Re: "Engineer"

Subject: Re: "Engineer"
From: Kelly Anderson <kellya -at- VIEWSOFT -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 6 May 1998 16:38:48 -0600

At 11:21 AM 5/6/98 -0700, you wrote:
>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."

As a REAL programmer, may I state that our feelings towards engineers are
equally suspect. Real programmers recognize/believe that programming is as
much an of an art form as sculpture. It is really closer to writing than to
engineering, (only the size of the style guide has changed :-)

I feel that engineers who program are as suspect as a programmer that
designs a bridge. Sure, I can look up how to build a bridge in any old
book, but that doesn't mean I can do it like a trained engineer. Yet, when
it comes to code, engineers feel they can sling it with the best
programmers. Humph!

There are a few ivory tower folks out there working on so-called "Computer
Engineering". The folks who develop/use CASE tools and the like. (Not to be
confused with "Computer Engineers" that design hardware and such). They
feel that computer science can be reduced from an art form to a science. To
which I say, overall, good luck. Some aspects of commonly written programs
can be scientifically approached, but not elegant programs.

The difference between a well written program created by a competent
computer scientist and one written by an engineer is elegance. A pure form
of design that approaches beauty. It don't pay the bills, but it keeps high
end programmers coming to work. Engineers should stick to what they are
good at.

Calling programmers engineers is a slap in the face, IMHO. Call us
developers or programmers, but don't call me Susan.

"I'm not really a technical writer, I just play one at work."

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