Engineer - So define it!

Discussion in 'Engineers' Talk' started by Charlie Far!ey, Dec 21, 2003.

  1. Dewy

    Dewy New Member

    You only are because CF & SS arent here to keep it going

    ENGINEER Guest

    I agree with bigrob. I, too, think the IMechE is a waste of time and money and are only interested in collecting my membership fees (about £150 a year). Why don't they use the law to protect the term'engineer'?
  3. ows29

    ows29 New Member

    I'm qualified as an electronics engineer but working as a network engineer !!!
  4. married ken

    married ken New Member

    I am an engineer and a scientist (I know this because I spent a lot of time getting qualifications in both). Recently I attended a school science day in a official capacity to show the kids what I do. I saw five different classes that day, and started my talk the same way each time by introducing myself as a scientific engineer. I then asked the kids what they thought a scientist did, this always brought replys like "does experiments" "finds things out" "seeks understanding", then I asked what do engineers do... at least one kid in each class said "fixes cars
  5. dunc

    dunc New Member

    Most dictionaries define engineer as a generic term for anyone who constructs, repairs, maintains or installs mechanical or electrical devices. So sparkies, builders, mechanics etc can all use the term.

    Engineering on the other hand is the discipline of applying mathematical and scientific principles as an integral part of developing something. This is something few people see in the process of happening, as they simply buy a finished product and expect it to work.

    The maths and science are used to design, develop, control and monitor all aspects of the product's completion. It is the language that records and explains the work. The people who do this are top stuff and get my full respect. They really make things work.

    The education process mainly serves to keep the scientific principles alive. Otherwise they would be lost. However colleges and uni's 'qualify' people who can develop unrealistic ideas about themselves. These are often the types who bemoan their lack of recognition and status.

    The true engineering type just simply gets on with the business. They are often given considerable respect, status and protection by those who profit from their skills. Not a bad lot in life if you make top grade.
  6. Charlie Far!ey

    Charlie Far!ey New Member

    Incidentally Beagle has been sighted on Mars and is effectively dead - The question is why is it dead? What more could have been done to save it and what was it that 'killed' it?

    We may never know so to protect the next one will take a global resource and multi disciplined experience from engineers and scientists the world over maybe biomechanical or neural - I watch and wait
  7. doctorcrow

    doctorcrow New Member

    Casey jones was an engineer, shoveled coal and drove a train !
  8. Dewy

    Dewy New Member

    You're showing your age if you remember that old TV series.
    My grandfather told me about it. ;)
  9. big all

    big all Screwfix Select

    cassey jones realing and arolling
    cassey jones on the thunderball express
    cassey jones realing and arolling
    when you hear the whistle blowing
    you know its the cassey express

    or something like that

    big all
  10. bilco

    bilco New Member

    Hi Charlie

    Good to see you back...funny how you can get atached to a cyber bod ;)

    How's the foxes?

    I suspect beagle's demise is down to some small component that nobody really took notice of...a rubber band/paper clip or such.
  11. whoknows

    whoknows New Member

    Hello all,
    I was three years into a Mechanical apprentiship when made redundant and only by luck returned to the industry 6 years later. After many training courses I am now working as fully multi-skilled technician.
    I do agree that the term engineer is over used but should not be only for people with degrees. A true engineer should be able to walk up to somthing that they have never before seen which is not working or be given any problem within their area and come up with a solution or reason. I have met many paper engineers who cannot work outside set parameters or pick up new skills when needed, but these tent to quickly move into middle management and are lost forever. I must say that I have also known some incredibly skilled hands-on people who are terrified of change or learning .

    Although I cannot officially call myself an engineer it doesn't stop me feeling like one.

    Sorry for the rant on my first post, its been a very long day!
  12. Caveman

    Caveman New Member

    Best definition I have heard is that "an Engineer is one who can modify his environment to suit his purposes".

    I think this is a much misused term, especially in the UK - in many places it is used as an honorific in the same way as Doctor or Sir!!
  13. Charlie Far!ey

    Charlie Far!ey New Member

    An engineer is a specialist in their field just like a Doctor can be. A GP will have a broad and often extensive knowledge of all subjects relating to medicine but cannot and is not expected to a specialist in all subject that is when they call the consultants of the specific area of medicine.

    These people have been along the GP route and are well versed but have stopped being General Paractitioners and focused on one aspect say brain surgery and filled themselves up with evry aspect of the brain - How it works what happens if it dont etc etc That is the same as engineering. Only those that dont have academic qualifications dont see the sense in having them cos they couldn't be bothered to undertake the education so as to prove to the ruling bodies of academia that they have the brains to retain it all. Dont knock em reach out and utilise them. They know how it should be through training not by floundering along in a daze til they get it right like many do.

    If a chancer/rivetter calling him/herself an engineer screws up a job its "So What! they couldn't be expected to know how it should have been done". If an engineer screws up it could mean the end of their career.
  14. Lightning McQueen

    Lightning McQueen New Member

    Well said, CF!
  15. whoknows

    whoknows New Member

    This originally started out as people trying to define the term engineer which is a person who is trained in or follows as a profession a branch of engineering. Fair enough that people have decided to take the academic route and specialize in a certain field but this does not make those who have no desire to do this second class citizens. I say again that the term is over used but where would all of us be without those who do all the tasks within engineering that do not take a degree. Well done to those who have studied hard and gained the right to have letters after your name but this does not make you any better than the man who services the pumps that takes the s.h.i.t away from your home. The days of fitters, sparks and instrument techs are mostly long gone from manufacturing with most of us having to carry out tasks ranging from PLC fault finding and programming to project managment and too many others to list. We have to make decisions which impact on an industry which may cost tens of thousands of pounds per minute of lost production or machinery worth millions with our jobs on the line as much as anyone else. We all serve a purpose within this hugely varied industry, I'm sure that even a riveter can be classed as specialized, to learn what to do may take weeks but to become truly skilled may take a lifetime. We must all remember that without people with these type of skills or men such as Brunel we would never have had an industrial revolution and would not be where we are now. The true definition of engineer has nothing to do with academia.
  16. Dewy

    Dewy New Member

    One of the things I K Brunel was known for was always overseeing every stage that he had designed to ensure it was made to his specification. His life was often in danger as a result. He was a TRUE engineer although he didn't have the acedemic qualifications relied on today. His fame started when his father was undertaking a tunnel under the Thames & ill health stopped him. IKB stepped in at 24 & completed the tunnel that is still used today for the underground in London. A number of times the Thames flooded in & drowned many including one occasion when he was in the tunnel & survived by pure luck.
    Many of his projects failed because he was ahead of his time & manufacturing methods weren't good enough. If such a man was alive today Britain would once more be at the forefront.
    Even our clocks are set by his old Great Western Railway time. Until then all time was based on the sun & it was found that Bristol was 11 minutes different to London. Some stations had different clocks showing local time & Railway time. All time zones in the world resulted from the GWR times.
  17. Charlie Far!ey

    Charlie Far!ey New Member

    I read your post with interest whoknows. What you have defined is the difference between a technician and an engineer. Technician have a role to play and are in place to support the broader picture of the process that has been defined by the engineer.

    Look at the structure of the discipline. Architect - He is the one who has a thorough knowledge of the overall project and he in turn decides which engineering disciplines are required to effect that project. The engineer in turn decides what skillsets are required to effect his/her part of the project and they in turn decide which supporting roles, skilled or otherwise they require.

    Imagine building a ship - The architect kows he will need carpenters, electricians, plumbers, pipe fitters and a plethora of rivetters etc etc To maintain a control over it all he would need input from knowledgable sources able to present facts and figures, forecasts and predictions and the like. This role is for the engineer - otherwise he would have hoards of people all shouting how they cant do this cos of that or they are going to run out of rivets by Tuesday. Sounds nonsensical doesnt it?

    The plan is to create something and the information he must control must be accurate, precise and focussed on the objectives as well as getting the work done.

    If snobishness was not an issue then there would not be a problem here but rivetters are not engineers try as they might. A plumber is not an engineer nor either is a carpenter (who rarely argues this issue). An engineer is a defined and clear individual able to understand and manage his/her discipline at all levels and is able to transmit the pertinent facts to a higher body. Not someone who looks away sucks through his teeth and says "thats gonna be expensive". In reality cost is not an issue but a mere factor. Effecting an objective is the issue.

    Stop being snobby and accept that an engineer is someone who is trained as an engineer albeit electrical, structural, mechanical or other not as a plumber who thinks they are entitled to the tag of engineer because companies have used it in their rubbish marketing hype to try and sell their services.
  18. Dewy

    Dewy New Member

    For carpenter read 'timber engineer' rofl
  19. whoknows

    whoknows New Member

    I certainly cannot be snobby on this subject as I am not classed professionally as an engineer, I am a technician and proud of it.
    The point I was arguing is that the word engineer is defined as
    engineer (PERSON)
    1 a person whose job is to design or build machines, engines or electrical equipment, or things such as roads, railways or bridges, using scientific principles:
    a civil engineer
    a mechanical/structural engineer
    a software engineer

    2 a person whose job is to repair or control machines, engines or electrical equipment:

    3 US an engine driver

    This does not state that you have to be professionally qualified but trained or following as a "profession"
    group noun [C]
    1 any type of work which needs special training or a particular skill, often one which is respected because it involves a high level of education

    2 the people who do a type of work, considered as a group:

    I am as I write this at work waiting to put my "engineering" skills to use. Not as a professional engineer but as an engineer in the literal sense.
  20. Charlie Far!ey

    Charlie Far!ey New Member

    The term engineer is one that SHOULD only apply to those that have proved themselves both academically and practically in their profession. However it is used broadly so as to apply to every and anyone in a technical profession with a modicum of background - WRONG. Look at a pilot would you feel safe in a jumbo if the pa announced that your pilot today is a former glider pilot and has no experience in flying this type of aircraft? How about your doctor telling you he feels that you may have a cancer tumour but he's not sure because he has only ever been involved in chiropody up until today?

    It is therefore only reasonable that the clouds be blown away and reality kicks in as to the integrity of the individual - Not what they think they should be but what they actually are. There is no shame in being a technician but if people claim they are engineers then problems can justifiably be presented to them to solve that they could not possibly achieve or worse still achieve badly/dangerously and passed off as work completed by an 'engineer' perhaps to save lives in the future. Why would it need to be checked?

    It is so often quoted that the term engineer applies to all but it is not correct so those rivetters that misuse it are degrading the very essence of the profession. It is not the title but its misuse and its bastardisation that forces the ambiguity of it.

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