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I feel the exact same way. I am electrical engineer by training. When I first moved to San Francisco, I would answer "yes" every time someone would ask "are you an engineer" but I quickly learned that when people said "engineer" 99% of the time they meant software engineers. I quickly became used to saying "no i'm not an engineer, at least not a software engineer."

To me, it's a fairly myopic culture. One of my friends, who has a Ph.D. in civil engineering and is a professor at Stanford has to do the same thing "oh no I'm not an engineer in the way you meant". It's insulting to all the other types of engineers out there (civil, mechanical, electrical, aeronautical, bme) who are somehow excluded from the definition engineer when you enter the Valley or software circles. No other engineering subtype abuses the language this way. It's even more mind boggling because no software engineer has a PE, which in some countries (not the US) is the only way you can call yourself an engineer.

As a whole, I think abusing the language is insulting to the diversity of engineers out there. While software engineering is probably the highest growth branch, that doesn't mean the other branches are just as relevant. In university, we never used the word engineering to mean just "electrical engineering", we actually used it when we were talking about the whole universe of engineers.

The funny thing is now that I've transitioned to software engineer, it feels good to be finally be able to say "Yes I'm an engineer."






Texas and Florida have software engineer P.E. according to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulation_and_licensure_in_en...

I think there are a couple of states where you are not allowed (by law) to use engineer unless you are a P.E. but there are industrial exemptions, which muddy the waters. As compared to "Professional Engineer", which is don't use it if you don't have a license in the U.S. state where you are offering engineering services.


Author here.

I had no idea that this is a sensitive topic. I personally have family members that are civil engineers and understand the difficulty with acquiring a PE. I went ahead and modified the title.


Sorry just to be clear I didn't meant to criticize your article, it's just one example of a general cultural tendency that I was somewhat unhappy about.

As an Electrical P.E., it didn't bother me per se; but it is interesting to consider all the different ways engineer is used in English.



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