon Tech had a separate MIS degree. I don't know what courses the MIS guys had to take, but I never saw any of them in any of the interesting programming classes past the first year. I'm guessing they had more business/economics/management type classes. We in SE only really had one of each of those courses.

My SE degree combined two roles: "grunt programmer", and "systems architect". As far as I understand, the MIS degree was oriented towards the "project manager" and "producer" roles.

Oregon Tech didn't have a CS degree - we only had SE and CE (computer hardware engineering - basically an electronics degree focusing on digital electronics). I have no idea what courseload a CS degree would have since I've never looked at other schools. Edited by Nypyren
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So is there anything that you would expect a SE to know?

 

After many years of doing new starter training, I've basically come to the conclusion that it's best to assume that new recruits know nothing, and then work up from there. Even if they have been taught some of the standard development practices, that doesn't mean they'll know anything about the internal development practices (which tend to differ slightly from company to company). Just because someone knows a bit about C++, doesn't mean they'll know how to avoid pitfalls of aligned memory, threading, etc. In an interview, I only really want to find out answers to these questions:

 

1. Can they answer some questions about C++ and software development with sane answers?

2. Are they a dick?

Beyond that, our development practices with be drilled into them.

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After many years of doing new starter training, I've basically come to the conclusion that it's best to assume that new recruits know nothing, and then work up from there.

 

I made an edit to the OP. I don't know if this would affect your answer any.

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I expect an entry level software engineer to have the same competencies that were laid out in the previous thread.

I suspect your expected minimum (re: familiarity with algorithms and data structures) is well above the average software engineer's capability. Reasonable for a high-tech shop willing to be quite selective with its hires, not so much in the general case.
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i got a BS SE degree from OSU. they had both BS SE and regular CS degree programs. The BS SE program was more in depth and engineering oriented, and included as requirements things like hardware architecture, systems stuff, a lot of esoteric math, plus all the 1st 2 years of any engineering degree (math, physics, chemistry, etc). I think most CS programs are BA degrees, aren't they?

 

as for what they should know, they will generally have a better idea of the "big picture" of how everything works, hardware, OS, languages, apps, network, etc. They will be at least passingly familiar with most standard techniques, and often have exposure to a wide variety of CS topics. if its a real engineering degree, they had to work for it, just like an electronics engineer, a mechanical engineer, or an aerospace engineer (my original major before switching to software engineering when the cold war ended and the aerospace industry went belly up).

 

the biggest difference you'll notice is that in interviews they will be able to tell you about a wide variety of CS related and broader engineering subjects, more than you're exposed to in your typical CS curricula.

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