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An engineer is a skilled technical professional. Engineers are concerned with developing economical and safe solutions to practical problems, by applying mathematics and scientific knowledge while considering technical constraints[1][2]. The term is derived from the Latin root "ingeniosus," meaning "skilled"[How to reference and link to summary or text]. The industrial revolution and continuing technological developments of the last few centuries have changed the connotation of the term slightly, resulting in the perception of engineers as applied scientists[How to reference and link to summary or text]. The work of engineers is the link between perceived needs of society and commercial applications[How to reference and link to summary or text].

Role in society

In addition to machine design, machine research, and machine development, engineers work in production, testing, or maintenance. These engineers determine the causes of component failure, supervise production in factories, and test the manufactured products to maintain quality. Engineers estimate the time and cost to complete projects. Some move into engineering management or into sales. In sales, an engineering background enables them to discuss technical aspects and assist in the planning of products, installation, and use. Supervisory engineers are responsible for entire projects or major components.[2] An engineer is a person who may not have the education or training to accomplish every task but has the ability to research and find the resources to accomplish and fulfill the tasks necessary to complete a project at hand. (J.W.Johnson 12-27-53)

Education, training & skills

People who work as engineers typically have an academic degree (or equivalent work experience) in one of the engineering disciplines.[3]

Engineers must have the skillset and methodology to problem solve, including soft skills.

Other meanings

Operating and maintaining equipment

The term 'engineer' is also often used to describe a technician or a person that mends and operates machinery or engines.[4] But they still need to have an accredited degree from a 4 year institution. For example, in the United States a railroad engineer denotes the operator of a locomotive, a ship's engineer denotes the operator of the steam engine on a steamship, a broadcast engineer maintains broadcast facility operations, and a stationary engineer is normally responsible for a boiler plant and/or stationary steam engine. The term "field engineer" or "customer engineer" is often used to describe manufacturers' (or third party) supplied installers and/or maintainers of (complex) equipment at a user's site.

In the United Kingdom, there is no regulation of the term "engineer" as there is in many other countries and its use by repairers and fitters is particularly prevalent, giving rise to complaints of loss of status from traditional professional engineers. Debates about the use of the title of engineer, similar to that afforded to doctors, are widespread and periodically are directed towards government, with a view to establishing legislative protection for its use.

In firefighting, the term "engineer" refers to a firefighter whose assignment is to drive the fire apparatus and, if it has an on board water supply, to remain with the engine and operate the pumps so that the firefighters using the hoses have sufficient water to extinguish the fire.

Non-academic professional certification

The term "engineer" may also be used to describe holders of some forms of professional certification other than university degrees, such as (but not limited to) Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, Certified Novell Engineer, Red Hat Certified Engineer and so on.

In Canada, the usage of the term "engineer" to describe holders of professional certification is not legally permitted. The Canadian Council of Professional Engineers mounted an extended campaign to get Microsoft to renounce use of the word "engineer" in the title of their certification.[5] A 2001 reader survey by Microsoft Certified Professional magazine found that over half of respondents supported changing the name of the MCSE to remove the word "engineer".[6]

Military engineers

A military engineer is a member of any branch of the armed forces responsible for the design and construction and also the destruction of offensive, defensive and logistical structures for warfare. This term is used in military units throughout the world and has been used since ancient times, extended in modern terms to include the laying and disarming of minefields and booby traps.

The Engineering Officer in larger ships, and the senior engineering sailor (typically a Chief Petty Officer) is called the Chief Engineer. In smaller ships without an Engineering Officer the Chief Engineer runs the engineering department. To facilitate brevity of communication in an operational shipboard environment, the Chief Engineer on United States Navy vessels is colloquially referred to and addressed as "The CHENG", or simply "CHENG".

In the British Merchant Navy, the Chief Engineer is a rank equivalent to the Senior Engineering Officer on a US ship.

See also


  1. National Society of Professional Engineers (2006). Frequently Asked Questions About Engineering. URL accessed on 2006-09-21. Science is knowledge based on observed facts and tested truths arranged in an orderly system that can be validated and communicated to other people. Engineering is the creative application of scientific principles used to plan, build, direct, guide, manage, or work on systems to maintain and improve our daily lives.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor (2006). Engineers. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition. URL accessed on 2006-09-21.
  3. Degrees and Occupations in Engineering: How Much Do They Diverge? Issue Brief, NSF 99-318 December 31, 1998
  4. Engineer, Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, retrieved on 21 December 2007
  5. Canadian Council of Professional Engineers (2002). MCSE is NOT an Engineer in Canada!. CCPA News Release. URL accessed on 2006-05-13.
  6. Schaffhauser, D.L. (2001). Microsoft Certified Systems Expert?. Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine Online. URL accessed on 2006-05-13., "Of 2,017 responses, 526 of you said, 'Don't change the name at all.' Of the 1,320 who said that only the word Engineer should change, the overwhelming majority—502 respondents—liked 'Expert' as a replacement. "

External links

Look up engineer in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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