Discussion Thread

Addition of Computer Science

  • 1.  Addition of Computer Science

    Posted 09-17-2019 10:48 AM
    Hello, all!

    I have been grappling with an idea all summer and wanted to reach out for some feedback. The article in CE magazine earlier this summer, "Future World Vision" (June 2019) gave real scenarios demonstrating that STEM fields are trending toward digital spaces. This study made me question the need for an additional degree in computer science or computer engineering to serve in conjunction with my existing engineering degree.

    As we rely on computers more heavily, is it necessary for engineers in the digital era to take more computer science related courses? Should we take courses in programming and data infrastructures in order to stay ahead of, or in step with, new technologies? Will it be necessary to have full degrees in engineering and computer science in order to stay relevant in our field?

    Sean Ellis EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Civil Engineer
    Parkhill, Smith & Cooper
    Midland TX

  • 2.  RE: Addition of Computer Science

    Posted 09-18-2019 10:04 AM
    Most engineering curriculum include basic programing courses.  Math based programing (matrix analysis) by hand and using blank slate software (Mathlab) are critical to understanding how the software we use as engineers is created and functions.  It can help us in creating our own programs to solve problems.  Math based programing is a fundamental approach that does not change with time.  Learning a specific programing language does not always maintain the same level of relevance. 

    I do see an advantage to an engineer who wants to have a dual major or a minor in computer science.  It would be a unique combination that would appeal to some employers.  There is also opportunity for an engineer to further develop new structural analysis software which is always in demand.  Without every student becoming a dual major, maybe universities can provide more opportunities for different majors to interact with each other.  This way the engineers have an understanding of what the computer science majors are learning across the quad.  It is amazing how strong university cliques can be!

    Chad Morrison P.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI

  • 3.  RE: Addition of Computer Science

    Posted 09-18-2019 02:04 PM
    To add upon Chad's answer, a dual major or a minor ​in computer science can be advantageous, but you could also explore the option of certificate programs. Certificate programs offer short-term, focused course offerings that may suffice the depth into a specific topic that you would like to learn more about. 

    For those reading this discussion who would like to learn more about Future World Vision, please check out the website here: Future World Vision
    Futureworldvision remove preview
    Future World Vision
    Never before has the future looked so exciting. From autonomous vehicles to the most cutting-edge green technologies, the built environment is reshaping before our eyes. Exciting as it is, these changes breed challenges. The future will require a new way of doing things. A new approach. A new vision.
    View this on Futureworldvision >

    Danielle Schroeder EIT, A.M.ASCE
    Associate Engineer
    Pennoni Associates
    Philadelphia PA

  • 4.  RE: Addition of Computer Science

    Posted 09-19-2019 11:59 AM
    The question of getting another degree in programing/computer science is very interesting! I see a compelling need for this in the future. My personal opinion is that if a CE did get a computer degree, it would be very valuable but also very unique. It would be difficult to gain mastery of both but if one were able to master both over time, then she/he would be in high demand. I have a former classmate that began his career in chemical engineering then went to law school and specialized in patent and intellectual property law. He is very specialized and very well compensated. The down side is, if one is looking for entry level employment it might not add much value to the masses at the start. But, one would be on the leading edge of a  future in demand skill.

    Like Chad mentioned I took C++, python, and MatLab in my general undergrad engineering courses many years ago,  but in no way do I consider myself good at those tasks.  Just the basic understanding. I'm also certain our academic friends and our friends at ABET would  tell us the curriculum is already very prescriptive and under-pressure from some of the public and legislators for less coursework, not more. So it would unfortunately, need to be a whole separate degree or credential.

    On a aside note, this week, we were working with a company that is developing our core software and he mentioned potential programming candidates demanding very high salaries, some near $400K a year. He may have been overstating it for effect but, if true seems like a healthy career to me!

    Jesse Kamm PhD, PMP, A.M.ASCE
    Senior Vice President of Construction Management

  • 5.  RE: Addition of Computer Science

    Posted 09-20-2019 08:29 PM
    I would recommend perusing a second degree in Data Science.

    Data Science fits better with a Civil Engineering degree. As we enter the IoT (Internet of Things) era, everything will begin generating enormous amounts of data. Smart Cities will have sensors on everything, such as pipes, pumps, manholes, trash cans (and MUCH more). 

    Civil Engineers that can analyze this data to generate better design and better recommendations to their clients will stand out. Data is the future and I think a Civil Engineer with a Data Science knowledge will be insanely in demand. 

    If want to discuss this more detail, shoot me a message. I love geeking out about this stuff.

    Zaid Admani P.E., M.ASCE
    Sugar Land TX

    LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/zaid-admani/

    Twitter: www,twitter.com/ZaidAdmaniPE

    Instagram: www.Instagram.com/Zaid.Admani.PE

  • 6.  RE: Addition of Computer Science

    Posted 09-21-2019 08:37 AM
    We can get easy admission in data science with civil engineering background. 

  • 7.  RE: Addition of Computer Science

    Posted 09-30-2019 09:38 PM
    I agree. A lot of Counties these days are managing their assets through GIS databases. The question is, if a Civil Engineer gets the Data Science certificate, what sort of companies would be looking to hire him? I haven't found many companies that are looking for a Civil Engineer with Coding or Data Science skills. I will appreciate if someone can point out companies that hire Civil Engineer Data Scientist.

    Muhammad Abdul Raheem Siddiqui A.M.ASCE
    Project Engineer
    Duluth GA

  • 8.  RE: Addition of Computer Science

    Posted 09-23-2019 07:28 AM
    I think there is no question that one needs to keep up with technology and credentials throughout an entire career, especially if one wants to remain relevant in their field. 

    Throughout my working life, I've seen massive changes in computing capability that has dramatically ​changed the landscape of simulation, analysis and manufacturing.  Corresponding effects include dramatically reducing costs and improving predictability in design and development and production. 

    This has become the overall standard in engineering.

    Joseph Cioletti R.Eng, A.M.ASCE
    Project Manager
    Mott MacDonald
    Pittsburgh PA

  • 9.  RE: Addition of Computer Science

    Posted 09-23-2019 10:14 PM
    I think so, absolutely. At the very least I think it's important to have a basic understanding of the technologies that your industry may be able to leverage. I think a lot of engineering companies are structuring themselves to have a technology/innovations department or at least a couple key personnel that work with civil engineers directly to execute or deploy tools that engineers design. I know in my company's water resources department, we have this kind of setup, and we look for interest or experience with coding/technology in our new hires.

    Kristine Mosuela EIT, S.M.ASCE
    Water Resources Engineer
    Centreville VA

  • 10.  RE: Addition of Computer Science

    Posted 10-01-2019 09:58 AM
    Hi Sean,

    I'm glad you're bringing this up! I've been passionate about this topic for a while now since coding is a pretty underutilized tool in the civil engineering industry. There are numerous opportunities such as design automation, virtual reality, intelligent infrastructure management, etc. I've been taking python courses to build up my skills on the side. One project I've been chewing on is this multivariate design optimization tool to cut back on the number of iterations I do for projects.

    Paul Lee P.E., M.ASCE
    Civil Engineering Associate
    Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power
    Los Angeles CA

  • 11.  RE: Addition of Computer Science

    Posted 10-08-2019 07:50 AM
    Hi Sean

    Civil engineering describes a broad range of jobs. According to me the answer to your question depends on what you plan to do as civil engineer. There are some civil engineers who do mathematical modelling and optimization and programming is a must for them. Knowing MATLAB and python will be beneficial to us. For students willing to pursue higher studies involving research I think programming is a must especially in MATLAB.  But we definitely should have knowledge regarding softwares of AutoCAD, STAADPro or any other structural analysis software and some 3D modelling softwares will also be beneficial.

    Sagar Shekhar Tripathy S.M.ASCE
    Undergraduate 3rd year student in Civil Engineering
    Bhubaneswar OR

  • 12.  RE: Addition of Computer Science

    Posted 10-12-2019 07:02 PM
    Hello Sean,
    I think that Sagar (response No. 11) is the voice of reason here. I would dissuade you to pursue that degree in computer science(CS). Unless you want to build major software systems relating to the civil engineering field a degree in CS may not be the best solution to your dilemma.
    To qualify myself a voice worth being heard in this conversation I am a computer programming hobbyist and I get the majority of my entertainment by staying current  on software engineering and data science affairs/news. I am doing this to make myself relevant in the water resources field. I am a fourth year undergraduate studying civil engineering with a focus on water resources. I think an appropriate course of action for an engineer to stay technically relevant is not to append your existing engineering degree with another full CS degree.
    Rather, spend some time teaching yourself to program and become familiar with the basics of software engineering, version control, learning how to utilize open source software and basic data science skills. These are the things that CS graduates learn on the job(not covered in undergraduate studies). Furthermore and presently many graduate students(and working professionals) in various scientific and engineering disciplines are teaching themselves these skills to gain an edge on their competition.

    I use Python whenever and wherever I can and its even built in to many engineering software programs like ArcGIS, AutoCAD and others.
    If you or any readers heed these words, here are some beginner resources that I have found to be excellent:

    Automate the Boring Stuff with Python, by Albert Sweigart
     The Carpentries  DATA CARPENTRY and software carpentry workshops
    Python 3.7 (Microsoft Store)

    These are all free or practically free resources but there are also many excellent paid resources.

    Carl Humphrey S.M.ASCE