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CS Degree vs SE Degree

John Dale
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Joined: Feb 22, 2001
Posts: 399
...My view has always been that collegese do a great job of teaching CS. However, since most of their graduates go on to become software engineers, they are misaligned. It's like asking mechanical engineers to be physics majors.

I had thought a degree in CS was good preparation for software engineering. From what I recall of looking at some MS SE and CS programs, it seems to me that a person with the CS education should be better able and more likely to pick up the difference between SE and CS as needed more easily than a SE person would be able to do from his side.
Regarding the analogy with physicist and MEs, I'd be tempted to flip it, but even then, it wouldn't work. It seems to me that most CS majors typically learn much more of the "engineering" side of software development than most physics majors learn about ME, and hence more practical for a CS person to work in SE than for a physicist to work in ME or vice versa.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by John Dale:

I had thought a degree in CS was good preparation for software engineering. From what I recall of looking at some MS SE and CS programs, it seems to me that a person with the CS education should be better able and more likely to pick up the difference between SE and CS as needed more easily than a SE person would be able to do from his side.
Regarding the analogy with physicist and MEs, I'd be tempted to flip it, but even then, it wouldn't work. It seems to me that most CS majors typically learn much more of the "engineering" side of software development than most physics majors learn about ME, and hence more practical for a CS person to work in SE than for a physicist to work in ME or vice versa.

I've met countless CS majors who won't understand the fundamentals of software engineering. All they know how to do is write code. Software engineering requires many other skills, which have nothing to do with CS.
Conversely, have you looked at a CS cirriculum, lately? How much of that do you actually use? Very little.
This is not to say I think the CS degree is useless. There are some fundamentals as OO, data structures, algorithms which software engineers need. I am very skeptical of those who don't have CS degrees, when hiring. I'm not saying I won't hire them at all, just many I have interviewed didn't understand some of the basic.

--Mark
gautam shah
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 29, 2000
Posts: 72
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

I've met countless CS majors who won't understand the fundamentals of software engineering. All they know how to do is write code. Software engineering requires many other skills, which have nothing to do with CS.
--Mark

and I've met infinite civil , mechanical etc engineers unfortunately they are now known as software engineers but in actully they only deserves to be sweeper. in general people from other stream just doing nothing but polluting the software industry at great extent.
Jamie Robertson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 09, 2001
Posts: 1879

From what I've seen, the difference between a good CS graduate and a good SE graduate is not usually the accreditation but the way they think. CS people think logically, they break the problem down, and come up with a solution based some given algorithm or pattern. SE people think differently. They see things may not have been in the specs. They are able to solve the problem with a unique and innovative solution. They think more "out of the box" than your regular CS folk.
That's one man's opinion,
Jamie
Pradip Bhat
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 04, 2002
Posts: 149
Originally posted by gautam shah:

and I've met infinite civil , mechanical etc engineers unfortunately they are now known as software engineers but in actully they only deserves to be sweeper. in general people from other stream just doing nothing but polluting the software industry at great extent.

I have also met many computer engineers(from India, I am also Indian
)who are absolute dumb, take 10 hours to write insertion sort routine,The typical excuse they will give is "we have done this stuff in college"
Even after 40 years of inception of computer Science , CS people are unsuccessful to give exact defination of 'programmer',Software Engineer' and 'Computer Scientist'
According to many CS giants like Don Knuth, Software writing is an art.Thats why you see 17-18 years old 'genius' kids writing Games,hacking the sites but not designing the flyover, or making some machine(its rare) This is bcos Civil/mech is engineering and not an art.
Another basic difference is subjects in CS are discrete unlike other engg.You can write a 'great software'even if you are not familiar with Automata theory,discrete math etc.
, This explains why so many people enter into software.
sweeping is a good work I love than reading 550 pages document


Yeshwantpur
John Dale
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2001
Posts: 399
Mark, Am I correct in understanding that you have found people with software engineering degrees perform better as software engineers than those with degrees in computers science?
For reference, here is a description of one MSE program (from www.gv.psu.edu), but feel free to point to one familiar to you, if you prefer.

The Master of Software Engineering prepares computer professionals to develop software products and services for industry and government. The curriculum includes:
software methodology;
software quality, metrics, and design;
software project management;
technology solutions for E-business;
financial and pre-sales issues.

Thanks.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by John Dale:
Mark, Am I correct in understanding that you have found people with software engineering degrees perform better as software engineers than those with degrees in computers science?

Nope. I've yet to meet someone with a software engineering degree. I'd like to. I'd also like to get a better understanding of what is covered in a software engineering degree program--it's on my list of things to do. So right now, my jury is still out on this degree.
I can say I've met scores of people with CS degress, even those from good schools, who don't understand software engineering. After meeting the first few, I began to wonder why. After some research, I postulated it had to do with the cirriculum, and subsequent investigations have thus far confirmed my theory.
--Mark
Reid M. Pinchback
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 25, 2002
Posts: 775
It is particularly interesting to compare the requirements for the IEEE CSDP certification to what people learn in school. Most of the people I know who have 'software engineer' in the title would horribly crash and burn in virtually every topic area.


Reid - SCJP2 (April 2002)
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Nope. I've yet to meet someone with a software engineering degree.

Is this possibly because many schools simply call it a CS degree? For example, the Masters in Computer Science at Johns Hopkins (this is the part-time program, but the full-time program seems similar) allows you to tailor the program pretty much to your liking. Just as a side note, this is where Marty Hall teaches.
Assuming you are not taking the thesis option, the program requires you take a total of ten courses as follows:
Ten courses, approved by an adviser, must be completed within five years. At least eight courses must be from the computer science curriculum, and of those, three must be from the same concentration area. At least two of the computer science courses must be 700-level.

They classify their CS courses into various concentrations: Software Engineering, Systems, Theory, Information and Knowledge Management, Visualization and Human-Computer Interaction, Data Communications and Networking, Distributed Computing, and Bioinformatics. Every student is required to take Foundations of Software Engineering, Foundations of Computer Architecture, and Foundations of Algorithms.
Under the Software Engineering concentration they list courses such as: Foundations of Software Engineering, Software Analysis and Design, Software Project Management, Object-Oriented Programming with C++, Software Testing and Maintenance, Software Size and Cost Estimation, 60Software Quality, Software Reuse, Object-Oriented Analysis and Design, Software Safety, and The Software Development Process.
I don't know, but it seems to me that a program such as this offers something for pretty much everyone and allows you to tailor the program to what is most beneficial for your personal/career goals. If you wanted to gear your degree towards software engineering for example, that is simple enough to do under a program such as this. I'm sure there are many other schools that offer similar types of CS degrees, this just happens to be the one I am familiar with.
[ July 12, 2002: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
Jamie Robertson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 09, 2001
Posts: 1879

at my local university this is how the curriculum differs:
Software Engineering:
years 1 - 3
years 4 - 5
Computer Science:
various branches of CS
vastly different curriculum. They are also belong to 2 different departments. Software Engineering belongs to the department of Engineering and Comp Sci belongs to the department of Mathematical Sciences
Jamie
[ July 12, 2002: Message edited by: Jamie Robertson ]
Sam Smoot
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 18, 2002
Posts: 238
One of the major differences I have seen between the curriculum for CS and SE is that, (in our area) the CS degree programs focus on Business and Mainframe logic/programming while the SE program (only 1 program offered in 75 mile radius) includes server, oo (p & d), business and software ethics, etc., which are geared more for the current wave of programming than a general computer science degree would be.
Of course, experience is a good teacher, too. Got plenty of that from the "old school".


CNSS/NSA Infosec Professional,<br />Software Engineer
Jon Dornback
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 24, 2002
Posts: 137
i am a software engineering student at capitol college (www.capitol-college.edu). before i transferred here, i was a CS major at Texas A&M. the only real difference i've noticed is that at Capitol, i am spending much more time on actual software classes, instead of all the classes that are required but not related to the degree - chemistry, geology, etc. but that may just be differences between the schools since A&M is a huge state school and Capitol is a (very) small private tech school.
in any case, i think the major factor in determining which degree is better is the individual. just because someone got a degree doesn't mean that they can truly dissect a problem, or apply better engineering principles. even in these hi-tech fields, people still manage to sleaze their way through classes (and careers) by sucking up to the right people. it all comes down to the employer finding what they are looking for in a job candidate - and i really hope they are paying more attention to skills demonstrated in an interview than an acronym on a resume.


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