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Software Engineering Vs Computer Science - The Dilemma For Enthusiastic Undergraduate Students


A very, very crucial moment in the life of a youngster is the time when he or she makes a decision regarding the higher studies they will pursue. Now, this is an exceptionally tricky question to answer because one has to consider a ton of factors here. One is the scope of the studies, another is the university rankings and what not.

It suffices to say that this period is especially troubling for young minds. I just passed through that decision-making stage and wanted to share some of my experience regarding this with you. This piece is really for those who have an interest in Information Technology and want to get a respectable career in this field.

Information Technology isn't a small field. When we talk about IT, we normally dissect into two main segments, one is hardware and other is software. While this dissection for giving a general view of what we are going into, they are essentially broader than our expectations.
Before I get to the explanation, take a look at the chart below:


Now it is worth clarifying here that Computer Engineering and Computer Hardware Engineering are in fact the same thing. If someone says that computer science and computer engineering are similar to each other in terms of raw curriculum comparison, then they are probably wrong.

Computer Engineering primarily consists of courses in Electrical Engineering, around 70% of the curriculum is based on that and while the course instructors would advise you to take Computer Engineering over software if you have an interest in IT.

This is all in name of saying that a person with technical experience fairs out much better. I disagree with this approach. Either make Computer Engineering courses relevant to the task at hand and I speak in reference to the courses being taught in my country. Or it is just because I don't have a lot of interest in the hardware side of technology, as in designing hardware and stuff. But this would be the field if you are interested in a more "hands-on" approach to computers.

Another reason I didn't go for Computer Engineering is that majority of hardware is being manufactured in China and only a number of other countries. In Pakistan where I live, the hardware side of things isn't that much in demand, therefore, another reason to skip it.

However one shouldn't give up on his dream just because it isn't the norm. If you are determined and hard-working, there is absolutely no reason why you can't be the change.

Moving On.....

So we move on to the topic at hand. Computer Science in layman terms can be regarded as basic physics whereas Software Engineering can be considered as Mechanical Engineering. Computer Science is exceptionally broad and can cover a wide range of topics.

It has to be said that Software Engineering students study in 8 semesters, that's a 4-year bachelors program, Computer Science students will simply do it in 4 semesters. It may sound like an exaggeration but I have been told this by a Software Engineering student. Why would he want to degrade his own field? 

Everyone regards both of these fields as basically the same but computer science is a broader segment. Computer Science students in addition to studying hardware, also study algorithms and Automata which is the study of abstract machines. As well as 
Also, there is a specific subject of Software Engineering within CS as well.
So the question then arises why I chose Software Engineering? I wanted to go a little limited and study the languages being used today as well as prepare myself in regards to programming and the engineering aspects of Software. Basically, study web development as well as have a little insight on Human Computer Interaction and other non-conventional subjects.

The main thing, however, is to have a grip on one specific programming language or course which will be beneficial in regards to career prospects. Say Artificial Intelligence or Virtual Reality.

But I want to say is that both Computer Science and Software Engineering will more or less get you on the same career path. The only difference is that you will learn more regarding conventional IT subjects in CS whereas engineering subjects will be involved in the latter.

So if you have chosen anyone of these, don't despair. In regards to IT, you are on the right track. Only computer engineering goes sideways with its focus on hardware.
Disclaimer: This editorial takes into account opinions and market stats from Pakistan. It maybe different in other countries, so you must take that into account.

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