Who is an engineer?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Engineering is one of the most misunderstood word.  Now, lot of IT professionals dream to be a software engineer. Software Engineering is one of the integral subject or module in almost all the academic or professional IT courses. However, even after learning the subject, very few have clear understanding of what is engineering.

As a result of this, there are plenty of engineers who do not know the exact meaning of engineering. That itself reflect the tragedy of technical education in the country. You may have your own idea of the meaning of 'engineering'. So read on and see if you were correct.

If you look at a doctor or accountant, you know exactly what they are supposed to do.  But look at an engineer, what is he suppose to do?

First thing, you should know is that he word 'engineer' is derived from the Latin root ‘ingenium’, meaning "cleverness".  So in ancient time some of the individuals or team of people start doing clever things with the nature and people used to call the engineers. So by root of the name, engineers are people who are suppose to do clever things.

One of the popular definitions of engineer is as follows;

“An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical and practical problems.”

So you can see that there are three key attributes in the definition;
  • Applying scientific knowledge
  • Use of mathematics
  • Ingenuity - Inventive skill or imagination
We can see that engineering is applied science. While science is worrying of establishing scientific phenomena, engineering is all about using the scientific and mathematical or logical knowledge. One of the key attribute of engineering is ingenuity.  That is why some consider engineering as a form of art because of emphasis on inventive skill or imagination.

The key tasks of engineering are Ananalysis and Design. Mathematics and logical thinking plays key supportive role in those two tasks together with inventive skills.

So if you are interested in engineering, I hope you get a clear understanding of what engineering and what engineers are suppose to do in the society. In the next post we will discuss more on variations and features of engineering discipline.

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