Are programmers engineers?

This is a discussion on Are programmers engineers? within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; Remember when some of us were arguing about whether or not programmers were scientists, engineers, or artists? Well, we're not ...

  1. #1
    Senior Member joshdick's Avatar
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    Question Are programmers engineers?

    Remember when some of us were arguing about whether or not programmers were scientists, engineers, or artists? Well, we're not the only ones. Texas state currently prohibits programmers from calling themselves engineers, but there is now a bill hoping to change that.
    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/front/1841652

    What do you think? What makes somebody an engineer? Are programmers engineers? If so, why and are all programmers engineers?

    I'd suggest some solid arguments in this thread. Angry rhetoric rarely wins people over. Someone probably ought to give us their definition of what an engineer is. Truthfully, I don't know what the answer is, so I'd like to hear what you think.
    FAQ

    "The computer programmer is a creator of universes for which he alone is responsible. Universes of virtually unlimited complexity can be created in the form of computer programs." -- Joseph Weizenbaum.

    "If you cannot grok the overall structure of a program while taking a shower, you are not ready to code it." -- Richard Pattis.

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    Mayor of Awesometown Govtcheez's Avatar
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    > Texas state currently prohibits programmers

    Texas seems to be leading the way in stupid laws lately.[/rant]

    I think it depends on what the programmer does. If he's told exactly what to do and how to write the code, he's not really doing anything that special, jsut writing. In that case, I'd say no.

    However, if a programmer is given a loose set of guidelines and told to run with something, designing and everything himself (or in a team), I'd say yes.

    Based on those two defintions (which, of course, aren't really official or anything), I'd say most programmers are engineers.

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    I agree with cheez.

    If someone goes out and designs the program, implements, etc, etc, then I would say they are an engineer. They are engineering solutions. And as long as they are applying engineering to the problem, and how to solve it, then I would classify them as engineers.

    If someone is told step by step how to do something, and all they need to do is code, then no.

    However, the former would be an unofficial title as an engineer, unless the programmer has taken the engineering boards. I believe most states require students to take the boards to become official certified engineer.

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    Mayor of Awesometown Govtcheez's Avatar
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    > I believe most states require students to take the boards to become official certified engineer.

    To become a licensed professional engineer, there're 2 tests you need to take. One is soon after college, the other is about 4 years after it (IIRC). However, you don't need to take these tests to get an engineering job. I do believe there needs to be at least 1 PE at every engineering firm, because they sign off on whatever happens, so they're liable if something goes horribly wrong.

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    Linguistic Engineer... doubleanti's Avatar
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    the difference between programmers and enginneers is that... well... engineers are cool... haha *dodges nuclear missiles*... and gov't, i have a feeling i'll be asking you among others guidance about the path in front of me...

    let's see, i've always connotated enginneers with building and designing devices and concrete doodads (circuits, aircrafts, chemicals, gears, and concrete blocks on the sidewalk as well as where to put them), where as programmers also have an element of design but theirs is software (don't know much about this, contrary to popular believe, something so apparently deterministic and monotonous *dodges missiles* does not appeal to me... i'd rather be tinkering with things)...

    for me, choosing engineering over CS was simple... i merely searched google for engineering jokes, and felt that i more closely would rather be made steriotyped into that than a programmer, haha. no no um, let's see, well yeah the above pretty much summed it up. furthermore, what an enginneer learns in the curriculum can be applied indefinately, whereas software is going to change as it always does. the languages you use will change, E&M and logic gates however, do not!
    hasafraggin shizigishin oppashigger...

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    I always associate engineering with designing, building, controlling and maintaining things using a set of tools which are based on some theory. Engineers apply the theoretical results, knowledge, which computer scientists produce by doing research.

    I often wonder if there is a difference between software engineer and programmer. Perhaps this one: An software engineer is a technician who specifies, designs, implements, tests and maintains software. A programmer is someone who implements, tests and maintains software.

    Just like an electrical engineer designs a circuit and makes a model of it, also a software engineer designs a piece of software and models it to see if every aspect is covered. If the engineering team and customer agree with the model, then implementation can start. During implementation there must validation take place according to test specifications, in case of incremental development. (This is according to the theory (the V-model: http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/g/i/gik103/v.htm) how it should be, often in practice it is a bit different. )

    I noticed that there seem to be lots of types of engineers in software development. There are collegues of mine who are called requirements engineers. Their task is to get all requirements and write a requirements document containing all requirements. Other collegues are called test engineers, they develop test specifications, based on the requirements document, and perform the tests. Such kind of engineers are usually found in larger teams. One can argue if such people should be called engineers or managers. Is a requirements engineer a requirements manager?

    Is engineer an official title in countries where English is the first language? In the Netherlands, also in Belgium and Germany, I know there is an official title called "ingenieur". This title can only be retrieved after finishing a technical university or technical higher education institute.

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    and the Hat of Clumsiness GanglyLamb's Avatar
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    >>Is engineer an official title in countries where English is the first language? In the Netherlands, also in Belgium and Germany, I know there is an official title called "ingenieur". This title can only be retrieved after finishing a technical university or technical higher education institute.

    Its kinda off topic but well. My brother just graduated ( studied in the Netherlands for "Maritiem Officier",in Vlissingen:means he can become a captain on a long term base ) and this studie seems to be the same as some kind of engineering, because right now hes getting post from all kinds of companies looking for engineers.

    So i think the term engineer is becoming a fancy term. Its like ppl who schedule the agenda of their boss used to be called a secretary (however it is in english) and now they have some Elite Name given but they still do the same as be4 :s.

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    Mayor of Awesometown Govtcheez's Avatar
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    Is engineer an official title in countries where English is the first language? In the Netherlands, also in Belgium and Germany, I know there is an official title called "ingenieur". This title can only be retrieved after finishing a technical university or technical higher education institute.
    In the US, it can be if you get your PE license. You'd sign official documents "Blah D. Blah, PE". It's not the same as other countries, though. You wouldn't say "My name is Engineer Jeremy" or anything like that. That sort of naming's usually reserved for doctors, government officials, and military type things.

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    Linguistic Engineer... doubleanti's Avatar
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    yes... but it should be changed! I want that title!!! Hello, I'm Engi doubleanti, haha...
    hasafraggin shizigishin oppashigger...

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    Mayor of Awesometown Govtcheez's Avatar
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    I think if you got a job as a train, you could be referred to as "Engineer Happy", if you're really jonesing for that title.

  11. #11
    RoD
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    i agree with cheez's first post, totally.

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    Originally posted by Govtcheez
    > I believe most states require students to take the boards to become official certified engineer.

    To become a licensed professional engineer, there're 2 tests you need to take. One is soon after college, the other is about 4 years after it (IIRC). However, you don't need to take these tests to get an engineering job. I do believe there needs to be at least 1 PE at every engineering firm, because they sign off on whatever happens, so they're liable if something goes horribly wrong.
    Thanks. I'm learning more and more about this daily. It's good info for the future. For example, I only thought that you had to take the one test soon after college. The second test is news to me. Thanks.

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    Rigsbee said the high-tech problem mostly involves computer programmers whom the industry likes to call computer engineers.
    nooo...it's called software engineering...and besides I doubt software engineers or computer engineers are going to be mending heating pipes anyway...

  14. #14
    Xei
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    Whatever. It's all bull$$$$ anyway. What are they gonna do, fine you for calling yourself an Engineer? Highly unlikely. I wonder whats next... maybe the title: Electronics Engineer has to be earned! Until then they will be formerly known as Lego Assemblers (or something just as gay).

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