Engineers

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SimpleSimon
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Engineers

Postby SimpleSimon » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:43 am UTC

Do engineers count as scientists? In particular if they work in research labs?
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ThomasS
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Re: Engineers

Postby ThomasS » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:02 am UTC

I think both scientist and engineers count the same: "one, two, three, four,...", or I suppose "un, deux, trois,...", or "eins, zwei, drei,..." depending on where they are trained. Why do you ask?

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olubunmi
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Re: Engineers

Postby olubunmi » Thu Jan 28, 2010 3:03 pm UTC

ThomasS wrote:I think both scientist and engineers count the same: "one, two, three, four,...", or I suppose "un, deux, trois,...", or "eins, zwei, drei,..." depending on where they are trained. Why do you ask?


I think that isn't exactly what he meant, your answer would've been correct if the question was "do engineers count like scientists.

OT. I'm not sure actually, but I suppose they do.

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Re: Engineers

Postby ThomasS » Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:16 pm UTC

Oh, you mean you were trying to enumerate people? Like asking whether a phlebotomist is the same as a plumber?

Perhaps the real question is whether a phlebotomist acts and thinks like a plumber, or vice versa. I suppose that the answer is "sometimes".

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Re: Engineers

Postby thoughtfully » Thu Jan 28, 2010 5:34 pm UTC

It's very hard to pin narrow labels on people and have them apply universally, but you can make statements about what they do. Part of a scientist's job is engineering, i.e. designing and/or building stuff. Some engineers definitely have a scientific component in what they do; forming hypotheses and testing them, but I don't think it applies as widely as scientists designing/building stuff.
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Re: Engineers

Postby Cleverbeans » Thu Jan 28, 2010 6:54 pm UTC

Define Scientist...
Define Engineer...
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Ave
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Re: Engineers

Postby Ave » Thu Jan 28, 2010 8:19 pm UTC

Wikipedia says:
A scientist, in the broadest sense, is any person who engages in a systematic activity to acquire knowledge or an individual that engages in such practices and traditions that are linked to schools of thought or philosophy. In a more restricted sense, a scientist is an individual who uses the scientific method.

Engineers work to develop economical and safe solutions to practical problems, by applying mathematics and scientific knowledge while considering technical constraints. The term is derived from the Latin root "ingenium," meaning "cleverness". The industrial revolution and continuing technological developments of the last few centuries have changed the connotation of the term slightly, resulting in the perception of engineers as applied scientists. The work of engineers is the link between perceived needs of society and commercial applications.

Scientists focus on learning and research, expertise in a subject matter, constantly illuminating and elabourating unknowns. Engineers are more focused on how science can be used. Design and implementation. It can be commercial or not. Technological or not. The title of 'Engineer' is very weighty, and there are specific fields of engineering that have a one-to-many relationship to different sciences that are utilized/relied upon.

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Re: Engineers

Postby evilspoons » Thu Jan 28, 2010 10:09 pm UTC

Engineers (engineering) can be used to accomplish science, but I don't consider myself a scientist. Unless, of course, I got some sort of research job that didn't just involve me building test equipment for the scientists.

(I am an electrical engineer working in motion control / automation).

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Re: Engineers

Postby rgwzlfw » Thu Jan 28, 2010 11:53 pm UTC

An engineer doing research in the field of materials science could be called a scientist. A civil engineer working on a building is absolutely not a scientist. It all depends on whether or not you're researching things using the scientific method!

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SimpleSimon
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Re: Engineers

Postby SimpleSimon » Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:17 pm UTC

I ask because i'm a chemical engineer but i like to think of myself as a scientist. Somehow it sounds better.
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Re: Engineers

Postby etaoin » Sat Jan 30, 2010 6:53 am UTC

Although there is a lot that's useful in the narrow definition of science as hypothesis-testing, etc., it pays to recognize that the distinction between science and the rest of human knowledge is pretty much an English-language-only one. In German, basically everything that concerns factual knowledge is called Wissenschaft. Same with other European languages. HGB Casimir (of the Casimir effect) compared the distinction made in English to the "difference" between jam and marmalade.

Richard Feynman's definition of pure science is my favourite: the sole test of an idea is observation and experiment (1).
But stated more broadly: a commitment to intellectual integrity (2).

Engineers, in business or academia, are definitely supposed to be working in accordance with (2). Research engineers are also supposed to follow (1). So I see engineers as applied scientists.
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Re: Engineers

Postby ThomasS » Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:53 am UTC

In my mind, science is essentially devising hypothesis and then testing them. Engineering is the major part of the latter. Engineering is also a major part of bridge design. By these definitions, I think it is far more common for scientists to spend a majority of time doing engineering than it is for engineers to spend a majority of time doing science. But I could be wrong, I don't have that much direct experience with the sorts of research labs that you seem to be thinking of.

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Re: Engineers

Postby Turtlewing » Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:33 pm UTC

Engineering is taking accepted principles and applying them to practical effect, whereas science is discovering new principles and refining existing principles. So while their work is related I would not say that either can be concidered a subset of the other.

I would say that Engineers are not Scientists and Scientists are not Engineers, but a Person can be both an Engineer and Scientist.

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Re: Engineers

Postby Posi » Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:26 am UTC

Both have science background. Engineers use science to make stuff. Scientist use science to make more science.

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Re: Engineers

Postby MadRocketSci2 » Wed Feb 10, 2010 12:47 pm UTC

I would say that Engineers are not Scientists and Scientists are not Engineers, but a Person can be both an Engineer and Scientist.
I'm an engineer by education, but my job is definitely on the science side. That is, when I can escape the office and get to the lab.

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Re: Engineers

Postby mouseposture » Fri Feb 12, 2010 1:50 am UTC

I'm a scientist, and my collaborators are mostly engineers. While I'm sure there's an "official" distinction, most of the time, if you just watched what we spent our time doing you couldn't tell us apart. Every now & then, though, a certain cultural difference crops up: they're interested in making something useful, & I'm interested in finding something out.

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Re: Engineers

Postby oxoiron » Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:09 pm UTC

mouseposture wrote:I'm a scientist, and my collaborators are mostly engineers...they're interested in making something useful, & I'm interested in finding something out.
What if you're interested in both?
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Re: Engineers

Postby MadRocketSci2 » Sat Feb 13, 2010 6:14 am UTC

What if you're interested in both?


What? Interested in both? Sorry. Against the law. :P

Seriously though, I think engineering physics is a sort of physics-engineering hybrid as a major. I'm pretty sure that if you have a degree and know what you're doing in the field, that you can get a job at a lab if you want to, or some industry project, or vice versa.

For me, deciding to major in engineering over physics was decided with an internship with some relatives of mine who were astrophysicists. I eventually decided that, while learning about the universe was cool, building the stuff to get people and instruments out there was even more interesting, and ultimately a more creative/productive (not sure of the word I want to use) use of my abilities. Also, knowing a lot of physics is a prerequisite for what I eventually want to do.

I got my degree, now I'm doing basic research. Go figure.

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Re: Engineers

Postby Rockberry » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:00 am UTC

Engineers are applied scientists. :D

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Re: Engineers

Postby Outchanter » Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:32 am UTC

You can apply science to do better engineering, and you can apply engineering to do better science. Feedback loops FTW!

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Re: Engineers

Postby hawkmp4 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 8:37 am UTC

Outchanter wrote:...and you can apply engineering to do better science...

How so?
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Re: Engineers

Postby Hawknc » Sun Feb 14, 2010 8:41 am UTC

I would imagine the design of experiments could benefit greatly from an engineering perspective.

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Re: Engineers

Postby lu6cifer » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:12 pm UTC

hawkmp4 wrote:
Outchanter wrote:...and you can apply engineering to do better science...

How so?


Perhaps use engineering to design better experiments? E.g., the LHC.
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Re: Engineers

Postby MadRocketSci2 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:43 pm UTC

How can engineers help scientists do better science?

There is a pretty large difference between a laboratory setup and something you can actually use on a day-to-day basis. Both are needed to conduct experiments - when you're doing overtime trying to twerk your optics bench into behaving, you at least want to know that your power meters, cameras, and oscilloscopes are going to do what they're supposed to.

Engineers are needed to turn what probably started as lab toys (electrical breadboards, optical, ect) into repeatable instruments that you can expect to work when you hit the on button. Example - the Ocean Optics spectrometers take what was once a whole optics bench in its own right, and compress it to a tiny box that you can plug in with a USB cable.

They're also needed if you need to do something big, like design the LHC, or a fusion reactor. The scientists will want it to accelerate protons up to 10GeV, and a broad outline of what it needs to do for their experiments to succeed, features ect. The engineers are the ones figuring out the number of accelerator rings, how high a magnetic field can we expect to generate with current generation magnets, the cooling process (oops) (and why in the world didn't they fight tooth and nail to find an alternative to that much helium?), vacuum system, control systems, site foundation. There are probably a few dudes called "systems engineers" figuring out the cost and schedule stuff, and keeping the various areas straight.

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Re: Engineers

Postby hawkmp4 » Sun Feb 14, 2010 7:01 pm UTC

Alright, that makes sense. I wasn't sure how OP was using those words and part of it was just because I wasn't thinking. Thanks!
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Re: Engineers

Postby Zamfir » Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:55 pm UTC

I'd think it's useful tomake a distinction between the use of the words to indicate training and to indicate work. When we say "Steven Chu is a scientist" or "there are many engineers in the Chinese government", we dont mean those people are doing anything resembling a scientist or engineers job. It just means that those people were once trained as such, have experience in the field, and we assume they still sort of think like a scientist or engineer, and identify with them.

There are lots of people trained as engineer who have a job as scientists, and vice versa, and they often refer to themselves as much by their training as by their job. That gives the impression of a grey area even when there really isn't. Someone trained as a civil engineer who works at a university studying soil mechanics is a scientist when it comes to her job, and a physicist working on lasers in an electronics firm is an engineer by job. But odds are they self-identify as engineer and scientist, even if they have colleagues who do the same job and self-identify the other way round.


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