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Summing up an engineer


Mark Whitby (NCE 2 March) asks for a definition of engineering. It might be useful to take a leaf out of the mathematicians' book, and define the profession by what it isn't.

For example: 'Engineers apply knowledge to create the unnatural, not the natural, world. Or: 'They ensure nature is not red in tooth and claw.'

The argument being that while other people (and species) build things, they do not apply knowledge, and therefore, are not engineers.

Groups like mechanics are required to be creative on occasion. However, maintenance tasks would fall outside this definition, since maintenance usually centres on the dismantling and reassembly of equipment, which requires an empirical understanding of the task, but not creativity, and to a certain extent, knowledge.

Alex Perry (G),

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