Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Computer Engineering and Computer Science

Many prospective students often confuse the field computer science with computer engineering because they sound vaguely similar. Both the terms are often used interchangeably, considering both are majors rich in theory and practical application, which is vital for building a solid knowledge base for a range of careers and job opportunities in IT. But the question is which degree is right for you and your future? We break down the key differences between the two fields.

Computer Engineering

Computer Engineering is a tech-intensive branch of electrical engineering that combines the fields of computer science and electrical engineering to create new computer hardware and software. Computer Engineering is basically 50% computer science curriculum and 50% electrical engineering curriculum. It is an engineering discipline that is concerned with the study of science and technology of design, implementation, and maintenance of software and hardware components of modern computing systems. It involves design, building and testing of hardware components and systems.

Computer engineering focuses on key areas such as embedded systems, computer architecture and digital signal processing. Computer engineers design consumer electronics such as smartphones, smartwatches, eBook readers, or even CPUs. Many medical devices and scanners rely on electronics designed by computer engineers. From the computer science side, you will likely learn a couple of programming languages, which allow you to write code to tell computers what to do. Computer engineers are electrical engineers specializing in software and hardware design or systems design that integrates the best of both the worlds.

Computer Science

Computer science is the study of computers and computational systems, algorithmic processes and their principles, their hardware and software designs, and everything in between. Computer science is about solving problems and how to solve problems better and faster. Let’s say you have a laptop. The usual stuff you know are the hard drive, the screen, the processor, the design, and the person who deals with all is the computer engineer. Then comes the software side – Microsoft Office, Photoshop, Google Chrome, and the operating systems – this is computer science.

Computer science basically deals with the virtual aspects of computers and focuses on software rather than hardware. It uses theoretical disciplines and practical disciplines to solve real world problems. Computer scientists use programming languages as their primary tools to communicate their ideas and solve problems. Computer science puts heavy emphasis on computing theory, computing algorithms, cyber security, and computer networks. These computer languages can be anywhere from low-level languages such as assembly to program the hardware components, all the way to high-level programming languages such as C++, JavaScript, Python, and many other languages.

Difference between Computer Engineering and Computer Science

  • Discipline

– Computer Engineering is an engineering discipline that is concerned with the study of science and technology of design, implementation, and maintenance of software and hardware components of modern computing systems. Computer Science, on the other hand, is the academic discipline that deals with the study of computers and computational systems, algorithmic processes and their principles, their hardware and software designs, and everything in between.

  • Focus

 – Both are very similar majors but have some really big differences in their focus areas. Computer engineering focuses on key areas such as embedded systems, computer architecture and digital signal processing. It basically deals with the hardware like computer chips, microprocessors, sensors, etc. Computer Science, on the contrary, deals with the virtual aspects of computers and focuses on software rather than hardware. Besides, both the majors will take the first introduction programming classes, where you learn the basics of programming.

  • Curriculum

– Computer Engineering is basically 50% computer science curriculum and 50% electrical engineering curriculum. It involves understanding the laws of physics and electronics to design and build better computer components. The curriculum includes basic electronics courses, along with courses in digital electronics, signal processing, embedded systems, etc. Computer Science puts heavy emphasis on computing theory, computing algorithms, cyber security, and computer networks. The curriculum includes design and analysis of algorithms, theory of computation, discrete maths, computer architecture, and more.

Computer Engineering vs. Computer Science: Comparison Chart

Other information

As soon as the computer was invented there are already people who want to learn about these machines and also how to use them. But it wasn’t until the advent of the personal computer that interest in these devices spiked in the general public. In the present world, the computer industry holds a lot of opportunities for those who hold the right skills and knowledge in certain aspects. But for those who are at the crossroads of college or university, the right course could determine whether you finish your bachelor degree quickly or easily based on your interest and study habits.  Here are some information to help you decipher between the two.

Although both courses deal with computers in it’s entirety, computer engineering and computer science tackles two very different aspects of computers. To put it in simplest terms, computer science tackles the software side of computers while computer engineering takes on the design and build of computer hardware.

In computer science, it is essential to learn the basic structure of how the software performs it tasks. It is their task to make sense of the Mathematical formulas of the real world and convert it into a series of steps that the computer can follow. The areas that were considered to be major parts of computer science was initially set to:

  • Programming Languages and Methodology
  • Data Structures
  • Algorithms
  • Computer Architecture and Elements
  • And theories in computation

Computer Engineering, on the other hand, is deeply rooted from the field of electronics and deals with how the computer and its devices interact regardless of the software that is installed. It is up to them to design and create devices that can actually communicate with established hardware. Here are a few samples on topics that computer engineering deals with:

  • Digital Logic
  • Electronics
  • Microprocessor Programming
  • Algorithms
  • Digital Signal Processing
  • Embedded Systems
  • VLSI Design and Manufacture

Each of these two aspects work in the design and production of computer hardware and software and should not be mistaken for other courses that usually handles the servicing and maintenance of computers like Information Technology, or Computer Repair. Computer Science and Engineering can be considered as two sides to the same coin. Each dealing with a certain aspect to create a greater whole that is better than its predecessor.

Summary

Though computer engineering and computer science are distinct fields of study with different focus areas, there is some overlap. Both computer scientists and computer engineers use computers to solve real-world problems and the programs in both fields share some of the same curriculum. Choosing one of the two courses can be a tough decision, but getting a degree in any of the majors can surely open the door to a number of opportunities. Whichever you choose, you’ll learn valuable skills that can take you a long way to a prosperous career ahead. Both the courses quality you for a dozen of different jobs, depending on your areas of interest, skills, and long-term goals.

Which is better, computer science or computer engineering?

Despite some significant areas of overlap in their courses, both are distinct fields with different focus areas and curriculum. If your area of interest lies in the hardware side of computing systems, then you should go for computer engineering. Computer science focuses on the software side of computing systems.

Is computer engineering the same as computer science?

Both the fields are often confused with one another because of some overlap in coursework that you take in both the fields, as well as the careers you pursue. But, both are distinct disciplines with different areas of study. They are technically separate fields.

Who gets paid more for computer science or computer engineering?

Most IT-related jobs are fast-growing as well as highly-paid. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, a degree in computer science or computer engineering can qualify you for different jobs in many different sectors. On average, computer scientists usually make more money than computer engineers in the United States.

Is CS harder than engineering?

Computer Engineering is relatively harder than Computer Science, considering you have to take additional math courses and electrical engineering courses, accompanied by several practical lab sessions.

Which engineer has the highest salary?

On average, computer scientists in the United States make more money than their computer science counterparts.


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14 Comments

  1. i will like to ask if computer science and computer engineering can be combined as a single course in the university

  2. can the two of them be combine as one. or is the engineering better than the science aspect of it.

    • Computer Engineering is the combination of Computer Science and Electronics Engineering. Here you study both the Software and Hardware aspects. So I guess Engineering is preferable.

  3. the difference between cs ana CE is pretty simple.science is all about deeply undestanding something while engineering tries to solve problems by combinining science,innovation,economics and technology

  4. which do you prefer CE or CS?

  5. i think that CE AS MORE DEMANDABLE.CS IS DEMANDABLE IN EUROPE LIKE AS DEUTCHLAND,ITALY,FRANCE,FINLAND,SWEDEN,GREECE but it is n-t popular in america,austraila,nz,other developed countries.on the other hand CE IS DEMANDABLE IN THE WHOLE WORLD

  6. 1st sentence, 2nd paragraph: “two* very different…”

  7. Which one of them must you do to be able to work at Electronic Arts (EA)

  8. can both computer science & computer engineering be studied at university

  9. I like both of them,now im at the centre of two of them.i don’t know what to study

  10. According to me both are best,but I give more importance for the software’s.

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References :


[0]Nagamala, Dhinaharan, et al. Trends in Computer Science, Engineering and Information Technology: First International Conference, CCSEIT 2011, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu, India, September 23-25, 2011, Proceedings. Berlin, Germany: Springer, 2011. Print

[1]Computer Engineering: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications. Pennsylvania, United States: IGI Global, 2011. Print

[2]Oklobdzija, Vojin G. The Computer Engineering Handbook. Florida, United States: CRC Press, 2001. Print

[3]Oklobdzija, Vojin G. The Computer Engineering Handbook. Florida, United States: CRC Press, 2001. Print

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