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What determines an engineer?

  1. Jul 18, 2008 #1
    I am currently studying for a degree offered by the psychology department at my uni. The name of the degree involves 'psychoanalytical engineering'.

    i have a friend that is a civil engineering major who keeps telling me that it isn't a real engineering degree.

    it seems sort of stupid that he can say that, considering that psychology majors have to take a test to be registered and civil engineers don't have to.

    it makes sense that you are engineering someone's thoughts, their emotions. when you build a bridge you are simply building. the engineering means that you have to design something that is just custom tailored to the paritcular person not just putting another bridge down on a river. every persons psyche is original and it's more of a challenge to have to deal with something as complicated as the human mind than build a bridge or building which is something theyve been doing since the time of jesus/evolution without any single problem.

    how many buildings/roads do you see, and then how many messed up people do you see who have their minds fixed?

    i think emotional/psychological engineering is far more complex than telling some dumb constructiong worker to pour concrete. the mysteries of the human mind are far more complex and mysterious.

    does anyone know what i can tell my friend
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 19, 2008 #2
    It's just a label. It doesn't really matter what it's called. Whether or not it is considered "engineering" depends entirely on the definition of engineer being used.
  4. Jul 19, 2008 #3
    I've always thought that engineers need to make or design stuff. Software engineers don't build bridges, but they make software and learn how do it efficiently, etc. just like any other engineer.

    If that's what you do (design or build something, with efficiency in mind), then sure. If not, then I don't think so.
  5. Jul 19, 2008 #4
    I believe that engineers need to have at least three semester of calculus, basic chemistry, basic physics, mechanics, electromagnetism and the rest is up to the university.

    But psychoanalytical engineering?


    I don't think so. Just a bullsh*t word.
  6. Jul 19, 2008 #5
    An engineer is a person who is professionally engaged in a field of engineering.. They are concerned with developing economical and safe solutions to practical problems..They make all kinds of designs to all stuff...
    Adam Smith

    http://www.mydebtconsolidation.name" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  7. Jul 19, 2008 #6
    He's correct.

    Your program advisor will tell you the same thing.

    If they maintain that the program is an engineering program, ask to see some proof that the program has been accredited by ABET. They won't have it.

    But since a Google for the term "psychoanalytical engineering" turns up only this thread, and no results for any program at a university, or even a speculative listing in a psych journal, I think that you are making some assumptions and exaggerations that you shouldn't be making.

    First your friend will have to pass the Fundamentals of Engineering exam.

    Then he will have to work as an Engineer in Training for usually four to five years and obtain a recommendation from a practicing Engineer in good standing before he can sit to take the Principles and Practices of Engineering exam.

    Before he can stamp any blueprint or specification he must pass that test and be licensed as a Professional Engineer.

    You have been misinformed.

    Tell him, "I'm sorry, I was mistaken".
  8. Jul 19, 2008 #7
    I think this comes down to whether or not you think Psychology or Sociology (social sciences) are the same as natural sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology, etc).

    I would say that calling someone a "Psychoanalytical Engineer" is like calling a Janitor a "Maintenance Engineer" or a McDonalds line cook a "Sandwich Engineer". If you can tag "Engineer" on to any profession that is productive in nature, then what is the point?

    I would have to say that an Engineer needs to have a base knowledge in the natural sciences along with a knowledge of business and economics. Most people would identify these qualities as characteristic of an Engineer.
  9. Jul 19, 2008 #8


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    As DavidME indicated, your friend would be correct.

    A professional 'registered' engineer is required to have an engineering degree (at least a baccalaureate) from an accredited university program, and then pass a test to become 'registered'.

    There is no need for such a disparaging remark. One apparently does not know the complexities of engineering. There is much more to bridge design and contruction. Construction workers do not need to be told how to pour concrete. Nevertheless, human minds are complex and mysterious.
  10. Jul 19, 2008 #9
    My new favorite quote, thanks NickM.

  11. Jul 19, 2008 #10
    What about financial engineering.. Is it another b******t word?
  12. Jul 19, 2008 #11


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    Consider the formal (and conventional) definitions of engineer and engineering:

    In the context of a science (or physics) forum, most people would consider an engineer to be one "who is trained in or follows as a profession a branch of engineering," and that would exclude people who are trained in the social sciences (and humanities), e.g. psychololgy, sociology, economics, finance, history, . . . . In the context of science, engineering is more or less "applied phsyics".

    But then one will encounter terms like "social engineering", and apparently "financial engineering", which is new to me. These see to reflect another definition of engineering based primarily on manipulation of something, or perhaps "the design and manufacture of complex products", e.g. derivatives.

    Are some people are focusing on the 'esteem', 'regard' or 'recognition' associated with being an engineer, and who gets to call themselves 'an engineer'?
  13. Jul 19, 2008 #12
    It's illegal in Canada to call yourself an engineer when you are not.

    And, I guess it also has to do with pride and esteem. I wouldn't like the idea if everyone is allowed to call itself an engineer.
  14. Jul 19, 2008 #13


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    I thought it I would tweak your almost prefect definition just a bit. Very well put.
  15. Jul 19, 2008 #14


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    Much better. If one is practicing in a branch of engineering, then it is most often the case that one is trained in that branch of engineering.

    In the US one may be considered an engineer if one has an engineering degree and practices engineering, but one cannot call onself a 'professional engineer', which requires a license, which requires certification, which requires passing a test and meeting certain requirements.
  16. Jul 19, 2008 #15
    An engineer is someone who practices an engineering field. These engineering fields are established, you can't just tack the word "engineering" on something.

    It's like if a civil engineer called themselves a building psychologist.
  17. Jul 19, 2008 #16


    Staff: Mentor

    I like "Domestic Engineer" for homemaker :smile:
  18. Jul 19, 2008 #17
    There are many places (Texas comes to mind) where you cannot use the professional title of "Engineer" without actually being one--and it is defined by statute.

    Just because Microsoft calls techs "Systems Engineers" or your psych program calls something "engineering" does not make it so, any more than someone working at Subway is an engineer just because their job title might be "Sandwich Engineer".

    Check with your local professional licensing board (generally at the state level in the US) to see what restrictions or requirements are placed on the use of the title "Engineer".
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