Episode 4 - What is Engineering?

This week we're trying something new. We've been thinking about new types of episodes that answer different types of engineering questions. Not just our typical questions like "How do you engineer a robot?" or "How do you engineer a porta-potty?", but questions like "What is a PLC?" or "Where do you engineer satellites?". 

For this episode we delve into the deep dark depths of the existential question of what is an engineer anyway? This has other related topics that we try desperately not to get too distracted by like "who are engineers?", but get sucked into talking about at length anyway.

The episode was prompted by an article in The Atlantic that made the claim that until software engineers figure out a way to uphold the standards and ethical code of the other more traditional fields of engineering, they (we) don't deserve to be called engineers. In other words, 

Engineers bear a burden to the public, and their specific expertise as designers and builders of bridges or buildings—or software—emanates from that responsibility. Only after answering this calling does an engineer build anything, whether bridges or buildings or software.

Kathleen Vignos then wrote an editorial in Wired that presented a more balanced view of the two fields. In her article she eloquently pieces together the essential aspects of engineering in general, and then shows how software developers display all of the core attributes that makeup an engineer. That being said, she does cede the point that in order to truly own the title of engineer, software developers must universally adopt better standards and regulation processes.

If you want a well crafted, thoughtful treatise on the topic, you should read the articles. If you want a more rambling and somewhat comedic attempt to pull at threads that end up in more of a tangle than a knot...this is the podcast for you.

We discuss backyard nuclear reactors, the dangers of eating too many bananas, and a brilliant design for a key-less entry system. I would fully support our final design, if not for our best idea which we forgot to mention, that involved a scorpion tail emerging from the trunk to stab the owner in the back. 

Thanks to HerbertBoland for this weeks sound effect. Royalty free music from BenSound.