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Why does my roommate's engineer claim bother me so much?

  1. Dec 9, 2013 #1
    Hello all,

    I would really like to get some opinions from other people on the following situation.

    The university I attend is not ABET accredited. To get around this, engineering 'tracks' are offered in our physics department. Outside of the physics program there is another program in the tech department of which many people in said program claim to be engineers, my roommate being one of them. However, upon further inspection, I have realized that his highest level of mathematics required is calculus I and the only physics course he takes is physics I without calculus, literally the lowest level physics offered here.

    Under no rationalization can I accept this as an engineer yet he vehemently claims as much to others. I never oppose his statements because we are close friends but the more it continues the more irate that I realize I am becoming. Note that my concentration is astronomy; I am not even on an engineering track. I guess it simply angers me that he is claiming that he will be something that typically has far more rigor than he will ever undergo.

    Is something wrong with me here or is my aggravation based on rational grounds?

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 9, 2013 #2
    If he's happy claiming to be an engineer, then why ruin it for him?
     
  4. Dec 9, 2013 #3
    I think anyone who gets paid to perform a given thing can acceptably call themselves that thing. You and your roommate shouldn't be calling yourselves more than, "engineering student," and "astronomy student," at this point, to be accurate.
     
  5. Dec 9, 2013 #4

    russ_watters

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    In laymen's terms that may be true, but depending on one's career goals it could matter. Some jurisdictions will not allow a professional engineer certification without an ABET accredited engineering degree and more importantly, it will absolutely matter to employers.
     
  6. Dec 9, 2013 #5
    Maybe I should have been more clear. It's not like we call ourselves professional titles and argue about each other. As stated in the original post, I never speak out against his claims as he is a close friend.

    In response to the school not being ABET accredited, his response is something like "I will be able to do ANYTHING an engineer can do". I simply do not see how this could be true, unless engineers exert a lot less effort than I had originally thought, which I doubt.
     
  7. Dec 9, 2013 #6

    AlephZero

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    Yes, as in "Bernie Madoff was a financial advisor"? :biggrin:

    But I don't know why the OP is so bothered about what somebody else calls themselves. Trying to save other people from their own stupidity is mostly a thankless task.
     
  8. Dec 9, 2013 #7

    lisab

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    You're right, it's not true. It would bother me, too, if I had a friend who said stuff like that. I can't quite understand why though - maybe it's just annoying listening to people who are clueless and overconfident?

    If this guy ends up talking himself into a engineering job, then falls flat on his face, you'd probably be feeling a big dose of schadenfreude.
     
  9. Dec 9, 2013 #8

    russ_watters

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    That part is simply (and obviously) factually wrong in addition to including the accidental acknowledgement that he is not, in fact, an engineer ('I'm not an engineer, but....).

    But again, more important than an argument among roommates is what his degree will mean to employers. He REALLY needs to look into and consider that.
     
  10. Dec 9, 2013 #9

    russ_watters

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    And arrogant and insulting. That's why it annoys me.
     
  11. Dec 9, 2013 #10

    Hepth

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    Its difficult to discuss this without coming off as conceited or elitist about your career, but there is nothing wrong with being upset at the devaluation of ANY career title due to its increased usage to describe less qualified people.
    I don't really thing the ABET accreditation is all that important to be a good engineer, but having math beyond Calculus I is. I could see if the field were to be saturated with less qualified people, while they may fail and be fired from jobs, will still tarnish the name.

    When you're being hired right out of college with no real experience, and only your title of "X Engineer" then its obviously smart to be concerned with the loss-of-status of ANY title.

    Of course, you can argue against generalizations about people claiming the title that perhaps should not, but the overall perception of what an Engineer is will drop as the average drops.

    To be honest I was upset in Graduate school when I saw experimental particle physicists opting out of taking Quantum Field Theory I (I'm theory). I don't think you should be allowed that title without the class, as so much depends on it; and it will only hurt the title, or possibly the school they came from, by not preparing them properly.
     
  12. Dec 9, 2013 #11

    AlephZero

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    It's a two-edged sword. If you have a society that judges people by their formal qualifications rather than their actual competence, you had better make sure the formal qualifications are meaningful and relevant.

    But things can work perfectly well in practice without the formality.
     
  13. Dec 9, 2013 #12

    turbo

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    I want to chime in here. I was working for a pulp and paper company that installed a brand new coated paper machine, and I was its lead operator. The most prominent representative of the manufacturer was called a "field engineer". He knew more about installing, setting up, and starting paper machines than any man that I have ever known. Not a licensed engineer.

    Years later, we found ourselves working on a project in NY. I chose the wet-end and he chose the dry-end. The paper machine had been jerked around by ignorant operators and supervision and the fix was easy. (details not important). We entered a meeting of all the supervisors, managers, etc, up to the production superintendent. My older buddy told me to take the floor and tell them what was wrong with the set-up of that paper machine, and all the mill engineers gave me crap. My "engineer" pal and I got up and left the meeting room. The production manager followed us out into the hall and asked if my analysis was right, and the "engineer" said that it was, and if he wanted to make another pound of salable paper, he ought to implement my simple instructions. I never had to look for work after that. I got all the work that I could handle as a "consultant" and never pretended to be an engineer.
     
  14. Dec 9, 2013 #13
    The issue of the title's status figures prominently in the wiki article:

    I can recall the time when the joke going around was that janitors were being re-classified as "Sanitary Engineers."

    Anyway, it's clear that engineers now have a complex about their status. I see that as a side issue.
     
  15. Dec 9, 2013 #14
    No. I was thinking more of, 'as in, Feynman was a Chief Research Chemist.'

    http://scilib.narod.ru/Physics/Feynman/SYJ/en/Joking.htm#TOC_id2483895 [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  16. Dec 9, 2013 #15

    Integral

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    An engineering tech degree qualifies you to be a technician. After 5-10yrs experiance you may be able to move into an "engineering" position is some large organizations. But only that if you are a very talented and hard working tech.
     
  17. Dec 9, 2013 #16

    AlephZero

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    That's a petition for something that already exists, except there are several different categories, not just the vague title of "professional engineer". http://www.engc.org.uk/

    FWIW, the system is not based solely on academic qualifications. You have to actually be able to DO engineering to get the titles.
     
  18. Dec 9, 2013 #17
    Well, my friend has been an EE for a couple of years, he just graduated recently. Says he has not used math once, and doesn't do anything hard at all.

    :shrug:
     
  19. Dec 9, 2013 #18

    russ_watters

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    "Some", yes. And it is important to note that that's not just a prejudice issue; in some jurisdictions and job descriptions, a PE license is required and an Abet accredited engineering degree is required to get it. A previous boss of mine is one of few mechanical PEs in Pennsylvania without an engineering degree and one of the last, as the law was changed 10 or 20 years ago to require it.
     
  20. Dec 10, 2013 #19

    Student100

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    Dose he work for the government :devil:
     
  21. Dec 13, 2013 #20

    rbj

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    just to add to Russ's and Integral's observations (a little late). there are some states that, in the same manner proscribe calling oneself a "physician" or a "medical doctor" or an "attorney of law" in business without the prerequisite license to practice (which is more than getting an MD or JD degree), some states also do not allow "engineers" to call themselves such (in business) without the PE license. whether the PE requires an ABET-accredited degree as a prerequisite or not or the EIT certification or not is a state-by-state issue. in states like this, there are people who are degreed electrical engineers who have biz cards that say "Member of Technical Staff" as their title because they have no PE.

    i don't have a PE (although i aced my EIT exam about 35 years ago) because i didn't see the need for it to do audio and music signal processing.

    one thing that sorta scares me are people who may or may not have a degree in Computer Science, but they learned to code in C++ and they call themselves "Software Engineers" when they are nothing more than a programmer (and, more often than not, sorta hacky spaghetti-coders). there are also technicians that have "engineer" in their title which bothers me less because there are plenty of 4-year ABET-degreed non-PE engineers that do about the same thing.

    in my opinion, i wish the title "Engineer" was reserved for those that actually engineer things. like creatively design things from concept all the way to detail. some techs do that, and if they really do that, it's fine with me that they are called "engineers", if the law allows it, independent of whatever degree they have or not.
     
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