I am curious to hear what the CD community thinks of the following comment found on slashdot :
It’ll be like that until everyone realize that it takes a scientist to properly control output of other scientists.
I’m an engineer you insensitive clod!
Joking aside, I think it’s important to point out that what we need a lot of are engineers, not scientists. Scientists are wonderful people who advance our knowledge from a 50,000 foot level, and do so for little pay. These guys dream math calculations that make my mind gloss over just thinking about it.
Engineers OTOH, use a combination of scientific research and intuition to develop real and practical devices that advance civilization. Most of these guys are also very smart, but from a far more practical standpoint. Their job is to use all that research done by really smart scientists to exploit the laws of nature for the purpose of creating advanced machines that can do “work”. (In CompSci, that would be a matter of applying the proper data structures and formulas to derive a computational machine that does work.)
The primary difference here is that Scientists tend to do the research because they love it. They have a keen insight into the universe and its working, and generally won’t stop research even if they can’t find funding. In addition, country borders rarely mean anything to their research. They could be American, Russian, Indian, British, French, or whatever. When their research gets published, everyone benefits.
Engineers (being more practical by nature) tend to aim for either the fortune of working for hire, or the fame of engineering some really amazing project. Their focus is to find a way to achieve whatever goals are put in front of them. I could tell some Aerospace engineers that I wanted to colonize Alpha Centauri, and they should be able to tell me how it can be done, how long it will take, what technologies must be developed, and at what cost. The idea that it can’t be done is not the way they think. It’s only about whether someone is willing to fund the project to its needs.
While I’m painting something of a rosy picture here, I do have a point to this rant. The US is losing engineers for various reasons. One reason is lower pay. Another reason is today’s poor education system that often denies potential engineers from becoming such. The most damaging thing, however, is the continuously laxing standards for “engineers”. A construction worker is not an engineer. Neither is a programmer a “software engineer”. Yet kids fresh out of school have scented money, and said “I’ll be an engineer! I’ll cram my way through the schoolwork, then I can stop learning because no one will ever make me prove myself again!” As a result, the signal to noise ratio of engineers is ever dropping.
I’m not sure what the solution is yet, but I do know one thing: we need a different system for separating the wheat from the chaff. Traditional thinking says that School Degree == Knows His Stuff. Yet the reality is that you have a lot of people who go to school, but aren’t really qualified for the job. At the other end of the spectrum, you have a lot of people who’ve made use of today’s information mediums to become qualified without a degree. It’s all a very confused situation.
So, can any real world engineers comment on the last paragraphs? :ahh: