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I am not an engineer (je né suis pas un ingénieur)

This post should be treated as an historical artifact. It probably contain broken external links and it may no longer reflect my views or opinions.

Wikipedia defines Engi­neering as:

… the science, skill, and profession of acquiring and applying scien­tific, economic, social, and prac­tical knowledge, in order to design and also build struc­tures, machines, devices, systems, mate­rials and processes.

The important word there was “profession.” Nowadays we refer to any trade you’ve prac­ticed for a while (more than 2 years, less than maybe 20) as a profession but that word has an actual meaning:

noun; A paid occu­pation, esp. one that involves prolonged training and a formal qual­i­fi­cation

And there’s the rub: engi­neers are qual­ified according to a profes­sional standard, and held accountable by a profes­sional orga­ni­za­tions. Here’s a better expla­nation about why that’s not really catching on in the USA, and how that might change long term.

Engi­neers build things that people have to actually rely on; no one dies if I make a mistake, and nothing phys­i­cally collapses (usually). I’m genuinely flat­tered when you call me one (and I will never stop you if you want to pay me like one), but please don’t. Words have meanings. I’m just some slob who lives in the inter­section of software devel­opment and admin­is­trative upkeep, and that’s the way I like it.