Author Topic: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?  (Read 1118 times)

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Offline cprobertson1

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When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« on: September 16, 2019, 10:39:54 am »
So I've had a rather interesting conversation recently that I thought I would share, as it's something that's piqued my interest, and has a touch of relevance with the ban on calling yourself a "professional engineer" in parts of Australia.

I say "interesting" - the conversation itself was boring (and kinda dumb, actually) - it'd be more accurate to say that it prompted some interesting thoughts about semantics.



First up, some background info - skip ahead if you can't be bothered :P

I was talking with my boss earlier today about a display I built for the boom on the sub-arc rig - nothing too complex, it's ultimately a fancy voltmeter that you can change the units on.

Because the control console is right beside the head, it has to contend with the EMI from the welding arc (for those unaware of the sorts of energies involved... our procedures call for an arc between 20v and 85 amps, to 40v and 600 amps (and all values in between) - which happens to be a ton of energy - pfft, you can even melt steel with it!).

Anyway, so I added a ton of filtering to it to avoid my display going crazy when the arc is struck - and right before installation, I ran some tests to make sure my filtering was working correctly and announced that it was ready to install to my boss, who claims to have been an electronics engineer.

He insisted on coming out because wanted to have a look at my design. A bit odd, I would rather he looked at my design before I actually built it and tested it... but I figured he had his reasons, even if he just wanted to see what I had built.

The conversation didn't go that way...

"What's that?" he said, pointing to a TO-220 package with some inductors and capacitors sitting beside it - all on a daughter board
"That's just the PSU - I made it modular so we can change it out if we have problems with EMI"
"Ah okay... but what's this part?"
"That's the voltage regulator, pretty sure it was a 7805 I went for?"
"Yeah but what's it do?"
"It... regulates the voltage?"
"What do you mean?"
"It... helps smooth out the voltage spikes we get on the supply rail when the arc is struck - there's a ton of EMI from it"
"Ah okay..."

Then he walked away, looking a little confused... though not as confused as I was! "What was it (a voltage regulator) for" - surely an electrical engineer would know that it... regulates the voltage?

Maybe I had made a wrong decision? I'm only a novice, you see, so I question myself often - so I looked over my notes - I had a 5.2V supply rail to work with - it was noisy and spiky... so I filtered that out and was left with a ripply 5.2V, so I added a smoothing cap and the 7805 to give me a nice smooth supply rail to work with. My sensors were analogue, and the microcontroller ran at 4.5-5.5V so a voltage reg seemed obvious?

So, from my admittedly novice engineering perspective... things seemed alright? But the more I thought about it, the more something seemed off about the whole conversation... so I took to the internet... Where I promptly I discovered his "electronics engineering" experience consisted of soldering knobs onto toasters.

Not to belittle him of course, but if that was the sole bulk of my experience, I would not call myself an electronics engineer... toaster engineer? Maybe, but even then, there was no engineering involved!



See, from a strict linguistic standpoint, an "engineer" is anybody who does engineering (which appears to be loosely defined as anybody designing and building something... (and people who specifically operate engines)), but when you put this into practice, you'll find it often feels incorrect to call many of the people who are doing engineering engineers.

The "problem" (I use this in the loosest sense of the word) seems to be the disparity between descriptive and prescriptive language - but it is best highlighted in some simple examples: which of these would you say was acceptable to refer to as an engineer?

  • A student of engineering. They do engineering as part of their course.
  • A student of engineering, working in an engineering capacity, on work-placement, as part of their course.
  • A student of engineering, working in an engineering capacity, outwith their course.
  • A graduate of engineering, currently unemployed.
  • A graduate of engineering, employed, but in an entirely non-engineering sector
  • A graduate of engineering, employed in an engineering capacity, but their job title does not include the word "engineer"
  • A graduate of engineering, employed in an engineering capacity, but their job title includes the word "engineer"
  • A hobbyist, who engineers as a pastime.
  • A hobbyist, who engineers as a pastime, and is employed in an engineering capacity
  • A graduate, who engineers as a pastime, but is not employed as an engineer.

Put simply:
  • Do they have to be a graduate?
  • Do they have to be employed as an engineer?
  • Do they need to have "engineer" in their job title (or description)?
  • Do they merely have to practice engineering (on a regular basis)?
  • Can a hobbyist ever call themselves an engineer if they do not do it professionally and have never studied it at university or college?

Obviously, we can simply describe how we engineer - for instance, "I do electrical engineering as a hobby" - or "I have a job doing electrical engineering" - or "I am a professional electrical engineer, but not in Victoria"; which circumvents the semantics issue, but doesn't really address it.

What might your thoughts be? As a novice-of-electrical-engineering-but-probably-not-an-engineer, I'd love to hear the opinions of actual-engineers on the matter!

--EDIT--
Ps - I know the application of the term is probably quite subjective - I might, if pushed, call myself an "amateur electrical engineer" in much the same way that I'd call myself an "amateur radio operator" - but I'd rather be unambiguous and describe myself as doing engineering, rather than being and engineer!
« Last Edit: September 16, 2019, 10:47:22 am by cprobertson1 »
 

Online Zero999

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2019, 11:31:52 am »
Maybe I had made a wrong decision? I'm only a novice, you see, so I question myself often - so I looked over my notes - I had a 5.2V supply rail to work with - it was noisy and spiky... so I filtered that out and was left with a ripply 5.2V, so I added a smoothing cap and the 7805 to give me a nice smooth supply rail to work with. My sensors were analogue, and the microcontroller ran at 4.5-5.5V so a voltage reg seemed obvious?
If the power supply voltage was 5.2V and you wanted 5V, then the LM7805 is a bad choice because at has a drop-out voltage of 2V (the minimum recommended supply voltage is 7V) and the output voltage can range from between 4.8V and 5.2V.
https://www.sparkfun.com/datasheets/Components/LM7805.pdf

You'll be better off just running directly from 5.2V, as it's within the recommended supply voltage range of your microcontroller. Noise can be reduced with capacitors, inductors, resistors and ferrite beads.

Another option is a low drop-out regulator, with a tight output voltage tolerance set to 4.8V, but some filtering will still be required on the input, as the ripple rejection will deteriorate at higher frequencies.

Regarding your boss's ignorance of the LM7805: if he was really an electrical engineer, then it would not be that surprising, since electrical engineering is about big stuff, i.e. transformers, motors, fuses, switches, contactors etc. rather than small, low powered digital and analogue devices, which are the realm of an electronic engineer. Nowadays, more electronics are used to control big stuff so one would expect an electrical engineer to be more familiar with electronics, but someone who hasn't practised for awhile might not.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2019, 12:19:42 pm by Zero999 »
 
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Online Psi

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2019, 11:44:46 am »
To me,
- You are an Engineer if you yourself can create technical solutions to a problem
- You are a Professional Engineer if you do that as your job
- You are a Qualified Engineer if you have some sort of qualification in some sort of engineering area
- You are a Registered Engineer if you have been placed on a government endorsed list of engineers
- You are a Certified Engineer if you have completed any form of engineering certification
- You are a Licenced Engineer if the government says you are.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2019, 11:46:36 am by Psi »
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Offline AndyC_772

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2019, 01:46:16 pm »
I'd call myself a Qualified Professional Engineer.

"Engineer", because that's what I spend a significant part of my life doing.

"Professional", because engineering is how I feed my family, ie. other people pay me to do it.

"Qualified", because I can supply evidence of having successfully completed a relevant academic training course from a recognised, legitimate institution - a 4 yr MEng degree, in my case.

I'm not "Licenced" or "Certified" or "Chartered", because I don't need to be in order to work in my particular field in this country.
 
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Offline cprobertson1

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2019, 02:13:12 pm »
Maybe I had made a wrong decision? I'm only a novice, you see, so I question myself often - so I looked over my notes - I had a 5.2V supply rail to work with - it was noisy and spiky... so I filtered that out and was left with a ripply 5.2V, so I added a smoothing cap and the 7805 to give me a nice smooth supply rail to work with. My sensors were analogue, and the microcontroller ran at 4.5-5.5V so a voltage reg seemed obvious?
If the power supply voltage was 5.2V and you wanted 5V, then the LM7805 is a bad choice because at has a drop-out voltage of 2V (the minimum recommended supply voltage is 7V) and the output voltage can range from between 4.8V and 5.2V.
https://www.sparkfun.com/datasheets/Components/LM7805.pdf

You'll be better off just running directly from 5.2V, as it's within the recommended supply voltage range of your microcontroller. Noise can be reduced with capacitors, inductors, resistors and ferrite beads.

Another option is a low drop-out regulator, with a tight output voltage tolerance set to 4.8V, but some filtering will still be required on the input, as the ripple rejection will deteriorate at higher frequencies.

Regarding your boss's ignorance of the LM7805: if he was really an electrical engineer, then it would not be that surprising, since electrical engineering is about big stuff, i.e. transformers, motors, fuses, switches, contactors etc. rather than small, low powered digital and analogue devices, which are the realm of an electronic engineer. Nowadays, more electronics are used to control big stuff so one would expect an electrical engineer to be more familiar with electronics, but someone who hasn't practised for awhile might not.

Whoops (on my part) regarding the 7805 - yeah, 5.2V is below the minimum input voltage as you pointed out; I've just fixed that.

While I have a couple of options to-hand, I've just bypassed it for now -- still working fine despite its absence. There's more filtering on the input than is probably required, which may be helping a little - but as long as those spikes aren't getting through, I'd call that a win.

Regarding the conversation with the boss - there's something very strange about his knowledge base - when I said I was going to bypass the voltage regulator, he asked some really weird questions about what I was going to do with all the batteries I had on the board? Except... there aren't any? I was speaking to the maintenance boys who I asked to come down and check my work, and apparently they've had some weird questions as well - apparently when they were installing the 12x cladding rigs in the clean-bay, he asked if the 3-phase was wired in serial or parallel; and whether the rigs were the same?

Either way, I'm glad he brought up the 7805 - serendipity at it's finest; had he not brought it up, I'd have not posted about it and had my wrists slapped for not double-checking the datasheet properly! That's what I get for not being diligent - I had used the 7805 before to regulate down to 5V (from 9V) but didn't show due diligence before using it in this design. Procedural error in addition to a technical error - I'll need to watch out for that.

This is one of the problems of being the only person building stuff - nobody to check my work, and no safety net - it's just me and anything I do. I had better add checks like that into my work process (oooh! I can add this episode to my PDP to show how I've improved!)


Speaking of maintenance, seems they're running a 12V rail over to the boom console next week for something entirely unrelated; I might consider tapping into that for power if my display starts showing problems with the 5.2V rail.


To me,
- You are an Engineer if you yourself can create technical solutions to a problem
- You are a Professional Engineer if you do that as your job
- You are a Qualified Engineer if you have some sort of qualification in some sort of engineering area
- You are a Registered Engineer if you have been placed on a government endorsed list of engineers
- You are a Certified Engineer if you have completed any form of engineering certification
- You are a Licenced Engineer if the government says you are.

It seems I may be an engineer by that definition - I can definitely create technical solutions to problems (for instance: I'm currently developing a little remote-controlled car with an articulated arm on it's back. It will scoot along the inside of pipes and do ultrasonic testing on the inside of joints. I named it "Mario" but nobody seemed to get the joke.) - but I think I'll stick with "I do engineering" rather than calling myself an engineer... for me, it just doesn't feel right to use it as a title.

That's a good list you've got there actually - though I feel it seems to miss a rather important point: is the prolific use of duct-tape and hot-glue a prerequisite for being an engineer? (software engineers use the programming equivalents: tape(type="duct") and glue.hot() to patch things up, but they're the same idea!)

I had actually forgotten certified and licensed engineers, actually - I'm glad you brought them up!
 

Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2019, 02:23:48 pm »
There's usually a major difference between "being an engineer", "doing an engineer's job" and using the "engineer" title.

All that also largely depends on the country/state/local regulations and context.
In some countries, you can't call yourself an "engineer" if you don't have a corresponding diploma. In others, it's just related to your qualification, and not to a diploma. In yet others, to make things less ambiguous, it's common practice to use the term "dipl. eng." (which means you have a diploma in an engineering field) to make it clear that you have a corresponding diploma, and using "eng./engineer" alone just means your job is an engineering job.

In yet other countries or contexts, there is an additional status of being a certified engineer. Depending on local regulations, to become one, there may be a prerequisite to hold a diploma in engineering to get certified. In many cases, there actually isn't, but you still need to show you hold a minimum scientific degree and that you're qualified with your resume and your current job, and sometimes recommendations from employers and/or customers.

In any case, I would say that calling yourself an engineer implies either actively doing engineering in a professional setting, or holding a diploma in countries where there actually are specific engineering diplomas.

So, I'd say for a student - nope. As long as you haven't graduated nor worked significantly as an engineer, you're just not one.
And for someone who'd be fully qualified, but wouldn't hold any corrresponding degree AND wouldn't have significantly worked as an engineer -  well, I don't think they could really call themselves one either.
 
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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2019, 02:34:19 pm »
There's usually a major difference between "being an engineer", "doing an engineer's job" and using the "engineer" title.

Right. If you cut your finger and clean it with peroxide, apply a little neosporin, and a bandage, are you a nurse or just doing your own nursing. One is a title and the other is an action.

A nurse can fix a car but they aren't a certified mechanic, etc.
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Offline GregDunn

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2019, 03:14:46 pm »

Regarding your boss's ignorance of the LM7805: if he was really an electrical engineer, then it would not be that surprising, since electrical engineering is about big stuff, i.e. transformers, motors, fuses, switches, contactors etc. rather than small, low powered digital and analogue devices, which are the realm of an electronic engineer. Nowadays, more electronics are used to control big stuff so one would expect an electrical engineer to be more familiar with electronics, but someone who hasn't practised for awhile might not.

Depends on the curriculum you took at school.  In the 1970s, there was only one degree and it was "electrical engineering"; the same diploma covered power engineering, electronics design, digital or analog styles.  Yes, there were special courses you could take to gain knowledge of each particular design process, but the core curriculum covered everything.  I was concurrently taking courses in TTL, op amps, signal processing, RF/antennas and power systems at one point.

What disturbed me was when I went to work for the phone company and they handed the title "engineer" to people who were essentially clerks that managed central office switching systems or ran cables.  99% of them had no formal degree of any kind, let alone certification.
 
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Offline cprobertson1

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2019, 03:18:45 pm »
There's usually a major difference between "being an engineer", "doing an engineer's job" and using the "engineer" title.

All that also largely depends on the country/state/local regulations and context.
In some countries, you can't call yourself an "engineer" if you don't have a corresponding diploma. In others, it's just related to your qualification, and not to a diploma. In yet others, to make things less ambiguous, it's common practice to use the term "dipl. eng." (which means you have a diploma in an engineering field) to make it clear that you have a corresponding diploma, and using "eng./engineer" alone just means your job is an engineering job.

In yet other countries or contexts, there is an additional status of being a certified engineer. Depending on local regulations, to become one, there may be a prerequisite to hold a diploma in engineering to get certified. In many cases, there actually isn't, but you still need to show you hold a minimum scientific degree and that you're qualified with your resume and your current job, and sometimes recommendations from employers and/or customers.

In any case, I would say that calling yourself an engineer implies either actively doing engineering in a professional setting, or holding a diploma in countries where there actually are specific engineering diplomas.

So, I'd say for a student - nope. As long as you haven't graduated nor worked significantly as an engineer, you're just not one.
And for someone who'd be fully qualified, but wouldn't hold any corresponding degree AND wouldn't have significantly worked as an engineer -  well, I don't think they could really call themselves one either.

Ah, that's a good point - I've been failing to take into account provisions for the legislation in other countries, on top of the sociological aspect.

As far as I am aware, "Engineer" is not a protected term in the United Kingdom or Scotland - in that, as far as I know you can call yourself one and will not be prosecuted under the law.

Of course, that doesn't excuse you from ridicule if you use the term and you're clearly not; if I went into a job interview and called myself an engineer, I'd likely get laughed out the room - though I'd like to think I could hold my own for at least five minutes before they're fully convinced!

That said, there are protected terms, such as "chartered engineer" (or chemist, biologist) and there are various affiliations with the Royal Society of X, Y and Z which handle their membership internally. The "Chartered" title comes into play once you are effectively accredited with so many years proven experience and membership in one of the Royal Societies (or whatever the equivalent is).

Of course, on top of that, there are protected terms like "Doctor" or "Lawyer" but I'm pretty sure the law here is the same as most places regarding such titles, and practising them without a license to do so.

Come to think of it, I'm not actually sure what "the letters" here are for the various engineers, beyond "BEng." and "M.Eng" - not sure how it works for national diplomas and the various other ways of acquiring an academic title.



Now that I'm thinking about it, there seems there's actually quite a lot of semantics, protocol, and etiquette surrounding the use of the term. It is, for the most part, inconsequential, which is why I've never bothered looking into it before.

I think I'll stick with being "a scientist" though - our system is very simple:
  • Are you graduated who does science? Scientist.
  • Not graduated but do science anyway? Scientist.
  • Got a PHd in Science? Scientist*.
  • Professorship? Scientist*.
  • Do you use science to push woo? Pseudoscientist/Laughing-stock*
*With a fancy title

We have some additional rules about whether you're a "squishy scientist" (anything involving the word "bio-"), not a "real" science (anything "impure"), the "soft" sciences (anything squishier than a biochemist), and this really weird group of people who often apply science though not necessarily deliberately - they sort of use it as a means to an end, and don't always have a mandate to understand why, or to apply the scientific method, but rather to get something that works; and they're such a weird bunch that they deserve honourable mention if only for the peculiar set of semantics applied in determining whether they are in fact part of the group or merely conform to their practices; I think they're called "engineers" or something? I'm not really sure to be ho9nest  ;)


 

Offline cprobertson1

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #9 on: September 16, 2019, 03:31:39 pm »
There's usually a major difference between "being an engineer", "doing an engineer's job" and using the "engineer" title.

Right. If you cut your finger and clean it with peroxide, apply a little neosporin, and a bandage, are you a nurse or just doing your own nursing. One is a title and the other is an action.

A nurse can fix a car but they aren't a certified mechanic, etc.

Ah, but the problem here is that you can be a first-aider in the case of the cut: nursing is a semi-protected title (in the UK) - you get in trouble for calling yourself a nurse when you aren't; but first-aiders are more lenient outside of a workplace, insurance notwithstanding.

Again, if the nurse regularly fixed cars in their spare time - while not being certified, are they still an amateur mechanic? (Again, I'm using "amateur" in the same sense as an "Amateur radio operator" - no comment on the expertise - merely that they're not doing it professional (as a vocation)).

From there it's a feasible colloquialism to refer to them as a "mechanic" - just as I'm a "radio operator" instead of an "amateur radio operator".

Ah-ha! So there it is - did you see it? Linguistically, I've been conflating two terms - "mechanic" (colloquially referring to an amateur mechanic who does it in their spare time) and "mechanic" (referring to the profession of what I would hope are certified mechanics who I pay to work on my car).

So it seems context may be the biggest deciding factor in whether a person practicing engineering is an engineer. Colloquially, it may not be amiss to refer to an amateur engineer as an engineer, but formally, it would be incorrect (unless they do it vocationally in this case, or have some sort of accreditation or certification, including degrees, etc).

For instance, colloquially, I could say that I am an engineer, but I am most certainly not formally an engineer. Let's check if this works for the other examples:

Mechanic - hobbyist is colloquially a mechanic but it is informal, that works.
Nurse - first aider is colloquially a nurse (in that they are nursing) - but again, it's an informal designation - works.
Engineer - hobbyist doing engineering is colloquially an engineer, but again, not formally - seems to check out.

It doesn't hold up for protected terms (Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Lawyer, etc) because you can't really colloquially, or informally, be a chartered accountant for instance - in fact, I'm not even sure the phrase "amateur chartered accountant" makes sense - while "amateur accountant" or "hobbyist accountant" (what a boring hobby that must be... but then again, some people collect stamps. Whatever floats your boat!) - so, it would seem that the idea may hold some water.

So I've ultimately just beat around the bush and pointed out something we already knew - you can colloquially be anything because it's an informal designation, a descriptor rather than a formal title.

We already knew this - but hey-ho! It solves the rather pointless question I had earlier - you're colloquially an engineer if you do engineering, but I'll laugh at you if you formally claim to be an engineer.

The question is... was my boss being colloquial or formal!?!?!?! THe world may never know...
 

Offline james_s

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2019, 03:55:49 pm »
If the guy actually had a clue about engineering and designed something as part of his job then I'd have no issue with him calling himself an engineer. Clearly though he is completely clueless and just trying to "talk the talk" but failing miserably. I've encountered guys like him on occasion and there's not much you can do, unless you want to try to troll him with some Star Trek style technobabble.
 

Offline CatalinaWOW

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2019, 04:25:04 pm »
To me,
- You are an Engineer if you yourself can create technical solutions to a problem
- You are a Professional Engineer if you do that as your job
- You are a Qualified Engineer if you have some sort of qualification in some sort of engineering area
- You are a Registered Engineer if you have been placed on a government endorsed list of engineers
- You are a Certified Engineer if you have completed any form of engineering certification
- You are a Licenced Engineer if the government says you are.

To me this covers all the standard cases.  The issues all seem to come from odd extremes and interaction with legal definitions.  Most of us who have worked in engineering know, or at least know of, people who don't do well in school, but are extremely talented and have taught themselves more than most people in the profession know.  In a practical sense they are the best person to solve most problems, but don't have the stamp of approval required in certain areas.  The biggest problems I have seen with this come from folk who are right at the bottom rung of those who do have the official stamps and whose egos are not strong enough to deal with folks who are quite literally lots better than them.

Your boss is a strange case.  He could be quite competent in one of many fields that do, or have fallen within an electrical engineering degree while being totally clueless about analog circuit design and three phase power.  Specialists in logic design or microwave transmission or control theory for example.  And he may have graduated last in his class.  On the other hand he could be a total fake.
 

Offline Tomorokoshi

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2019, 04:27:29 pm »
If the guy actually had a clue about engineering and designed something as part of his job then I'd have no issue with him calling himself an engineer. Clearly though he is completely clueless and just trying to "talk the talk" but failing miserably. I've encountered guys like him on occasion and there's not much you can do, unless you want to try to troll him with some Star Trek style technobabble.

The 7805 power emitter is made out of a tri-silicon alloy!
 

Offline L_Euler

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2019, 07:16:28 pm »
The guy that came to my hotel room to fix the shower handle was the "building Engineer."  So, there's that. ;D
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Offline MarkF

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2019, 07:26:05 pm »
You are what you call yourself.

It does not mean you are any good at it!    :-DD
 
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Offline cprobertson1

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #15 on: September 16, 2019, 07:49:15 pm »
The guy that came to my hotel room to fix the shower handle was the "building Engineer."  So, there's that. ;D

Our binmen are sometimes called "technicians" - so it's not a huge step up from there to go to "engineer".

I wonder... you know those artists who weld whatever they can find together and call it art? We should call them art engineers! ::blink-blink::

Oh no, I let them hear me... I just started a trend, didn't I. They'll call it "deconstructed engineering" or something like that. Uh-oh, I let them hear me a second time... that was the finish. We're done for.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2019, 08:20:17 pm by cprobertson1 »
 

Offline DimitriP

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2019, 08:42:07 pm »
Quote
Not to belittle him of course, but if that was the sole bulk of my experience, I would not call myself an electronics engineer

It's a common affliction:
study this, there will be a test later :)  :

https://www.businessinsider.com/imposter-syndrome-makes-the-best-employees-feel-like-a-fraud-heres-how-to-embrace-it-2017-5

As for your Dunning-Kruger-Effect  afflicted boss...maybe next time he wants "to see it", pat him on the head and say "There, there,...it's OK...you probably won't understand anyway".
Just make sure you have some "screw you" ( (c) Dave Jones)  money put aside in case you get fired.
« Last Edit: September 16, 2019, 08:43:52 pm by DimitriP »
   If three 100  Ohm resistors are connected in parallel, and in series with a 200 Ohm resistor, how many resistors do you have? 
 

Offline langwadt

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2019, 09:42:04 pm »

Regarding your boss's ignorance of the LM7805: if he was really an electrical engineer, then it would not be that surprising, since electrical engineering is about big stuff, i.e. transformers, motors, fuses, switches, contactors etc. rather than small, low powered digital and analogue devices, which are the realm of an electronic engineer. Nowadays, more electronics are used to control big stuff so one would expect an electrical engineer to be more familiar with electronics, but someone who hasn't practised for awhile might not.

Depends on the curriculum you took at school.  In the 1970s, there was only one degree and it was "electrical engineering"; the same diploma covered power engineering, electronics design, digital or analog styles.  Yes, there were special courses you could take to gain knowledge of each particular design process, but the core curriculum covered everything.  I was concurrently taking courses in TTL, op amps, signal processing, RF/antennas and power systems at one point.

What disturbed me was when I went to work for the phone company and they handed the title "engineer" to people who were essentially clerks that managed central office switching systems or ran cables.  99% of them had no formal degree of any kind, let alone certification.

here engineer is not a protected title, but "civil engineer" is, you have to have a masters degree in an engineering field

 

Offline cprobertson1

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #18 on: September 17, 2019, 03:39:30 pm »
here engineer is not a protected title, but "civil engineer" is, you have to have a masters degree in an engineering field

Ooh, interesting! As far as I know, at least in Scotland (and I would assume the rest of the UK), Civil Engineers are just a type of engineer - I would typically describe them (in a casual sense) as a specific class of mechanical engineers, with added project management training, and often concrete - as far as I know there's no limitation on calling yourself one (in a formal setting)

In faaact, I was curious about that, so I double-checked on the googles - I found a page that covers regulation and licensing in engineering [wiki], which states that
Quote
"The Engineering Council grants the titles Chartered Engineer, Incorporated Engineer, Engineering Technician and Information and Communications Technology Technician under its royal charter. These titles are protected under civil law.[54] The Engineering Council is also the UK member of the International Professional Engineers Agreement and awards the title of International Professional Engineer (UK)"

That covers the "charted" flavours, including the chartered civil engineers as well. The page also has info on most countries and their titles, and in the case of the US, some notes on various states. I'm actually rather worried about Texas... apparently, nearly 2/5 of licensed engineers are civil engineers... they're plotting something big (and possibly civil), I just know it!



Quote
Not to belittle him of course, but if that was the sole bulk of my experience, I would not call myself an electronics engineer

It's a common affliction:
study this, there will be a test later :)  :

https://www.businessinsider.com/imposter-syndrome-makes-the-best-employees-feel-like-a-fraud-heres-how-to-embrace-it-2017-5

As for your Dunning-Kruger-Effect  afflicted boss...maybe next time he wants "to see it", pat him on the head and say "There, there,...it's OK...you probably won't understand anyway".
Just make sure you have some "screw you" ( (c) Dave Jones)  money put aside in case you get fired.

Oh, he's definitely a Dunning-Krugerite when it comes to welding: I know this because I know a lot more than he does about the subject... and I happen to entirely aware of how little I know about welding (next to nothing, in fact - the merest basics, plus some random bits about austenitic and martensitic steels that are so random that I can't use that information usefully). I've had a lot more exposure to his welding knowledge, and it's obvious he thinks he knows more than he does (or rather, he thinks he knows enough to get by but doesn't).

When it comes to electronics though, it's weird - I could swear that he's aware of his lack of knowledge, but pushes on anyway. He's definitely demonstrated the Dunning-Kruger effect a couple of times, but a lot of the time though, I get the impression that he knows that he doesn't know much about the subject, but insists on talking about it anyway; BS-ing, in other words, rather than merely being incompetent and unaware of it.

Speaking of Dunning-Kruger effect... I received a call from maintenance before lunch today - they were asking if I knew anything about the request they received (via the maintenance system)... it was a request that they source "some better voltage regulators" - no mention of spec or what they were to be used for... just that we get some "better" ones... Three guesses who put the request in?

He's done this before with some of my other work (non-electronics related) where he would strategically replace bits of my projects and claim he was improving them or fixing problems I couldn't see... usually with the implication that I had been incompetent but was unaware of it... so with that in mind, I'm tempted to tell maintenance that he has £20 to buy in his own voltage regulators... because this is going to be funny

...but the question is whether we should have some fun with this? ::rubs hands together::
 

Offline cprobertson1

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #19 on: September 17, 2019, 03:49:41 pm »
While writing that post, I received an email from maintenance regarding the request - apparently, he has recommended they purchase a number of £120 linear regulator to "fix" my project (which is currently unregulated, don't'cha'know), plus a number of £60 linear regs from Renesa to be used in our welding rigs...  :palm:

Yeah, you go for that, mate - just pop em open and install "a better voltage regulator" in them - why not install some voltage regulators in the angle grinders too while you're at it?

You know what? I've had it. I'm done. I'm going home. Goodnight.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #20 on: September 17, 2019, 04:47:54 pm »
Hah! You need to stand back and give this guy lots of rope with which to hang himself.

 :popcorn:
 

Offline fourfathom

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #21 on: September 17, 2019, 05:07:50 pm »
While writing that post, I received an email from maintenance regarding the request - apparently, he has recommended they purchase a number of £120 linear regulator to "fix" my project (which is currently unregulated, don't'cha'know), plus a number of £60 linear regs from Renesa to be used in our welding rigs...

I had a boss who did this kind of stuff to me.  Behind my back he changed my spec for a custom inductive hearing-aid loop coil because he didn't understand the difference between open-(feedback)loop and closed-loop amplifier output impedance.  He couldn't see how a transistor can saturate, so he changed my power-control design behind my back (he later explained to me "See, Paul -- a transistor is just two back-to-back diodes.")  I had a pretty elegant battery charging circuit that he couldn't figure out, so he redesigned it before sending it to layout.  His design sucked and we had to spin the boards using my original design. 

This kept happening for about a year.

So I quit.  That was the second-best thing that happened to me in my early career.  The best thing was getting fired from my first tech job.
 

Online GreyWoolfe

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #22 on: September 17, 2019, 08:35:41 pm »
What disturbed me was when I went to work for the phone company and they handed the title "engineer" to people who were essentially clerks that managed central office switching systems or ran cables.  99% of them had no formal degree of any kind, let alone certification.

My company likes to throw the word 'engineer' around.  I have been called a field service engineer and a customer service engineer.  That one is somewhat offensive to me as it reeks of retail/call center.  My title is field service technician III.  I do have formal degrees, just not in any kind of engineering program.
"Heaven has been described as the place that once you get there all the dogs you ever loved run up to greet you."
 

Offline cprobertson1

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2019, 09:54:23 am »
Hah! You need to stand back and give this guy lots of rope with which to hang himself.

Already on it! :popcorn:

It would seem that I have two choices:
  • Laugh until my sides hurt
  • Cry


While writing that post, I received an email from maintenance regarding the request - apparently, he has recommended they purchase a number of £120 linear regulator to "fix" my project (which is currently unregulated, don't'cha'know), plus a number of £60 linear regs from Renesa to be used in our welding rigs...

I had a boss who did this kind of stuff to me.  Behind my back, he changed my spec for a custom inductive hearing-aid loop coil because he didn't understand the difference between open-(feedback)loop and closed-loop amplifier output impedance.  He couldn't see how a transistor can saturate, so he changed my power-control design behind my back (he later explained to me "See, Paul -- a transistor is just two back-to-back diodes.")  I had a pretty elegant battery charging circuit that he couldn't figure out, so he redesigned it before sending it to layout.  His design sucked and we had to spin the boards using my original design. 

This kept happening for about a year.

So I quit.  That was the second-best thing that happened to me in my early career.  The best thing was getting fired from my first tech job.

I'm on the way out myself: there's a slow and steady exodus here (I'll write up about my experiences in a separate post once I've abandoned ship) - but in the meantime, I have to grin and bear it.

I've saught permission via my direct boss (my actual boss is the welding engineer, who in turn works under the Dunning-Krugerite) to allow me to work with maintenance directly for installing things like this with only a cursory mention that the "machine will be down for maintenance" filtering back to big-boss. It will take a lot of the stupidity strain off myself.

As an aside, and because bashing him turns out to be surprisingly fun... he once tried to tell the welding engineer what the macro1 (etched cross-section of a weld, magnified and viewed through polarised light so you can see the grain boundaries)... is supposed to look like... and insisted that the HAZ (heat-affected zone) was, in fact, a defect and we'd need to scrap the job... despite it being as perfect a weld as you can get!

He raised an NCR (Non-Conformity Report), against the welding team... which had to be cleared by the company paying us to make deep-sea drilling equipment before welding could continue...  but at least the higher-ups saw the light: they reprimanded the welding team for not raising the NCR itself... if only we had been responsible enough to write it ourselves, it'd have been written in the correct jargon, and the customer wouldn't have pished themselves laughing at it.

You may have just heard a sonic boom - that was the point flying over management's heads - it actually happened a few months ago, but it's been continuing to accelerate away ever since.

1 - I could not find this info on Wikipedia, had to go to a welding wiki (for MIG, apparently) to get a description and some pictures :P



ANYWAY - I'm going to get back on-topic now. I could talk about the long and arduous climb up mount stupid all day - but ultimately, it's just going to make me depressed, and it's terribly unprofessional now that I Think about it.


What disturbed me was when I went to work for the phone company and they handed the title "engineer" to people who were essentially clerks that managed central office switching systems or ran cables.  99% of them had no formal degree of any kind, let alone certification.

My company likes to throw the word 'engineer' around.  I have been called a field service engineer and a customer service engineer.  That one is somewhat offensive to me as it reeks of retail/call centre.  My title is field service technician III.  I do have formal degrees, just not in any kind of engineering program.

Oh, come on, really? That doesn't even fit the "colloquial" definition of engineer! Unless you design and build customers of course...

Wait a minute... advertisers are a type of customer engineer! They use both new and existing technology, technical knowledge, and applied science to design and manufacture customers! Just having that thought has made me feel unclean.



To me,
- You are an Engineer if you yourself can create technical solutions to a problem
- You are a Professional Engineer if you do that as your job
- You are a Qualified Engineer if you have some sort of qualification in some sort of engineering area
- You are a Registered Engineer if you have been placed on a government-endorsed list of engineers
- You are a Certified Engineer if you have completed any form of engineering certification
- You are a Licenced Engineer if the government says you are.

To me, this covers all the standard cases.  The issues all seem to come from odd extremes and interaction with legal definitions.  Most of us who have worked in engineering know, or at least know of, people who don't do well in school, but are extremely talented and have taught themselves more than most people in the profession know.  In a practical sense, they are the best person to solve most problems but don't have the stamp of approval required in certain areas.  The biggest problems I have seen with this come from folk who are right at the bottom rung of those who do have the official stamps and whose egos are not strong enough to deal with folks who are quite literally lots better than them.

I think between these two posts, we cover most of the definitions :)

That's an interesting point about autodidacts: see, the whole point of accreditation is ultimately to weed out the Dunning-Krugerites (and the pretenders, not the band) by testing one's knowledge against a pseudo-standard, and providing some sort of qualification for it to say you meet the pseudo-standard.

Degrees are pseudo-standards now.

The problem is then that if you put the onus on meeting that pseudo-standard, you potentially run the risk of missing genuine and passionate experts who didn't pass through whatever accreditation system you're interested in: so there appears to be a balance with some optimal point where you can lessen the requirement for accreditation to allow those experts, yet you weed out those who think they know more than they actually do (and posers who just want a cushy job).

Of course, that "balance" is often judged by a human gatekeeper - and I've noticed a tendency for that gatekeeper to have no idea of (let alone expertise in) what's behind the gate they so diligently guard.

ANYWAY - I'm going to stop talking about Dunning-Kruger effect entirely now - it's far too tempting to bring up examples of it!
 

Offline Mr. Scram

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Re: When is somebody who does engineering an engineer?
« Reply #24 on: September 18, 2019, 10:21:47 am »
I had a boss who did this kind of stuff to me.  Behind my back he changed my spec for a custom inductive hearing-aid loop coil because he didn't understand the difference between open-(feedback)loop and closed-loop amplifier output impedance.  He couldn't see how a transistor can saturate, so he changed my power-control design behind my back (he later explained to me "See, Paul -- a transistor is just two back-to-back diodes.")  I had a pretty elegant battery charging circuit that he couldn't figure out, so he redesigned it before sending it to layout.  His design sucked and we had to spin the boards using my original design. 

This kept happening for about a year.

So I quit.  That was the second-best thing that happened to me in my early career.  The best thing was getting fired from my first tech job.
Finding out what doesn't work is invaluable, especially early in your career. Somehow it's viewed as failure but I'd argue it's instrumental in success.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2019, 12:10:07 pm by Mr. Scram »
 


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