Being a chemical engineer, I have read this particular thread with a great
deal of interest. My feeling is that the question is not whether engineers
are scientists. The more fundamental question is "How do we define
science?". Simplistically, I tend to see science divided into 2
areas--applied science and pure science. Pure science is that which is
performed under very controlled conditions in a laboratory. The applied
scientist takes the concepts learned in the laboratory and applies them,
always under very uncontrolled conditions with many of the variables not
Working as an engineer in my day-to-day work, I apply scientific concepts
regularly. Most of the calculations I perform were derived from
thermodynamics and mechanics. I know that everyone agrees that both of
these concepts, at their fundamental levels, were developed by what we would
consider to be scientists.
On the other hand, when I worked on M.S., I worked with several professors
who had Ph.D.s in engineering (mostly chemical) and they were performing
what I would consider to be pure science. My M.S. advisor was studying the
permeability of fluid through porous media, in this case paper. Another
professor was studying the rheology of clay coating mixtures used on paper.
Yet another professor was studying the chemistry of paper pulp bleaching.
I agree with the preceeding comments regarding the conflict between
disciplines, whether it be (pure) scientists, engineers, accountants, etc.
I myself have been guilty of the sin of saying "Don't they know what they
are doing? I could do a better job than that!". Of course this is always
easier when I don't actually know anyone in that particular department. :^)
We all need to remember that we are all given gifts that should be used for
His glory, not ours. We are all part of one body and that body should have
no division in it.
>Date: Sun, 23 Mar 1997 15:58:36 -0500
>From: email@example.com (Rick Becker)
>Subject: wall of separation
>On 3/23/97 Paul Arveson wrote:
>In my actual career, I work a lot with engineers. I do see a difference,
>due not to subject matter but to training and methodology. Engineers
>are very focused on things such as specifications and requirements, which
>physics majors never hear about. This difference of method can lead to
>misunderstandings and a need for 'cross-cultural' training. Again, the
>schools let us down by not being generally aware of this situation in
>the working world, and providing such a course. At least that's my
>I used to work in the semiconductor OEM business doing ion beam physics. I
>wound up doing that quite by "accident" in that I was a theology major at
>Gordon-Conwell just prior to that. I learned physics and engineering on the
>by having an academic inclination to start with. While I was there, (7yr),
>I noticed that occupations tended to be linked more with personality types
>than anything else, and everybody enjoyed pointing out the deficiencies in
>everyone else's approach. Typically Marketing would promise something to a
>customer, then tell R&D to invent it, with no time and frequently no money.
>I learned the fine art of the Kluge. Engineering would look at my
>TinkerToys and berate me for inelegant engineering, and then proceed to make
>a palace from a grass hut.
>Manufacturing Engineering would then take the palace and deridingly cost
>engineer it into a condo. Manufacturing hated everybody. Field Service
>fixed everybody's messes in the Real World. Then there were the people who
>lived in the World of Paper. I never did understand them.
> Marketing was filled with people who could just as easily sell used
>cars. Physics/R&D were generally dismissed as necessary Eccentrics who did
>Dangerous Things, and given a wide berth. Engineering was always an ongoing
>catfight between Mechanical, Electrical, and Software, each of whom thought
>that the other two were incompetent, but they were all Engineers, and
>Engineers are Organized and Idealistic. Manufacturing Engineering was
>populated primarily by non-degreed engineers who had lots of battlefield
>experience from manufacturing or field service and was full of Practical
>People. Manufacturing considered itself a different company, full of Just
>Regular Folks Who Had No Pretensions, and had no use for anyone else. Field
>Service was full of Cowboys who did everything in extreme measure. The
>people from the World of Paper came and went quietly every day at their
> It's clearly an oversimplification, and hard to tell to what degree the
>job forms the person, and vice versa. Everyone had their walls. I think
>that's just plain old unredeemed sin. I guess that makes our job as
>Christians fairly clear. The fields are white with the harvest, and we are
>to bring light to our situations, whatever they are, (and the less
>Paperwork, the better!).
> Even in my tiny company I see the same insidious weeds of sin cropping up
>from time to time, and it frequently requires more effort pulling them out
>than the rest of the job combined, but to ignore them is Very Dangerous
>Indeed. Same goes for Churches, Colleges, etc., etc. ....
>Looking forward to Heaven,
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