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Thread: Careers in computer [science/engineering]?

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Default Careers in computer [science/engineering]?

    So I've made my choice for university... I'm doing biotechnology... but I'm not sure if chemistry is right for me... so I'm considering changing to computer science or computer engineering...

    what's your take on the jobs? as a computer scientist, are you just a programmer? as a computer engineer in an entry-level job, what exactly do you do? do they teach you how to program and like the theorems behind it too or is it purely hardware?

    what about jobs in computer science and engineering that are low on evil, and high on linux/gpl? or at least, one or the other... eg, is the market full of patent trolls? or can you typically find yourself working to build packages for specific projects, or like working for a company as part of their programming resource?

    I like computers, and I'm good with hardware (just understanding the basics of things, like von Neumann archs, why is x86 different from SPARC or MIPS, what does 64-bit mean, what's a transistor, etc) and software (usually, how does stuff fit together? what is a lib, a framework, what kind of tools do you use for what kind of goals?)...

    but I have trouble getting to the point where I can program, usually because I don't have goals... and I'm not sure what to do, so I figured there were experts here...

    and the cool thing about biotech, is it's a lot of kind of taking the biology ball and sending it rolling... I've thought about adding a minor in computer science, because it just digs into my like 5 electives... and I thought it would be cool, as someone who's in biology and understands computers, something my peers aren't really...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    I take it that you are starting with your degree. If so, it doesn't surprise me that you have doubts about whether you made the right choice. Consider that the first years of a science degree are usually quite general in their contents and scope, so you have to swallow a lot of crap you may not particularly enjoy. Man, I hated chemistry with all my soul (I'm a chemist). The first degree may very well be a steaming pile until perhaps the final project. If you like research, the fun definitely starts after your degree. It basically has absolutely nothing to do with the undergraduate experience, and it really is good fun.

    If, on the other hand, you don't plan to keep on studying for the rest of your life, you want to get informed about what the jobs are like out there in your field, and imagine whether you have the guts to endure 40 years (and counting) of it : D

    You don't really need to take another degree in computer science in addition to your 'real' science degree. If, as you said, you are the geek kind of guy, you can learn what you need without having to go through the formal process of getting the recognised qualifications--and enjoying it without any pressure. Others may comment about how awesome a CS degree is, and they will be right for it is entirely subjective. To me--and perhaps also to you since you chose biotech--computers are a tool to do the cool stuff; on their own they are grey and boring things. Means without end, if you want. But hey, I heard some people write device drivers as a hobby...

    PS. I noticed you are interested in putting some distance between you and the evil forces out there. If a Kalashnikov is not made for you, I suggest research again. One of the few jobs you can have without having to hide from your own face in the mirror ; )

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
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    Computer science has the advantage that everything uses computers nowadays. Good foundation in computing can lead you to all sorts of jobs.

    Mind you, I said good foundation, not 1337 h4x0rZ. Many people think that some coding and experience with an antivirus makes one a computer scientist, and then fail. But if you take your studies seriously, develop analytical thinking, ability to formulate problems and algorithmic solutions, you will be able to work pretty much anywhere. The main problem will be finding the right job and being willing to learn lots at your new job.

    PS. I noticed you are interested in putting some distance between you and the evil forces out there. If a Kalashnikov is not made for you, I suggest research again. One of the few jobs you can have without having to hide from your own face in the mirror ; )
    Unfortunately, even there you have to be careful nowadays. Lots of funding comes from those making the Kalashnikovs, in order to make better Kalashnikovs.

    But in general, you're right.

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