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Engineering is for the special

  1. Oct 17, 2011 #1
    Engineering is for the "special"

    I'm curious why the engineer is so looked down upon in this forum. I, like many of you, have taken several classes with engineering majors. Is it that you find them to be stupid or more exactly, not as intelligent as physics/math majors? I'm a physics major, but I certainly don't think that when I declared my major that my I.Q. increased dramatically. I can't say the same for people I go to school with however, as I see a few of the students that I was in calculus 1, 2, and 3 with that are now pure math majors, and they essentially walk around laughing at all the other majors for being simple. I attend the University of New Mexico, not MIT, Harvard, Yale, etc, so apparently being better than everyone else is independent of educational institution at least to a pure math major. With respect to these pure math majors, I was there when they got 60% grades on their tests in calculus 1,2, AND 3. I was also there when they told others that they got a 90%. I was there when they told everyone how easy the homework in physics was, and I was there when they offered me the teacher solution guide their friend gave them. In short, as someone majoring in physics & pure math I find it a bit sickening that many of the people with the same major as myself, view themselves as better than everyone else. Not because of academic achievement, or high intelligence, but simply because they declared their major to be pure math or physics. Many of them google their mastering physics problems, then brag about how clever they were in solving them. So my question is, why are engineers viewed as simple or less intelligent then physics & pure math majors? I have yet to encounter a physics major I thought was incredibly intelligent, yet they seem to have egos that cannot be bounded. Three of the guys in my study group for complex variables are engineering majors(2 EE, 1 ME), and they often come up with solutions and creative approaches before myself and the pure math only major in my group. Should I still consider them stupid, cause in the end they are engineering majors after all, which in this forum seems to equate to future drones. Not to mention how several people in my discrete structures class, just like to tell people, "Well you know, I'm in the discrete structures class" as if saying "I'm a genius", which is kind of funny since at least for me I find CV much more challenging then discrete. In short, how many of you think that your better than engineers (and as an aside probably everyone else) because your a pure math major or a physics major, and why?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2011
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  3. Oct 17, 2011 #2
    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    As an engineering major I can agree with everything that you've said--there seems to be this horrible attitude towards engineers and I'm not quite sure why--I'd like an answer as well.

    I'm just spit-balling here but I think it has to do with the plug-n-chug attitude of most engineering students--I do not share this trait :D
     
  4. Oct 17, 2011 #3
    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    That's a remarkably hostile and paragraphless post. I'm sure it's true that many math and physics majors consider their art to be, in some sense, superior to engineering, just as pure math majors view themselves as morally and intellectually superior to applied math students, but your post comes across as profoundly bitter and resentful. Has anyone here ridiculed you for your choice of major?
     
  5. Oct 17, 2011 #4
    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    I haven't seen any engineers looked down upon on this forum...
     
  6. Oct 17, 2011 #5

    wukunlin

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    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    this isn't about the forum, this type of rubbish exists everywhere. In where I live it is the opposite, everytime I tell someone I primarily do physics I get ask "why don't you do engineering I'm sure you're smart enough." gives me spikes of blood pressure all the time.

    a lot of a people are ignorant, its just that. although at times these are just stereotype jokes taken a little too far.
     
  7. Oct 17, 2011 #6

    micromass

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    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    Uuuh, please post the examples you're talking about. I didn't see much hostility towards engineers on this forum.

    Maybe the posters were joking, and you tool their comments serious??
     
  8. Oct 17, 2011 #7
    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    In medicine people don't think optometrist, podiatrist, dentists, pharmacists are doctors. Some call them med school rejects. Nothing new here. Happens everywhere. There are many people whose jobs make our lives better but they get the least amount of respect.'consider waiters, sanitation workers, when do they give awards to janitors for keeping a school clean? What about cab drivers who get people around? That's human nature I guess
     
  9. Oct 17, 2011 #8
    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=540702
    "(No offense to engineers but, statiscally or generally, pure math requires rigorus understanding of concept hence they need to be smarter)"

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=538044&page=2
    "Why is it that physics and math courses are 1000 times more rigorous than the ME courses? In physics or math they're not scared to give you a problem where you have to think a little bit (OMG! think?). I took Stat.Mech/Thermo from Physics in the same quarter as Turdmodynamics from ME; when I walked from my physics class to the engineering class it felt like I was walking from college to kindergarten. One problem from the Physics homework was harder (and more enjoyable) than the whole "thermo" course from ME. And they were all different problems that required different types of thinking: in ME all problems are exact copies of the examples in the book (how dumb is that?).

    How are you supposed to "solve real problems" if the only things they teach kids to do is memorize how to plug numbers into a few equations? Give anyone in ME an original, abstract problem to solve and they won't be able to do it."

    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=536426&page=2
    "I think you guys misunderstood; I am agreeing with you. No one would hire a physicist to derive the chassis of a car (or whatever silly analogy one of you just made). I agree with this, and I'm saying this is a bad thing if you're a physicist trying to be an engineer. It's great that physicists are great problem solvers and if you have a Ph.D it's pretty obvious that an employer can throw some books at you and tell you to solve some problem, and you'll be able to do it. Most of the time, jobs don't consist of this. There is just too much that needs to be done in a very specific way (especially in engineering) because of standards in regards to efficiency or safety or whatever.

    Anyway, learning methods makes you more drone-like. I'm not backing down on this terminology, because that is the very simple truth. Getting into semantics about word usage is best left to left-wing liberal nuts and I don't really care about it. My point was that engineering work is less fundamental than theoretical physics, and to be able to have the skills of an engineer you can't possibly do both in the same amount of time.... so as an engineer, you end up learning a lot of methods that have been conceived already. There's nothing wrong with this, because most of the time this kind of happens in theoretical physics research as well. Still, recognizing the degree with which this happens in engineering will be helpful to any physicist who wonders why engineering firms don't want to hire him over a newly-minted B.S. engineer."
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2011
  10. Oct 17, 2011 #9

    DaveC426913

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    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    OK, that's 3.

    Of 250,000 PF members.
     
  11. Oct 17, 2011 #10
    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    Seriously? Keep going, 3 in a ten minute search. How many threads on the forum? How many replies in the threads? Would you like me to go through all line by line and copy them all and paste them here so you can read them and give me some other excuse or simply reply with "uh so"? No thanks, their are several on the forum. If you want to play blind man, go for it.
     
  12. Oct 17, 2011 #11

    DaveC426913

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    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    Well, I'm pleased to have at least provided a target for all that undirected vitriolic accusation in your opening post. :smile:
     
  13. Oct 17, 2011 #12

    micromass

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    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    Your example shows only that there are some people on this forum who are biased against engineers (which I will certainly not deny). It doesn't mean that this entire forum hates engineers. In fact, we have many engineers here.

    If you did your research properly, you will see (for example) that I replied to your first thread and called the OP out on saying that engineers were not smart. So you can't claim that we are biased against engineers here...

    There is a difference between engineering and physics/math. Physics/math is more fundamental. Engineering is more applicable and useful. That's just the plain truth. That doesn't mean that either major is worse or better than another!! It are just observations.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2011
  14. Oct 17, 2011 #13

    micromass

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    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    If you're honest: count the number of anti-engineering posts, and count the number of pro-engineering posts. I'm sure it'll balance out.
     
  15. Oct 17, 2011 #14
    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    Just glancing through those posts, it's pretty obvious that the ones coming to the conclusion that engineering is for the "special," sound like they need some growing up to do. You would never find a mentor or a professional on this forum throwing around such non sense.

    Also, in each of those examples you gave, many people are very quick to counter the claims about engineering. The reason I like Physics Forums so much is because so many members respect each other's discipline. If you really want to read some biased degrading garbage, read the youtube physics/math videos comments. :smile:
     
  16. Oct 17, 2011 #15
    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    I made one of those posts that you cited, so maybe I should elaborate some more.

    Someone said it earlier in this thread, something along the lines of the attitudes of most engineering students. They don't really care about the underlying causes or reasons for the things they study. Now, I will be honest in saying that I don't particularly enjoy doing lengthy pure math proofs, and so in some sense I can be like that as well. Still, I find it troubling when such intelligent people can get to be so shallow sometimes. There are a lot of engineering students that are doing it because they're able to solve differential equations, do physics reasonably well, etc. and then get well paying jobs. It's akin to going to medical school, and many on here don't get their blood boiling when people trash-talk them for not being 'intellectual' enough.

    Anyway, that is my main problem with most people (not just engineers). The intellectual-ness is gone from the subject. I find that very, very bad, and I find it especially troublesome when the smarter of the bunch can do this as well. Now of course this can be applied to physicists as well, in many, many cases, which is why in my post I mentioned that this can happen in physics research as well. Many times researchers get into a very comfortable position of writing grants and doing research on what they've been doing since their dissertation. It takes away some of that intellectual-ness that I'm very fond of. In this context, physicists can be just as "drone-like" as engineers. I find engineering to be drone-like because most jobs get to be drone-like. This is the most efficient way to do things in an industrial society, but unfortunately it's not the best way to keep minds active.

    Anyway, I know I went off on some tangents but I felt like I should give some of the context of my ideas as well, maybe making it easier to understand why I have this particular perspective.
     
  17. Oct 17, 2011 #16
    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    No one is better than anyone when it comes to human beings. It's like saying I'm more human than you are. What a joke. I had a math teacher in high school who used to say math teachers are the smartest and her reason was, "give a math teacher Shakespeare, she can read it. Give an English teacher calculus and it's a different story." It's really sad that people don't respect other people for their occupations. But like I gave in my other post, this argument of yours can be stretched beyond engineers vs. math/physics.
    Consider why everyone respects science majors and think they are brave but the person who is an arts, music, philosophy major is looked down upon? Why is someone looked on with respect because of the name of the school they go to and why is another looked on like a failure because "community college" is at the end of their school name? It's unfortunate that we live in a world today where people are supposedly "higher" / "better" than other people. No one is more human than another.

    In closing, stuff like that happens throughout all aspects of life not just with careers. Suck it up.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2011
  18. Oct 17, 2011 #17
    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    That's nothing to brag about either, IMO. It's really silly
     
  19. Oct 17, 2011 #18
    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    The converse of these also hold. Engineers can often think that theoretical physics isn't as important as creating an artificial heart, physicists can think that pure mathematics is often fruitless and divorced from the real problems (and they're right in some circumstances; there is no denying that there is some sandbox playing going on)... oh, and Von Neumann thought along these lines as well:

    "I think that it is a relatively good approximation to truth - which is much too complicated to allow anything but approximations-that mathematical ideas originate in empirics, although the genealogy is sometimes long and obscure. But, once they are so conceived, the subject begins to live a peculiar life of its own and is better compared to a creative one, governed by almost entirely aesthetical motivations, than to anything else and, in particular, to an empirical science. There is, however, a further point which, I believe, needs stressing. As a mathematical discipline travels far from its empirical source, or still more, if it is a second and third generation only indirectly inspired by ideas coming from "reality" it is beset with very grave dangers. It becomes more and more purely aestheticizing, more and more purely I'art pour I'art. This need not be bad, if the field is surrounded by correlated subjects, which still have closer empirical connections, or if the discipline is under the influence of men with an exceptionally well-developed taste. But there is a grave danger that the subject will develop along the line of least resistance, that the stream, so far from its source, will separate into a multitude of insignificant branches, and that the discipline will become a disorganized mass of details and complexities. In other words, at a great distance from its empirical source, or after much "abstract" inbreeding, a mathematical subject is in danger of degeneration. At the inception the style is usually classical; when it shows signs of becoming baroque, then the danger signal is up. It would be easy to give examples, to trace specific evolutions into the baroque and the very high baroque, but this, again, would be too technical. " - Von Neumann "The Mathematician" - Part 2


    Also, my further gripe is that logicians are always forgotten in these things...
     
  20. Oct 18, 2011 #19

    symbolipoint

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    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    These things, conflict between engineering and physics, have been discussed on physicsforums before, maybe not in one dedicated 'thread'. This conflict is expressed in schools and in other places.

    Opinion: The conflict happens in due to two situations. (1) Students in high school, college, and university have not grown enough yet. (2) Department representatives or officials would like to promote one main field, mostly their own. Really, the clever, more intelligent person will sense that something outside his own field could help him in his field.

    Also stated before on the forums is that the goal of Physics is Understanding; the goal of Engineering is Design using already existing technology and principles. They are both good.
     
  21. Oct 18, 2011 #20
    Re: Engineering is for the "special"

    As a follow up to what Wukunlin said, the situation is fairly similar over here too. Most enrolled in the Physics course are people who didn't have the grades to get into Engineering. Similarly, among students, the "harder to get into courses" (w.r.t high school grades achieved) are given more respect. Biomedical Science and Civil Engineering being the two most competitive courses over the past few years.
     
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