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

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by Rats, Sep 12, 2003.

  1. Rats

    Rats Guest

    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.
     
    Rats, Sep 12, 2003
    #1
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  2. Rats

    Rats Guest

    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.
     
    Rats, Sep 12, 2003
    #2
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  3. Rats

    Rats Guest

    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.
     
    Rats, Sep 12, 2003
    #3
  4. Rats

    Rob King Guest

    > > 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. :)
     
    Rob King, Sep 12, 2003
    #4
  5. Rats

    Evil Bastard Guest

    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
     
    Evil Bastard, Sep 12, 2003
    #5
  6. Rats

    N Lawton Guest

    "Rats" <> wrote in message
    news:bjrl2u$mjofp$-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.
     
    N Lawton, Sep 12, 2003
    #6
  7. Rats

    Evil Bastard Guest

    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 shit 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.
     
    Evil Bastard, Sep 12, 2003
    #7
  8. Rats

    Peter Guest

    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
     
    Peter, Sep 12, 2003
    #8
  9. Rats

    Murray Symon Guest

    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
     
    Murray Symon, Sep 12, 2003
    #9
  10. Rats

    Murray Symon Guest

    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)
     
    Murray Symon, Sep 12, 2003
    #10
  11. Rats

    Rats Guest

    "N Lawton" <> wrote in message
    news:xbe8b.145102$...
    > Well that ought to have him F*&^&$ - 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.


    I did not raise this as support for any assertion of mine. Evil Bastard made
    some assumptions about student debts etc, so I merely pointed out that he
    was mistaken.
     
    Rats, Sep 12, 2003
    #11
  12. Rats

    Rats Guest

    "Peter" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > this quote is from Evil Bastard of Fri, 12 Sep 2003 13:43 :
    > 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.


    Well said!


    > 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.


    And again!
     
    Rats, Sep 12, 2003
    #12
  13. Rats

    Jay Guest

    Evil Bastard wrote:

    > 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?).
    >
    > 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.


    I agree.
    You have stated you case very eloquently.
    Obviously you are not a qualified engineer!
     
    Jay, Sep 12, 2003
    #13
  14. Rats

    bambam Guest

    Evil Bastard <postmaster@127.0.0.1> wrote in
    news:pan.2003.09.12.07.30.50.331311@127.0.0.1:

    > 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.


    I thought they just drove trains. :)

    http://www.gardfoods.com/coffee/coffee.engineer.htm

    --
    I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder.
     
    bambam, Sep 12, 2003
    #14
  15. Rats

    Jay Guest

    Peter wrote:


    > 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.


    Yet people of superior intelligence quickly understand that everything
    that is taught at university can be aquired by other means.
    It is only people of limited uintelligence who believe that they
    must attend a formal education process to acquire what is freely available.

    > 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.


    One thing universities should teach more of is logic!
    Obviously you went to university and didn't aquire much.
     
    Jay, Sep 12, 2003
    #15
  16. Rats

    Rats Guest

    "N Lawton" <> wrote in message
    news:p...
    > On Fri, 12 Sep 2003 22:12:39 +1200, Rats wrote:
    > You said.
    > "I am debt free."
    > Adequately covering the debt assumption.


    As I said, being in debt or otherwise has nothing to do with this topic.

    > Then went on
    > "My personal value would probably blow you away. Probably ..."
    > If you're not prepared to support an assertion.
    > I suggest that you don't put it.


    That is irrelevant. Thanks for making an attempt to contribute to this
    topic. I suggest you look elsewhere for your trolling.
     
    Rats, Sep 12, 2003
    #16
  17. Rats

    Rats Guest

    "Jay" <> wrote in message
    news:bjs7m0$ktvfi$-berlin.de...
    > No, it isn't quite like that.
    > Often a (good) programmer will be the designer too.
    > It is only the lame programmer who takes instructions from
    > some so-called designer.


    They are correctly referred to as developers.

    > Without having an engineering degree I have designed complex electronic
    > systems for big business.
    > Quite honestly I am sure I could also operate better than your average
    > doctor. And my accounting is definitely better than what which the local
    > accountant is capable of. And I can certainly draft a threatening letter
    > much in the manner of your average lawyer.


    Then you are unique. Good on you.
     
    Rats, Sep 12, 2003
    #17
  18. Rats

    T.N.O. Guest

    "Jay" wrote
    > Yet people of superior intelligence quickly understand that everything
    > that is taught at university can be aquired by other means.
    > It is only people of limited uintelligence who believe that they
    > must attend a formal education process to acquire what is freely

    available.
    >
    > One thing universities should teach more of is logic!
    > Obviously you went to university and didn't aquire much.
    >


    I must be sick... I'm fully in agreement with Jay... who knew it could
    happen?
     
    T.N.O., Sep 12, 2003
    #18
  19. Rats

    AD. Guest

    On Fri, 12 Sep 2003 21:56:17 +1200, Murray Symon wrote:

    > 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.


    It's the same in most of Europe as well. But not the case in NZ.

    In NZ 'engineer' generally means 'fitter and turner' (sadly).

    > 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?


    I was about to bring up the same point. Does he get just as anal about
    systems or network 'architects'?

    And since you asked, yes I have heard some Architects object to the use of
    the term in the IT industry. I suppose it has some relevance though - an
    Architect designs what it looks like, but an Engineer has to make it stand
    up hehe.

    Silly question for Rats: Can I call myself a software engineer? I
    have no real IT/CS related qualifications (apart from the odd cert, and
    two first year computer science papers), but I have a Civil Engineering
    qualification and work in the software industry. :)

    Cheers
    Anton
     
    AD., Sep 13, 2003
    #19
  20. Rats

    Rats Guest

    "AD." <> wrote in message
    news:p...
    > I was about to bring up the same point. Does he get just as anal about
    > systems or network 'architects'?


    I can't comment for architects. I'll leave them to make their cases.

    > Silly question for Rats: Can I call myself a software engineer? I
    > have no real IT/CS related qualifications (apart from the odd cert, and
    > two first year computer science papers), but I have a Civil Engineering
    > qualification and work in the software industry. :)


    It's quite simple mate. If you do not have the qualifications to be a
    software engineer then you quite simply not a software engineer.
     
    Rats, Sep 13, 2003
    #20
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