Software Engineering

Levi Pearson levi at
Sat Sep 9 22:28:57 MDT 2006

On Sep 9, 2006, at 8:16 PM, Daniel C. wrote:

> So, I've been wondering - how *does* one become a software engineer?
> Note that I'm talking about a real, actual engineer here - not just
> someone with a degree in computer science.  If you're considering
> responding with "I'm a software engineer, I just picked up a book and
> taught myself <language>", please stop now and read this:
> Anyone?

I read through that when you last pointed it out.  You probably  
noticed, but the IT-related section was very Canada-specific.   
Apparently you can get in trouble calling yourself a software  
engineer in Canada.  In the US, however, everyone realizes that a  
'Software Engineer' is not the same thing as a 'Professional  
Engineer' and we all just deal with it without making too much of a  
fuss, except sometimes when it comes to naming degree programs at  

As Mr. Ed has already pointed out, software is a very, very young  
discipline when compared with engineering.  People have been building  
material things for thousands of years, but have only been  
programming computers for a matter of decades.  It's no surprise that  
there's no governing body that defines what it takes to be a real  
software engineer, because there's no consensus yet that we even know  
the answer.  It's an optimistic title, to be sure, and one that will  
certainly change with time.  But I'm glad it exists, and that people  
are working on the principles and practices that may eventually turn  
software into a branch of professional engineering.

I'm also fairly sure that when that happens, I'll be either long dead  
or interested in some younger field, where the answers haven't all  
been found yet.  Although I hope for Software Engineering to someday  
grow up to be a true peer of its Engineering namesakes, I believe it  
will only do so through the advances of Computer Science, and that's  
where my interest lies.


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