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I'm halfway through a double major in both and love the subjects equally as much, I'm just starting to really dislike the people in Electrical Engineering so much so that I kind of want to stop taking the classes in EE. Are there any jobs that would require or be especially helpful to have both majors completed?


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This question was migrated here from Stack Overflow. Stack Overflow is for questions about programming problems, algorithms, and software tools. Programmers is the home for more conceptual questions. –  Thomas Owens Jan 26 '12 at 0:54
Related : I feel like I made a mistake with my degree –  Matthieu Jan 26 '12 at 1:07
Double majoring in EE & CS is popular enough that some colleges now offer a Computer Engineering major that is essentially the combination of the two. –  qes Jan 26 '12 at 15:48
@qes As far as I know, Computer Engineering is not a simple hybrid of EE and CS. –  Thomas Owens Jan 27 '12 at 13:47
@ThomasOwens: I suppose that will depend on the college. Also note that Software Engineering is much different than Computer Engineering, as majors. –  qes Jan 27 '12 at 15:09

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

You won't find JOBS that REQUIRE both degrees.

But by sticking it out and doing both you will be immensely more employable.

Reason: Most CS degrees are sufficiently narrow that the graduates don't know what they don't know. The trouble with this ignorance is that it has no effect at all if you want to go write C# code for windows or do business system software.

But if you do anything more specialised, where you need to fiddle with bits and bytes or understand how hardware works and which order to flick the frobulating bit of the knurgler in order to make it go "splunk" - then doing both degrees means you will know stuff that the plain engineers wont (like how to write code) and you will also know stuff that the CS people wont (like how that hardware works).

By having a foot in both camps, you will advance faster (thru better knowledge), have far more options, and get a lot more enjoyment from work.

There is a big downside: you will also appreciate how little many other people know, and feel a bit browned off about working with people less knowledgeable and intelligent than yourself.

A FINAL WORD: If you are finding now that you want to stop something because you don't like the people, then keep at it. Life (and work) is full of people you don't like. Get used to it now. Running away never solved anything. Sticking it out will give you a better education and make you a better (and more tolerant) person.

Best advice I've heard in some time. Thank you. –  electron_avalanche Jan 26 '12 at 5:39

As procrastinate_later mentioned, the combination of a EE and CS degrees are very useful in embedded systems. I did it the longer way, getting a BSEE first and then an MSCS. I have been self-employed for the last 30+ years doing primarily embedded systems development using 8, 16 and lately 32-bit microcontrollers.

My skills are very useful to smaller companies, since I can do both the hardware and firmware for a project. Last week I was writing code to update a PIC32 over the air. The last couple of days I have been designing circuits, creating schematics and doing PCB layout. I really like being able to move back and forth between the two domains.

Almost all embedded engineers I have worked with have had some sort of electronics background, either a EE degree or extensive on the job experience, such as in the military. Even if you aren't interested in designing circuits, having an some sort of electronics background is essential to be able to read schematics, probe circuit boards with a logic analyzer or oscilloscope, and to decipher several hundred page "datasheets" like this one.

If this sort of thing interests you, then continue your dual path. If not, then a EE degree is probably a waste of time.

You might want to check out the Electronics Stack Exchange site, where a lot of folks doing embedded systems work hang out.

Absolutely, having an appreciation of both hardware and software can be a real boon when tracking down problems in complex multidisciplinary systems - Especially when many CS graduates wouldn't know how to follow a circuit diagram much less design one, and many EE graduates couldn't tell you what encapsulation means let alone tell you what a closure is. *8') –  Mark Booth Jan 27 '12 at 14:11

I don't think your should pursue double majors. EE already contains a lot of programming.
I will make an controversial statement but CS is really easy to learn after school. Much easier to learn JAVA and SQL at work than to learn FEM theory for thermal diffusion in a circuit board. For example I am sure that companies that QualCom can give software engineering jobs to EE engineers.

In either field, you can learn the easy bits after school, but you're better off learning the hard parts in school. Java and SQL compare better to learning how to solder and use an oscilloscope than more advanced theory. –  David Thornley Jan 27 '12 at 22:45

As someone who did a Computer Systems Engineering degree, and opted to take my degree as a BEng. rather than as a BSc. I feel that my degree set me on a much more interesting career course than many of my EE or CS counterparts.

Having an appreciation of both hardware and software has opened up opportunities in the defence, robotics, manufacturing and scientific research industries, working from low level closed loop control systems and instrumentation to computer vision on the embedded side, and from back end data management to front end GUI's and visualisation. It's also taken me all over the world, from elsewhere in Europe to China and the USA.

I know I don't make anywhere near as much money as my CS contemporaries who went into the banking sector, but you won't hear me complaining that my job is boring, and I get to work with scientists and engineers from all over the world, developing exciting machines, products and services. I would be bored to death calculating derivatives or coding websites all day.

Ultimately it is your decision, especially if you don't get on with the people in Electrical Engineering, but if you want an interesting career, I would highly recommend keeping your options open.


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