Improving Wetware

Because technology is never the issue

Craftsmanship and Engineering

Posted by Pete McBreen 01 Oct 2021 at 17:23

Found a recent reference to my book by Hillel Wayne in a blog post where he interviewed engineers who moved into software development to get their take on the “is software development engineering” question. Overall his take is that

there’s a much smaller gap between “software development” and “software engineering” than there is between “electrician” and “electrical engineer”, or between “trade” and “engineering” in all other fields. Most people can go between “software craft” and “software engineering” without significant retraining. We are separated from engineering by circumstance, not by essence, and we can choose to bridge that gap at will.

I have to agree with Hillel that despite having a masters degree in Manufacturing Systems Engineering I am not a traditional engineer.

I believe everything McBreen said about software is fairly reasonable, about how hard it is to predict things and how it’s intensely personally created. What he gets wrong is the assumption that engineering is not this way. Engineering is much richer, more creative, and more artistic than he thought. But of course he would have an imperfect view: he is, after all, not a traditional engineer. Are we really engineers