Civil Engineering & Computer Science
Q: I'm studying for my Master of Applied Science (in Civil engineering) and my thesis work has lots of contents from computer science. I'd also like to know what can happen to a hybrid of civil/computer engineering background. Any suggestions will be appreciated.
A: The following comments are *highly* subjective and they're based only on my own personal experience and observations of others in similar situations. Your actual mileage may vary..... Background: I've got about ten years in the saddle as a bridge dork, designing both for a DOT and for a national consultant firm. I also have programmed, either in college or on the job, in about six or seven different computer languages from assembler through FORTRAN and APL. I spent about three years making my living as a programmer. My personal goal has been to try to stay on the boundary between being a computer geek and a bridge dork, but it's turned out to be very difficult to do. Basically, computer geeks don't seem to trust engineering types very much, and the distrust goes both ways. The computer types resent the intrusion of somebody who isn't an official "geek" onto their turf and act in a predictably territorial manner as a result. The engineering dorks don't trust the geeks (these are technical terms:-) and never seem to *quite* believe that somebody really into computers has sufficient expertise in engineering to be trusted, regardless of credentials. The result is a constant pressure from *both* sides to declare yourself clearly to be one or the other. An attempt to remain "neutral", i.e., to combine both fields into one, results in both sides considering you to be one of "them", as opposed to one of "us". Getting too heavily involved in the computer side leads to limitations in promotion possibilities on the engineering side and vice versa. Having a strong computer background is a terrific asset in engineering, as computers are ubiquitous and the more you know about them, the better you can do your job. In fact, I have a hard time seeing how any engineer can be worth his or her salt these days without knowing computers inside and out. But, unless you're willing to dedicate yourself only to programming engineering applications and being satisfied with that as a career (in other words, having a career as a programmer in a firm that specializes in such work), you probably won't see much benefit from trying to combine the two fields other than the satisfaction of being a damned good engineer. Personally, I find that pretty satisfying, but it certainly involves a lot of hassles. As I said, these are just personal observations and opinions. I definitely do *not* present them as conclusive evidence of anything, much less as facts.
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