What is the difference between Communications and Computer Network Engineering (CCNE) and Communications Engineering (CE)?

CE is a new course starting in 2022/23, which is an evolution of CCNE, which has been very successful in terms of job opportunities and students' satisfaction. The main difference is that CE is based on a project based approach and on active learning methodology, instead CCNE was based on a standard learning approach, even if already rich of practical and laboratory activities.

What is a Project Based Learning approach?

Communications Engineering (CE) is unique in the adopted teaching and learning methodology. Two 12 ECTS courses are devoted to develop a project in groups. The students will follow an active learning approach in which they will be at the center of the learning phase: they will define the aim of their project and will be responsible to get all the required competences to realize their projects. The professors will act as "consultants" for the students. Note that the two projects will be very different from the laboratories and practical activities of the other courses, in which the professors typically guide completely the learning process, imposing the competences that the students must acquire. 

What does the CE master's degree focus on? How do I know if this is the right course for me? 

First, you will get involved in designing and developing two main projects, which will expose you to a realistic engineering team work. Second, the courses offered by CE deal with broad disciplines such as signal theory, signal processing and multimedia signal processing, statistics and information theory. In the telecommunications area, the physics concepts of propagation of electromagnetic fields are studied and applied in courses relating to antennas and optical fibers. The courses in the area of networks cover the design of computer networks and the algorithms and protocols for their control and management. Finally, computer skills are acquired and exploited in the fields of programming (python but not only), simulation (for example through Matlab) and artificial intelligence. If you are fascinated by studying these subjects and applying the related concepts learned in laboratory activities, then CE is for you. More detailed information on the course contents can be found by reading the course descriptions in the study plan.

What are the differences between this course and other courses such as ICT4SS, Computer Engineering, Data Science or Electronics (telecommunications curriculum, etc.)?

In short, CE engineers provide the communication means, built with devices developed by Electronics engineers, to support the services and applications developed by ICT4SS and Computer engineers. In more details, CE deals specifically with signal processing, telecommunications and networks, as presented in the previous point, but does not cover circuit design and hardware analysis which are instead found in the course of Eng. Electronics. CE engineers use advanced tools for Artificial Intelligence (AI), which are developed by Data Science and Computer engineers. ICT4SS is another course in the telecommunications area, but it focuses less on the design and development of services (in the health, transport, energy, geomatics, construction fields). However, the advice is to compare in detail the study plans of the various courses.

What are the jobs for which you are trained with this degree?

Consultancy in any field of ICT (very frequent). Design, development and management of equipment and services for the following types of companies: network operators such as TIM, Wind H3G, Vodafone, Fastweb; companies producing telecommunications devices such as Cisco and Huawei; multinationals such as Google and Facebook which have their own network infrastructure; companies operating in satellite communications; national and international space agencies; network security companies; automotive companies; research institutes or research and development departments of companies; software development company; companies dealing with artificial intelligence and data analysis.

Is it possible for a CE engineer to apply for a job on data science?

Politecnico offers a specific MSc on Data Science and Engineering, focused on data science and big data, applied in all the engineering fields. Your are welcome to visit their website.

Communication Engineer is not focused on data science, but according to the list of covered topics, it offers two courses in which machine learning (ML) is used specifically for networking and for image and video processing. The approach for CE is very practical: you will become an expert on using ML tools and not on developing them. Furthermore, some courses treat big data and ML related topics (e.g., “Cloud computing and data center design lab” teaches how to design data centers to support big data applications and how to design advanced data structures for stream processing) and most of our professors offer theses in which ML is used as a tool to solve advanced communication and networking problems.

Some telecom companies contacted us for job openings on data science, being aware of our students'  background in CE. How you will become competitive for such kind of job offer, depends only on you!

I am studying some BSc in another field. Do I need to recover unfulfilled academic requirements to be able to enroll in CE?

The access requirements for the course of study of interest can be found at this page (for international students). In few words, a generic BSc in ICT area (computer eng., electronics/electrical eng., information eng., etc.) grant the access without any debits. Other BSc related to engineering, math and physics requires some detailed analysis by the apply commission but typically they do not require any additional course to take (i.e., no debits). In the worst case, some courses are taken to recover missing background, at the place of elective courses. For BSc outside the above fields, it is hard to say a priori and the apply committee will evaluate carefully, in order to minimize the effort for the student to recover the missing background and to understand the curricular topics.

Finally, international students must consider that their whole official curriculum (degree, evaluations,  BSc plan of study, covered topics, GPA, etc) will be considered for their apply procedure. 

Are there any practical activities along the way?

Most of the courses consist of both a theoretical part and a practical one. Some courses are almost completely laboratory courses. Two main project courses are very practical. By reading the description of the courses, you can get a more precise idea of the proportion of the two parts for each course.

How will be the lab activities carried out if the pandemic rises again?

Since laboratory activities are mostly related to the use of computer programs, they can be easily performed remotely also in the case of strict pandemic restrictions. Additionally, there exist assistance sessions where you can share your screen or ask questions in dedicated virtual rooms. But we are optimistic that all the classes and labs in the future will be performed in presence.

Could there be problems for students from a university other than PoliTo?

No. Clearly at the beginning you might be a bit confused, PoliTo is a large university, located in a big city, but, from the academic point of view, the dynamics (relationship with the professor, participation in courses, preparation for the exams, etc. .) are typical of the Italian university environment. If you come from abroad, the feeling may be different, due to a more theoretical approach used in the Italian academic system. However, every year many foreign students successfully follow CE.

What are the deadlines to apply for double-degree programs?

For a first year CE student, the call for applications starts during the first semester (around December) and is open for about 1.5 month. 

The only exception is the TOP-UIC project for the University of Illinois at Chicago (USA). You must apply well in advance, i.e., still during the third year of your BSc. Indeed, for a first year CE student, the deadline is around September (before the first semester starts). Note that you can apply even if not yet BSc-graduated or not yet enrolled in CE. 

Deadlines and rules available on https://didattica.polito.it/outgoing/

Why living in Turin? 

In Turin you can experience an international environment: open and curious people, a city of historical importance (museums, historic buildings, cultural associations) but also parks and leisure activities, surrounding mountains, connections with all other major Italian cities. Furthermore, the city is characterized by deep industrial and technological roots, as evidenced by the numerous innovation centers (thanks, for example, to the doctoral school, corporate research centers, I3P startups).

Do you have any other questions?

Do not hesitate to contact the reference person for CE, Prof. Paolo GIACCONE (referente.lm.ce@polito.it).