Studies to become audio programmer/hardware designer

Hi, I’m a first year french student at the polytechnical school of
Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and I’m currently facing a dilemma. I’m
a huge fan of music with computer and especially of the software
(plugin) programming side of it, and I’m thinking of making it my job. I would love to construct hardware synths too.
So, when I choose my section in the school, I have directly taken
Physics, because this would allow me to learn a lot of Algebra,
Analysis , Physics, and C++, very valuable in DSP. But on the other
hand, I’m forced to study, mostly in Physics, subjects such as
cosmology, optic, thermodynamics wich has nothing to do with DSP wich
gives me the feeling that I made a mistake with my choice of section. So
my question is, do I have to consider changing section and go for
computer science, Electrical Engineering, or should I keep going on the same path
(Physics)? What is the typical way to become an audio programmer/hardware designer?

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If it’s any help, some of the best programmers I’ve worked with had physics degrees… :slight_smile:

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I studied electrical engineering and think this was a good choice. Of course – as with probably every choiche you could make – there are topics that are not that relevant to the audio segment, but comming to the studies with a musical and live sound engineering background I quickly started to find out when I was teached stuff that reminded me of things I already knew from working as an audio engineer.

While I started studies with the idea in mind to become an analogue audio hardware designer, I went more and more digital along the way. Important stuff that I learned was:

  • Old school C programing basics
  • Learning to program weak microcontrollers in an efficient way
  • Learning rough basics about processor architecture by implementing simple soft core CPUs myself in FPGAs
  • Dedicated signal processing lectures – mostly focused on non-realtime Matlab stuff but that teached me a lot of the math basics
  • 4 terms of math lectures (not so funny sometimes)
  • Some rough analog circuit design basics (nice knowledge if you want to do some analog modelling) and some interesting insight in RF circuit design
  • Basiscs on telecommunication technology – which also contains some stuff that might be interesting for audio applications

Beneath these core parts of the electrical engineering studies, electrial engineering and computer science was grouped under one department at my university so I could opt to take some computer science lectures:

  • Computer graphics (I learned OpenGL basics there)
  • Parallel computing (I learned a lot about parallel number crunching algorithms there – interesting for some fields of DSP)
  • Machine learning basics (for sure a topic that gets more and more relevant for plugins over time)

I then chosed to teach myself some C++ and tried to chose projects and my master thesis during studies in a way that they would support this direction.

TLDR: While the lectures available might differ from university to university I’m quite happy with my choices back then. No one taught me to program plugins, but I could gain a lot of insight that laid a basic to become a plugin developer

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wow thank you so much, it helps me a lot :slight_smile:

I take note of that, thank you.