Software engineering is a discipline that studies the scientific and mathematical foundation of computer software. Software engineers and programmers typically work hand-in-hand to create new software or to update already existing programs. In this academic area, students use various programming languages and learn how to design and analyze software. Software engineering programs based in a university's engineering school tend to focus more on the hardware issues related to software development. Programs that are part of a school's computer science department usually place a heavier emphasis on math and theory. In any setting, the discipline is a unique blend of software development, engineering, and project leadership training.
What Software Engineers Do?
Software engineers are employed by companies to create working applications out of large amounts of code. While software engineers need to have extensive knowledge of a broad base of coding languages, they might not necessarily perform coding themselves; therefore, they usually work as part of a larger team. Instead, software engineers act as managers in determining the best ways to go about creating or fixing software. They may also detail and overview how various applications function using aids like flowcharts or diagrams for programmers. Being able to work well as part of a team is a critical quality in software engineering, as the process of designing software can be likened to putting together a puzzle.
What Skills Are Required?
Most software engineers begin with a generic computer science background. There are a number of skills that apply to all areas of computer science and should, therefore, be an area of focus for aspiring students.
Since mathematics is at the core of most computer science coursework, it is important that students have a strong foundation in math. This often requires taking math coursework similar to those in an engineering track, meaning post-calculus courses. Another area of emphasis for computer science study is logic. Programming languages are often developed on a platform of logic and reasoning. Students who do well in the field of software engineering are good at abstract thinking and enjoy solving puzzles. Therefore, anyone who attempts to learn a programming language would likely benefit from a background in logic and rational thinking. Every team member adds a piece to the puzzle, and each piece depends on the others. Thus, good communication skills are necessary.