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Software Engineer and Programmer definitions (was Software Engineer : salary expectations)

 
 
Rats
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      09-12-2003
This could form an interesting discussion.

I pose to you these questions:

1) Is a nurse a doctor?
2) Is an accounts clerk an accountant?
3) Is a legal aid a laywer?

Hence a programmer is not an engineer. A programmer is essentially a person
that cuts code after the design is done by the engineers ... a bit like a
mechanic that builds the car after its been designed.

To be an Engineer you need to have an engineering degree just like you need
a degree in medicine to be a doctor, a degree in law to be a lawer and a
degree in commerce to be an accountant.


 
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Rats
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      09-12-2003
Rats wrote:
> Hence a programmer is not an engineer. A programmer is essentially a
> person that cuts code after the design is done by the engineers ... a
> bit like a mechanic that builds the car after its been designed.


A more appropriate term for a programmer that does some design work is a
Developer.


 
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Rats
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      09-12-2003
Evil Bastard wrote:
> Then perhaps you could explain to me why, in the *real* *world*
> *workplace*, there is far less correlation between education and
> competence than one would expect (hope?).
>
> I worked with a lot of people with Ph.D.s, M.E.s etc who were
> hopeless.
> Lots of B.E. and B.E.(Hons) who were mediocre. And a whole bunch of
> CS1 dropouts who could whip the asses off all the degreed folks, not
> only in 'programming' but right down to the metal.
>
> One of the best engineers I knew had not even finished primary school.
>
> The IT industry is one where years of kissing academic ass is no
> guarantee of a sustained meal ticket. What matters is:
>
> * brains
> * tenacity
> * openness and willingness to learn at speed
> * curiosity
> * focus
> * creativity/innovation
> * work ethic
> * assertiveness
> * diplomacy
> * team skills
> * integrity
> * sense of humour
> * courage
> * attention to detail
> * ability to balance time/quality constraints
>
> These wonderful human qualities are not necessarily acquired in
> academic education.
>
> And in answer to the 'programmer' versus 'software engineer' question
> -
> one could define a 'software engineer' as one who is willing and able
> to learn and do - at speed - all it takes to get a given chunk of
> software working as it should - even if it means chasing signals
> around with a CRO, diagnosing compiler/linker bugs and sending in
> patches, hacking device drivers into working rather than complaining
> that they don't, and when all else fails, pulling out the soldering
> iron.


Let me guess. You don't have a degree.


 
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Rob King
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      09-12-2003
> > one could define a 'software engineer' as one who is willing and able
> > to learn and do - at speed - all it takes to get a given chunk of
> > software working as it should - even if it means chasing signals
> > around with a CRO, diagnosing compiler/linker bugs and sending in
> > patches, hacking device drivers into working rather than complaining
> > that they don't, and when all else fails, pulling out the soldering
> > iron.

>
> Let me guess. You don't have a degree.


How do you make a BA's car go faster? Take the phone off the roof.



 
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Evil Bastard
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      09-12-2003
On Fri, 12 Sep 2003 13:51:46 +1200, Rats wrote:

> Let me guess. You don't have a degree.


Let me guess. You do have a degree, possibly a significant student debt,
and would love nothing more than the IT industry becoming a closed shop
that shuts out the non-degreed, or at least permanently consigns them to
junior positions and lower salary, regardless of their talents,
experience, capabilities and character.

Anyway, you didn't answer a single point I made.

EB

 
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N Lawton
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      09-12-2003

"Rats" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote in message
news:bjrl2u$mjofp$(E-Mail Removed)-berlin.de...
> Evil Bastard wrote:
> > Let me guess. You do have a degree,

>
> That is correct. I am a REAL Engineer. I have Engineering Qualifications.
>
> possibly a significant student
> > debt,

>
> I am debt free. My personal value would probably blow you away. Probably

....
>


Well that ought to have him F*&^&$ - probably...

Seeing as you raise it in support of your assertion, please do tell so that
we may all see the difference between a humble programmer and a REAL
engineer.


 
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Evil Bastard
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      09-12-2003
On Fri, 12 Sep 2003 17:20:32 +1200, Rats wrote:

> I am debt free. My personal value would probably blow you away. Probably ...


What kind of 'personal value' are you referring to? Financial net worth?

> I am merely making a point of who is entitled to call
> him/herself an Engineer. I wouldn't call myself an Accountant, Doctor or a
> Laywer simply because I am not qualified to be one. So why should someone
> call themselves an Engineer when they are not qualified to be one!


Did you get your first **** at the university graduation party or
something? You've got such an anal attachment to the purported 'value' of
bits of paper and letters after the name.

There are some values to formal education - not only the knowledge
imparted, but also the challenges of being driven to accomplish tasks
which one may not normally be inclined to accomplish. So yes, one bearing
The Holy Engineering Degree is more likely to be competent in an
engineering context than a randomly selected person off the street.

> That is correct. I am a REAL Engineer. I have Engineering
> Qualifications.


Getting a bit circular here.

I'll offer a definition of a 'REAL (software) Engineer'...

It's 11 pm, and you're enjoying a lovely Friday night meal with your
partner. Your cellphone goes off, and it's a panicked shift manager at the
Acme Manufacturing Plant - the whole process control system has gone down,
it's not your area, but he hasn't been able to raise anyone else.

You drop everything and cab it onsite. You didn't even work on that
project, but there's no-one else available. You eye off rows of cabinets
of racks of cards and almost **** yourself. But you tell the shift
manager you'll see what you can do.

You pillage the offices in search of manuals and site documentation. You
ring their USA head office and get an admin password. You
'grep' and 'find' your way through all the mounted volumes in search of
source code, and so the quest begins.

At 2:20 AM, stepping through the machine code generated by the compiler,
you find some 6-month old code causing an obscure buffer overrun that's
been creaming the stack, but which didn't happen using an earlier version
of the compiler. You set about rewriting the routine and re-linking it in
all the affected modules, and downloading it to the racks.

At 4:45 AM, you say to the shift manager, "Try it now!" Cabinets turn into
a christmas tree of green lights, as the modules pass their diagnostics
and launch into life.

Now *that's* a real engineer, paper qualifications or not.

>> Anyway, you didn't answer a single point I made.

>
> The points you made were irrelevant to this topic.


Wrong.

 
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Peter
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      09-12-2003
this quote is from Evil Bastard of Fri, 12 Sep 2003 13:43 :
> On Fri, 12 Sep 2003 12:16:40 +1200, Rats wrote:
>> To be an Engineer you need to have an engineering degree just like you
>> need a degree in medicine to be a doctor, a degree in law to be a lawer
>> and a degree in commerce to be an accountant.

>
> Then perhaps you could explain to me why, in the *real* *world*
> *workplace*, there is far less correlation between education and
> competence than one would expect (hope?).


The OP is correct. Like the other professions cited, one needs
qualifications and experience to be an engineer. Whether you make the
grade or not is decided by your peers (ie other engineers, lawyers, etc).

As for correlation, I have worked with a great many technical people, (from
trade quals, tech diplomas to degrees) over 3 decades and across many
disciplines (electrical, mechanical, civil, chemical, ...). In my
experience, there is definitely a strong correlation between qualifications
and competence.
IT is a special case, because it is so new, and people who spent their time
in the field can gain skills matching those from university. But, given a
few years, this discipline will mature, too, and the knowledge and insight
gained from formal education will exceed that possible from first hand
experience. Of course, practical experience is still essential, it's just
that it is so much more powerful when backed up with theoretical knowhow.

> What matters is:
> * brains
> * tenacity
> * openness and willingness to learn at speed
> * curiosity
> * focus
> * creativity/innovation
> * work ethic
> * assertiveness
> * diplomacy
> * team skills
> * integrity
> * sense of humour
> * courage
> * attention to detail
> * ability to balance time/quality constraints
>
> These wonderful human qualities are not necessarily acquired in academic
> education.


Quite right. These traits matter, and you don't get them from schoolbooks.
However, people of intelligence and energy tend to be the ones who get
themselves a good education and this normally means a degree. People who
lack the traits you list either don't try for a degree, or they fail in the
attempt.
Thus, selecting someone with a degree is a good way of getting someone with
at least some of those desirable traits, even if the degree itself is
totally irrelevant to the job.


Peter

 
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Murray Symon
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      09-12-2003
On Fri, 12 Sep 2003 12:16:40 +1200, Rats wrote:

> This could form an interesting discussion.
>
> I pose to you these questions:
>
> 1) Is a nurse a doctor?
> 2) Is an accounts clerk an accountant? 3) Is a legal aid a laywer?
>
> Hence a programmer is not an engineer. A programmer is essentially a
> person that cuts code after the design is done by the engineers ... a bit
> like a mechanic that builds the car after its been designed.
>
> To be an Engineer you need to have an engineering degree just like you
> need a degree in medicine to be a doctor, a degree in law to be a lawer
> and a degree in commerce to be an accountant.


To be an engineer you need to drive a train!

--
Murray
 
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Murray Symon
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      09-12-2003
On Fri, 12 Sep 2003 17:20:32 +1200, Rats wrote:

[snip]

> I never said that. I am merely making a point of who is entitled to call
> him/herself an Engineer. I wouldn't call myself an Accountant, Doctor or a
> Laywer simply because I am not qualified to be one. So why should someone
> call themselves an Engineer when they are not qualified to be one!
>
>> Anyway, you didn't answer a single point I made.

>
> The points you made were irrelevant to this topic.



Merriam-Webster dictionary has the following definitions of engineer:

1. a member of a military group devoted to engineering work
2. obsolete : a crafty schemer : PLOTTER
3a. a designer or builder of engines
3b. a person who is trained in or follows as a profession a branch
of engineering.
3c. a person who carries through an enterprise by skillful or artful
contrivance
4. a person who runs or supervises an engine or an apparatus

You really are just playing with semantics.
Some countries do have laws that restrict the use of the title
"engineer" to members of designated professional organizations,
though. I think Canada is one.

btw - do professional architects get upset about "software
architects? I honestly don't know. I have seen the word
"architecting" used in Computerworld lately, with respect to
software development. Maybe that's better than just plain
old engineering?

--
Murray
(analyst/programmer)
 
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