back to article Oregon can't stop people from calling themselves engineers, judge rules in Traffic-Light-Math-Gate

Oregon's regulations stopping people in the US state from referring to themselves as engineers are unconstitutional, a federal magistrate judge has ruled. The decision was sought by Mats Järlström, a Swedish electronics engineer living in Oregon, who was fined in 2016 for calling himself an engineer in correspondence with …

  1. RFC822
    Unhappy

    What an engineer does in the UK

    Me: Hello, there's a problem with our photocopier.

    Helpline: We'll send an engineer out straight away.

    Me: No need; a technician would be sufficient.

    Helpline: ????

    1. Evil_Goblin

      Re: What an engineer does in the UK

      I have an acquaintance who refers to himself as a heating engineer:

      I repeatedly point out that he is 100% not an engineer as he could not design a heating system from first principles, and in fact there is nothing wrong with being a plumber, a fitter or a technician.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What an engineer does in the UK

        I trained as an electrical services engineer in the 90s. Took me 5+ years as an apprentice to qualify and become a consulting engineer. People still assumed I basically just installed cables.

        I designed security, power, lighting and fire alarm systems to specific standards for MOD and Airports. I wouldn't however be able to do anything when it came to physically wiring them up - but I could draw the schematics, draw up very detailed plans and list off the equipment we'd need..

        Yet there was my parents assuming I was the guy who connected a plug to a wall or something..

        1. Jtom Bronze badge

          Re: What an engineer does in the UK

          First job title was ‘outside plant engineer’ for a telephone company. We designed the outside network - what cables and equipment to install, specified where the installations would be, specified pole placements, obtained permits and rights-of- way, etc. We weren’t ‘engineer’ engineers, but what else would you call us, outside plant network designers?

          Never touched a cable, pole, or terminal, but could not convince my grandmother that I did not climb telephone poles.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: What an engineer does in the UK

            > We weren’t ‘engineer’ engineers, but what else would you call us, outside plant network designers?

            More to the point, the other guys were linesmen, riggers and outside plant techs

            All of which are specialities in their own right and calling them "engineers" doesn't help anyone.

      2. LDS Silver badge
        Joke

        "as he could not design a heating system from first principles"

        Actually, people started to call themselves engineers well before physicists discovered the principles and explained those to them - a lot of work was previously done in empiric ways....

    2. Cian Duffy

      Re: What an engineer does in the UK

      My previous employer suddenly decided that using "Engineer" for titles where it clearly wasn't appropriate had to stop, and changed everyones job title overnight to "Analyst", even when it made it sound ridiculous or inaccurate

      Including for those of us with recognised engineering degrees. So it stopped the school kids on the phones being "Level 1 Engineers" and the printer service techs from being "Field Engineers" but it also stopped the senior, actual engineers, from using it.

      1. Jtom Bronze badge

        Re: What an engineer does in the UK

        One high-level idiot (but I repeat myself) decided everyone should be called some form of manager, e.g., manager, senior manager, general manager, division manager, state manager...

        It made titles completely worthless, unless you only wanted to know a person’s ranking in the company. Interdepartmental meetings were humorous, though, as we introduced ourselves at the table - Joe Blow, manager; Jane Doe, manager; Bob Brown, manager, ... - then proceeded to go around again to describe what it was we were managing.

        Finding the right person for something using the corporate directory was worthless. If you needed an IT tech for a problem, every person in that department would just be listed as manager. So calling for help just got responses like, I don’t fix printers, I install mainframes, until you finally found someone in company support.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: What an engineer does in the UK

        "My previous employer suddenly decided that using "Engineer" for titles where it clearly wasn't appropriate had to stop, and changed everyones job title overnight to "Analyst", even when it made it sound ridiculous or inaccurate"

        Something similar happened to "Technician" - who were suddenly "Technical Officers"

        The problem was that Level1 helpdesk were previously called "TSO" (Technical service officers) and were now "Technicians", so it sounded to most people like the field techs had been demoted.

        It didn't go down well.

        Then there's the whole Programmer/Conslutant/Analyst mess in the computing arena and those who expect "Company Secretaries" (which is a specialist role) to type up dictation.

        1. Richocet

          Re: What an engineer does in the UK

          I nominated an employee fill the role of "Secretary" in a governance group. She took offense that this implied a "type up dictation" responsibility. None of the secretaries of other governance groups took it that way. I still can't tell if she was genuinely offended or was winding me up.

    3. Simon Harris Silver badge
      IT Angle

      Re: What an engineer does in the UK

      I got woken up this morning by the wheelie-bin evacuation engineers.

      IT angle? - broken computers are dealt with by the wheelie-bin electronics evacuation engineers, or WEEE as they are better known.

      1. Symon Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: What an engineer does in the UK

        Three weeks ago, I couldn't spell Engineer. Now I are one.

        https://i.chzbgr.com/full/1608551168/h7A40D3F5/

    4. JulieM Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: What an engineer does in the UK

      My experience of working in an actual UK engineering firm is as follows:

      Technician: Somebody who knows at least as much as an engineer, works twice as hard as an engineer and gets paid half as much as an engineer.

      Engineering Manager: Somebody who supposedly has an engineering degree despite not knowing a Phillips from a Posidriv, works less than half as hard as an engineer and gets paid more than twice as much as an engineer.

    5. VikiAi Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: What an engineer does in the UK

      My formal job title is "Technical Officer", which I have never liked - I don't recall joining the military! I just call myself a Technician.

    6. veti Silver badge

      Re: What an engineer does in the UK

      From - well, from before the day I began my engineering degree, back in the 1980s, I've heard this complaint about how the rabble misuse the term "engineer". Throughout the 90s, I must have read half a dozen missives a year from the Engineering Council and other bodies bemoaning the fact that they couldn't lock people up for calling themselves "engineers". (OK, I may exaggerate - but only slightly.)

      Or to put it more accurately: about how the word "engineer", in the UK at least, doesn't mean what people with engineering degrees wish it meant.

      I'm sorry, but that's just how the word is used. The onus is on people who want to redefine it to show how and why the rest of the world should stop using it in the way they're accustomed. What's in it for them, exactly?

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

        Re: What an engineer does in the UK

        "Or to put it more accurately: about how the word "engineer", in the UK at least, doesn't mean what people with engineering degrees wish it meant."

        true. I have a HND in Engineering, or MechaTronics as they called it that year (said Engineering when the cert arrived). I never managed to get a job in it, I have been called an engineer on and off in various other I.T roles.

        I've given up giving a shit. The word is lost. Its gone the way of "Technician" in that anyone can put it after their job to make it sound fancy.

        The longest serving desktop support grunt next door recently became a "Senior Engineer" , much flashier title than his boss - the Team Leader.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: What an engineer does in the UK

        "I'm sorry, but that's just how the word is used."

        People who drive steam engines are engineers. People with engineering degrees or other engineering certfication are engineers. Most other technically qualified people are technicians or mechanicians.

        All the above are more vulnerable to having their jobs taken by computers/robotics than people who empty bins, rewire/replumb houses, dig ditches, take your burger orders/flip said burgers or sweep floors., but less vulnerable to that fate than those who do things best described as "management, office or legal work"

        Why? Cost of implementation vs savings on wages.

        Low paid manual work isn't worth replacing with AI, highly paid stuff like plumbing/electrical existing buildings is likely too hard to robotise.

        Office work and paper shuffling doesn't NEED complex/expensive mechanical handling systems to be able to take over - it's already 90% there anyway (when was the last time you saw an office full of ledger clerks filling in paperwork?)

        The need for skilled/smart people to fix things that break and devise new stuff will be here for a while yet. The rise of technocrats was predicted more than 50 years ago and has yet to happen.

      3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        Re: What an engineer does in the UK

        So if, in common parlance, which defines language, "engineer" means "fitter", what word do we use for real actual engineer?

      4. Flexdream

        Re: What an engineer does in the UK

        I thought the engineering councils were promoting the idea of 'chartered engineer' to raise status. 'Graduate engineer' would be another option.

    7. caffeine addict Silver badge

      Re: What an engineer does in the UK

      At least it's better than "executive". As in "technical support executive" instead of "first line support"

      I assume it's like in "executive producer" - no powers and no responsibilities but it looks good on your business card.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What an engineer does in the UK

      Last year I couldn't spell technician. Now I are one.

    9. Libertarian Voice
      Mushroom

      Re: What an engineer does in the UK

      Well that really depends on the sort of repair that you want. For those of us that go off piste and work on digital presses with bespoke environmental and configuration problems who have to bend and fabricate hardware and software in order to meet customer expectations, the title of engineer is what you will use or you will be told to piss off and do it yourself if you think you are so clever.

  2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Incredible

    For a country that bandies about the word "Freedom" with totally gay abandon, there's an unbelievable amount of states that have had nothing better to do than pass laws restricting said freedom for the stupidest of reasons.

    It's good to see that the justice system is still rather functional, it's just a shame that it is needed to correct the total lack of common sense of the state legislators.

    1. John Riddoch

      Re: Incredible

      "for the stupidest of reasons" - follow the money. My guess is the Professional Engineer Registration Act was sponsored by someone who coincidentally received "campaign contributions" from someone with a vested interest in licensing engineers.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Incredible

        This has been around for years - when my company moved me from being a "Service Engineer" (zero paper qualifications in the UK back in the 70's) to fix their stuff in the the US, I made them print me a whole new set of business cards.

        This is the US - in Louisiana you need a State License (sic) to braid hair and sell flowers.

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

          Re: Incredible

          Louisiana is actually one of the better ones on braiding. You only need 500 hours of training to get a braider's license where other states like Rhode Island require a full cosmetology license to the tune of 1,500 hours of training.

          Full IJ report link on this page for anyone interested in how silly it can get.

      2. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: Incredible

        Yes, the vast majority of occupational licensing is about limiting competition. It's little different from cab drivers trying to reign in Uber & Lyft. In the case of many "professional" licenses there is also a lot of cronyism and tradition so it becomes more a "brotherhood". It's also why so many are willing to cover for the ineptitude of their peers which is why bad doctors, teachers, lawyers, etc. are often so hard to purge.

        1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

          Re: Incredible

          rein in. 'Tight rein', 'loose reign', 'free rein', all from the dear old days of horse-riding, so no wonder it is obscure.

          1. whileI'mhere

            Re: FailCEO

            "Tight rein', 'loose reign', 'free rein' "

            Umm - 'loose reign' is probably less to do with horses and more like not paying due care and attention while in charge of a monarchy.

          2. Jtom Bronze badge

            Re: Incredible

            No difference, really. Those who want to rein also want to reign.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Incredible

              "Those who want to rein also want to reign."

              Which has a lot to do with why there are so many martinets involved.

              And that happens to be an affliction that's spreading across the UK too.

    2. Gene Cash Silver badge

      Re: Incredible

      Don't forget this is also one of 2 states to restrict you from pumping your own gas (until very recently) on the basis you couldn't be trusted to not set everything on fire.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Incredible

        In all fairness, the citizens of Oregon consistently vote to continue the ban on self-pumping your gas (which remains in effect to this day). So this isn't a case of the government arbitrarily restricting freedom, it's the citizenry directly choosing the rules they want to live by.

        1. Ken Knowles

          Re: Incredible

          I have never been able to vote for having to queue up for 20 minutes to get petrol in my car. This is coming from a State where people consistently drive 5 to 10 miles an hour UNDER the speed limit, get confused by roundabouts and manage to walk in front of trains on a regular basis.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Incredible

        I was under the impression that these were more of +jobs strategies, as it creates a need for pump attendants.

      3. Bill Michaelson

        Re: Incredible

        And the other is my own state of NJ where I pump my own gas and have evaded arrest. But we are making progress on the braiding front...

        http://www.philly.com/philly/news/new_jersey/nj-gov-murphy-hair-braiders-veto-african-american-immigrants-trade-20180827.html

        Perhaps I can call myself an (e)ngineer, so long as I don't capitalize it. Or capitalize on it?

    3. Jaybus

      Re: Incredible

      "It's good to see that the justice system is still rather functional, it's just a shame that it is needed to correct the total lack of common sense of the state legislators."

      Most states have laws requiring licensing of engineers for specific disciplines regarding construction and civil engineering. The obvious intent is to better ensure safety in the design of, for example, bridges, roads, public utilities, commercial electrical systems, etc. This batch of state legislators attempted to apply the law far outside of its intent and were slapped down by a scrupulous court doing its job. In fact, the vast majority of people with engineering degrees, including advanced degrees, are not licensed PEs simply because the law does not require it for their line of work.

      The legislators are doubtless attempting to protect a money-making fining system. I know that in Tennessee the law itself states that nonpayment cannot have an adverse effect on credit score, driver's license, or insurance payments. Most people don't pay, because the likelihood of being sued for nonpayment is extremely low. Yet, there are enough who do pay to make it a profitable fine. If it could be proved that they were flawed, they would simply have to stop using them altogether. Rather than refute the proof, they attempted to refute his qualification to present the proof. The judge saw through their bs and ruled against them.

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Incredible

      "For a country that bandies about the word "Freedom" with totally gay abandon"

      You should look up how propaganda works. They bandy it about so much precisely to distract from the issue that they don't HAVE very much of it.

    5. devTrail

      Re: Incredible

      Incredible how many people keep abusing the concept of freedom. Yes in this case it may sound really bureaucratic, but shouting about freedom is an overreaction. BTW what was the goal of that law? It might have been not so nice like protecting local corporativism or it might have been just wishful thinking, trying to curb scams.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great for this Engineer

    But what really gets my goat is people calling themselves "Software Engineer" when they have no academic qualifications in Software Engineering, nor membership of a professional body.

    You wouldn't go to an Accountant that was not registered, or a Doctor that was not registered, or a Pharmacist that was not registered, and yet companies seem happy to employ people to perform Software Engineering jobs without any qualifications or registration. (Or even a reasonable grasp of the English language in many off-shoring instances.)

    From a Chartered Engineer with academic qualifications, many years of experience, and Continual Professional Development from BCS and IEEE memberships.

    1. Mike Shepherd
      Meh

      Re: Great for this Engineer

      It's about supply and demand. The enormous demand for software means that less competent people must be drawn in. The results are predictable, but unavoidable. The alternative would be a world of high standards (possibly) but almost no software, since that software could be provided only by the few. "Smartphones", for example (if they existed at all), would sport only a few dozen basic and unsatisfying "apps", certified to have been written only by members of the BCS and bought only by those who could afford their high standards.

      Of course, there are reasons to insist on high-quality software where safety depends on it. In most cases, it does not. Users prefer the present world of bug-ridden software, filtered by their experience and by the reviews of others. The alternative is a return to the relatively software-free 1970s.

      The BCS has been largely ineffective in raising standards generally. Many have never even heard of it.

      There is no need for an accountant to be "registered" (nor is anyone's status exalted by writing their job name with a capital letter). Anyone can practise as an accountant in the UK, but must be "chartered" to carry out certain types of work.

      1. aks Bronze badge

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        Exactly. Chartered Accountant has legal status (Certified Accountant in the USA).

        If you want to stake your claim to qualified status in any career, simply trying to hijack a standard term and make it imply qualifications doesn't hack it. BEng after your name says something about your academic abilities. Why not use that, if you've earned it.

        The same argument exists regarding the term architect. I know highly skilled Software Architects (I've even been handed the title on occasion). I started before it became an academic study, but regard myself as a highly skilled professional.

        Adding Professional to any subsidiary label simply says that you get paid for doing this work, rather than saying anything about your off-the-job training. I've rarely had any but have a long track record of achievement.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: accountants

        Those beancounters get far too much cudos anyway, its only adding up for fucks sake.

        I had to do differentiation, and Integration! did i get any thanks for it ? no!

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        "Of course, there are reasons to insist on high-quality software where safety depends on it. In most cases, it does not. Users prefer the present world of bug-ridden software, filtered by their experience and by the reviews of others. The alternative is a return to the relatively software-free 1970s."

        What about security as well as safety? If there's sufficient demand there'll be enough money in providing software even if a requirement for higher standards were to be enforced.

        It might, of course, result in the absence of software where the "bugs" are deliberate features to allow the vendors to extract data on the QT. Good.

    2. vtcodger Silver badge

      Re: Great for this Engineer

      But what really gets my goat is people calling themselves "Software Engineer" when they have no academic qualifications in Software Engineering, nor membership of a professional body.

      I can't say that I've ever been overly impressed with academic credentials per se, or, in many cases, with people who tout them. However, there's are bigger problems with "software engineering." For one thing, there is very little actual core information about software other than descriptions of programming languages and some discussion of algorithms. With a few exceptions -- cryptography, what else? -- there's simply no body of solid body of theory on which to base practice engineering. For another, few software practitioners have actually read many, or even any, of the core documents documents that do exist -- Hamming, Knuth, etc.

      I think it may be symbolic of the state of "Software Engineering" that only three and a fraction of the planned seven volumes of "The Art of Computer Programming" have ever made it to the publishers.

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        only three and a fraction of the planned seven volumes of "The Art of Computer Programming" have ever made it to the publishers.

        I shall forthwith change my job title to Software Artist.

        1. maffski

          Re: Great for this Engineer

          I shall forthwith change my job title to Software Artist.

          As a self employed type I think I'm going to go for 'Logic Crofter'

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Great for this Engineer

            A relative of mine was once known as a "digital gymnast".

            1. Simon Harris Silver badge

              Re: Great for this Engineer

              I can't help thinking that might be a euphemism.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Great for this Engineer

                No, not really. He was known for creative solutions to computing challenges. Getting the computer to (metaphorically!) do backflips.

                1. quxinot

                  Re: Great for this Engineer

                  The problem is that 'digital' can also refer to the things attached to a hand.

                  Then it becomes quite a bit more funny and dirty in equal measures.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Great for this Engineer

              In at least one language, Computer admins are "beheerders" (shepherds, more or less))

              Which makes a hell of a lot of sense to me, as does beer herding. (It's Friday!)

          2. Not also known as SC

            Re: Great for this Engineer

            I'll stick with keyboard monkey

        2. poohbear

          Re: Great for this Engineer

          Do it properly ... Software Artiste.

          Back in the 90s when I was a corporate programmer (albeit with a CompSci degree) I remember being thrown by the American tech publications talking about Software Engineers ... like they could write compilers with one hand behind their back. Sanitation Engineers arrived shortly after that, and it's been politically correct downhill ever since.

          1. hmw

            Re: Great for this Engineer

            Speaking of CompSci and Sanitation Engineers - my supervisor proudly showed the class some pics of a group of research students (from my alma mater and working for Sun on the JVM) wearing boiler suits emblazoned with the following logo: Sun Sanitation Engineering

            After all, they were working on the Garbage Collector for the JVM

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Great for this Engineer

            "Sanitation Engineers arrived shortly after that, and it's been politically correct downhill ever since."

            I remember somewhere about 1970 someone at a British Ecological Society* conference complaining to me and SWMO that the term "environmental science" had become so devalued that you couldn't tell whether someone claiming to be that was an academic or a man who'd come to tell you where to fit the radiators.

            What lent this a certain piquancy was that he was a geographer and it was my view that ecology had been invaded by geographers who persisted in talking about well established aspects of the science but inventing their own terms for it. I suppose it was a primer for later life in IT where too much innovation is old ideas with new words.

            * This was back when ecology was predominantly a branch of science rather than a branch of politics.

          3. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: Great for this Engineer

            I did CompSci in the 1980s and it was completely and utterly useless for any sleeves-rolled-up actual creation of computer code. I spent almost three years thinking "when are we going to do some, y'know, actual progamming?"

            There a quotation something along the lines of: CompSi is as much about programming as Astrophysics is about telescopes.

        3. MaltaMaggot

          Re: Great for this Engineer

          "I shall forthwith change my job title to Software Artist"

          Whereas I in fact have a moderately well-established, parallel career as a Piss Artist.... *hic*

        4. Mike Moyle Silver badge

          Re: Great for this Engineer

          "I shall forthwith change my job title to Software Artist."

          Why? Don't you WANT to be able to earn a living?

          (signed)

          A Graphic Designer

          (because people will pay slightly more for a Graphic Designer than a Graphic Artist)

      2. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        I can't say that I've ever been overly impressed with academic credentials per se, or, in many cases, with people who tout them.

        Thinks of people I've known with MBA after their names. Shudders.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Great for this Engineer

          "Thinks of people I've known with MBA after their names. Shudders."

          MSCE......... ("Must call someone else")

          And there are a bunch of others where it's painfully obvious that someone's been collecting letters after their names, but precious little actual USABLE knowledge/wisdom to go with those letters.

      3. 2+2=5 Silver badge

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        > For one thing, there is very little actual core information about software other than descriptions of programming languages and some discussion of algorithms. With a few exceptions -- cryptography, what else?

        You're having a laugh surely? There's a *vast* body of theoretical and empirical research into every aspect of software, let alone the wider topics of computers and computing.

        You give cryptography as an example. A few more just off the top of my head: virtual reality; augmented reality; machine learning; speech recognition; face recognition; processor emulation; JIT compilation; scalable DBs and distributed processing such as Hadoop. All of these were research lab stuff at one time and are now mainstream. But the research that went with them is still available.

        1. DoctorMO

          Re: Great for this Engineer

          Yes but what has research to do with engineering? You have to actually formulate all that over hyped guff into something that looks like principles and it's all just too early right now. Either that or the researchers are rubbish at communicating to the engineering class. Not an unheard of problem.

          1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

            Re: Great for this Engineer

            Yes but what has research to do with engineering? You have to actually formulate all that over hyped guff into something that looks like principles and it's all just too early right now. Either that or the researchers are rubbish at communicating to the engineering class. Not an unheard of problem.

            To pick just one example: what programming language do you develop in and what approach do you use? Do you write monolithic assembler or do you write modular, object-oriented something?

            Where do you think OO came from? Basic research, followed by lots of development, is the answer.

            It's not "just too early right now" - if anything it is too late - software engineering principles have been forgotten by the teachers and their poor students don't stand a chance, which is why you get programmers downloading a library to left pad a string.

      4. hmw

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        'very little actual core information' ?????

        What course did you do? "Avoidance of Computer Engineering"?

        Basic CS courses have plenty of lambda calculus (aka denotational semantics) - and that's a SOLID body of theory - not just "descriptions of programming languages"

        Databases, Information Retrieval, Non linear optimization, Operations Research, Graphics (2D & 3D), not to mention Digital Signal Processing ...

        And don't even get me started on compilers and processors ...

      5. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        "For one thing, there is very little actual core information about software"

        I did a second year paper on software engineering. There is quite a bit written about it, and much is useful and applicable. It's much more about speccing* and designing a system, knowing what sort of patterns to use, what you should and shouldn't re-use, etc.

        It's the only course other than computer security which did much work on designing for security. Along with various other things that if you're not taking in to account throughout the whole process of design and implementation will cause your software to have fatal flaws.

        Plus there was a whole section on correctly documenting all the parts of the process. It was one of the harder non-medical papers, partially because the two hour labs required us to produce actual work at the end of each session, with a hard deadline.

        It's run by one of the department hard-arses, which is a good thing. He's a "proper" engineer (mechanical then robotics) and extremely demanding.

        "descriptions of programming languages and some discussion of algorithms"

        That should all be in first year papers. CS1, CS2, algos and optimization, should cover some OOL language, python and some flavour of C. Most of the more specialized languages get taught as part of the relevant courses (prolog and R). If you're doing a CS or programming degree I'd expect to have some grounding in assembly too.

        "For another, few software practitioners have actually read many, or even any, of the core documents documents that do exist -- Hamming, Knuth, etc."

        I'd add the mythical man hour to that list. While we weren't expected to read them, they have all been pointed out to us in the "if you want greater depth, go here" part of the lectures.

        So while I'm not a software engineer (or programmer for that matter) I can tell the difference. In the same way there is a massive difference between a mechanic and a mechanical engineer, the engineer might not be able to fix your car, but they should know how a mechanic works, and design things to make their life easier.

        It's the micro/macro split. The engineer should have a macro view, and ensure all parts work together. The micro view is when given a defined part of the problem to solve, the programmer builds that part. Engineer != programmer :D

        "I can't say that I've ever been overly impressed with academic credentials per se, or, in many cases, with people who tout them."

        I'm not either, but you should be able to ask someone what they actually did as part of their study. For example a CS graduate should have built a multi-tasking OS from scratch, possibly as part of a group. A knowledge engineer (I fucking hate my department name at times) should be able to build effective (and ideally adaptive) search algos and utilise the assorted ML techniques, and then be able to explain what they can and can't do to a non-technical audience.

        So while I have a degree with "Engineer" and "Scientist" in it, I don't consider myself an engineer. Maybe a baby scientist, since I tend to be the main researcher in project groups (ie go read all the papers). Plus my thesis** was suitably abstract, rather than building a robot.

        * yes, that's technically requirements engineering.

        ** Prisoner's dilemma with communication results in a different Nash equilibrium than without communication. Affectionately known around the department as my "Nash was wrong and a bit of a bastard" paper :D

      6. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        there's simply no body of solid body of theory on which to base practice engineering. For another, few software practitioners have actually read many, or even any, of the core documents documents that do exist -- Hamming, Knuth, etc.

        You want a solid body? I'd recommend McDermid's "Software Engineer's Reference Book". Useful to throw at people who try to use Java on the wrong nuts. As for Knuth, or even Kerningham and Ritchie.. that's why we can't have the nice things. Or simple buffer over flows exist to this day. Not having a grasp of the theory means no real grasp of the application(s).

    3. I3N
      Coat

      Re: Great for this Engineer

      Thought you were going to say sysadmin ....

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great for this Engineer

      When I was younger, only a certain type of person joined BCS and they were not the best software engineers, normally it was the people who could write down a load of bollocks that looked impressive but didn't actually understand what they were doing.

      puffing yourself up with fancy titles and memberships is normally a sign of people who are shit, but have a way too big ego...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Great for this Engineer

          "....and I am going to be Minister for Pretty Girls"

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Great for this Engineer

      "and yet companies seem happy to employ people to perform Software Engineering jobs without any qualifications or registration."

      Maybe the problem is the term "engineer" when combined with "software"? Engineer is already an overused word for many wildly different activities but ar least most of them involve something mechanical. Software Engineer is really just an allegorical phrase.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        "Software Engineer is really just an allegorical phrase."

        No, it isn't an allegory. Look it up.

        My grandfather was a railway engineer. He worked on points and signalling. Stuff he explained to me when I was a little kid made sense years later.

        Anyone who has developed things like packet switching networks has done the same thing only with software rather than steel. It's basically the same idea, get stuff from A to a whole range of Zs without coming off the rails en route.

        1. Simon Harris Silver badge

          Re: Great for this Engineer

          Indeed, both railways and networks can use tokens to prevent collisions.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great for this Engineer

      BCS member == self-proclaimed idiot

      1. Caver_Dave

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        Maybe an idiot, but not self-proclaimed.

        Members have been judged competent by a group of their peers at the BCS!

        You need qualifications (in an appropriate field), proven (relevant) experience, letters of support from a couple of your peers and to pass an interview to get in.

        They can also award Chartered Status. I have CITP through them.

        (I think Chartered Accountant is what the original poster meant to say.)

        An earlier reply said that it was down to supply and demand of qualified engineers. I would rather have a choice of 2 cars to get me from A to B, rather than a choice of 16 that will not get off the drive, plus the 2 that will work!

        Vtcodger, there is lots of good solid theory and published examples of best practice. This is what we should all be reading as part of our continuous professional development - not all of it is only available through the professional bodies, there are also good books, and the Internet (if you filter hard enough).

        Who honestly does structured CPD other than members of the professional bodies?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Great for this Engineer

          Things have changed at the BCS - in my day you just needed 10+ years experience and sponsorship from a Fellow.

    7. Blank Reg

      Re: Great for this Engineer

      Software Engineering wasn't available as a degree until a year after I graduated, so I got a BSC in computer science and physics.

      But I've had various "engineer" titles for over 3 decades. That only ever became an issue in the last year of my previous company where you couldn't have engineer in your title unless you were licensed as a professional engineer. They also forced people who had the appropriate degrees to put MSC, PHD etc. on their business cards, whether or not they wanted it there.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        "so I got a BSC in computer science"

        What did all the real scientists think of that?

        Seriously though , isnt the word "science" a bit missapropriated there in the same way as this Engineer discussion?

        Scientists have labcoats and microscopes and sample dishes, or telescopes..

        1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: Great for this Engineer

          "What did all the real scientists think of that?"

          My school is in the department of Science, since the university got fed up of all the dinky departments and wanted us all integrated into the larger ones. We're the only one that had a clear fit, since we sit a few medicine papers (neuroscience, diagnostics) and take students from other faculties to do our papers (calc, databases and CS mainly).

          There is a bit of a bun fight over teaching calc, since the business school also teaches a calc course, and would like us all to do it one group. The problem is that calc for engineers is a lot harder than calc for economics, despite it being the same subject matter.

          It's quite common for our engineering graduates to do their masters in the medicine faculty, such as doing signal processing on medical diagnostics. So our grads do more proportionally more "science" (ie research) than most of the MD graduates, since it turns people who train as doctors tend to want to practise and not research :)

          If the majority of your papers for your degree are math or science, then generally it's accepted that it's a BSC. Or in the case of us, BSC(hons). Because engineering apparently :D

    8. sed gawk

      Re: Great for this Engineer

      Software Engineering is a is misnomer.

      Software is something between literature (it's not real) and law (except when it is).

      In any event, Software production, is not building to known tolerances with known materials and techniques, it's simply not engineering.

      Sadly it's only at certain levels of scale that the difference between what a master can produce and what the tea-boy spewed onto the keyboard becomes apparent. And if you never hit that level of scale, there is no difference.

      1. Swarthy Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        Really!?

        Use your handle to replace "known tolerances" with "Given and derived requirements" and "known materials and techniques" with "appropriate languages and algorithms", and see that you're spouting bollocks. Per your argument about scale, I have seen instances where that scale was 1 user; you may as well be saying that if no-one finds a bug/vulnerability, than said bug/vuln doesn't exist.

        1. sed gawk

          @swarthy

          Use your handle to replace "known tolerances" with "Given and derived requirements"

          Requiring an artefact to not fall on your head is not the same thing as a known tolerance.

          Try to understand that "known tolerances" is not the same as "requirements", it means that If I need to support X amount of compressive force, I can locate a suitable reference material which will support that force properly installed. I can look that up and *engineer a solution* using the table for the material, like this one for steel https://ascelibrary.org/doi/10.1061/%28ASCE%290733-9445%282004%29130%3A1%28147%29

          Per your argument about scale, I have seen instances where that scale was 1 user; you may as well be saying that if no-one finds a bug/vulnerability, than said bug/vuln doesn't exist.

          No, I said that great code is indistinguishable from mediocre code, until a situation where the mediocre code fails and the great code continues to work, This is compounded by disposable software, who care if it only stays up for a week at a time if the life of the software is measured in days.

          and "known materials and techniques" with "appropriate languages and algorithms", and see that you're spouting bollocks.

          sed gawk

          sed: -e expression #1, char 2: extra characters after command

          Oh look at that, "appropriate languages and algorithms" doesn't seem to work, perhaps that's because we "write" software, we "design" software, but we sure as fuck don't engineer it.

          I see I have offended you by disparaging remarks about the tea-boy, in apology I shall have a black coffee with no sugar thanks.

          1. Swarthy Silver badge

            Re: @swarthy

            I took no offense at the "tea boy" comment, I simply didn't repeat it in reply. I even accept your use of "tea boy" to indicate mediocre code, they are still way ahead of HR Managers and Accountants who try to write their own "software".

            You did not say "that great code is indistinguishable from mediocre code, until a situation where the mediocre code fails and the great code continues to work"; you said that there is no difference. I am pedantic, and whilst the former may have been what you meant, it is not what you said.

            I count knowing what hardware you will be using (usually a given or derived requirement) and it's associated capabilities as a "known tolerance". EG: If you are writing embedded software, it will not tolerate using PHP.

            Saying that software is not engineered is a bit like saying "we build bridges, we design bridges, but we sure as fuck don't engineer them." Now, one can slap a couple of planks across a stream and have a non-designed, non-engineered bridge, and one can copy pasta from Stack Overflow and create the equivalent software. Or one could research how much weight said bridge will have to carry, how long/wide the bridge must be, is it foot or vehicular traffic, etc and engineer a bridge with the requisite strength, give, and support.

            I am not saying that all software is engineered, but you are saying that none of it is, and you are wrong.

            1. sed gawk

              Re: @swarthy

              You did not say "that great code is indistinguishable from mediocre code, until a situation where the mediocre code fails and the great code continues to work"; you said that there is no difference. I am pedantic, and whilst the former may have been what you meant, it is not what you said.

              I accept that as fair comment, it is indeed not the original wording.

            2. sed gawk

              Re: @swarthy

              I count knowing what hardware you will be using (usually a given or derived requirement) and it's associated capabilities as a "known tolerance". EG: If you are writing embedded software, it will not tolerate using PHP.

              I see your point but it's incorrect. An embedded device with suitable amount of ram and suitable toolchain will support C and by extension PHP and its dependancies, https://www.instructables.com/id/Control-an-Arduino-with-PHP/

              But an arduino is not "proper embedded" like a few 100 bytes of rom embedded, perhaps, and at the extremely tight level only assembler will do, but that is about resource constraint, not tolerance.

              Tolerance is it will fail outside of this range of e.g. temperature.

            3. sed gawk

              Re: @swarthy

              Saying that software is not engineered is a bit like saying "we build bridges, we design bridges, but we sure as fuck don't engineer them." Now, one can slap a couple of planks across a stream and have a non-designed, non-engineered bridge, and one can copy pasta from Stack Overflow and create the equivalent software.

              Or one could research how much weight said bridge will have to carry, how long/wide the bridge must be, is it foot or vehicular traffic, etc and engineer a bridge with the requisite strength, give, and support.

              The distinction is a false one, bridges were indeed built by "non-engineers" and people died, leading to licensing of civil engineers. And to carry on my earlier analogy, if you only need to cross the stream once, it doesn't matter if you used a couple of planks, or "engineered" a solution using the appropriate materials.

              I am not saying that all software is engineered, but you are saying that none of it is, and you are wrong. I didn't say that, you may have taken me to mean that but that's not what I said.

              I said that "software engineering" is a misnomer, software is fundamentally a literary work, and wisely recognised as such under English and Welsh Law. Software in so much as it departs from making hardware operate, just doesn't meet any reasonable definition of engineering.

              The source "material" itself is an encoding of an idea, which is itself an encoding of a requirement.

              The output artefact may be built perfectly and still fail in unpredictable ways which cannot be "engineered" out, it's not engineering.

              That's okay, it's okay that software is its own thing. It's a wonderful thing, it can delight and amuse, and it can be produced to a very high standard, but it's not engineered. It's largely bespoke, rarely reusable, and almost always completely lacking in anything that might pass for engineering.

              Knowing what hardware your software runs on, ranges from essential to irrelevant. Ensuring that the circuit is (a) fused, an (b) said fuse, *will* trip prior to your wires melting is engineering.

              Now what makes it engineering, is that I don't need to do the calculation.

              2.5mm twin and earth, in installation [Method] will support value from [BS7671 Appendix 4 for 70°C PVC cable]

              That is not true of software, and until it is, we don't have software as an engineering discipline.

              We still use voodoo as an estimation method in a large percentage of development shops, when we start doing scrumban in the materials engineering world, I'll take the argument more seriously, but for now, nope, not convinced.

      2. Robert Forsyth

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        Software Engineering exists, but it isn't what companies typically want when they ask for a Software Engineer.

        Software Engineering is (devising ways to) efficiently producing software of sufficient quality. This may be by means of a compiler or interpreter for a domain specific language; or some trade off in choice of algorithm between implementation complexity and speed; or using some off-the-shelf part instead of bespoke.

        Software, at one level, is giving detailed instructions on how to do a task on a slightly abstract machine or simplified model of a machine.

        I think an engine is the work of an engineer, not the other way round; engine is named after engineer; a design is the work of a designer, clean is the work of a cleaner; compared to, paint is not the work of a painter.

        With running a railway steam engine, some body plans water (and coal) refilling which will depend on the load on the engine. The engine driver may be a safety engineer, in that they imagine/predict the consequences of a coarse of action, so letting the fireman drive the train when it is safe to do so.

    9. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Great for this Engineer

      "But what really gets my goat is people calling themselves "Software Engineer" when they have no academic qualifications in Software Engineering, nor membership of a professional body."

      Why does that get your goat? If someone is engaging in engineering, they're an engineer. It seems straightforward to me. The lack of formal certification would only mean that they aren't "certified engineers".

    10. FatGerman

      Re: Great for this Engineer

      As somebody with no engineering qualifcations nor membership of any professional body but who could call himself a software engineer, I take exception to your comment. I am perfectly competent to do my job, if I were not I would not be allowed to continue to do it. I've learned to be an engineer by working as an engineer. I don't need bits of paper with logos on them to prove that to anybody.

      At the end of the day it doesn't matter what you call yourself or what your job title is. What matters is your experience and ability - which aren't proven or measured by titles or membership of organisations. I've interviewed plenty of people with proper engineerig qualifications who I wound't trust to find the on-switch on a monitor, and employed several people with no engineering qualifcations to work in jobs with 'engineer' in the title.

      Someone else made the pont about public safety, yes in that case qualifications matter. In every other area a job title is just a job title, get over it, it doesn't matter.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Great for this Engineer

        "As somebody with no engineering qualifcations nor membership of any professional body but who could call himself a software engineer, I take exception to your comment. I am perfectly competent to do my job, if I were not I would not be allowed to continue to do it. I've learned to be an engineer by working as an engineer. I don't need bits of paper with logos on them to prove that to anybody."

        I don't think anyone is arguing about the competence or qualifications of those who are called software engineers. It's more about whether the term "engineer" is the correct one for the job. As I've stated in another comment, the term "engineer" has been bastardised and mis-used until it's almost become a meaningless term. It's not the only one either and it mainly seems to have happened over a relatively recent times as people have been promoted or given pay rises and needed new job titles to justify why they got the rise and others didn't. It;s a bit like having a senior programmer rather than a supervisor or foreman because "senior" command more money and respect than foreman, even though there's little difference in the practicalities. Team Leader instead of charge-hand etc. I suspect a lot of it stems from the transition between Personnel Department and Human Resources Management.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Great for this Engineer

          the term "engineer" has been bastardised and mis-used until it's almost become a meaningless term.

          The word "engineer" existed long before there were university courses and professional institutes dealing with engineering and it had a wide variety of meanings beyond the original which, I think, was military (cf civil engineering). The real issue here is a long-standing campaign to hijack the term for a restricted meaning rather than create a new one by those who want such exclusivity.

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Great for this Engineer

          "It's more about whether the term "engineer" is the correct one for the job."

          True. If the job involves engineering, then the correct title is "engineer" regardless of certifications.

          I agree with you about watering down the term (at least in software) -- "computer programmer" and "software engineer" are two different jobs with different tasks, but the number of computer programmers who have the title of engineer has gotten a bit out of hand.

    11. devTrail

      Re: Great for this Engineer

      But what really gets my goat is people calling themselves "Software Engineer" when they have no academic qualifications in Software Engineering, nor membership of a professional body.

      You are blaming the wrong people. Managers and HR departments started mislabeling job descriptions a long time ago in order to dress up job roles that sucked and they cold find no candidates for. The tone has been amplified with time and as someone said, when something is repeated long enough eventually people buy it. In the meantime IT ranks grew with the new generations an with the increased competition more people began to apply for those job roles, obviously they had to present themselves in a way that matched the request.

  4. vtcodger Silver badge

    OMG

    was fined in 2016 for calling himself an engineer in correspondence with state officials and doing math.

    Really now. Can you imagine the chaos if we let just anyone wander in off the street and start doing math?

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: OMG

      You're not suggesting that the £350 million on the side of a bus caused chaos?

      1. bpfh Bronze badge
        Joke

        Re: OMG

        Those who can, do

        Those who can't, teach

        Those who can't teach become politicians...

  5. Dabooka Silver badge

    Surely this is just payback?

    I mean I appreciate the statute exists, but isn't this a case of sour grapes by someone being told how to do their job better by a geezer who's improved their 'math'? I'm sure they loved receiving a letter saying 'You're doing it wrong, do this!', so a quick check of the register is easy payback.

    After all the story doesn't actually make reference to if the revised calculations are indeed correct, instead the focus is on the use of engineer...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surely this is just payback?

      Follow the 'doing math' link in the story to see the previous discussion of the revised calculations.

      1. Dabooka Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Surely this is just payback?

        I know they're available, I was talking more about the focus of the story shifting in other media outlets too.

        A bit like the 'flood of immigrants' distracting us away from the borked Brexit debacle...

  6. trevorde

    I am a 'Sanitation Engineer'

    1. Vanir

      I am a 'Sanitation Engineer'

      I'm a software engineer and, like you, deal with shit covered wet wipes.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of snobs in here today.

    I see a lot of people in here today who love putting down others, who through no fault of their own, have been given a job title with "engineer" in it. Well my snobby little friends, next time you're sitting there freezing your arse off 'cos your boiler is knackered and the only person authorised to open and fix it is the British Gas engineer, then I hope your condescension keeps the chill out of your bones while you shiver!

    I see the BG repair guy as an engineer in terms of the "steam train engineers", they were basically drivers but through understanding of the machines they maintained day after day they earned the title "engineer". BG engineer may not be an expert, may not be able to design and build you a boiler but a lot of those guys work bloody hard to learn how to fix a huge range of kit, they're smart and they deserve a little bit of respect. Take it from someone who's relative is "heating engineer" and knows his stuff!

    1. Caver_Dave
      Flame

      Re: A lot of snobs in here today.

      My brother fixes the gas mains when they break or a digger rips them up.

      He had to sit multiple exams and practical tests before he could work on the team, and he has to do refresher courses regularly.

      How many of the so called "software engineers" have passed relevant exams and refresh their knowledge regularly?

      Flame icon as that is what he sometimes finds when he turns up on site.

      1. AdamWill

        Re: A lot of snobs in here today.

        "How many of the so called "software engineers" ... refresh their knowledge regularly?"

        I'll have you know I rip something off^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hrefresh my knowledge from Stack Overflow as often as twice a day!

        Yours,

        A Principal Quality Engineer

        1. bpfh Bronze badge
          Trollface

          Re: A lot of snobs in here today.

          "Plagiarize

          Let no one else's work evade your eyes

          Remember why the good Lord made your eyes

          So don't shade your eyes

          But plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize

          Only be sure always to call it please "research" "

          - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQHaGhC7C2E

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A lot of snobs in here today.

        Just what are the relevant exams?

        The steaming heap of excrement pushed by Microsoft and friends that let you put random letters after your name for a few months before they charge you again the next year to be allowed to continue doing so?

        This is Engineer Eugene, he passed a multiple choice quiz and is now a MCSE black belt, he'll have your border agency system up and running in time despite not knowing what a border is or an agency as it wasn't included in the test.

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: A lot of snobs in here today.

        "How many of the so called "software engineers" have passed relevant exams and refresh their knowledge regularly?"

        Exams aren't terribly important, but any software engineer who isn't constantly refreshing their knowledge and skillset is a software engineer who will get replaced by one that does.

    2. Cursorkeys

      Re: A lot of snobs in here today.

      They eat their own as well. I have a BSc in Electronic Engineering not a BEng, so some have said I'm not properly an engineer.

      Interestingly you do not need a formal qualification in the UK to become a Chartered Engineer. You just need to prove yourself, which seems right and proper to me.

    3. Vanir

      Re: A lot of snobs in here today.

      I used to earn a living as an electrician / building services technician - 1979 to 1995. I also looked after passenger lifts. I installed and maintained ac/dc power plants, serviced air conditioning units and plant - and much more.

      It's odd looking back. I had to pass a course on lift maintenance before I could legally work on lifts.

      In software I have never had to pass a course to legally create software no matter what sector it was for; even in the defence sector. I am not sure one has to do so for say aviation control systems.

      I do know that I have to pass interview 'tests'. I have to show to the interviewers that I have some knoweldge that is recognised by the interviewers as showing 'competence': irrespective of my 'academic' awards or experience as detailed on my CV.

      What is more odd is that no interviewer has told me that they are interview engineers or have done any courses, tests on interviewing, never mind management courses. They sometimes parrot the phrase 'want to know how you think' as the raison d'etre for their well thought out questionning.

      Warning! Lifts are now computer controlled via the use of software, written by

      Agiled engineers!

    4. RancidOrange

      Re: A lot of snobs in here today.

      They may be called steam train engineers in the US but over here in Blighty they are train drivers. Also, train drivers don't do the maintenance on the engines they drive (and probably never have done). Would be like expecting a Formula 1 driver to fix his own engine - they're allowed nowhere near it.

      1. Ozumo

        Re: A lot of snobs in here today.

        Ever hear of Jack Brabham?

      2. Gerhard Mack

        Re: A lot of snobs in here today.

        "Also, train drivers don't do the maintenance on the engines they drive (and probably never have done)."

        When trains ran on steam, if they didn't run the boiler properly they could explode and kill people. The Engineer title is a throwback to the days when the day to day running of the train was a lot more complicated.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: A lot of snobs in here today.

        "Also, train drivers don't do the maintenance on the engines they drive (and probably never have done)."

        In the days of steam, the driver and fireman turned up to work 3-4 hours before the train was due to set off because that's how long it took to get up to steam and to check, oil and grease everything to get ready for the day. They were probably really technicians rather then engineers by modern standards, but it was much closer to being an engineer than todays train drivers who basically turn up 5 minutes before setting off, get in and press the starter button.

    5. Evil_Goblin

      Re: A lot of snobs in here today.

      That fact that you see correctly naming a "heating engineer's" occupation as a plumber, fitter or technician as "putting someone down" probably says more about you.

      I wouldn't call a train a car, or a plane a boat, so why call a technician an engineer? They are very different.

      I'm a reasonably well qualified electronics and comms engineer, I've designed a fair few bits of kit, and I am capable of installing it, but I infinitely prefer our install technicians to do the installing of it. They have the necessary field experience, qualifications to drive the machinery etc.

      Likewise they much prefer that I'm the one doing the designing, as although they could definitely knock up a design, I'm more versed in the regs, compliance, electrical design, emc that would mean we can legally sell and install the kit.

      No snobbery at all, we all have our respective roles to play, and appropriate skill sets.

  8. Pirate Dave
    Pirate

    Oregon Engineers

    Even though he's now an "Engineer", he still can't pump his own gas at the gas station. If memory serves, Oregon is one of a handful of states that doesn't trust its own populace to put gasoline into their cars. That dangerous act must be done by a professional.

    1. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: Oregon Engineers

      Yeah, I did that over the summer and the "fuel engineer" went ballistic.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Oregon Engineers

        Ahem! The proper title is "petroleum distillate transfer engineer". At least it was when I was a wee lad working at a service station. Of course with everything these days being merely a filling station perhaps a more apt term would be filling hose wrangler.

        1. Stevie Silver badge

          Re: Oregon Engineers

          Filling Station? Bah! None of these so-called "filling stations" have any sort of auto-pump-gubbins that enforces a full tank on the would be fuel buyer.

          At best these are petrol stations, just like they were in me grandad's day.

          "Filling Station" indeed. So much for engineers and their fancy educations.

  9. DrBobK
    Headmaster

    All hail engineers (especially BG ones).

    My great great grandfather was an engineer. He emigrated to Australia along with the steam engine he was employed (for the rest of his working life) to keep running. Being an engineer didn't used to mean being able to design a steam engine from scratch, it used to mean being able to keep it going. I'm heavily indebted to BG engineers who can keep my central heating going. Something that, as a scientist, is of course, completely beyond me.

  10. Peter Christy

    Technician Vs Engineer

    A Technician is someone who knows where to slap something to make it work.

    An Engineer knows WHY you have to slap it there.

    In a similar vein:

    To a Pessimist, the glass is half empty.

    To an Optimist, the glass is half full.

    To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

    --

    Pete

    1. Cursorkeys

      Re: Technician Vs Engineer

      To a Manager, the glass is WE HAVE A POLICY ABOUT UNCOVERED LIQUIDS AT WORKSTATIONS.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Technician Vs Engineer

      You have to be a little careful there. Try substituting "nurse" and "general practitioner."

      A guy who once reviewed our work on a military project told me about "Sergeant's logic" versus Major's logic. The Major believes everything is done in accordance with the Red Books. The Sergeant says "You can't do it like that, Sir, it doesn't fucking work." You needSergeant's logic.

      (Let me add I have never been in HM forces but I have always got on with them. An honorary "sir" to a civilian scientist is a bit like a medal.)

      1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

        Re: Technician Vs Engineer

        "You have to be a little careful there. Try substituting "nurse" and "general practitioner." "

        The main difference between a nurse and a nurse/general practitioner is legal responsibility.

        A nurse can follow best current practice, get the treatment wrong in the 1/100 cases that aren't what they appear to be, and not be liable. The practitioner is expected to be aware of the 1/100 possibility, and to test/cover for that eventuality.

        In reality the nurse will probably be aware that there is a 1/100 possibility, and make sure their treatment gets reviewed, and the NP/GP will sometimes miss those cases.

        So it's not too dissimilar. The GP knows what you need to be treated for (and takes responsibility for getting it wrong) but may not know the current best treatment. Given that information, the nurse (who gets constant training and certification) then applies the treatment. Both can do the others job, but probably not as well.

        In the same way a good engineer relies on good field techs to do the actual nitty gritty, and the techs rely on the engineer having correctly designed the system.

        This is based of having parental units who are RN and a GP, and asking why doctors get paid more :)

        1. DropBear Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Technician Vs Engineer

          "The GP knows what you need to be treated for (and takes responsibility for getting it wrong)"

          I'm clearly living in the wrong universe, because in mine the ARE NO cases of "getting it wrong", only unfortunate patients, and there's such an utterly unending supply of those that absolutely nobody bats an eyelid if it turns out any number of them have been mistreated to any degree. Unless the press picks up some particularly egregious case and runs with it, in which case there will be much political posturing and various noises will be made but absolutely nobody will get penalized to any degree and absolutely nothing will change (other than the Head of the hospital in question because high level power play is all any such incident is ever good for - everybody else carries on exactly as before).

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Technician Vs Engineer

      To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be. needs to be emptied. The normal term for engineering students in my college was "beers".

  11. A-nonCoward
    Headmaster

    Directors - nor Profesors

    Argentina also requires most users of professional titles to have the corresponding degree - not necessary to be registered, just to have received it from a degree-granting institution. "Profesor" is someone who has the degree of High School Education Teacher, or teaches High School or University. (Elementary School teachers are "Maestros") (and registration is required to actually work in many profession, example architects, lawyers, of course med doctors)

    Now, "Profesor Something" is a favourite title among fortunetellers and astrologer. Alas, hava no degree, you cannot call yourself that, and police will come visit if you do

    Thusly, Argentinian classifieds are full of ads by "Director Something", "Director" being a school principal, and thence obviously even better than just a lowly professor... :-)

    (I know all this because I am a Profesor, a title I use to advantage in Europe because there it's supposed to be a big deal, especially Russia, Germany, while back home I'm just a worthless school teach...)

    BTW, Argentina has other funky interesting control-the-idiots laws. For example, a list for what is allowed for naming a child. These lists vary by Province, so you have a tiny bit of leeway. However, if the name could be valid for either a boy or a girl, you are required to add a second name that makes it clear what gender the pup is[2]. Mexico prohibits "denigrating names", the state of Sonora includes "Harry Potter", or "Robocop" among those[3]

    Argentinians wanting to go "beyond", often travel to Uruguay to spawn[4]. Which also frees a male pup from military conscription, Uruguay having been the only sane country in South America in that respect.

    Icon for the nice professorial garb

    [1]http://registrocivilonline.cba.gov.ar/Paginas/Listado%20de%20Nombres%20permitidos.pdf

    [2]http://buenosaires.gob.ar/areas/registrocivil/nombres/busqueda/buscador_nombres.php?menu_id=16082

    [3] https://www.animalpolitico.com/2014/02/aqui-la-lista-completa-de-nombres-prohibidos-en-sonora-en-reino-unido-reclaman-por-harry-potter/

    [4]https://actualidad.rt.com/actualidad/view/22083-Uruguay%2C-uno-de-pa%C3%ADses-con-costumbre-de-poner-nombres-raros-a-hijos

    1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: Directors - nor Profesors

      "For example, a list for what is allowed for naming a child."

      Germany does one better. Not only rules on what names you can have, but also about what names it will accept.

      I have a friend who worked there. Her name is Sam. It's not short for Samantha, her legal name is Sam.

      German registration systems couldn't cope, because Sam is a boys name only, gottverdammt.

      So she ended up with two sets of details. One entirely correct, apart from her gender. The other accurate apart from her christian name.

      As for restricting professional terms, Germany and the Netherlands consider homeopathy to be a medical specialty. So only MDs can be homeopaths. Thus there are an awful lot less homeopaths, and the ones that do practice can actually diagnose (and refer) people who have a genuine complaint rather than the worried well. It's also a good use for people who have the ability and drive to get a MD, but cannot emotionally cope with patients dying*.

      * I worked at a med school, and if there was a way to test if someone could cope with the guilt/stress of patient deaths then they would use it when people are about 3-4 years in, rather than spend a fortune and 10+ years to discover that someone can't actually practise.

  12. hellwig Silver badge

    Oregon arrests new mothers for unregistered Nursing

    It's almost like context matters in some of these circumstances. Could zero-tolerance be flawed somehow?

  13. John II
    Coat

    What an engineer does in the US

    In the US train drivers are commonly called engineers. Other usage, not so much, except by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Some Army Engineering officers may also be Registered Professional Engineers, since they are responsible for inland waterways flood control and navigation.

    I think the Oregon Professional Engineering Group should limit their righteous umbrage to those using the term engineer to defraud the public.

    (I was amused by a sign stating, "Bob Smith, Signtist.")

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: What an engineer does in the US

      I was amused by a sign stating, "Bob Smith, Signtist."

      I've seen a sign on a chimney sweep's van describing himself as a Flueologist. His slogan is "Up Yours".

  14. Speltier

    Distinctions

    Most people would miss this, but one can be a licensed engineer (has taken the applicable tests and gotten the applicable recommendations etc.) and a licensed and registered engineer (registered to practice in a particular state or states). One is licensed forever, sort of like having a BS, MS, PhD, VMD, MD, Dpl, etc. Registration is a periodic thing in most states, many now requiring continuing education and a fee to maintain said registration (but not license, which is forever or until revoked for cause).

    Since universities usually graduate people as "engineers" from an engineering program, Oregon was rightly squashed on the topic. However, it seems reasonable to restrict the term registered, and almost certainly licensed. Apparently Jarlstrom just didn't want to go through the substantial effort to become at least licensed and thus gain the respect of the masses of unwashed humans.

    Full disclosure: I am a licensed and registered engineer, but not yet certifiable (although some may dispute that).

  15. Jay Lenovo Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Overstepping on Word Ownership

    As one of the few states with more than one state motto (they must have their reasons), let's add yet another such as:

    "Virulent purveyors of language"

    or maybe

    "With God all things are possible but certainly not engineered, unless a state license has been issued"

  16. Drew Scriver

    MCSE...

    Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer...

    There. Now it's official.

  17. DoctorMO

    An engineer is anyone that builds, maintains or operates any engine. If a computer is an engine, then any bastard computer ICT EUDL is an ruddy engineer too. As sad as that makes me feel, anyone driving a car is an engineer.

    SysAdmin -> Daemoneer

    DevOps -> Configureer

    Programmer -> Coadeer

    Developer -> Projecteer

    We don't have the words!

    1. Scott 1
      Coat

      Engineer is from the same root word as "ingenuity," not "engine." Therefore, a driver should rightly be called an "engine operations technician."

      1. Robert Forsyth

        Many a true word is said in jest.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Same sort of thing happens in many jurisdictions...

    "...distinguish between the ill-defined term 'engineer' and variants that will be licensed, namely 'professional engineer' and 'registered professional engineer.' "

    Legislation *clearly* states that the protected title is "Professional Engineer", which the local society interprets as including "engineer" or "engineering".

    They never seem to attempt to enforce this nomenclature nonsense against the grease covered 'stationary engineers', as they're usually armed with rather large monkey wrenches.

  19. ReverandDave

    If engineers didn't think so much of themselves, no one would.

  20. Giles C

    I would not be popular in Oregon

    For a few reasons.

    My job title is Network Security Engineer

    I hold a lapsed Certified Novell Engineer qualification.

    A few jobs ago, I used to design wiring diagrams and control panels for an engineering firm.

    I also built my kit car and redesigned a lot of it to make it better, in fact the only original bits are the chassis and a couple of body panels. Don’t hold an engineering qualification but the DVLA were happy to certify it for road use.

    So there are a few things for them to be annoyed about.

  21. arctic_haze Silver badge

    Oregon is not a different planet

    Although sometimes it thinks it is.

    The problem with the law is not restricting anyone to call themselves engineers but putting this restrictions on real engineers who have diploma from other constituencies. What if they had an international engineering conference in Portland or Corvallis? Should every participant be fined?

    1. rnturn

      Re: Oregon is not a different planet

      Intel and Tektronix have large facilities in Oregon. I wonder: Do their employees get hassled by the state?

  22. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Lets see ...

    ... what the courts say when I call myself an attorney.

  23. Richocet

    Restrict engineering

    While in this case I agree that this is a sensible outcome, in general I think it shouldn't be fine for anyone to call themselves an engineer. The principle is the same as (medical) doctors.

    While not everything (professional) engineers do is life or death, a manor benefit to laws requiring registration is: You need someone qualified and registered to sign off on something significant like a bridge or a new airplane control system. The legal system and professional body surrounding engineering provides a strong incentive and a degree of protection so that the engineer signing off on something important will do an expert and unbiased job.

    Otherwise you have a situation like at Facebook and Google where thousands of people with 'engineer' in their titles bowed to their employers wishes and developed large scale devious, manipulative and privacy violating systems, and misled authorities about it.

    Professional engineers are in a better (but not perfect) situation to resist this sort of pressure.

    1. Scoured Frisbee

      Re: Restrict engineering

      To add to the above poster, as a licensed professional engineer I've agreed to put the health and well-being of the public before my own and employer's interests. If you disagree with my actions you can complain to the board, which will pull my license.

      Once I asked some peer software engineers from a public-facing company the last time they considered anyone other than their employer and immediate customers. It took them most of lunch just to parse the question, the concept was completely alien. I don't think they were doing anything malicious, the wider impact of their code (and there is a lot!) just wasn't part of their thought process.

      Personally I'm in the 'licensure is fine if you want it' camp, but I see the value in having an external group with whom to discuss ethical concerns, and the unspecified fear of having to justify some possibly-unethical action to a board of peers.

      1. Richocet

        Re: Restrict engineering

        Yes, it's not just about being competent at the core aspect of your job, or thinking you are competent because you haven't been fired yet (but nobody has evaluated your work in detail to quantify your skill).

        For many people in this situation they don't know what they don't know, e.g. the ethics; and handling the situation where what your employer tells you to do isn't safe or ethical.

  24. Bonzo_red

    The Sapper

    I guess Rudyard Kipling would get locked up:

    WHEN the Waters were dried an' the Earth did appear,

    ("It's all one," says the Sapper),

    The Lord He created the Engineer,

    Her Majesty's Royal Engineer,

    With the rank and pay of a Sapper!

  25. js.lanshark
    Thumb Up

    To PE or not to PE...

    In a past job, I was a Senior Systems Engineer. Then at the next job became a Network Architect. Now in this job I'm a Technical Engineering Specialist. I consistently do more engineering style work as a TES that I ever did in prior jobs. Sometimes it is about job duties than job titles, but everyone judges on titles. I sometimes get the "so you got demoted" look when I talk about my past jobs. Funny, I make more now that I did in any before. Go ahead, demote me into a higher paying job, please!

  26. rnturn

    Everyone's an engineer now!

    I recently saw a job advert for an "Application Support Engineer". Upon reading the details of the job it was obvious that the company was looking for nothing more than a glorified help desk grunt. But someone in management thought that adding "Engineer" to the job title will add just enough esteem to the job that the new hire will stay for a while. (Thankless job, that. At one employer we had a new help desk hire not come back after lunch on his first day.) Gawd help the poor sap if s/he lives in a state with an overly aggressive professional licensing board, though.

  27. Scott 1

    I'm a licensed civil engineer in Florida. I'm not a fan of the overuse of the word "engineer" for jobs that obviously have nothing to do with actual engineering. However, Oregon was taking that too far, in my opinion. I can agree with restricting people from calling themselves a "licensed," "professional," or "registered" engineer, as that implies being certified and is fraudulent (as is the case in Arizona and Florida).

    1. KR Caddis

      Also abused and overused is "Architect" doing software for example. "Project Manager" now now has a snooty "registered" overzealous advocacy group defining ONE application of the term. und so weiter...

  28. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    From the age of eight I was an avid reader of Everyday Electronics, and designed and constructed loads of electronic devices - performing electronic engineering. If "doing" engineering was illegal unless you were certified, it would make the activities of thousands like me of my generation illegal. And HTF would you get certified if doing the stuff that gets you interested and skilled to become certfied is illegal?

    1. Richocet

      What you describe is tinkering with electronics. Don't worry, it won't be outlawed.

      I don't know the type of designs you have worked with. My recollection of electronic engineering at university includes solving equations that didn't fit onto a single side of a piece of paper.

      From my personal experience of getting an engineering degree and working as an engineer, this can mostly be assessed by evaluating your designs, and ability to troubleshoot problems. As the person gets closer to a professional engineering qualification, looking at the projects they have completed while working as an engineer, comparing them to their peers, and maybe interviewing peers who they worked with.

  29. MAF
    Joke

    Scotty mis-quote

    Ye canna change the laws of the State...

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