This month I had a very interesting debate with a recent acquaintance – Madam Ekenne Arinze. The topic of debate was: Are IT professionals better than CS professionals or vice-versa? With her being an IT major and my being a CS major, it should be obvious which sides we argued for. In the end, we agreed to disagree – neither of us willing to capitulate. However I felt that the conversation was stimulating and it brought up a long held mis-conception that I believe needs to be addressed. That mis-conception, is this: Information Technology = Computer Science. So here for you today, I will explain exactly why this is not so.
Before we begin, I want you to close your eyes. Take a deep breadth… and forget everything that led you to think both fields were one and the same. In fact, go the extra mile and disassociate the field of computer engineering as well, I think I will talk a bit on that too. The thing that confuses people in reality – That is besides the fact that all 3 are computer related and few try to think past that – is that I.T. is the client facing side of all computer based fields. Therefore, the only type of computer professional you are ever likely to deal with, would be an IT specialist.
So as I head into an in-depth discussion of what each field is, and what the professionals of each field do, I want to first establish the core essence of each of the 3.
- Computer Engineering: Put simply – Hardware; put accurately: The design, development, and implementation of computer systems.
- Computer Science: Put simply – Software; put accurately: The theory, study, and practical application of computational algorithms.
- Information Technology: Put simply – Computer systems support & maintenance; put accurately… see the simple version.