Any advice?

I'm a senior in high school applying to schools for my undergraduate degree in either Computer Engineering, or Computer Science (whichever one I get into). I've done some research on becoming a Financial Engineer, and I think it's the right career choice for me, I was just hoping to get some sort of guidance on what I should be doing to build my profile. I hope that in 3-4 years I'll be on track to apply for a good Financial Engineering program. I'm really attracted to Cornell, and Columbia's masters programs.

Should most of my curriculum be concentrated on Math, or Programming?
Is it better for me to do Computer Science rather than Computer engineering? (I know some people come from completely different majors and still do well in FE)

Any additional advice is appreciated. Thank you very much
 
I'm no expert, but I'd say unless you want to be a quant developer mainly doing programming, I would probably recommend a major other than computer science.

But if you are set on either of the two, I would personally go for computer engineering because it will probably involve more math than computer science. Also CE should cover enough programming for FE.
 

GoIllini

Market Crises= Gray Hair
I'm no expert, but I'd say unless you want to be a quant developer mainly doing programming, I would probably recommend a major other than computer science.

But if you are set on either of the two, I would personally go for computer engineering because it will probably involve more math than computer science. Also CE should cover enough programming for FE.
Computer Engineering can sometimes involve more probability and stats than Computer Science depending (but usually not if the CS degree is offered through the College of Engineering).

One of the advantages of Computer Science is that it typically covers algorithms and theory in much more detail than Computer Engineering. This actually has huge applications in finance- particularly with resource or portfolio optimization strategies. A strong and detailed knowledge of algorithms allows you to pursue strategies that other people can't.

CS also doesn't change quite as quickly as CE. If we move to optical or quantum computing, many parts of the EE courses that CE students take could become obsolete. Some of the aspects of databases, the details of programming languages and OS's that students learn could become obsolete, but the fundamentals- algorithms, imperative programming, data structures, and the principals of abstraction will probably be pretty consistent. TNJ will be graduating in 2014 and hitting 65 in 2057.

At the best CS schools like Princeton, Cornell, SUNY, Illinois, Berkeley, CMU, Stanford, and MIT, Computer Science is an Engineering degree. My suggestion is to pursue CS through the school's College of Engineering and to maybe think about a double-major in Math or Finance along with maybe an extra semester of school.
 
I'm not too much farther than you education-wise (I'm currently an undergrad in Engineering). Having done some more research on the subject I personally find that I think I would prefer to get into an MSF program instead of MFE eventually, but feel that the undergrad path I'm going on would be good for each (and anyone here is free to correct me if I say anything untrue).

I go to a large school with good programs in many areas, so it may not work the same way where you go, but my plan is to study Industrial Engineering (this I'm told is one of the most popular undergrad degrees for those going into Financial Engineering), Financial Math (my college has a program where many of the classes involve Matlab and/or C++, so I hopefully should get a good programming base from that), and maybe Economics. Those three (and with that, I'm expanding Financial math to math in general) make up (I believe) the three most common majors for those going into Financial Engineering.

The reason why I'm thinking MSF sounds better is firstly, I can get a good math background in my undergraduate college (my undergrad college will allow us to take stochastic calculus and all the other maths that MFEs have to take, and the math department here is huge with many offerings), but they won't let us (us outside the business school) take finance classes. Secondly, further research of MFE made it seem more programming/math oriented and less finance oriented that I originally thought and think I would like.

I'm also hoping my dual-degree plan (I have to actually get a dual degree here to get Engineering and non-Engineering majors together, but I can do it with only 1 additional year), will position my self well for a finance-related job outside of undergrad if I don't get into a good MSF program.

I think you should plan something like that out. If getting an MFE doesn't work out (or if you have to wait a few years) is CS what you want to be doing? Are you really into programming, or were you thinking CS will set you up well for MFE? If that latter is it, then check out Industrial Engineering. Not only is it a good undergrad base for MFEs, but it (I'm told) also allows for people to move into management and business positions better than any other Engineering discipline. That with Economics or Math (or Finance would be even better if you can do it where you are looking at going), would probably be as good as you can do for a major if an MFE is ultimately your goal.
 
Thank you for all your input so far.

I first got interested in the FE field because of the combination of programming, econ, and math, three of my favorite subjects. I am definitely interested in doing something programming related, WRF, your path seems to have more concentration in the finance department, a good one nonetheless.

Another question I would like to pose (and forgive me if this has been answered in another thread) is, if it would hurt me that much if I take a Computer Engineering major, with maybe a minor in an econ or a finance based field.

All the advice has been excellent so far, I can see where CE programs may be flawed as you pointed out GoIllini, and I can also recognize the benefits of Industrial Engineering, I would just like to know if doing a CE program would hurt my chances at top Master's programs, or even further down the road when I'm applying for a job.

Thank you
 

GoIllini

Market Crises= Gray Hair
Thank you for all your input so far.

I first got interested in the FE field because of the combination of programming, econ, and math, three of my favorite subjects. I am definitely interested in doing something programming related, WRF, your path seems to have more concentration in the finance department, a good one nonetheless.

Another question I would like to pose (and forgive me if this has been answered in another thread) is, if it would hurt me that much if I take a Computer Engineering major, with maybe a minor in an econ or a finance based field.

All the advice has been excellent so far, I can see where CE programs may be flawed as you pointed out GoIllini, and I can also recognize the benefits of Industrial Engineering, I would just like to know if doing a CE program would hurt my chances at top Master's programs, or even further down the road when I'm applying for a job.

Thank you
No rigorous engineering program will "hurt" your chances. Many financial engineers did engineering in their undergrad, and at some of the best schools, engineering is considered a stronger major than math. Some might say that Industrial Engineering and General Engineering are slightly less technical and "softer" majors, but they require the same math and physics courses as the other engineering programs and the gap between the two and say, Comp. E and M. E. in terms of the technicals is infinitessimal compared to the gap between IE/GE and Business or the Liberal Arts or Soft Sciences. If Industrial Engineering is what you love, go for that. (Be more careful with General Engineering- it will be a bit more work to line up a job straight out of school if you need a backup plan.)

One thing that may help you a little is to figure out what school is strongest at the major you enjoy- or which program is strongest at the school you'd like to go to. Illinois was extremely strong at Aerospace Engineering and Nuclear Engineering when I attended. That said, the wrong engineering major is a terrible way to spend four years. IMHO, you're going to be set up better for grad school if you focus on something you enjoy than if you focus on something that will get you into grad school- it will be easier to get higher GPAs.

If you love probability and the E&M portion of Physics AP that you took last year (or are taking this year), you'll enjoy Computer Engineering or Electrical Engineering. At most schools, it's extremely easy to switch between the two before your Junior year, and some won't even allow you to choose which one you want to do until then.

If you like Calculus and Newtonian Mechanics, you'll enjoy M.E., TAM, Engineering Physics, and Civil Engineering.

If you like logic puzzles and solving complicated mathematical problems, you'll like Computer Science. Don't become a programmer because you like computer games or enjoy programming just for creative aspects. If you like computer games like Sim City, study Industrial Engineering. If you enjoy programming for creative or business aspects, you may enjoy one of the business majors combined with a number of CS courses. If you enjoy computer games like HALO, you may enjoy Aviation. Note that every engineer learns how to program to some extent (along with many business majors, too)- Computer Engineers and Computer Science majors just learn the gritty details of how Operating Systems, CPUs, and compilers work as well as how to solve really complicated mathematical problems computationally.

Don't let your parents pick your major for you. If you can't be decisive and have reliable friends who are in college and studying engineering, try to let them pick the major for you instead of your parents.

My suggestion is to figure out a good compromise between what you love and what constitutes a strong major and roll with that. If you love art, enjoy energy, and hate chemistry, maybe you should go with the school's #7-ranked nuclear engineering program instead of its #2 ranked Mat. Sci. program or #50-ranked and impractical Art History program.
 
Thank you very much for your help. For now, I think I may go into Computer Science, as I've always enjoyed theories and algorithms, and the logic behind programming, and if it isn't succesful, then I'll switch back to Computer Engineering

Thank you again for the great advice
 
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