Re: "Engineer"

Subject: Re: "Engineer"
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 13:48:25 -0500

I've noted the cross-over in the past few years. A good many younger
engineers do, indeed, seem to be part-time programmers. I think it's because
many engineering curricula today emphasize computer modeling of engineering
problems, rather than the dirty-hands approach that used to be common. It's
evident in some of their projects too, where they can rotate the whole
universe in wireframe but can't make a hose clamp that won't leak.

We're not the first to notice this effect. Other commentators have bemoaned
the fact that older engineers came from a childhood of tearing down tractor
engines, while modern ones grow up playing video games. But I've also noted
that the young, computer-oriented engineers still think of full-time
programmers as the REAL geeks.

It impacts on us, too, when we're doing service manuals. Many older
engineers would hunker down in old clothes right alongside us, ripping down
a prototype to see how things most easily came apart. Lots of the younger
ones are confident, but lost when the real world doesn't behave like the
tidy finite analysis said it should.

>Let's try a new topic.
>One of my minor pet peeves is that, in today's society, "engineer" seems
>to mean "programmer." Does any one have any thoughts as to why that is?
>I have done the vast majority of my technical writing in organizations
>where the SMEs were Mechanical, Chemical, Electrical, or Civil
>Engineers. These guys considered programmers to be demented
>Before the fires and flame get started, let me disavow any agreement
>with that opinion. I'm just reporting. "Just the facts Ma'am."
Tim Altom
Simply Written, Inc.
Creators of the Clustar Method for task-based documentation

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