In the days of modern means of obtaining information ,Anyone with amost no knowledge can write code.
Even teenagers can sling gates and PAL equations around.
What is it that separates us from these amateurs? Do years of college necessarily make us professionals, or is there some other factor that clearly delineates engineers from hackers?
With the phrase ”sanitation engineer” now rooted in our lexicon, is the real meaning behind
the word engineer cheapened?
Other professions don’t suffer from such casual word abuse.
Doctors and lawyers have strong organizations that, for better or worse, have changed the law of the land to keep the amateurs out. You just don’t find a teenager practicing medicine, so “doctor” conveys a precise, strong meaning to everyone.
Lest we forget, the 1800s were known as “the great age of the engineer.”
Engineers were viewed as the celebrities of the age, as the architects of tomorrow, the great hope for civilization. (For a wonderful description of these times, read Zsamard Kingdom Brunel, by L.T.C. Rolt.)
How things have changed!
Our successes at transforming the world brought stink and smog, factones weeping poisons, and landfills overflowing with products made obsolete in the course of months. The Challenger explosion destroyed many people’s faith in complex technology (which shows just how little understanding Americans have of complexity). An odd resurgence of the worship of the primitive is directly at odds with the profession we embrace.
Declining test scores and an urge to make a lot of money now means that U.S. engineering enrollments have declined 25% in the decade from
1988 to 1997.
All in all, as Rodney Dangerfield says, “We just can’t get no respect.”
It’s my belief that this attitude stems from a fundamental misunderstanding
of what an engineer is.
We’re not scientists, trying to gain a new understanding of the nature of the universe. Engineers are the world’s
problem solvers. We convert dreams to reality. We bridge the gap between pure researchers and consumers.
Problem solving is surely a noble profession, something of importance and fundamental to the future viability of a complex society.
Suppose our leaders were as single-mindedly dedicated to problem solving as is any engineer: we’d have effective schools, low taxation, and cities of light and growth rather than decay.
Perhaps too many of us engineers lack the social nuances to effectively orchestrate political change, but there’s no
doubt that our training in problem solving is ultimately the only hope for dealing with the ecological, financial, and political crises coming in the next generation.
My background is in the embedded tool business. For two decades I
designed, built, sold, and supported development tools, working with thousands
These days there is a Lot of competition ,there are many engineering solution providers inthe market.
Talking about Embedded System Designers ,all are struggling to get an embedded product out the door, on time and on budget. Few succeed. In almost all cases, when the widget was finally complete (more or less; maintenance seems to go on forever because of poor quality), months or even years late, the engineers took maybe five seconds to catch their breath and then started on yet another project.
Rare was the individual who, after a year on a project, sat and thought about what went right and wrong on the project. Even rarer were the people who engaged in any sort of process improvement, of learning new engineering techniques and applying them to their efforts.
Sure, everyone learns new tools (say, for ASIC and FPGA design), but few understood that it’s just as important to build an effective way to design products, as it is to build the product. We’re not applying our problemsolving skills to the way we work.
In this tools business there is a surprising fact: most embedded developers work more or less in isolation. They may be loners designing all of the products for a company, or members of a company’s design team.
The loner and the team are removed from others in the industry, so they develop their own generally dysfunctional habits that go forever uncorrected.
Few developers or teams ever participate in industry-wide events or communicate with the rest of the industry. We, who invented the communications age, seem to be incapable of using it!
One effect of this isolation is a hardening of the development arteries:
we are unable to benefit from others’ experiences, so we work ever harder without getting smarter.
Another is a feeling of frustration, of thinking, “What is wrong with us-why are our projects so much more a problem
than anyone else’s?’ In fact, most embedded developers are in the same boat.
Never forget that engineering is about solving
problems . . . including the ones that plague the way we engineer!
Engineering is the process of making choices; make sure yours reflect simplicity, common sense, and a structure with growth, elegance, and flexibility, with debugging opportunities built in.