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Anonymous Poster #1

What Is An Engineer Today

05/08/2012 9:51 AM

I have watched a couple of TV programs lately about technology and the things America produces, they were discussing Google and Facebook. In the discussion they reffered to the number of engineers at the formentioned companies in the engineering department. In this case I would imagine they mean software engineers. While it is a good profession and something I wish I knew more about how to do, I don't know if I consider it engineerig or not. Do you consider this an engineering job? do you call the title software engineers or programmers or something else? Do you consider Google and Facebook to have an engineering department?

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#1

Re: What is an engineer today

05/08/2012 9:59 AM

Sure, everyone is an engineer these days.

The guys who pick up my trash are sanitation engineers (or so I'm told).

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#2

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/08/2012 10:34 AM

en·gi·neer Noun /ˌenjəˈni(ə)r/ Synonyms: verb: plan, design, scheme, project, construct noun: machinist, engine driver, mechanic engineers plural

  1. A person who designs, builds, or maintains engines, machines, or public works
  2. A person qualified in a branch of engineering, esp. as a professional
    • aeronautical engineer
  3. The operator or supervisor of an engine, esp. a railroad locomotive or the engine on an aircraft or ship
  4. A skillful contriver or originator of something
    • the prime engineer of the approach
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#18
In reply to #2

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 5:25 AM

5. An accused in a case who engineered the plot.

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#3

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/08/2012 11:19 AM

Here's what an engineer isn't:

"Can any one provide what's ever info. About designing an emulsion storage silo of 36000 gallon, considering all the features as the insulation and the steel plate thickness, also the mixing unit inside the silo, the pipes diameter, fabrication of all the stuff related to the storing process. As this gona be an evaluation to my engineering skills in my new job, thanks to all."

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/08/2012 12:11 PM

<rantmode>

Or how about:

"I have an 11kW motor. What size supply cable should I use for it?"

Or

"Please tell me about busbar sizing calculations."

Or

"Does anyone know about ABC123?"

</rantmode>

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/08/2012 12:17 PM

I like the ones that ask for instantaneous infusion of 20 years worth of knowledge attained by getting an education and work experience.

Homework???? Don't even go there!

Then there's this, just in: Php Programming This is a great example of "do my work for me".

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/08/2012 12:27 PM

Quite.

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#14
In reply to #4

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 3:49 AM

ABC 123?

ABC
Easy as
one, two, three
Or simple as
Do re mi
ABC, one, two, three, baby, you and me girl!
ABC
Easy as
one, two, three
Or simple as
Do re mi
ABC, one, two, three, baby, you and me!

buh-buh buh boom boom
Del
<exit left moonwalking>...

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#33
In reply to #14

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/11/2012 7:23 AM

<...moonwalking...>

Can a cat do that?

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#7

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/08/2012 12:29 PM

Times change. Titles change. Job descriptions and requirements change.

I think they can have "engineering" departments if they want them. They may be populated with mathematicians and theoretical physicists, but who cares.

I harken back to a time long ago when a congressional committee was discussing what pronography was. One Senator said something to the effect of "I may not know how to define it, but I sure do know it when I see it."

It doesn't take long to spot the "real thing".

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/08/2012 9:48 PM

I saw "pronography" and I honestly didn't think of it as a typo. I waited for the explanation of what it meant, but it didn't come.

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/08/2012 9:57 PM

pronography: The study of the pronunciation of words in different geographical locations...

pronographical engineer; One who innovates linguistic colloquialisms..

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#12
In reply to #8

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 12:33 AM

I didn't come, either! It just wasn't the same....

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#20
In reply to #7

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 7:00 AM

I believe it was Justice Potter Stewart.

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#10

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/08/2012 10:15 PM

Depends on the job description

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#11

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 12:30 AM

An engineer is one who designs and executes systems & projects based on scientific principles coupled with common sense

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#13

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 1:17 AM

Hi AP#1,

This is a controversial topic, to be sure. It's already been said, that the title 'engineer' is flung around so loosely these days, one hardly knows exactly what it means. Still, I personally think it means more than the classic definition, and certainly more than the credential stating so.

It could be spun in many ways, but, for me, an engineer is fundamentally the one with the overall skills to solve a problem, problems which often exceed norm of basic education.

One of my favorite examples regards the Apollo 13 disaster / victory.

One may argue that the fuel cell problem which became the disaster was possibly because of poor engineering, but the victory was indeed because of what I consider the finest engineering, born of desperate pressure, collaborative experience, solid science, and a motivation that would not accept failure. Sort of like the television show CHOPPED on the Food Network, they were given a box of disassociated ingredients, and told to make a CO2 scrubber ... they did. They were given a kW machine and told to find a way to operate it on a D-cell (not literally) ... they did.

In my profession, I am surrounded by "engineers" who are not. They are poorly educated in a limited set of skills, and when normal life poses a problem which exceeds their personal boundaries, they fold ... better said, they give up.

True engineers (IMHO) are (1) well founded in their particular field, educated formally, or by experience, or both; (2) always expanding their horizons, learning outside their field of experience or education as it interests them or may expand their capabilities; and (3) innovative in finding the best solutions, given the time, budget, risk, and ethics of the situation (i.e. don't be analyzing the efficiency of the bucket brigade if the building is on fire).

To answer your specific question, I believe YES, given what I think are the attributes of a true engineer, there are such things as software engineers, versus programmers, the same as there are electronic engineers, versus technicians. There are sanitation engineers, but that differs greatly from the guy who collects the rubbish.

One other point, which is also a valid expression of the term 'engineer', and that embraces the field who combines engineering with another trade, such as Sales Engineer. That, not being an engineer of Sales, but one who is an engineer who takes a Sales position using their engineering expertise in the pursuit of selling.

One final (for now ) point ... it has become popular recently to see the exploits of some who take the 'duct-tape-and-baling-wire' approach to invention. While I said earlier "time and budget", I believe that innovation, albeit a part of the engineering process, should also seek the most elegant solution available within those constraints. If time and budget permit a lavish meal, one shouldn't settle for a bologna sandwich. (your wife doesn't always appreciate your response of "I can fix that" )

Kind regards ...

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#15
In reply to #13

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 4:05 AM

Of course she doesn't always appreciate that response, but she would if the response was "I can fix that now"

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#16

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 4:47 AM

In the beginning of binary logic were the questions, and their answers were 'true' or 'false'. Things have progressed quite dramatically since then....

The proliferation of graduate Electrical engineers deployed in/ opting for software-related design careers has resulted in others writing software using the title....

The term is often used for PLC programmers, where only specific logic/ language is used. One can learn and become proficient in this without qualifying as an engineer.

To answer the question more specifically, yes I do consider that Google must have an engineering department as you describe, although they may not refer to it as an 'engineering dept.' themselves. (I don't know about Facebook).

Perhaps more to the point of conversation/ debate, would be the entire global shipping industry using the the title 'engineer' for their engine-room personnel.

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#17

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 5:15 AM

Same as an engineer was at any time in history.
I don't expect many of us could build an old fashioned windmill very quickly, but we'd soon learn. I don't expect a medieval millwright could use my digital camera or send an E-mail, probably couldn't even read, but given the chance, he'd probably pick it pretty quick.
A neolithic man making a boomerang with stone tools can't analyse it's aerodynamics.
So in my book an engineer is someone who can actually create stuff rather than just talking about it.
Del
(Doesn't even need a time scale, budget, risk assesment, and a certificate from HR saying he's been on an interpersonal skills course).

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#29
In reply to #17

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 9:03 PM

I create a lot of Mayhem does that count?

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#19

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 5:59 AM

A medical doctor is one who posses a degree in medicine. An accountant may have a degree or passed exams conducted by an Institution of Accountants. But in engineering it is not the case,there are engineers with degree,diploma,certificates,passed exams by Professional Institutions,City & Guilds, Employer etc. Some employers promote technicians/supervisors as Engineers even though they don't have any qualifications. Even Sales Engineers are found nowadays. Also Software engineers are there.Drivers of locomotives also called Engineers. I think it is due to the literal meaning of the word-a person who does a job- misleading isn't it?. It is time to organise the profession.

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#21

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 8:00 AM

Hello its from kerala.We do have a saying from our ancestors "pattaril pottan mechanical engineer" Mechanical engineering needs lot of imagination and a real engineer is one who practice with moving parts.

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#25
In reply to #21

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 10:10 AM

Wow - I for one am offended by your last statement. I think that "real engineers" also work on static systems. Consider bridges for example. Hope some "real engineers" who knew what they were doing designed those! I work on both moving and non-moving parts, but consider both to be important!

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#28
In reply to #25

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 12:24 PM

I agree with you. I said about moving parts in general.Literally majority of engineers work on moving parts.

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#34
In reply to #21

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/11/2012 7:27 AM

<...a real engineer is one who practices with moving parts....>

Everyone on the planet does that!

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#22

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 8:47 AM

Don't even get me going on this subject!

In a nutzzzz shell, I believe that Dcad nailed it pretty much, so a GA from me!

Anyhowz, back in the day when I started my formal engineering education in the late 70's the peeps that wrote the software were basically technicians and/or programmers, not ENGINEERS as it was defined in the classical sense. I know that "times are a changing" since then and that roles are developing or even are being redefined, BUT PLEASE EXCUSE ME FOR BEING A PURIST! "Software Engineer" is like calling an EMT a medical professional akin to being a MD, or even a Registered Nurse.....the 2 (EMT vs. MD) are far far far apart in knowledge and capabilities IMO (I'm not dissssssing EMTs here, as they provide a very valuable service).

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#27
In reply to #22

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 11:59 AM

historically, most structural engineers were hired as designers. The other disciplines put their graduate hires into offices, structural were given a drawing board. It was the advent of EEO that the companies were forced to give them the in-house title of Design/Engineer when they lacked the license.

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#23

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 9:15 AM

Isn't this along the lines of "which type of engineer is the best?" Or "_____ engineers aren't real engineers. They only calculate ______ and that's easy." I pick on other engineering disciplines all the time about being my subordinates. It's fun but I also realize that those other disciplines can do things that I can't too so I don't question their legitimacy.

What's the difference in designing an engine or designing software programs to make google or facebook more efficient?

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#24

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 9:28 AM

Back in the 1970's, the air force employed about 20,000 engineers at Wright-Patterson AFB, Systems Command. Most did little more than monitor contractors' efforts. One engineer was a comely female with a psychology degree, promoted by affirmative action to the title of engineer. She was very effective, watching contractors, but she let her title, "engineer", go to her head, and she contrived to build an air-to-ground missile out of inexpensive (a laser guided bomb) and surplus (an old navy rocket motor) parts. Two fired, two targets destroyed. She was soundly reprimanded for thinking outside the box. Did she not realize that she had endangered the $multimillion Laser Maverick missile program?

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#26
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Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/09/2012 10:26 AM

Had a touch of that when working for a manufacturer under government contract. Thinking 'outside the box' was met discipline and a 3-day suspension. It was an unkind but effective awakening into the real world of greed and politics.

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#30

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/10/2012 12:51 AM

how many 1000's of interfaces do you think Googles has running or Yahoo at any one time so their system does not crash under the load of people seeking access.

Designing those boards and being able to expand the system as demand grows takes a lot of planning and engineering.

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#31

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/10/2012 12:53 AM

Oh my Grandfather told me anyone can be an Engineer! Engineers are the ones who take the resouces they are given and make things work . They find a way !

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#32
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Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/10/2012 12:57 AM

with this?

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#35

Re: What Is An Engineer Today

05/11/2012 10:05 AM

Maybe

Engineers design/create/innovate

Technicians troubleshoot/fix

Software engineering begins by debugging (troubleshooting) an empty file; Software Technician?

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