The fu­ture is here

Com­puter sci­ence and en­gi­neer­ing grad­u­ates have to han­dle every­thing from pro­gram­ming and de­sign­ing apps for mo­bile phones to de­vel­op­ing soft­ware for space ve­hi­cles and sci-fi films

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - M Balakr­ish­nan

Ev­ery per­son in the de­vel­oped Western world uses more than a hun­dred “com­put­ers or com­put­ing en­gines” in his day-to-day ac­tiv­i­ties. An ur­ban In­dian may have al­ready crossed 25. All these need to be loaded with ap­pli­ca­tions which are de­signed, de­vel­oped and main­tained by com­puter sci­ence and en­gi­neer­ing (CSE) grad­u­ates.

Com­puter sci­ence orig­i­nated mainly from math­e­mat­ics. As com­put­ing be­came wide­spread, a spe­cial branch of math­e­mat­ics de­vel­oped into the spe­cial­i­sa­tion we call com­puter sci­ence to­day. Cour­ses like the­ory of com­put­ing, dis­crete math­e­mat­ics, graph the­ory etc are still con­sid­ered to be on the in­ter­face of com­puter sci­ence and math­e­mat­ics. On the other hand, com­puter en­gi­neer­ing emerged out of elec­tri­cal en­gi­neer­ing — with cour­ses such as dig­i­tal de­sign and com­puter ar­chi­tec­ture still on the in­ter­face of the two. With CSE emerg­ing as a dis­ci­pline and soft­ware be­com­ing more and more com­plex, cour­ses in soft­ware de­sign and de­vel­op­ment, sys­tem soft­ware and soft­ware en­gi­neer­ing were de­vel­oped to cre­ate a com­pre­hen­sive new dis­ci­pline of com­puter sci­ence and en­gi­neer­ing. It is still not un­com­mon in the United States or in Euro­pean uni­ver­si­ties to have com­puter sci­ence pro­grammes as part of the sci­ence fac­ulty (some­times even math­e­mat­ics and com­puter sci­ence). Com­puter en­gi­neer­ing pro­grammes, too, are of­fered by en­gi­neer­ing schools - even elec­tri­cal and com­puter en­gi­neer­ing pro­grammes.

In In­dia though ini­tially BSC and MSC pro­grammes in CS were started in some uni­ver­si­ties (and have con­tin­ued), there’s been growth mainly in com­puter sci­ence and en­gi­neer­ing as de­mand for prac­ti­tion­ers (read pro­gram­mers) has in­creased. With pres­sure to in­crease the in­take to sat­isfy mar­ket de­mands, many in­sti­tu­tions started Btech or BE in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy by heav­ily bor­row­ing from the CSE syl­labus but to this day it re­mains an un­fo­cussed pro­gramme with­out a dis­tinct ca­reer path.

Ca­reer op­tions

The ini­tial vis­i­ble growth came from the pro­gram­mer body-shop­ping out­fits fol­lowed by the out­sourced soft­ware de­vel­op­ment in­dus­try. As an in­dus­try cater­ing to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, its pay pack­ages have al­ways been at­trac­tive. This meant that lots of stu­dents switched dis- ciplines to join as pro­gram­mers — a trend that started in the early ‘80s and is de­clin­ing now with the ex­plo­sive growth of CSE pro­grammes in the coun­try. This growth has led to in­creased ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties in aca­demics. Well-qual­i­fied post­grad­u­ates, thus, have no dearth of jobs.

So, if you are mo­ti­vated, ready to put in the hard work and have an ap­ti­tude for ‘pro­gram­ming’, you can grow fast. It is not un­usual for soft­ware en­gi­neers with two to three years ex­pe­ri­ence be­ing called group lead­ers and with five to six years of ex­pe­ri­ence be­com­ing man­agers. The chal­lenge though is the con- stant need to up­date your­self due to the very fast pace of change in tech­nol­ogy. This is true whether you are in ed­u­ca­tion, in­dus­try or even in sales and main­te­nance.

Are you good enough?

Core com­puter sci­ence and en­gi­neer­ing re­quires a good un­der­stand­ing of math­e­mat­ics and ba­sic elec­tron­ics. Only a per­son ca­pa­ble of log­i­cal think­ing can be­come a good pro­gram­mer.

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