Posted by: episystechpubs | June 30, 2017

Editor’s Corner: Engineer

One of our readers asked if I’d ever done anything on the word “engineer.” He said that some people argue that software engineers are not engineers at all, because they don’t deal with physical laws of electricity, motion, strength, etc. Well, looking at the etymologies for engine and engineer, I would argue that software engineers can rightly claim that title!

Here is the etymology of engine:

c. 1300, "mechanical device," especially one used in war; "manner of construction," also "skill, craft, innate ability; deceitfulness, trickery," from Old French engin "skill, wit, cleverness," also "trick, deceit, stratagem; war machine" (12c.), from Latin ingenium "innate qualities, ability; inborn character," in Late Latin "a war engine, battering ram" (Tertullian, Isidore of Seville)

Sense of "device that converts energy to mechanical power" is 18c.; in 19c. especially of steam engines. Middle English also had ingeny (n.) "gadget, apparatus, device," directly from Latin ingenium.

Here is the etymology of engineer:

mid-14c., enginour, "constructor of military engines," from Old French engigneor "engineer, architect, maker of war-engines; schemer" (12c.), from Late Latin ingeniare (see engine); general sense of "inventor, designer" is recorded from early 15c.; civil sense, in reference to public works, is recorded from c. 1600 but not the common meaning of the word until 19c (hence lingering distinction as civil engineer). Meaning "locomotive driver" is first attested 1832, American English. A "maker of engines" in ancient Greece was a mekhanopoios

And for a broader definition from Wikipedia, we have this:

Engineering is the application of mathematics and scientific, economic, social, and practical knowledge in order to invent, innovate, design, build, maintain, research, and improve structures, machines, tools, systems, components, materials, processes, solutions, and organizations.

The discipline of engineering is extremely broad and encompasses a range of more specialized fields of engineering, each with a more specific emphasis on particular areas of applied science, technology and types of application.

The term engineering is derived from the Latin ingenium, meaning "cleverness" and ingeniare, meaning "to contrive, devise."

It sounds like being an engineer—whether the conductor of a train, the maker of a gadget, or just being clever—is a good thing!

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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