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Differences Between Engineers and Scientists

11/17/2017 9:07 AM

My interpretation of the difference (blurry at best) between an engineer and scientist is that an engineer applies scientific principles to solve real-life problems. In my office we have people with science degrees and an engineering job title, so I'm not sure if it matters too much.

https://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2017/11/what-heck-engineer-anyway

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#1

Re: Differences Between Engineers and Scientists

11/17/2017 9:38 AM

The job title defines the skills a person has. The degree is the knowledge.

Job title of engineer means engineer, regardless of degree. The same way, people who study engineering and work on economics would be called economists.

Now, there are indeed certain differences between scientists and engineers, but that does not matter that they are not compatible. Studying one thing and working on something different only means that more time will be required to learn the skills that are needed.

Finally, take into account that many people in this forum are 'just' technitians and engineering hobbyists, some of them achieving the title engineer without even a degree, and they might be more profitable for companies than other engineers with an engineering degree.

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#4
In reply to #1

Re: Differences Between Engineers and Scientists

11/17/2017 11:31 AM

The job title is whatever HR's latest buzz words describe it as. "Engineer" means different things to different people and different work environments. I've met Marketing Engineers who couldn't explain things so that real engineers could understand what they said.

After the door opens, degrees don't mean much. It's the accomplishments that matter.

Getting a good engineering, or scientific, job without a formal degree can be difficult for sure.

I have a patent. Does that make me an inventor or an engineer, or a tinkerer?

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#2

Re: Differences Between Engineers and Scientists

11/17/2017 9:42 AM

John Bardeen, the only 2-time winner of the Nobel prize in Physics, got his BS in electrical engineering, then later got his PhD in mathematical physics.

He said he went into engineering because he didn't want to be an academic like his father.

I've got an MS in physics, but have worked for over 25 years as an optics engineer. I taught physics for a while, but had no desire to just do that year after year.

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#3

Re: Differences Between Engineers and Scientists

11/17/2017 10:38 AM

Henry Petroski, a professor of civil engineering and prolific writer on engineering topics, addresses this question in his book The Essential Engineer. I read about half of the book -- which is engagingly and thoughtfully written -- last winter; I stopped because I a new mystery novel beckoned (and I was tired of thinking). Despite my failure to finish, I highly recommend this book to all of you who ponder Terrapin's question.

Petroski has several titles that address the usefulness of failure in learning how to prevent failure, along with a couple of history of technology books.

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#5

Re: Differences Between Engineers and Scientists

11/17/2017 12:34 PM

Condensed down...

Scientist >>> Theoretical development

Engineers >>> Practical one that can take theory and make it into reality as well as developing sensors/proceedures for proving out theory.

and from BestinShow's post....

Petroski has several titles that address the usefulness of failure in learning how to prevent failure, along with a couple of history of technology books.

I have found that ones own best experiences, is ones worse experience. But it may not appear that way at the time.

The book does sounds interesting.

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#6

Re: Differences Between Engineers and Scientists

11/17/2017 2:32 PM

The story goes like this: A scientist and an engineer are each assigned this task. Walk halfway to the opposite wall, and stop. Then repeat from the present position.

Which one arrives at the opposite wall first?

The Engineer eventually makes it there for all practical purposes, while the scientist is still trying to figure out how to keep dividing the distance.

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#8
In reply to #6

Re: Differences Between Engineers and Scientists

11/17/2017 4:03 PM

Something missing? There's no instructions to end up at the opposite wall?

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#7

Re: Differences Between Engineers and Scientists

11/17/2017 3:58 PM

An engineer is paid to fabricate purpose made items.

A scientist is paid to "generate" purpose made information.

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#9

Re: Differences Between Engineers and Scientists

11/17/2017 4:35 PM

A scientist would build a square wave generator using a large number of sine wave oscillators with the right phase and amplitude and sum the outputs to synthesize the waveform. An engineer would just use a 555 timer circuit.

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#10

Re: Differences Between Engineers and Scientists

11/17/2017 11:15 PM

After college I wanted to get into nuclear research, but that didn't work because I became a "glorified stock-boy" handling, among other things uranium and plutonium. I wanted to get back to family in Ohio, and the job that opened up was as a research engineer, but the research petered out and I ended up as a registered engineer--but never worked on a building or bridge. Does that mean they are equivalent? Nope. As a retiree I still have an interest in nuclear stuff, and try-it-and-see-what-happens (research.)

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#11

Re: Differences Between Engineers and Scientists

11/18/2017 9:50 AM

First time in college, I took EE. Second time around, Physics.

My take is the engineer takes what the physicist knows and uses that information. In engineering you are told here is the way it is, now go apply that. In physics, you learn why it is the way it is. Quite an eye opener to see this from both sides. It really helps the engineer to understand why the formulas are as they are, if he takes the last two years of courses one takes for a physics degree. I am ever so glad I took the courses for both degrees.

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#12

Re: Differences Between Engineers and Scientists

11/18/2017 11:45 AM

I think an engineer is the outdoor version of a scientist....Scientists search for new worlds from inside the lab and engineers work on making this world fit the needs of it's inhabitants....

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BestInShow (1); Ivanov327950 (1); James Stewart (1); JE in Chicago (2); Lehman57 (1); lyn (1); phoenix911 (1); Phys (1); Rixter (1); SolarEagle (1); Usbport (1)

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