Software Engineering

What is Software Engineering?

Software engineering is the process of applying engineering principles to analyze the needs of a specific user and then design, build and test software applications which will meet those needs. Software engineering goes beyond the fundamentals of programming to create more complex software systems that can serve as critical systems for businesses and organizations.

Software engineers need to understand how to write software and how software and hardware interact. More than that, software engineers are big-picture thinkers who can have a range of responsibilities when designing a new system. A software engineer may:

  • Meet with clients to understand what they need the software to achieve and the overall scope of work.
  • Design the overall framework of a project to determine what type of computer languages may be used, how they will interact and how they will function given existing hardware.
  • Work with designers, data scientists and project managers to support their processes and keep them aligned with the project’s goals.
  • Assure quality by reviewing code, helping problem solve and ensuring that all the project elements are working as an effective whole.

Software Engineering Fields

Because a software engineer may wear many hats when creating a project, there are many fields of specialization in the industry. Some of the subfields of software engineering may include:

  • Software Manager – Oversees team-driven software projects to ensure that tasks are completed, tested and meet the client’s needs.
  • Software Architect – Designs strategies and the overall framework for software projects.
  • Embedded Software – Writes the code necessary for machine-based software such as industrial robots, “smart” appliances and other non-computer devices.
  • Modeling and Simulation – Engineers software capable of simulating specific processes or to model results based on vast quantities of data.
  • Entertainment Systems – Engineers the embedded software that makes game platforms, smart TVs and other entertainment systems possible.
  • Networking Software – Creates the operating systems that allow networked hardware systems to communicate with each other, ensure efficiency and troubleshoot problems.

To learn more about career paths and salaries for software engineers, visit our Software Engineering Careers page.

What are the Current Trends in Software Engineering?

As the world becomes increasingly connected, software engineers will be in demand to create the underlying systems that maintain those connections. As the decade progresses, expect to see the following trends in software engineering.

  • Increased Automation – As more industries look to stay competitive and reduce labor costs, software engineers will be needed to design and improve the software platforms powering automation technologies.
  • Big Data – A growing number of industries are using data science and big data to target customers, predict trends and speed innovation. Software engineers will be needed to create the systems capable of processing and utilizing that data.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI and ML) – As technology is tasked to solve increasingly complex problems, industries are turning to AI and ML. Software engineers will be needed to create the software platforms for these intelligent systems. 
  • Cloud Based Systems – While physical storage systems can be finite, the cloud offers almost unlimited storage capacity and greater flexibility. Software engineers who can design and implement cloud-based systems will be in demand as more of our data moves to the cloud.
  • Internet of Things – From cars to home appliances, more and more aspects of our daily life are networked into the “internet of things.” Software engineers who can design the software for these platforms will also be in high demand. 

These trends may be the reason the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020) anticipates a 22 percent increase in positions for software developers between 2019 and 2029, more than four times the growth projected across all occupations during that same decade.

What Do You Learn in Software Engineering?

Students interested in software engineering learn how to design software from the ground up, which may entail learning multiple programming languages and understanding how they can be integrated to create a complete system. Students may also need to learn design and digital content management, human and computer interaction, information systems, as well as business skills like project management and leadership. 

Software engineers may also find it helpful to study other disciplines, including AI and ML, to keep up with growing technology trends.

Software Engineering Programs at Drexel’s College of Computing & Informatics 

As technology becomes embedded in more and more aspects of our lives, a software engineering degree will be a valued asset for those interested in career opportunities across a range of industries. That’s why we offer our Master of Science in Software Engineering, to provide working professionals with the skills and experience they need to enhance their employment opportunities and career paths.

We understand that every student’s needs are different, that’s why we also offer stackable certificate programs in Software Management and Software Architecture.

Drexel’s College of Computing & Informatics offers a Master of Science in Software Engineering degree that can be earned full-time, part-time, in-person, or online. This flexibility lets you customize your degree program so you can focus on the areas of study that have the most bearing on your career path and industry.

Ready to take your career to the next level? Visit the Master of Science in Software Engineering program page.

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