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

  • Thread starter coca-cola
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In summary: Sure, it'd be nice to have, but it's not like it's the be-all-end-all of engineering programs. 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.
  • #1
coca-cola
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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!
 
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  • #2
If he's happy claiming to be an engineer, then why ruin it for him?
 
  • #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.
 
  • #4
zoobyshoe said:
I think anyone who gets paid to perform a given thing can acceptably call themselves that thing.
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.
 
  • #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.
 
  • #6
zoobyshoe said:
I think anyone who gets paid to perform a given thing can acceptably call themselves that thing.

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.
 
  • #7
coca-cola said:
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.

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.
 
  • #8
coca-cola said:
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.
That part is simply (and obviously) factually wrong in addition to including the accidental acknowledgment 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.
 
  • #9
lisab said:
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?
And arrogant and insulting. That's why it annoys me.
 
  • #10
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.
 
  • #11
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.
 
  • #12
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.
 
  • #13
Hepth said:
...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.
The issue of the title's status figures prominently in the wiki article:

Many semi skilled trades and engineering technicians in the UK have, in the past, called themselves engineers. This is now seen as a misuse of the title, giving a false image of the profession. A particularly blatant misuse of the title is by the Telecommunications giant, the BT Group, who still insist on describing their technicians as engineers to a gullible public. A growing movement in the UK is to legally protect the title 'Engineer' so that only professional engineers can use it; a DirectGov petition[17] has been started to further this cause.

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.
 
  • #14
AlephZero said:
Yes, as in "Bernie Madoff was a financial advisor"? :biggrin:

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
 
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  • #15
An engineering tech degree qualifies you to be a technician. After 5-10yrs experience 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.
 
  • #16
A growing movement in the UK is to legally protect the title 'Engineer' so that only professional engineers can use it; a DirectGov petition[17] has been started to further this cause.

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.
 
  • #17
coca-cola said:
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.

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:
 
  • #18
Integral said:
An engineering tech degree qualifies you to be a technician. After 5-10yrs experience 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.
"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.
 
  • #19
1MileCrash said:
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:

Dose he work for the government :devil:
 
  • #20
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 sort of 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, sort of 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.
 
  • #21
It has always bothered me, and soon I will take my place on the second side of the issue when I graduate with my BSME in May. The reason it bothers me, is not that I believe I should deserve any special status or respect (after I graduate), but that the descriptor should serve to convey a certain competence or achievement. Sure, there are those few that may be as, or more, competent but there's not any good way to signify that. Such is the case with any official title. Those that have a problem are free to do as I did, which was to quit a perfectly good job and suffer through the required coursework to obtain such a title.

In your roommate's case, there has been no official determination that the coursework is enough to meet the requirements that ABET has set to become a degreed engineer. It is obvious by the math and physics requirements that that program would never be accredited. Your roomate should not be an "engineer."

I was previously a Process Technician, partially educated through an engineering degree (core complete through calculus 3, and all sciences). I did very well, and excelled in some areas beyond the practicing engineers. I never had the want to call myself an engineer, although sometimes it was difficult to garner the initial respect my abilities deserved simply because of my title.

I returned to an ABET accredited school, to pursue the degree that I want/need, in order to obtain the ENGINEERING position that I would like (and I have already secure that). The job that I want requires an engineering bachelors, and not a PE license. I have passed the FE and will be pursing my PE anyway.
 
  • #22
Interesting conversation. I know people with degrees that say they are. Yet I would never trust them to do.
I also know people with degrees that do know and practice there stuff.

So does the paper that says you are, when you can not do, worth what is says? I suspect the original poster knows the person they are asking this of. I suspect under all of this, they question not the learning, but the ability to do, of that person.
 
  • #23
In Australia, to call yourself an engineer, you have to do a degree that is properly certified by Engineers Australia. Some degrees permit you to call yourself an "associate engineer". Same deal applies for physicists, chemists...the degree programs have to be validated by the respective professional societies.

In the end, the market decides the worth of such labels.

Claude.
 

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

1. Why do engineers tend to have a different way of thinking compared to other roommates?

Engineers are trained to approach problems in a logical and analytical manner. This can sometimes lead to a more rigid thought process and a focus on efficiency, which may differ from the thought processes of non-engineers.

2. Why do engineers often seem obsessed with precision and perfection?

Engineers are trained to pay attention to small details and strive for perfection in their work. This mindset may carry over into other aspects of their life, including their living space, which can be frustrating for some roommates.

3. Why do engineers tend to spend a lot of time on their projects and neglect household chores?

Engineers are often passionate about their work and may prioritize it over other tasks. Additionally, their projects may require a significant amount of time and concentration, leaving less time for household chores.

4. Why do engineers often have a specific way of doing things and get upset when things are done differently?

Engineers are trained to follow specific procedures and methods to achieve the desired outcome. This can lead to a preference for structure and order, and deviation from their established methods may cause frustration or discomfort.

5. Why do engineers sometimes come across as arrogant or dismissive of others' opinions?

Engineers are trained to have confidence in their knowledge and skills, and this can sometimes come across as arrogance. They also tend to prioritize efficiency and may not always take the time to fully consider others' opinions or perspectives.

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