Engineers: Men with Oily Rags and Hammers?

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  • Topic: Engineering, Professional Engineer, Mechanical engineering
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  • Published : January 28, 2013
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Module Code: CE 20000-4
Title: Engineers? Men with oily rags and hammers!

Chapters.
1. Synopsis.
2. Definition.
3. The early days.
4. Real life definition.
5. UK.
6. International.
7. Conclusion.
8. Sources.

1. Synopsis.
The term ‘engineer’ has many different meanings and, depending on whom you ask, they will give you their own interpretation of an engineer. As the term is so commonly used on a daily basis, its true meaning has become somewhat distanced and diluted from the definitions provided by the professional bodies and also the literate bodies (dictionary authors). But even if the definitions from the professional bodies are examined, they still differ from one to the next. Even the UK based bodies have a difference, let alone comparing the rest of the world’s. Several key factors run true though for each and they are explained in the following pages.

2. Definition.
The word engineer is defined as ‘ a person whose job is to design or build machines, engines or electrical equipment, or things such as roads, railways or bridges, using scientific principles’ and ‘a person whose job is to repair or control machines, engines or electrical equipment’ (Cambridge Dictionary Online, Cambridge University Press, 2011). The term is derived from the Latin roots ingeniare ("to contrive, devise") and ingenium ("cleverness"). (Oxford Concise Dictionary, 1995; "engineer". Oxford Dictionaries. April 2010. Oxford Dictionaries. April 2010. Oxford University Press. 22 October 2011). In summary, an engineer is a person who faces a problem and through the use of mathematics, physics and their experience, will divulge a solution to overcome the problem. The engineer also has to deal with the non technical side of the engineering environment e.g. management, prioritisation etc. For example, Patrick Head is the Engineering Director at the Williams Formula 1 Team, and Adrian Newey is the Chief Engineer at Red Bull Racing Formula 1 Team. Mr Newey is the most successful engineer in F1 circles. It has probably been many years since either has picked up a spanner or a screwdriver in anger, instead they design the car, gather the best people to do the jobs (more engineers) and extract the best out of them, whilst sticking to immovable rules and deadlines. The question - Engineers: Men With Oily Rags & Hammers? Is flawed on several levels. Apart from the sexist side (so from now on the term engineer will relate to both male and female, even though the text may state ‘man’), it really depends on what ‘sort’ of engineer you are. From the first definition, it becomes clear that an engineer is a producer, in that the end product will have been produced by them e.g. a pile of cogs, wheels, gears etc will produce a machine. This may be a man with an oily rag and hammer. But what about an electrical engineer? Or how many oily rags do you think will be needed to construct a telecommunications satellite? Or Chemical Engineers? Engineers also fall into the design side of a project. Again, no oily rags in the tech drawing office. Nor will there be any in an MD’s office of an engineering company. According to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, there are eight sectors of engineering; aerospace, automobile, construction & building, manufacturing, medicine& health, power, process and railway. Not all have men with oily rags and hammers.

3. The Early Days.
Indeed if it wasn’t for engineers, particularly mechanical, the world we currently live in today would be a different place. There would be no bridges, no rail or road networks, nor any vehicles to travel on these networks. The ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) would still be the horse! If it wasn’t for two American brothers in 1903 with their oily rags and hammers, the aeroplane would not have been invented. Imagine a world without aeroplanes. Thank you Wilbur & Orville Wright. Then in 1935, a young RAF cadet, Frank Whittle, shaped air...
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