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Spelling the Differences Between Different Computer-Related Courses

So what’s the difference between computer science, computer engineering, hardware engineering, and software engineering?

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There has been so much confusion about courses related to computers. Most people finding a course for college find it difficult to assess which computer-related degree is for them because they do not know the scope of knowledge of computer science, computer engineering, hardware engineering, and software engineering.

They only realize the difference when they have already signed up for any of the mentioned courses. Worse, they don’t get it at all so they just go with the flow.

But it pays to know as early as now. So what’s the difference between computer science, computer engineering, hardware engineering, and software engineering?

Computer Science

Source: The University of Southern Mississippi

Computer science is that branch of science and technology that encompasses all aspects of a computer system including computer software, hardware, and networking. In its most general form, it is concerned with the understanding of information transfer and transformation.

It is the study of all the processes that fall under the umbrella of giving life to a machine to enable it to perform complicated tasks and actions. Computer science explores the fundamental understanding of algorithms and information processes and the practical design of efficient reliable software and hardware to meet given specifications.

Computer Engineering

Source: Villanova
Source: Villanova

This is a course that blends together computer science and electrical engineering. Computer engineering covers the research, design, development and testing of computer systems and components such as processors, circuit boards, memory devices, networks and routers. It also covers software development.

It is this field that integrates such components into computer and network systems. That is why computer engineers need to have working knowledge in electrical engineering.

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Hardware Engineering

Source: Computer Science Degree

As the name suggests, hardware engineering (or computer hardware engineering) is responsible for designing and developing computer hardware, like circuit boards, chips, and systems for increased efficiency of the computer. Engineers under this branch usually test and install any hardware after conducting research and overseeing the manufacturing process of their products, if they aren’t updating systems by improving the components.

It is closely related to electronics engineering. Both study the design, development, and testing of electronic circuits and components. But hardware engineering is only limited to handle computer and peripheral equipment.

Software Engineering

Source: Chotot
Source: Chotot

Software engineering is all about the process of analyzing user needs and designing, constructing, and testing end user applications that will satisfy these needs through the use of software programming languages. It also includes analyzing existing software and modifying it to meet current application needs. The  is in the six-figure lane, so it’s a highly lucrative career to get into.

It is far from simple programming in terms of scope. The field of software engineering encompasses design, construction, maintenance, configuration, development process management and creation of software, among others. It is typically used for large and intricate software systems rather than single applications or programs.


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