Click for next page ( 72


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 71
APPENDIX A The Definition of Engineering and of Engineers in Historical Context Donald G. Weir~ert Among the most challenging tasks in the work of the Panel on Infra- structure Diagramming and Modeling was that of establishing an oper- alole definition of engineering and engineers on which to base data collection and analysis. Indeed, such a definition was critical to the work of all the panels of the Committee on the Education and Utiliza- tion of the Engineer. The essence of the challenge was the need to reconcile the philosophical and theoretically based definitions cur- rently propounded lay scholars and some professional engineering orga- nizations with the practical realities of the working world. At issue is not so much what engineering work is, though its diver- sity and complexity certainly present definitional challenges. Rather, the central point of contention seems to lee who is entitled to lee called an engineer. The basis for that contention ranges from concern that unqualified practitioners might harm public health, safety, and welfare to a somewhat elitist rejection of those perceived as not holding the "proper" credentials. Among these credentials, the most often cited by those advocating more stringent theoretical definitions are graduation from an accredited engineering program and/or some type of legally . .. . ... . recogn1zec . licensing or cert1~1cat1on process. A review of the historical evolution of the terms engineer and engi- neering used by scholars, writers, engineering academicians, and pro Engineers. Donald G. Weinert is executive director of the National Society of Professional 71

OCR for page 71
72 APPENDIX A . . . . . . . . . . fess~onal engineering organizations Is Instructive In coming to grips with the definitional challenge. The word engineer stems from the Latin ingenium, meaning natural talent or capacity; also, a clever invention. The words ingenuity and engine also stem from ingenium. In addition, the word engine has as now-obsolete meanings "ingenuity" and "wile." Its current meanings include "something used to effect a purpose; agent or instrument." People acting as agents or instruments to effect a purpose are quite correctly referred to as engines of that purpose. Thus, the current mean- ing of engine goes beyond the commonly used mechanical device or machine used for converting various forms of energy into mechanical force or motion. So, too, does the word engineer, which is just as close to the word ingenuity as it is to the word engine. Thus, the modern words engineer, engineering, ingenuity, and engine are all related through common ancestry, and engineer does not relate solely to the word engine in its narrower meaning of mechanical device or machine. Unfortunately, in early usage the word engineer specified almost exclusively a military engineer. Tertullian appropriated the word inge- nium in its meaning of "a clever invention" to describe Clattering rem, which through usage came to apply to any kind of military engine. The words ingeniator, ingeniarius, and ingegerus all identified builders of military machines hence the modern-day association of the word engineer with machines and the general use of that word in society for a variety of functions associated with machinery and mechanical equip- ment. The significance of this evolution is that the terms engineer and engineering have never been, nor can they ever be, the sole province of the engineering profession as we define it today. Of course, engineering as an activity of man manipulating nature to produce something needed or desired has taken place since the beginning of human history and has been well documented in the literature of all ages. The legendary Daedalus " engineered" the Cretan labyrinth and invented wings to escape. ~ The existence of engineering as a profession, however, is a relatively recent phenomenon. Attempts to apply formal definitions to engineering and later to the engineer parallel the emergence of a definable engineering profession. In discussing definitions it is important to note that the words engi- neer and nature are etymologically related. Ingenium means "natural capacity or talent" and relates to the inherent nature of people and things. This acquires special significance when one studies the many definitions of engineering over time. Those definitions have consis- tently contained three principal elements, either explicitly or implic- itly. First, they link engineering with "the forces of nature"; second,

OCR for page 71
APPENDIX A 73 they refer to "the use or good of man"; and third, they specify or imply a special knowledge and skill relating to natural or physical phenomena. The latter element is implicit in early definitions and descriptions of engineering activity and explicit as "a knowledge of the mathematical, natural or physical sciences" in later descriptions as a recognizable body of engineering knowledge began to take form. One of the first formal definitions of engineering was that put for- ward in 1828 by Thomas Tredgold in the charter of the Institution of Civil Engineering in England. Tredgold defined engineering as " the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and conve- nience of man." That definition contains the three classic definitional elements: the "great sources of power in nature"; "use and conve- nience of man"; and the special knowledge and skill relating to physi- cal and natural phenomena implied by the phrase "the art of directing the great sources...." I&lost early definitions, and those in modern dictionaries, contain the same three elements. In the earliest descriptions of engineering there was a perceived need, especially by engineers, to distinguish between science and engineer- ing to establish engineering as an activity independent of but related to science. That need was fueled in part by the desire of those engaged in engineering to achieve status as a separate and identifiable profession. Public recognition of engineers as a group distinct from scientists is found as early as 1830 when Auguste Comte in Coors de philosophic positive observed: "Between scientists in the strict sense of the word and the actual managers of production, there is beginning to emerge in our days an intermediate class, that of the engineers, whose particular function it is to organize the connections between theory and prac- tice." A compilation of the views of engineering and scientific society lead- ers published by the National Society of Professional Engineers ASPEN in 1963 demonstrates the preoccupation with making the distinction between engineering and science. It also reveals consistency with ear- lier definitions of engineering wherever engineering is defined sepa- rately. It is interesting to note that while the engineering and scientific functions are well covered in the 1963 compilation, there are very few attempts at defining an engineer or a scientist except in terms of func- tions. Clearly, as stated by W. L. Everitt, then Dean of Engineering at the University of Illinois, "It is easier to distinguish between the 'scien- tific function' and the 'engineering function' than to distinguish between the man who should be called a scientist and who should be termed an engineer. Many men perform both functions, and do it very well...."

OCR for page 71
74 APPENDIX A As alluded to earlier, the real definitional difficulties began when the engineering profession, as represented lay its leaders and the engineer- ing societies, began to add to the traditional definitions of engineering. Most notably, they added a fourth element, as in the definition of the Engineers Council for Professional Development tECPD), specifying that the knowledge and skill explicitly or implicitly required for engi- neering should lee acquired by "study, experience or practice." It was then a short step to defining an engineer first in terms of the type of knowledge and skill required; second, lay how it was acquired; and finally, by what type of evidence is necessary to show it had been acquired. Evidence of " study" translated to graduation from an accred- ited engineering program, and evidence of " experience" and "practice" are in part reflected in licensing and certification procedures. Some engineering organizations, notably NSPE, even advocate the use of licensing as a means to show evidence of study, experience and prac- t~ce. As noted alcove, adding the academic credential to the definition of an engineer, and, when applied, adding the practice/experience creden- tial, have complicated the lousiness of describing the engineering pro- fession. Those credentials exclude many, including those with edu- cational backgrounds in science and those without either a four-year accredited engineering degree or a license, who are nonetheless per- forming what has traditionally been described as an engineering func tion. The emergence of the engineering technologist with a four-year Bachelor of Engineering Technology degree has exacerbated the defini- tional dilemma and provided further impetus in some circles for tight- ening definitions because of the similarities between the educational programs for the engineer and the technologist. In the late 1970s, under the umbrella of what was then ECPD, now Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, many of the engi- neering societies participated in a comprehensive review of definitions including that of engineering, the engineer, and the engineering tech- nologist and technician. Their report, entitled The Engineering Team, was approved lay the ECPD Board of Directors in 1979. It contained the following definitions and explanatory notes. Engineering Engineering is the profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences gained lay study, experience and practice is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize, economically, the materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind.

OCR for page 71
APPENDIX A 75 Engineer With a strong background in mathematics, the basic physical sciences, and the engineering sciences, the engineer must be able to interre- late engineering principles with economic, social, legal, aesthetic, environ- mental and ethical issues, extrapolating beyond the technical domain. The engineer must be a conceptualizes, a designer, a developer, a formulator of new techniques, a producer of standards all to help meet societal needs. The engineer must plan and predict, systematize and evaluate must be able to judge systems and components with respect to their relation to health, safety and welfare of people and to loss of property. Innovation must be central to the engineer. The engineer will normally have received the first professional degree from an accredited engineering program, which requires a minimum of one-half year of mathematics, beginning with differential and integral calculus. Edu- cation in engineering analysis and synthesis shall prepare the engineer to enter the profession with potential for further development in research, design, development, management, establishment of systems, and transla- tion of concepts into realities. An engineering education is the principal route to professional licensure. Engineering Technology Engineering Technology is that part of the technological field which requires the application of scientific and engineering knowledge and methods combined with technical skills in support of engineering activities; it lies in the occupational spectrum between the craftsman and the engineer at the end of the spectrum closest to the engineer. Engineering Technologist The engineering technologist must be applica- tions-oriented, building upon a background of applied mathematics through the concepts and applications of calculus. Based upon applied science and technology, the technologist must be able to produce practical, workable results quickly; install and operate technical systems; devise hardware from proven concepts; develop and produce products; service machines and sys- tems; manage construction and production processes; and provide sales sup- port for technical products and systems. Normally, the engineering technologist will hold a 4-year degree from an accredited engineering technology program. Because of the key role as an implementer, the engineering technologist must lie prepared to make inde- pendent judgments that will expedite the work without jeopardizing its effec- tiveness, safety or cost. And the technologist must be able to understand the components of systems and be able to operate the systems to achieve concep- tual goals established by the engineer. Engineering Technician With a minimum of two years of post-secondary education, ideally in engineering technology, with emphasis in technical skills, the engineering technician must be a doer, a builder of components, a sampler and collector of data. The technician must be able to utilize proven techniques and methods with a minimum of direction from an engineer or an

OCR for page 71
76 cn = ._ y c . _ C C C) - (,, 4- ~ ._ ~ C L a) a, . C ._ C ~UJ ~. V) ~n _ Q o c () a, 1 a C . _ . ~ a~ 4 - a, C C a ~C _ UJ E . a) 4 - Q . _ . _ c 6 . ~ a) a, 4 - _ . _ . _ a) c LL 4_, Q c o C: C o E ~ =, EE ~ ~y ~ c a . . E . ~, ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ c 2, ' o ,,, , ~._ = 0 ~ c c ~ c ~O . I, . . ~ ', ,. . ~ ~ ~ = .C = ~ ~ o i ,D ~ = G O ~ - O

OCR for page 71
APPENDIX A 77 engineering technologist. He/she shall not be expected to make judgments which deviate significantly from proven procedures. The technician should expect to conduct routine tests, present data in a reasonable format, and be able to carry out operational tasks following well- defined procedures, methods, and standards. In addition, the 1979 ECPD report contained a matrix depicting the engineering team See Figure AM . The definition of engineering in the ECPD {ABET) report remained unchanged from that first developed by ECPD in 1961 and varies little from that put forth by Tredgold in 1828 except for the addition of the "by study, experience and practice" element. However, the definitions of engineer, technologist, and technician became much more detailed, including a greet deal of explanatory materiel. Emphasis was put on the differences in academic credentials among the three. As to function, it is clear that all three fall within the definition of engineering, albeit at different levels-hence the term the engineering team. Another definition of note is that of the National Council of Engi- neering Examiners {NCEE~ Model Law ~1978 revision). Section 2 con- tains the following definitions: 1. Engineer The term "Engineer," within the intent of this Act shall mean a person who, by reason of his special knowledge and use of the mathe- matical, physical and engineering sciences and the principles and methods of engineering analysis and design, acquired by engineering education and engi . . . . ,. . . . . neerlOg experience, IS qua Alec . to practice englneermg. 2. Professional Engineer The term "Professional Engineer," as used in this Act, shall mean a person who has been duly registered and licensed as a Professional Engineer by the board. 3. Engineer-in-Training The term "Engineer-in-Training," as used in this Act, shall mean a person who complies with the requirements for educa- tion, experience and character, and has passed an examination in the funda- mental engineering subjects, as provided in this Act. 4. Practice of Engineering The term "Practice of Engineering" within the intent of this Act shall mean any service or creative work, the adequate performance of which requires engineering education, training and experi- ence in the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical and engineering sciences to such services or creative work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning and design of engineering works and sys- tems, planning the use of land and water, teaching of advanced engineering subjects, engineering surveys and the inspection of construction for the pur- pose of assuring compliance with drawings and specifications; any of which embraces such services or work, either public or private, in connection with any utilities, structures, buildings, machines, equipment, processes, work systems, projects, and industrial or consumer products or equipment of a

OCR for page 71
78 APPENDIX A mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic or thermal nature, insofar as they involve safeguarding life, health or property, and including such other professional services as may lee necessary to the planning, progress and com- pletion of any engineering services. Quite understandably, the focus of the NCEE definitions is on quali- fications and on the licensed engineer, who is referred to as the Profes- sional Engineer. The definition of the Practice of Engineering is also substantially more detailed because it attempts to define the many types of engineering work covered by the Model Law. The introduction of the term Professional Engineer to describe only licensed engineers has further confused the definitional picture in that to some it implies that nonlicensed engineers may somehow be unprofessional. Finally, confronted with the practical challenge of collecting and analyzing data, over a period of time the National Science Foundation developed eight criteria for determining who should be counted as a member of a given field of science or engineering. The criteria included those 1. who had earned a master's degree or higher in a coincident field of study and who regarded themselves, based on their total education and experience, as having a coincident profession; 2. who had earned a Ph.D. in any field of social or natural science and were employed in a coincident occupation; 3. who had earned a bachelor's degree or higher in a coincident field of study and were employed in a coincident occupation; 4. who had earned a bachelor's degree or higher in any field of study, were employed in a coincident occupation, and regarded themselves as having a coincident profession; 5. whose highest degree was in a coincident field of study at any degree level and who were employed as a college president, a college dean, or a manager or administrator of research and development, pro- duction, or operations; or who had earned a bachelor's degree or higher in a coincident field of study, were employed in a related occupation, and regarded themselves as having a coincident profession; 6. who had earned a bachelor's degree in a coincident field of study since 1969 and who regarded themselves as having a coincident profes- s~on; 7. who had earned a bachelor's degree or higher in any field of sci- ence and were employed as a college president, a college dean, or an administrator or manager of research and development, production, or operations and who regarded themselves as having a coincident profes- s~on; or

OCR for page 71
APPENDIX A 79 8. whose highest degree was in a related field of study and who were employed in a coincident occupation and who regarded themselves professionally to be a college president, a dean, or an administrator or manager of research and development, production, or operations. Summing up the definitional issue, several points are clear. First, the definition of engineering is extremely broad and can accommodate a wide range of practitioners; second, that range involves level of func- tion, area and type of practice, jolt titles, academic background, and experience; and third, to portray and understand the engineering enter- prise in the United States adequately, all of those substantively involved in that enterprise must lee accommodated in the definitional frameworks adopted, whatever the level and type of academic, experi- ence, or practice credentials.