Which Engg Branch to Choose in JEE : Electronics (ECE) or Computers (CSE)?

Which branch of engineering is best? This is the most commonly asked question during July month every year when AIEEE counselling gets underway (and coincidentally my summer vacation to India occurs invariably in July every year and am asked this question frequently by parents from non-engg background). The question is obviously asked to know which branch will have better prospects after passing-out and beyond. Since most old IITs don�t have ECE branch (only IITG, IITR and IIT Kharagpur offer ECE ), the first preference of JEE toppers is CSE so much so that one could not get CSE in IIT-Bombay even with a JEE rank of 50 in 2008 (last rank to get CSE was 47 in IIT Bombay). For this reason we would limit ourselves to non-IIT colleges for choosing between CSE or ECE. Under DASA scheme for NRIs, NITs are the only colleges to opt for and this discussion suits such students very well.

We would discuss the topic in scientific manner and shall use weighted average method to select the right branch. To begin with, we would list down all important criteria/preferences, assign them weightage based on one�s background/aptitude and start assigming marks to the two branches. A sample exercise in the form of Excel sheet is available in the download section of this website. Please keep in mind, it is a very much individual based selection (I wonder why a candidate has to have a herd mentality in choosing branch when same thing is not done even for a mundane thing like selecting right cake for one�s b�day).

In right earnest, we start to� list down the important factors based on one�s background

�1)��Your �plutonic� love for the subject. Ask yourself if you like coding in general? Would you love to work in a field job? Please don�t give this factor 100% weightage because there could be other factors one may miss. Many kids want to be astronauts when they are young but eventually don�t become one due to unavailability of state-of-art technology in the field in the country and lack of enough opportunities available in other sectors. The aeronautical branch in itself has certain restrictions (including security clearance) if one plans to pursue MS in US (post 9/11). Similarly, food technology requires similar security clearance in US by FDA. Moreover, if you want to select a particular branch due to scholarships available in USA, then engg as discipline may not be the best thing as people easily get scholarship in fields like archeology and history.

2) Preference trend in the exam (eg. AIEEE) We live in real world and may not want to overlook what everyone else is doing and try to understand why they are doing this. Don�t give this factor 100% weightage as that will be a true herd mentality. The preference trend between the 2 branches keeps changing. In 2008 and 2009 AIEEE counselling, ECE has taken over CSE (67% ECE, 33% CSE for first 25 seats filled in NIT�s.) However, please keep in mind that this trend is different in south India and north India. As per AIEEE counselling pref of 2008, north India NITs (like Allah, Jaipur, Kuru) had CSE branch filling-up first than South Indian NITs. Generally speaking north Indians and US bound candidates prefer CSE marginally over ECE.

3) Efforts required in College to get a good CGPA grade. Generally, CSE is easier branch compared to ECE. Think if you would like to pursue MBA , than one can get more time for CAT prep by choosing CSE.

4) Preference for Govt/PSU/Teaching jobs. Many more govt/PSU companies visit campuses to recruit ECE engineers as compared to CSE. If you prefer comfort and job security of PSU, ECE is a better branch. Moreover, competition is not very tough for teaching jobs in ECE as most IITs don�t have this branch.

5) Placement, Average salary and importantly av salary of top 25% in the branch. Don�t stop after checking that both branches have 100% placement and almost same av salary. Look at the av salary of top 25% of each branch in any college. My analysis of one of the top NIT brings out the fact that CSE had better offers above 8 lacs per annum as compared to ECE. However, this analysis can be misleading as the bottom 25% of CSE guys had lower salary than ECE guys. So if one has fire in the belly and can take the competitors by collar, CSE can be highly rewarding. For lower rankers., competition is very very tough as software jobs for lower profiles are hunted by one and all (including BCA/MCA/BSc/xyz certified). If you choose CSE branch, make sure the college is one of the top (say a good NIT) since otherwise you may be one of the 2500 persons called on single day for off-campus interview and rue why cos. entertain non-CSE people in software field.

6) Job Openings in Real Indian Corporate. IT sector is the biggest employment provider in India and many students other than CSE also end up in IT industry.� After finishing graduation, most of ECE engineers work in software companies as there are no sufficient companies who work in core areas of Electronics and Electrical Engineering. The top� IT companies with offices in India like Adobe, DE Shaw, Net App, Microsoft, Yahoo don�t hire ECE or set the CGPA by 1 point higher for ECE than CSE branch. Therefore, think hard over logic in going for ECE courses if one is going to end up in IT sector. India has more software companies than any other companies. These companies pay good salaries and also give a chance for foreign assignments that will further enhance your personal and professional skills.

�7) College Facilities for ECE & CSE. While CSE branch does not need hi-fi labs, the available infrastructure and professors for ECE branch are not very encouragings (including in top NITs). After doing ECE B Tech don�t think anyone will allow one to come near Ipod or Iphone design center. For that one needs to do atleast MS in USA in good college as India doesn�t produce and/or require all these experts in great number.

Conclusion:In the end, CSE offers rewards for high fliers and mundane jobs for low fliers. ECE branch offers good jobs in Govt/PSUs. Most IT companies don�t differentiate between the two branches for placement (execpt the very top software cos). In the above analysis, I have tried to list down important factors in choosing right branch for you. However, each individual has to make their own decision and the sample Excel sheet in the download section of this website can help you to make a sound judgement.

Good luck with your admissions. In any case, try to be best whatever course you pick up and make your parents proud after completing� the course.

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