programmers: stop calling yourselves engineers

December 01, 2020 | mins read

I think the author simply has no idea what either field entails, and has proved me now to denigrate the worth of an English major's career. In Ohio, a Professional Engineer is defined as http://www.peps.ohio.gov/4733/473301.aspx Restrictions are outlined at http://www.peps.ohio.gov/4733/4733021.aspx Note the exception for train engineers. I think that programmers and software companies will eventually be held accountable for quality. Is an employee at McDonalds a chef? I don't see it as a demotion. That settlement doesn't include the ~$3bn that Toyota spent in recalls, probes, and redesigning the gas pedal[4]. I refuse to oblige this clickbait. No. If you’re running a prepaid meter, then running out of credit will cause your supply to cut off and your boiler to stop working. Btw. In the Silicon Valley technology scene, it’s common to use the bare term “engineer” to describe technical workers. Books; Writing; Games; Projects; About; Originally published at The Atlantic. How are they a different bunch than a 'software engineer'? If there are Software Architects they are very senior and experienced and hired into a position that asked for a Software Architect. Licensed or not that doesn't matter one bit. I agree that, in general, software should be of higher quality, but compared to mechanical, electrical, and civil engineering, software is still very young. I have not had the operation yet but, you should not discriminate against me. Seriously though, there are so many kinds of engineering: And in both fields, some professionals are trained, but many are self-taught, and neither skills nor ethics are uniformly incorporated into all practitioners' work. GVU Center. Witch was fine when there was lots of overlap. It's just that there are certain niches for professional behavior and those niches have evolved a process to prevent those without appropriate qualifications from marketing themselves using those names. Mechanical engineer. 1742 days ago. > The only way to make this (frankly uninteresting) argument end is to either hold programmers accountable for quality, or stop holding engineers accountable for quality. True, but I bet most people pasting snippets of jQuery into Wordpress would be equally surprised if you called them engineers. Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts Savant Building 631 Cherry Street NW, 1st Floor, Atlanta, Georgia 30332-0525. It undermines a long tradition of designing and building infrastructure in the public interest. The difference between software and physical objects is that the resource cost of producing software is zero so the difference between implementation and simulation is often non-existent. Alas, society can't call us programmers engineers simply because "our job is difficult from a technical perspective". As any engineer could have told you. The headline is so blatantly (click me! Engineering is a licensed, publicly regulated profession in many jurisdictions, but even if you don't intend to get licensed (not necessary for most disciplines), engineering students also follow a shared core curriculum which usually includes math up through ordinary differential equations, statics, mechanics of materials, and breadth courses covering general engineering practice. If your program runs on a FPGA, is that engineering or software development? All of which are tradeoffs, which means there needs not be a single set-point that is ideal across all fields of engineering. I’m commiserating with a friend who recently left the technology industry to return to entertainment. This is probably the result of corporate influence. It's a particularly vicious kind of law and order conservatism, to invent the punishment before one invents the law. This is one of those flame wars that never seems to die down. Rather, I'd be interested to read a thoughtful article about _why_ low-quality software remains prevalent. (If you miss your appointment, or call to cancel or reschedule on the day or day before your appointment, you may be charged £25 on your next bill.) https://www.theatlantic.com | Created with Linqable. Building a rocket is difficult from a technical perspective. Are those engineers? Elanor Posts: 13,286. In many cases, quality is sacrificed in favor of speed-of-development. I think you're right that the essential difference is complexity, and I am taking a "from the top" view. That does not take away from the fact that software engineers solve difficult technical problems, which I believe is the essence of engineering. ABET-accredited BSCS programs are practically that already, but most CS programs don't give a crap about ABET. I completely agree with your assessment, except that I don't see CS as being B. They have existed for decades under that name. As User-13784237498326992483 points out, the question presumes universal and immutable definitions of the words "engineer" and "engineering," and I think both he and I would argue that this presumption is ill-founded. Second, Let me clarify that the word engineer is more a verb than a noun. I agree with you that the key is culture. The liability aspect shouldn't be the key differentiator. You used to be able to, although your apprenticeship was considerably longer. That's not the case in the work that I do. They'd be hard-pressed to make anything even close to some Chinese knock-off of a tech product if it came down to the wire. Programmers: Stop Calling Yourselves Engineers (theatlantic.com) submitted 3 years ago by vaesh. I might not want to update my package, but what if a major vulnerability is disclosed and patched? San Antonio, Texas The title is a byproduct. Sound engineers? It is like calling CAD drafter, a CAD engineer for all of those times he sweats away on enormous drawings. since mostly the newer generation with these titles knowing less and less. However, firms operating under a Certificate of Authority do not require a specific engineer to 'stamp the drawings'; the firm itself can do so. 13/12/10 - 19:54 #6. Look at the recent car hacking stories, or the Ars Technica coverage of IoT security, which got picked up by NPR among others. It's all well and good for Hacker News entrepreneurs to blather about egalitarianism, but the primary difference between an 'engineer' (a person with a Professional Engineering certification) and an 'engineer' (a person who touches a computer for money) is that one group is held responsible for their work, including explicit ethics standards, a governing body with certification-revocation powers, and a legal framework for enforcement of quality. So the real cause of higher pay is the geographic location and the company. I've felt a significant shift in managing websites over the past year due to security. There are also, broadly speaking, liability ramifications for the people in all of those occupations. Moreover, there are a number of highly complicated back end systems for things such as automatically scaling infrastructure to meet demand, pipelines for collecting and analyzing logs and data, and storing and retrieving data in an efficient way (in some cases, sub-millisecond analysis over billions of rows). A lot of certified engineers do nothing more than simple paper pushing, should we start flooding medium with articles about that as well? I know not every API and package does this, but it seems like many do. The guy who repairs trains is also an engineer. I’ve been both, and here’s how I make the distinction. The problem is that the work "Engineer" means both a degree and profession at the same time. Rockets are not concerned with human behavior. IMO, that is not engineering. Therefore - I'm an engineer - I build buildings (websites) that allow people to do things - be it educational or informational or to sell stuff. Genetic engineer Use SpreadsheetGear to enable users to visualize data with comprehensive Excel-compatible charting, which makes creating, modifying, rendering and interacting with complex charts easier than ever before. A great example of what computer "Engineering" can look like is the On-Board Shuttle Group (Lockheed/NASA). A lot of 'cheap' techies are making way more money than officiated engineers, By PE I mean: http://www.nspe.org/resources/licensure/what-pe. I don't get the feeling that there practices and processes that everyone writing software agrees are the absolute right way to do things. Traditional engineers are regulated, certified, and subject to apprenticeship and continuing education. Instead of days to apply open source community patches, I only have hours, or maybe minutes. So does the lawyer.". So many words written protesting a natural evolution of language. That they exist is undeniable. And depending on the patch, it might not even be possible to maintain complete compatibility with old APIs. But first, there needs to be some strong consensus around how to measure and test for software quality. Silicon Valley also has a higher standard of living and pays more. I'm not unsympathetic to the authors views on the lack of certification, and due to fast feedback loops software engineering is very different to traditional engineering fields but there's a. These are not issues that most startups face. In my experience, "engineer" conjures the image of a bore who It never needs to be re-booted. The issue of what to call yourself is definitely an ongoing debate within software and computing. I mean, a datasheet describes a physical thing that doesn't change, right? Assistant Web Manager. It describes an action, not a person. Is the distinction the person writing the software? In journalism as well as software, the garbage seems to far outweigh the good stuff (by volume). What do Voyager, Hong Kong's subway, and Google's cars have in common? You can use the term engineer as long as you don't confuse anybody into thinking you are a real engineer, i.e. The way I think it should end is for software engineering to be separated from computer science at the university level. Counter-point: until my country adopted the BA/MA system, the typical outcome of studying computer science would be a degree that literally contains the word "engineer". > I can't answer this question, because "components" is too vague a word. I think the real cut is not responsibility per se. Many engineers with the approved title 'professional engineer' do not build anything at all. One way to change that environment to encourage more rigor is to change the culture of the field, which IMHO can be helped by calling it "Engineering" and pushing it more towards so, rather than modeling the culture around eg flaky webcrapps. This is similar to the fact that you can't call yourself a Lawyer or a Medical Doctor unless you have the appropriate certification. I've worked with software developers in tech companies that plan and fine-tune code and data formats based on metrics like memory use and performance -- exactly the calculations you claim aren't involved in software. Electrical engineering at least has a few hundreds years of electricity physics experiments and theory behind it. A bridge that falls down is useless. Where I come from (Germany), you're not allowed to do car paint jobs unless you're a certified varnisher. Until then, you're using one word to refer to two groups of people with wildly different work requirements, and there will always be people complaining about that. There is just sweat. We were just talking about how those can be just as bad as software (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=10508494). The ignition lead is vital for your boiler to ignite. Hong Kong's subway system transports over 5,000,000 (5 million) people every day and boasts a 99% on-time rating [2]. The hard part about software engineering is designing for flexibility -- it's ridiculously easy to build software that never changes. I can agree in principle. Best Practice Software Engineering - The Project A lot of job titles have similar restrictions. That's not at all what is meant. No true Scotsman, much? This makes sense because trains, planes, and automobiles can't easily be fixed if something goes wrong. They are all powered by software. Most engineers don't do much engineering in their actual job. "Software architect" and "software engineer" won't confuse anyone looking for an actual architect or any of the other various flavours of engineers. GET DIRECTIONS, The Five Most Disruptive Innovations at CES 2016, Defense Health Agency – Medical Q-Coded Services (MQS), The Real Reason Silicon Valley Coders Write Bad Software, The Myth of the Science and Engineering Shortage. I wouldn't call myself an engineer, however I know some Developers who _ARE_ Bachelor of Engineering or even Masters. We have certifications in different parts of tech that are not exactly the best indicators of knowledge / skill either (see: MCSE, RHCE, CCNA, CCIE, Java certifications...) so one of the distinguishing factors I see is not a level of formalization / standards but the adherence to standards as. I've actually been really enjoying work recently because I've spent the last 2 weeks mainly just programming and its been a lovely change. One of our guys with the same level of experience as everyone else couldn't be bothered with scripting all of his database schema changes (which was a boring and tedious task because of how we managed changes at the time, and he didn't bother to keep track of them as he made them) because he was an "Architecture guy". ... i completely understand the argument being made but it can be made across the board - Is a parent that home schools their kids a teacher? Sanitation engineers? Updating a bridge is logistically difficult. There are legal consequences for claiming that you are an engineer when you are not. Commercial applications meant to service ordinary people, from inventory control to airline reservations to banking, needed to be reliable. Do not call a heating engineer, call an electrician. I meant literal electronic and mechanical components. > done by programmers who listen to a manager grunt. They seem to do it to distinguish themselves from the rest of the less gifted masses. None of the engineers who actually did the work need to be licensed, but they are still engineers. “I’m not a programmer,” he begins, explaining some of the frustrations of his former workplace, before correcting himself, “—oh, engineer, in tech-bro speak. We solve problems that are important to us. There will be bumps in the road. The title “engineer” is cheapened by the tech industry. Daily News - Programmers: stop calling yourselves engineers Friday, November 06, 2015: View online: Tips? It sounds to me like you've never actually worked in software engineering. But programmers are not engineers! Where I come from (Canada), you can't call yourself an Engineer unless you are certified as a Professional Engineer by the appropriate licensing body. Lists of components are like package repositories. But then consider how often your late-model car fails to start inexplicably or your office elevator traps you inside its shaft. My understanding is that electrical engineers come out of school, and often go right to work professionally. Programmers: Stop Calling Yourselves Engineers It undermines a long tradition of designing and building infrastructure in the public interest. An unlicensed engineer is not allowed to identify as the engineer-of-record for contractual purposes; that is, they can no longer 'stamp the drawings.' You could be talking about software components, or mechanical components, or financial instruments... sorry, I just don't know what you're getting at here. On the web, you must account for the knowledge and experiences of every individual using your product. The author of the article seems to be willfully ignorant of the fact that some words have more than one meaning. What is the equivalant of logarithmic tables and books of standardized information on materials? So does the lawyer. Google's autonomous cars have driven themselves over 1,250,000 miles since 2009 [3]. What is the equivalent of Newton's Laws, for software? Whereas graduates of computer science or software engineering college programs sort of famously are usually bad at building "real software" until they've served an apprenticeship of some kind. Job titles are a cultural thing and mostly cosmetic. In my experience, "engineer" conjures the image of a … Really though... who cares? I too am a Civil Engineer. The term is probably a shortening of “software engineer,” but its use betrays a secret: “Engineer” is an aspirational title in software development. It is perfect, as perfect as human beings have achieved. I think about the implications of security when it comes to APIs and packages. 3 years later Lockheed/NASA's "perfect" software led to the Mars Climate Orbiter's failure, right? There are people who engineer physical things that do not require certifications, governing bodies, etc. This is absurd. How are they a different bunch than a 'software engineer'? by Ian Bogost Nov 5, 2015 10 minutes That's the standard you need to compare "software engineers" to. I have a lot of friends who have passed their fundamentals exam (FE) and are on their way to become 'professional' engineers and I can guarantee you many accredited professional engineers do work that I would have a harder time calling engineering than a front end dev creating HTML files. I darted my work life as a civil engineer, mostly designing structural steel buildings. If I understand the gist of it, we can't call ourselves engineers because true "engineers" are blessed from on high by some self-ordained group, and given special rings while reciting a poem during a ritual? Sure, but they still start off slowly and work under someone more senior. I believe there _is_ a legitimate issue around the quality of software. In Germany for example, "doctor" simply implies a PhD/MD or similar (and in fact calling yourself one without a matching degree would be criminally fraudulent) -- although that seems to be changing thanks to the influence of American media and less emphasis on titles (and likely not least because of a large number of politicians having been revealed to have cheated to get their degrees). As for non-degreed programmers, other engineering fields already have established practices for advancing a non-degreed technician to full engineer and those can be adapted to this field. On the way "up from the bottom," each time the complexity gets to be too much, we have to invent new mental tools to manage the system at a new level of abstraction. Mech.Es design mundane shit all the time. Liability for damages seems a start, though as I have said repeatedly I think it should rest first with whoever deployed the software in question. Turns out those things have nothing to do with the concept of engineering itself, but rather with the kind of legal framework that is appropriate in some businesses that carry a high risk of personal damage to others, and/or with the desire and ability of certain groups to control access to a profession. The few humans who will be interacting with the rocket are highly technical and have been through months or years of preparation. I'm not at all sure the existence of engineering societies and licensing is the litmus test. If you take software engineering as being fundamentally about managing complexity (and therefore imply that it couldn't really get started until we had horsepower to waste), then I'd call that viewpoint "from the top" in a sense. Software engineer clearly fits. This is a silly argument, but I feel compelled to participate. But I suppose this is because most defense contracts are regulated based around political and social requirements (see: the advantages for being a disadvantaged minority in getting a defense contract, plus Veteran's preferences) rather than actual functional requirements. 0. camer Posts: 5,237. Engineer started as a word meaning one who is skilled in the design, construction, or use of, surprise, engines. Just like people make money building apps. However, I see quality output as a false dichotomy (rather, negative correlation) with bureaucracy / regulation of an industry's workers - look at the horrendous crap being produced for the Pentagon. Seriously though, Software Engineers will maintain the status of engineers whether they like it or not. We have progressed to the point where lots of products cannot be made without some level of computing. If you have ever dealt with actual architects it should be obvious there isn't anything prestigious about architecture. Forum Member. Otherwise, doctors are engineers, athletes are engineers, and suddenly the term "engineer" doesn't mean anything anymore.

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