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Is this what you wanted to be when you were young?

 
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I wanted to be a strom chaser ( when i was 14 and read an article on them in National Geographic magazine about chasing tornadoes) or a scientist working in NASA

what about you ?
you wanted to be a programmer? or a musician or film star or anything else ?
 
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I wanted to be a chased storm.
 
Tanmoy Dhara
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I wanted to be a chased storm



You are good with words . How is the storm now ?
 
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I can be stormy, and have been chased.
 
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I wanted to be an Engineer. My dad and older brothers were Engineers. So I went to the good Engineering University in my state. It took me four years to learn that I did not want to be an Engineer.

I transferred to the Arts and Science College, and got a BS in Mathematics.

When I graduated, I got a job, as a Mechanical Engineer. I didn't want to be an engineer, but being a Mathematician didn't pay nearly as much.

Then I turned to the dark side and became a professional Software designer/programmer/teacher/coffee maker.

There is no Engineering in software.
 
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I wanted to do "something with computers". I didn't find out I liked programming until high school.
 
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I was born too late. I still remember two incidents which shaped my career ambitions back then.

First I had this fantastic idea of making biscuits. Take a biscuit !(yeah, right), and immerse it in milk till its a soggy mess. Then take it out and put it in any toy clay mold of your choice and let it dry in the sun. (This was probably inspired by the "made from sun ripened wheat" on one of the biscuit wrappers). There you go, a free biscuit for you.

Some years later I had this real brain wave which I was sure would make me millions. Inflate a balloon a attach it to an airplane. Letting off the air would obviously push the airplane forward wouldn't it? I remember "designing" a control valve for the balloon to be used by the pilots...using rubber bands and a water tap!

Like I said, I was born too late. It has all been done before, and here I am, forced to work for a living. Sigh.
 
Tanmoy Dhara
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There is no Engineering in software



Then why people call it software engineering? To make it sound better?


Inflate a balloon a attach it to an airplane. Letting off the air would obviously push the airplane forward wouldn't it?



Hmm you are our version of Jules Verne
 
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I wanted to be doctor.But, since i wasn't able to clear my entrance exam ,I then took admission for MCA.Fotunately I landed over the right place."Luck By Chance"
 
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I wanted to be a scientist studying dolphin communications - but a TA in college told me I'd spend the first 5 years of my career washing test tubes and making $10 / hour - so I kept programming, which was what was paying for college in the first place
 
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When I was a child I was very interested in animals and also in technical things. My parents always said "He's going to be something with animals!".

I got my first computer (a Commodore 64, a very popular computer at the time) when I was 13 and got totally hooked on it. I studied Electrical Engineering, but always was more on the software / mathematics / computer science side of it than the hardware / electronics side. I did my masters thesis project at the Philips NatLab (the big research lab of Philips), it was about encoding digitized speech signals - clever algorithms that are used in mobile phones.

After my studies I started working as a C++ programmer, but after three or four years Java really took off, and I've been busy with Java for the past ten years.
 
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Tanmoy Dhara wrote:

There is no Engineering in software



Then why people call it software engineering? To make it sound better?



I think Pat is saying that... back then, there wasn't such a thing as a degree in software engineering. Or even computer engineering.

If memory serves, back then, if you wanted to be an engineer, your options were... Chemical, Electrical, Machanical, Industrial, or Civil. My degree was in Chemical Engineering.

Henry

 
Pat Farrell
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Henry Wong wrote:

Tanmoy Dhara wrote: There is no Engineering in software


I think Pat is saying that... back then, there wasn't such a thing as a degree in software engineering. Or even computer engineering.



Close. In the US, if you want to claim that you are an Engineer, and especially if you want to name a firm "Pat Engineering" then you must be a professional engineer, registered by the State board of Professional Engineers.

There is a strict list of fields that each State may register Professional Enginers, and Henry's right:

Chemical, Electrical, Mechanical, Industrial, or Civil. My degree was in Chemical Engineering.


are typical fields of engineering. There are others, Structural Engineer, Architectural Engineer, etc.

There are strict liability laws associated with these registrations. Every commercial building or structure must have its plans signed by a Professional Engineer (or Registered Architect) before the building can be built. And the Professional Engineer accepts liability if the engineering is faulty, say the building falls down. This is deadly serious stuff.

In Virginia (where I live) there are no Professional Engineers who are in software. You can not claim to be a Professional Software Engineer.

If you design computers, you may be employed as a computer engineer, but you are not a Professional Computer Engineer, you can't sign drawings. But its not required, or at least, I've never seen where it was required.

When I was going for my PhD in Computer Science, a common topic when we were out for beers was "where is the Science in Computer Science?" and
"where is the Engineering in Software Engineering?"

There is clearly serious science in parts of computer science dealing with algorithms, although its mostly Mathematics. There is very little that is recognized as Engineering in what is called Software Engineering. The problem is mostly that there are no fundamental measurable quantities in software. Nothing equivalent to a volt, amp that the EEs use, or the strength of material that the Structural guys use.

In software, we can't even agree on what a line of code is.
 
Jesper de Jong
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People have argued that "software engineering" is not really engineering at all, mainly because there is not one single, correct way to build software, and because building software is not bound to the rules of physics. It just works in a very different way than mechanical engineering, for example.

"Computer Science" is Not Science and "Software Engineering" is Not Engineering
Rejecting Software Engineering

Software engineering is more like a craft than an engineering discipline.
 
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I dearly wanted to be a rock star. And so I did!
 
Pat Farrell
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Jesper Young wrote:People have argued that "software engineering" is not really engineering at all, mainly because there is not one single, correct way to build software, and because building software is not bound to the rules of physics. It just works in a very different way than mechanical engineering, for example.

Software engineering is more like a craft than an engineering discipline.



I think its more because there are no metrics, most Chemical Engineering doens't care about Physics, but it sure does care about Chemistry and the metrics used in that field.

I love Donald Knuth's series of books, the Art of Computer Programming.

Its an art, not a science, today.

Historically, fields are first practiced as an art or specialty until they are understood, and then Engineering practices grow out of the experience.

Structural Engineering grew out of buildings falling down, and both Mechanical and Structural grew out of the amazing improvements in technology that the steam engine, steam locomotives, steam boats, etc. created. When you owned a Mississippi steam boat, it was critically important that you got to New Orleans first with your cargo, it could be worth several times as much as when the slower boats brought the crop downstream. So they made bigger boilers and lighter boats. And a lot of boats blew up, caught fire, etc. They needed engineering to make them better and safer.
 
Pat Farrell
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Ernest Friedman-Hill wrote:I dearly wanted to be a rock star. And so I did!



So did I, but I didn't learn to play an electric guitar until all the rock stars were decades younger than me.

 
Bear Bibeault
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My boss called me "Rock Star GUI dude" yesterday... does that count?
 
Henry Wong
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Oh cool... a MD topic with a serious discussion.

Jesper Young wrote:Software engineering is more like a craft than an engineering discipline.



While I definitely agree that it is "more like a craft" -- I don't agree that it couldn't be an "engineering discipline". IMO, I think software development is still kinda like the wild west, even after all these years. The winners are the ones who don't seem to follow the rules -- the startup mentality is still popular. Heck, how many Chemical Engineering startups are there?

Pat Farrell wrote:
When I was going for my PhD in Computer Science, a common topic when we were out for beers was "where is the Science in Computer Science?" and "where is the Engineering in Software Engineering?"

There is clearly serious science in parts of computer science dealing with algorithms, although its mostly Mathematics. There is very little that is recognized as Engineering in what is called Software Engineering. The problem is mostly that there are no fundamental measurable quantities in software. Nothing equivalent to a volt, amp that the EEs use, or the strength of material that the Structural guys use.



I agree up to a point. Something is always measurable -- especially, when statistics is used. And those measurable items can be applied to the real world. And it is this applying to the real world that is engineering. Part of engineering is about efficiency. On how to improve something. And on how to measure that improvement. This is what Six Sigma, LEAN, and even iso 9000 is about.

In other words, I believe that there can be engineering in software engineering, but ... it is still the wild west out there.

Henry
 
Pat Farrell
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Henry Wong wrote:On how to improve something. And on how to measure that improvement. This is what Six Sigma, LEAN, and even iso 9000 is about.

In other words, I believe that there can be engineering in software engineering, but ... it is still the wild west out there.



Six Sigma makes sense in manufacturing, my oldest brother is a Mechanical Engineer at (huge multi-national chemical product company) and spent at least a decade doing Six Sigma. But he can measure the quality of the product. And from these measurements, he can engineer the process and machinery to improve things.

The best software designers and developers clearly are better than the average folks, but we can't measure it. Its mostly like porn, we know it when we see it, even if we can't define it.

ISO 9000 always struck me as simply a barrier to entry by small firms, you need so many people filling out so many forms. Its not at all clear that its actually effective. And effective design is what real engineers do. They get measured on it.

I will agree that in the future, there may be software engineering, but as @henry says, its the wild west today.

Back OT, I never wanted to be a serious software engineer. I just wanted to eat and I was good at programming.
 
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Pat Farrell wrote:
Six Sigma makes sense in manufacturing, my oldest brother is a Mechanical Engineer at (huge multi-national chemical product company) and spent at least a decade doing Six Sigma. But he can measure the quality of the product. And from these measurements, he can engineer the process and machinery to improve things.



One of my previous companies (who shall remain nameless because it crashed and burned) used Six Sigma for manufacturing and engineering (hardware and software). The software part, ie. programmers, was the new one. I had left near that time, so I don't know if it went well.

Doesn't really matter though... The company couldn't stop doing constant layoffs. Suffered a massive brain drain. And ... well, I really would have been interested in whether Six Sigma in software development worked or not.

Henry

 
Pat Farrell
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Henry Wong wrote: I really would have been interested in whether Six Sigma in software development worked or not.



I too would love to know of cases where it worked or failed.

I bet a beer that there are no shops that have done even a semi-serious attempt at scientifically testing if it works or not.

And of course, Six Sigma is all about measuring the mean and STDEV, and calculating the X-sigma window.
 
Tanmoy Dhara
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Well it feels bad to know after 4 years of pursuing an engineering degree ,i will not be recognized as an engineer (at least in US ).
And after all the six sigma and other solemn arguments , i thank god that He had put you all in the place where you belong, in the fields of academics , so that we are fortunate enough to have mentors like you who guide us in outstanding ways.

I can not imagine the faces of those metallica fans ,standing dumbfounded , when ,before starting the song ,in the introduction you would have brought in Socrates and explained the socio-economic relevance of song with a touch of Freud's complex psychological theory.


god save metallica
 
Jesper de Jong
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Pat Farrell wrote:I think its more because there are no metrics, most Chemical Engineering doens't care about Physics, but it sure does care about Chemistry and the metrics used in that field.


But chemistry is physics - all chemical reactions are governed by the fundamental physical forces - electomagnetism, gravity and the weak and strong nuclear forces. So chemistry certainly cares about physics.
 
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I wanted to be a highway toll booth. Not a toll booth worker but an actual toll booth.
 
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Aviator
 
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Tanmoy Dhara wrote:Well it feels bad to know after 4 years of pursuing an engineering degree ,i will not be recognized as an engineer (at least in US ).



In the construction industry, isn't an architect sometimes given the same status as an engineer?

An architect in fact handles many more complex concerns and has to balance them in ways that an engineer does not.
The architect must balance both form and function, while an engineer deals only with half of the problem.
An architect must rely on sound engineering, but also has to factor in human elements and how humans interact with the building (the "interface") and local zoning laws, building regulations, and probably some politics on a few levels. To oversimplify...an engineer just calculates if the floor a building will hold x amount of weight.

I'd respect a good large scale software architect as much as any engineer.
 
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From Programmers at work interview here
INTERVIEWER: Is computer science really a science?
GATES: It will be...
 
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I've always wanted to be... a lumberjack!!
 
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