Software Engineering

Scott Paul Robertson spr at
Sun Sep 10 00:38:28 MDT 2006

On Sat, Sep 09, 2006 at 09:56:30PM -0600, Mister E wrote:
> Daniel C. wrote:
> >If I asked "How can I become a civil engineer" you wouldn't answer
> >with "A civil engineer designs bridges and buildings for non-military
> >use".  You'd say "First you get a degree in civil engineering from an
> >ABET-accredited institution.  Then you take the Fundamentals of
> >Engineering exam.  Assuming you pass the exam, you then work for a few
> >years under a licensed civil engineer.  For further questions you can
> >contact the American Society of Civil Engineers."
> >


> Seriously though ... I think you might be a little too into this concept 
> or definition.  Civil Engineering is an established disipline that had 
> time (centuries) to evolve and be regulated to such a degree as you have 
> established previously.  Much of this "regulation" came from the 
> profession itself, while other portions came from outrage at buildings 
> and bridges collapsing that resulted in human injury.  Being that 
> Software Engineering is relatively new, compared to even Electrical 
> Engineering (which I studied), it does not have such a process in place 
> due to it's "infant" stage as an Engineering discipline.  But give it 
> time.  Miscrosoft and other companies are proving the point that such a 
> process might be needed as their products prove to be vulnerable and 
> harmful when compromised.  I can see several movements that might want 
> to govern such a process, but none, as far as I know at this time, have 
> emerged beyond an obscure idear.  So... in the end, it is the opinions 
> of others that define what a Software Engineer really is and who really 
> is one; even if they are misguided.

This brings up somethings I've looked into and have some experience
with. To start, my Dad is now a retired civil engineer who is
maintaining his license. He's been heavily involved with the Society of
Civil Engineers and Society of Professional Engineers. With civil
engineering if you don't get your PE, you really aren't going to go
anywhere in the field, that's just how it is.

Now I started school as a EE/CompE. The first thing my Dad wanted me to
find out is when I would take the EIT (now called the FE), and what the
school provided in way of support for getting your PE. Interestingly
enough I was one of the very rare EE students to even ask the advisors
about taking the FE. While EE's can get licensed as PE's, it is much
less common. BYU doesn't even worry/care about it. This is because when
you work for a big company, they handle liability amongst other things,
making a number of the reasons to get a PE unnecessary.

I think if we see liability come into software like it is in other
branches of engineering (IE civil: The bridge fell down, it's your
fault), then a Software PE (or equivalent) would be available. I think
it would be similar to the EE situation where only those working as
contractors/independently would commonly have it. I just hope they don't
require the FE. It's really nasty according to my civil friends.


Scott Paul Robertson
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