If anyone mentioned computer science and computer engineering together in one conversation, most people would, most likely, consider them very similar or even go as far as say they are the same thing. That is not true, and this common misconception that makes most highschool graduates go into computer science or computer engineering without knowing what they are signing up to. And here is the main differences and similarities between the two fields:

1. Differences

  • Computer science is related to coding and mathematical problems; most of the work done is theoretical and screenshot. Computer engineering, on the other hand, is more on the practitioner side of the equation. It deals with computer parts and the assembly of personal computer units. Although the college program offers none of the above on an official level, it is mandatory to try out the learned skills in real life to get a better grasp of them.
  • Computer science deals with coding languages (C++, JavaScript, Python, HTML...) and how they are integrated into a system of the user’s choice in order to create Applications, programs, websites, and even Algorithms. Consequently, it deals with the mathematical side of coding, the way of building and storing code and data transfer, as well as working on understanding computers and making it easy for humans to interact with computers.
  • Computer engineering differs from computer science in the sense that it pushes the boundaries of robotics and recognizing the patterns. So in a sense, computer science, or coding, is more open and gives the learner more freedom, as in a programmer is only limited by his imagination in terms of what he can build using the languages he acquires.  A hardware engineer or computer engineering student or learner is quite limited when it comes to the type of hardware he will be dealing with, and the way to put the equipment together is far more linear to new students specifically.
  • Another way computer science is different from computer engineering is the nature of the job the learner will be taking. While a software engineer or a programmer is concerned with web, app, software, and automated development and moderation after the construction. Hardware engineers deal with a wide variety of devices and parts, from small things like PC moderation and factory tools repayment to larger-scale devices such as space exploration-related and even landing a job at a major technology company like Samsung or Google. It all depends on the willingness of the learner and how much they admire the field they chose, which is why it is so vital to compile enough information and choosing wisely once the learner gets to that point in their lives.
  • Computer science is another term for software building and management. This means that part of a programmer’s job is to design codes and algorithms to optimize existing software.
  • Network development is a crucial factor in the life of a computer engineering major, and it includes network management and network devices optimization. It also involves dealing with telecommunication problems as well as many operators and proxy issues. In a way, the two fields complement each other. If a website is down due to server issues, some knowledge of computer engineering is required to get it back online, which is the reason why most programming students study the hardware they are working on.

Related: What is the concept of technology and engineering technology?

2. Similarities

While these two fields of computer science and computer engineering are vastly different from each other, they share one or two similarities that are worth mentioning:

  • Both areas share the operational system management task, learning how computers work and the systems they run on. This is mandatory for software developers in the sense that it helps them manage program optimizing and web development more straightforward. Hardware engineers, on the other hand, are required to learn the OS of the very device they are repairing or building, to find out the best possible system (Windows, Android, IOS…) for the device in question. It may even help them diagnose the problem in a device when the user’s description is not valid enough.
  • What is particularly note-worthy bout computers, is that both software and hardware engineers have to learn their necessary infrastructure. For software development, it was essential because it gives awareness to the developer on what they are using to code; if this machine breaks down, they will be prepared to face the issue. Hardware ultimately relies on knowing the essential components of the device to be able to figure out the problem.

3. Why should I learn to code or computer engineering?

With the constant flow of new technology and new software and hardware being integrated into our everyday life almost every day, it does make sense to try and learn the basics of these technologies. To better understand the new world we are building. A decade ago, we were enamored with the ability to touch a screen and tell it what to do, and now we are able to control and make calls and reservations via voice command only. The change from wired to wireless is becoming more and more accessible to everyone. There is a famous quote from Steve Jobs, who is the late CEO of Apple, where he says:” Everyone in this country should learn to program a computer ……. because it teaches you how to think”. Which is true, due to programming and making sure everything is neatly put together and working as intended, psychologists found that it does extend to other things in life. Moreover, those who learn computer science have a feature that is distinct in every resume that an applier can give out there, it opens new doors for those with an alternate degree. It is way easier to self-learn these skills, so it suits people who have no time for a college major.Computer engineering is equally as important when applying for job offers, and it opens so many opportunities in very prestigious companies as well as the comfort of doing precisely what the employee was learning and practicing before they started the job. Being a hardware engineer has its perks on and off work, for it makes for a useful individual in everyday situations.

Originally published on Live Positively.