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Software Engineer vs Computer Engineer


I'm an engineering student at a Canadian university studying software engineering. The program requirements are the same as that for a computer engineering major until my final year when I do a software project and extra cs & se courses.

I see my self doing some form of computational engineering/ quantitative modeling/developing (generic, economic/financial/credit, geological, biological etc) in the future and most likely not generic development (web & random applications). What do you guys think is a better program ("title")? The course requirements are very similar depending on electives so the main difference is pretty much the title. Does software engineering sound like a pigeonhole major? over specialization too early? "jack of all"?

I already get so many surprised reactions from other students when they find out I'm a "software engineering" major in their hardware classes. Would it be easier to transition to a quantitative career that's math intensive with "software engineering" vs Computer engineering?

Thank you

Edit: Is this target even possible without a math undergrad? I've realized that engineering mathematics is pretty weak. (No analysis, Algebra, and proofs etc ) I've seen many job postings and they require math/physics/cs undergrad for development and Phd for modeling. Can MFE's actually teach to that level of math in such a short time or are they just teaching C++?
Hi there,

To your first question, I think the title of the degree is mostly semantics... What you should concentrate on is the actual courses you need to build eminence / skillset. --just speaking from experience I have an EE and physics degree but my heart lies in computers..so I took a lot of extra classes in that area ...I have a friend with a degree in Cognitive Sciences but she's working in a software dev role because she had the necessary skillset/ experience via internship...so it's just semantics

To your second question, I'm sure some of the folks in MFE programs can do more justice to it
Hi atreides,

If I may ask, do you have any grooming tips I can use to position myself for a career in quantitative/computational finance?

I will surely be looking for internships, trying to improve my grades, and other academic things, but is there more? How does someone become "good" at this line of work? Since I'm so early I'm mostly referring to the development side of things. Maybe I should concentrate school coursework on C++ numerical and parallel computing, attend conferences, try to get my final year project sponsored by a financial software company etc

I also notice that software and trading companies such as numerix, algorithmics, sungard, wolverine etc. don't really specify an MFE for dev work. Could this be a viable route to gain experience and enter a quant career.

I'm going to try, but I'm not sure how excellent my grades will be out of college. What technical skills do "good" quants have that are valuable? I can only imagine communication and interpersonal skills are a common denominator for most competitive jobs.
It is one of those odd things, that "Computer Engineering" courses for some reason are often more hardcore than "Software Engineering". CE is probably more attractive to potential finance employers, not least because most SE courses suck. About 20% of SE grads complete the "Kozak Protocol", where I am unable to devise a question so simple that they can answer it.

"software and trading companies such as numerix, algorithmics, sungard, wolverine etc. don't really specify an MFE for dev work. Could this be a viable route to gain experience and enter a quant career."

No, very specifically not.
The reason they do not ask for finance or maths skills is that you won't use them in those roles.
You will be a developer, if that is your goal, fine but it is not much of a path to quant work.

They may tell you otherwise, making it what we at P&D call an "industry standard lie". If they insult your intelligence, ask if you could meet with someone who did that.

As seen elsewhere I'm a C++ bigot, though there is demand for F#, C#, Haskell and VBA.
Java is really quite rare in quant work, and you are likely to get sucked into work that is basically creating on screen forms. That's [FONT=&quot]ѕhit [/FONT]dull, badly paid, and the only reason is that it hasn't been outsourced to India yet, is that the Indians want to see you suffer first as retribution for your ancestors role in colonialism.

Your maths are going to be an issue.
SE maths are wholly different from those used in quants, and since most SE courses gave up teaching AI because it was "too hard", I guess Bayesian analysis and time series are wholly absent from your course ?

If you want to be a quant developer you need to understand C++, that's C++0x/Boost/STL.
In parallel you need to hack your way through calculus to PDEs, finite difference methods etc.

That is not trivial.

Few MFEs teach maths to the necessary level to be good modelers, and around 90% teach C++ to such a pitiful level that sometimes I counsel their victims survivors not to put it on their resumes at all, for fear that they get asked about it at interview and destory their own credibility.

You might want to consider a masters in applied maths or the 7City cert in mathematical methods. Both are cheaper than a MFE, and may make you more employable.

I've responded in terms that a generally true of most people in your position.
But you have to do some cold analysis of your own thinking. How good are you at math ?
Thanks Mr Connor for this insight.

Strangely, my software engineering program is basically a computer engineering curriculum with most options as software or CS classes (graphics, AI, image processing, numerical computing etc). It's probably just called that because the software engineering students have a software final project as opposed to electronics. Not many people know this so I'm hesitant to continue with this major. My current career reference point is something along the lines of "using computational methods to solve scientific/mathematical problems" so I wouldn't mind programming or hardware architecture as long as it was applied to solve more mathematical problems (bio, geo, graphics, audio signals, finance etc)

I have the option of taking "Linear Algebra & PDE's" which is for Electrical & Mechanical students vs "Applied Linear Algebra" for Computer & Software engineers. Ive already taken "Advanced calculus & Intro to PDE's" & "ODE's & Linear Algebra". Based on these I would say my math is above average to good for an engineering student (took Math & Further Maths at A-Level). Not to say it's that bad because I could have been majoring in math if a relative with a PhD in physics (MS EE) didn't tell me that EE students had "excellent" modeling skills and that some Math & CS majors learned"imaginary" things at school.

I can't really comment on my pure math & algebra skills and would have to assume the worst. I can only assume my math skills could theoretically reach the level of MS EE (I'm not in the honors stream and my average is suspect at the moment so even this is an issue). I don't think non-honors engineering students learn enough math to go to grad school in pure/applied math so in that sense I must say my math is probably average.