degree in Software Engineering or in Computer Science?

What is preferable? – A degree in Software Engineering or in Computer Science

Let’s start with a number of facts regarding the world of employment awaiting the Software Engineering student:

The majority of want ads for jobs published over the past few years by the Employment Guidance Unit at the Afeka College of Engineering in Tel Aviv are for Software Engineers.

In light of the great demand for Software Engineers amongst employers, there is a shortage both of students as well as of graduates in the field of Software Engineering.

Graduates and students of the Software Engineering Studies Dept. at Afeka College have been accepted for jobs in development, testing, training and commissioning of software programs and have advanced to positions of software team management at a broad range of leading companies in the market, including: Amdocs, Comverse, Rad-Binat, Checkpoint, Nice, SAP, Microsoft, various startup companies, the Israel Military Industries, the Israel Aerospace Industries, the Israel Defense Force, and many others. The demand raises the starting salary of Software Engineering graduates to NIS 12,000 – NIS 15,000 gros                  

A little about the data

These data have recently been obtained from the Afeka College of Engineering Employment Guidance Unit. There is no doubt that these data reflect the reality in the software industry in current times that are characterized by a trend of awakening, after a temporary lull, which characterized the industry during the period 2000 – 2004.

There is currently a shortage of Software Engineering graduates relative to the number of jobs offered for the professionals that the market demands. The main reason for this state of imbalance can be traced back in the fact that, during the lull period, relatively few students elected to study Software Engineering and / or Computer Science.

By all forecast accounts, the demand for professionals in the field of software will increase over the coming years and therefore the consideration for those contemplating which branch of engineering to study is not the current state of the market (and, as already pointed out, the current demand for software professionals in exceedingly great) but rather what the situation will be in 3 – 5 years, when the forecast is that the demand in the software industry will be even significantly greater than the current demand.

Tracks

Candidates for studies in the field of Software Engineering can currently choose between two B. Sc. degree study tracks, which will enable them to work in the field of software. The tracks are Software Engineering and Computer Science. Many of the candidates who decided to study academic degrees in the field of software, generally contemplate the issue of the differences between these two tracks. The two tracks are relatively new academic programs. If we compare them to programs such as mathematics, physics, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, some of which have been around for hundreds of years, Computer Science was born as an independent academic program in the late 1960s, (less than 50 years is considered a short spell in academic program terms) and the Software Engineering program is even younger. 4 year Software Engineering programs have been operating as independent academic programs only since the 1990s.

Why choose Software Engineering?

Although the Computer Science program is a 3 year course, compared to 4 years for Software Engineering, there are significant differences that give the Software Engineering program an advantage over the Computer Science program.

Just as a Physics graduate is not a Mechanical Engineer or an Electrical Engineer, despite having studied courses in Mechanics, Electricity and Electronics, and, similarly, as a Chemistry graduate not a Chemical Engineer, thus a Computer Science graduate is not a Software Engineer.

Engineering is, in addition to being an academic degree, a profession in which the Engineer learns and is able to refurbish, invent, produce, implement and control.

Software Engineering imparts professional knowledge and experience to an Engineer, while the Computer Science program imparts mainly knowledge to a graduate, but far less experience than a Software Engineer.

The entire Computer Science program curriculum is included in the Software Engineering program curriculum.

A Software engineer, in fact just like any engineer, studies far more basic scientific subjects (such as mathematics and physics) than a Computer Science graduate.

A Software Engineer is obligated to take courses which impart knowledge and skills in all related to software system development, through his engineering work life span. For example: Methods in Software Engineering, Demand Engineering, Software Quality Assurance.

Final Project: A most significant advantage. Similar to a practicum for a lawyer or a Chartered Public Accountant, a Software Engineering graduate, as opposed to a Computer Science graduate, practices, during the course of his studies, planning, analysis, design, development, commissioning, and operation of computerized systems of a scope of hundreds of hours of work, which constitutes, inter alia, his calling card at job interviews in the industry.

All this creates a Software Engineer who, in addition to being knowledgeable in Computer Science, has proven practical experience and a potential employee will see this as being an advantage.