what constitues an engineer?

Discussion in 'Community' started by jefhatfield, Mar 25, 2004.

  1. jefhatfield Retired


    Jul 9, 2000
    math, physics, chemistry, traditional engineering, and a good array of liberal arts makes up the education of an engineer and usually the education is at least four years in college

    chemical engineer, electronic engineer, electrical engineer, metallurgical engineer, civil engineer, mechanical engineer, and environmental engineers are all traditional examples of engineers

    but what about software engineering? network engineering? my friend's alma maters, MIT and Stanford, will not officially recognize these newer, and often well paying, forms of "engineering" to call themselves engineers...many schools require less of the traditional hard sciences as prereqs for these two new forms of engineering and this makes the traditional engineers uneasy


    btw...i am a newtwork engineer and i have taken software engineering classes
  2. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040


    Sep 13, 2003
    Its not so much where you are as when you are.
    PE certification :)

    The realization that if a bigger hammer isn't the solution then you are beating on the wrong thing.
  3. miloblithe macrumors 68020


    Nov 14, 2003
    Washington, DC
    My experience at Carnegie Mellon was that the "good array of liberal arts" was one English and one "other" class, in four years, that engineers just wanted to get D's in and move on to their "real" classes.
  4. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040


    Sep 13, 2003
    Its not so much where you are as when you are.
    I loved my philosophy classes there. Prof Bicheri was hot, a bit zoftig but still hot. And she called Ronald Reagan a classic liberal.

    The compulsory writing class was a joke. I wrote better than the TA.

    DecProAmPolIns was also fun but I'm a wonk.
  5. mactastic macrumors 68040


    Apr 24, 2003
    What constitutes an engineer?

    When you go to work, do you drive a train? ;)
  6. phonemonkey macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2004
    Drivin that train....
  7. Opteron macrumors 6502

    Feb 10, 2004
    South Australia
    An accredeted Engineering degree.

    4 years long, (3 year engineering science degrees don't count as they miss out all the maths and mechnics)

    I'm doing mining Eng. and loving every minute.
  8. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Los Angeles
    As a computer scientist, I'm not considered an engineer where it counts - by my auto insurance company. For some reason, they give a discount to people with an "engineering degree", but my field of study doesn't count.

    Do people with engineering degrees file fewer auto insurance claims??
  9. KC9AIC macrumors 6502


    Jan 31, 2004
    Tokyo, Japan or Longview, Texas
    You know you're an engineer when you use a CAD package to design your son's Pine Wood Derby car. (from this website.)
  10. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    A chance at passing the first part would most likely qualify you for the title "engineer," and drop a huge liability anchor around your neck -- along with the pay raise.

    Don't think many network engineers would stand a chance of passing that.

    Though I think many redneck engineers would be able to accomplish the second half of your answer after several beers, though it's doubtful you'd want them designing a bridge or airbag on your car.
  11. MongoTheGeek macrumors 68040


    Sep 13, 2003
    Its not so much where you are as when you are.
    I personally have EIT(Engineer In Training (now called FE)) certification. The EIT was the most mentally grueling 8 hours of my life.

    You need to have EIT for 4 years and work under the tutelage of 2 PE's before you can even apply for the test. Unfortunately I don't work for PE's so I will never be one myself.

    The liability issue is only on things that you sign off on as an engineer. Engineers like notaries get these seals that they can apply to documents saying its right.
  12. jeffy.dee-lux macrumors 6502a

    Nov 19, 2003
    you know you're an engineer when you use 'pro-engineer' to make a 3d model of Strongbad!

    hahaha, "for educational use only", i sure know how to make good use of school resources...

    Attached Files:

  13. frankzeg macrumors member

    Sep 14, 2003
    Actually there are many engineers who do not do the PE thing and still sign off drawings. You can be held personally responsible if things go awry if your sig is on the drawing- gives one pause- in a GOOD way. In this increasingly sophisticated world it it highly likely that any drawing of significant complexity will have at least a half a dozen engineering signatures. SPecifications for complex devices can have 20+ engineering disciplines represented on that sig page. The PE was really intended to service the building community where design practices are highly codified. In my industry you might have three different structural analysts with different focuses to address a tricky part.
    The software folks where I work are considered engineers in every sense of the word.
  14. kiwi_the_iwik macrumors 65816


    Oct 30, 2001
    London, UK
    What constitutes an engineer?

    Well, at my University, we (yes - I did engineering until my liver failed!!!) had to be able to drink like fish.

    It's tradition, apparently.

    :rolleyes: :p
  15. blueflame macrumors 6502a


    Apr 3, 2003
    Studio City

    WPI all the way!
    Theta Chi

  16. Rend It macrumors 6502

    Oct 27, 2003
    United States
    As an undergrad, I pursued (and eventually recieved) an electrical engineering degree. During that time, however, my eyes were opened by one of the Physics faculty, and I am now in the middle of a PhD program in Physics. It's hard to classify what constitutes an engineer, chemist, or other scientist, because so much of modern education, and actual professions, are notoriously interdisciplinary.

    Having said that, I think an engineer (chemical, structural, software, or otherwise) is someone who takes a given set of knowledge, or fundamental understanding, and APPLIES it to solve a problem. The problem may require elements of creative design, analytical capabilities, and/or a clever awareness of the issues at hand (this last thing is like common sense, and isn't really available in any formal course).

    That is in contrast to, say, a physicist, who is instead trying to refine or add to the knowledge base. But again, there are some physicists who spend most of their time applying what they know to solve problems (like trying to develop a more efficient solar cell). However, a word of caution: As mentioned earlier, many modern engineering degrees have been stripped of core sciences and liberal arts. This is an attempt on ABET's part to make engineering degrees true 4-year degrees (10 years ago, it was well-understood that an engineering degree meant at least 5 years of your time). This will get you out faster, but the less you understand the fundamentals (chemistry, physics), the harder it will be to adapt to new things as technology advances. To use software as an analogy, engineers learn about the world at the level of C++, while physicists (and sometimes chemists and molecular biologists) learn about things at the transistor level.

    There's a long way to go from C++ down to knowing which transistor configuration yields an NOR gate. Plus, what happens when the age of quantum computing starts to pick up? Hopefully, someone will have written a very good compiler. So, whatever (science or technology) degree you choose, make sure to pick up physics at least to the Modern Physics level, and don't forget Chem's 1&2, as well as some introductory biology. And those liberal arts courses go a long way toward making you a well-rounded person.

    Rend It

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