What is an engineer?

Phil Windley has this interest post about the cost of bulk cold storage. He relates this definition of engineering:

I often say, quoting Pat Taylor, one of my professors in my undergraduates days in metallurgical engineering, that an engineer is some one who can do for a dollar what any fool could do for two. Of course, building performant, efficient code is part of this, but so is understanding the cost of bulk storage and other resources and using that in the trade-off.

I love that definition.

I often quote the engineering definition of Professor Gale Neville Jr., my thesis advisor and mentor back at the U of Florida Aerospace Engineering department. He defined an engineer as “someone who measures with a micrometer, marks with a piece of chalk, and cuts with an ax”.

Of course these two professors are really describing two different facets of engineering; efficiency improvement and design. Both are critical in software development.


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