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Thread: Can I call myself an engineer with no qualifications?

  1. #1
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    Can I call myself an engineer with no qualifications?

    I left school at 14 with not a single qualification and now often work alongside qualified engineers. I feel I fit in and often solve problems that they get stuck on, but no more often than my own lack of trained skills holds me up.

    Since leaving school I worked in a shop for a while, then setup a business cleaning and building ponds for people. I liked water so I decided I wanted to engineer structures and mechanical systems to deal with water. I later found myself attracted to the film/tv/events industry and moved that way.

    Also dabbled in automation and signal engineering and some electrical work too. And quite good at steelwork, timber construction and very good at plumbing!

    My question: Does being good enough at something and working in industry make you a professional at it? In this case, a professional engineer.

  2. #2
    Administrator Kelly Bramble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidturner View Post
    My question: Does being good enough at something and working in industry make you a professional at it? In this case, a professional engineer.
    Not even close... Unless you can estimate ~ analytically heat transfer requirements, stress strain of a structure, fluids flow requirements and design for a first pass, cost effective end item - you are not an engineer.

    With years of experience you could call yourself an engineering technician though.
    Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly Bramble View Post
    Not even close... Unless you can estimate ~ analytically heat transfer requirements, stress strain of a structure, fluids flow requirements and design for a first pass, cost effective end item - you are not an engineer.

    With years of experience you could call yourself an engineering technician though.
    I can do all that. To be honest even though I'm very strong mathematically I do struggle to demonstrate my theory. But when structural engineers look over the end result they always give me a factor of safety in excess of my own calculations. Yet, whenever I discuss things on a forum like this in told they won't work! To be perfectly honest my first pass is my own visualisation of the forces at play. I imagine the structure, I appreciate the forces, I engineer to meet and combat them.

    I have about ten years experience now.

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    To get to the key point though, as I do have years of proven effective experience, it is ok to say I'm an engineer?

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    Administrator Kelly Bramble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidturner View Post
    To get to the key point though, as I do have years of proven effective experience, it is ok to say I'm an engineer?
    Again, no... I think experience is important and valuable and many talented technicians have made valuable engineering contributions to the world. However, engineering is about the science behind why products work - why they last, are strong enough for the intended loading, can cool themselves properly, or can meet a physics/scientific application.

    Serioulsy, I'm sure you understand what an engineer is..

    Prove me wrong and solve this ops challenge..

    http://www.engineersedge.com/enginee...f-v-shape-tube
    Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly Bramble View Post
    Again, no... I think experience is important and valuable and many talented technicians have made valuable engineering contributions to the world. However, engineering is about the science behind why products work - why they last, are strong enough for the intended loading, can cool themselves properly, or can meet a physics/scientific application.

    Serioulsy, I'm sure you understand what an engineer is..

    Prove me wrong and solve this ops challenge..

    http://www.engineersedge.com/enginee...f-v-shape-tube
    I could I'm sure if I applied myself. But honestly I've learned so much over the years and all I would be doing is proving I can understand theory.

    What about the tactile approach? Is it wrong I pick up a section of steel or aluminium, stand on it, play with it and the conclude how I can use it? Because that approach works for me. And every single time a mathematician follows me up afterwards and tells me I got it right.

    I'm aware this is not a normal approach. But are you saying that theory equals an engineer to a greater extent than proof?

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    And if not, what am I!? Lol

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    Project Engineer Cragyon's Avatar
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    I made an omelet for my wife yesterday morning, I must be a French Chef. I changed the battery in my Toyota last week, must be a master mechanic. I bought a six pack of Blue, I must be a purchasing professional. I balanced my bank account, I must be an accountant.

    Kelly has a point, either you can do all of the engineering tasks or your not an engineer.

    What are you? Show me your work. WHat do you do daily?

  9. #9
    Administrator Kelly Bramble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cragyon View Post
    What are you? Show me your work. WHat do you do daily?
    What has the op mastered? "dabbled" in a variety of fields or applications does not qualify one to say they are an engineer. Engineering takes many years of education, extensive math solving skills, knowledge and application abilities with physics and so on.

    The op simply has a variety of experiences. Some of these experiences are technical in nature, some require managerial, some require installations, some require operation of equipment.

    I would suggest the op is entrepreneurial, open to new experiences and challenges, technically capable, and self confident...

    But, not and engineer.
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  10. #10
    Lead Engineer Cake of Doom's Avatar
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    To even be close to calling yourself an engineer still needs this:-

    many years of education, extensive math solving skills, knowledge and application abilities with physics and so on.
    I you looked at it like a trade, the above would be you learning how to handle the tools. After that, you'd be learning your trade. Whether that's electrical, mechanical or civil/structural etc. If I'd have spent all my years after graduation doing a bit steel design and a bit of automotive with a little bit of pipeline design thrown in, I'd just be a dude with an engineering degree but not enough experience in any area to actually call myself an Engineer.

    I'd say you are approaching Technician level. Can't say any more than that because I have no examples of your work. Being a Tech. isn't a lesser status by any degree. They're a valuable part of the industry.

    Also be aware of the legal ramifications. Depending where you are in the world, calling yourself an engineer without meeting certain legal requirements is punishable under law.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cragyon View Post
    I made an omelet for my wife yesterday morning, I must be a French Chef. I changed the battery in my Toyota last week, must be a master mechanic. I bought a six pack of Blue, I must be a purchasing professional. I balanced my bank account, I must be an accountant.

    Kelly has a point, either you can do all of the engineering tasks or your not an engineer.

    What are you? Show me your work. WHat do you do daily?
    But.. If you cooked omelettes for one of the finest french restaurants for years, and were paid to do so - would you be a chef? Even if you had not attended catering college and trained formally?

    My daily work is design and build of large scale water displays and tanks/pools for TV and film use.

    To give you an example, this year we branched out a little and designed and built a temporary municipal pool, 20m x 10m x 1m deep. That pool was scrutinized by a structural engineer prior to site assembly and passed. But all the maths, CAD work and general functional design up to that point was carried out by me. I did engineer it, it was done by me. So still the question remains, is the title 'Engineer' the result of formal qualifications, such as 'Medical Doctor', or the result of working in the engineering profession?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly Bramble View Post
    What has the op mastered? "dabbled" in a variety of fields or applications does not qualify one to say they are an engineer. Engineering takes many years of education, extensive math solving skills, knowledge and application abilities with physics and so on.

    The op simply has a variety of experiences. Some of these experiences are technical in nature, some require managerial, some require installations, some require operation of equipment.

    I would suggest the op is entrepreneurial, open to new experiences and challenges, technically capable, and self confident...

    But, not and engineer.
    I totally get your point. But the issue remains that I do the work and get the result. It's true that I don't have the maths skills to make complex assessments, but it's also true that when my heuristic assumptions about a structure are tested with maths, they are revealed to be correct.

    So if 2 people arrive at the same result but via different methods, have they not done the same job? In this instance, engineering whatever was required successfully.

  13. #13
    Administrator Kelly Bramble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidturner View Post
    But.. If you cooked omelettes for one of the finest french restaurants for years, and were paid to do so - would you be a chef? Even if you had not attended catering college and trained formally
    Maybe? I'm not qualified to judge what a chef is or what experience/education is required - I understand the limitations of my knowledge sets. I think Craig (Cragyon) has over 35 years design engineering experience - he's an engineer. I have a formal degree in engineering (ME), tested and licensed by the the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as a GDTP as well as having 36 years direct design engineering experience.

    You, are not an engineer... Period.

    My daily work is design and build of large scale water displays and tanks/pools for TV and film use.

    To give you an example, this year we branched out a little and designed and built a temporary municipal pool, 20m x 10m x 1m deep. That pool was scrutinized by a structural engineer prior to site assembly and passed. But all the maths, CAD work and general functional design up to that point was carried out by me. I did engineer it, it was done by me. So still the question remains, is the title 'Engineer' the result of formal qualifications, such as 'Medical Doctor', or the result of working in the engineering profession?
    Operating CAD software is not engineering, nor does it qualify you as anything other than a CAD operator.

    That pool was scrutinized by a structural engineer prior to site assembly and passed.
    So, you likely appled code and a reviewing engineer signed off. You are at most a "pool designer"...

    In this world of high technology, high skill sets required to function as an engineer, it is rare to encounter a non-formally educated person doing actual engineer work. Design is not engineering, cad is not engineering, managing your self is not engineering. Maybe 50 years ago when technology was much less people could work experience into being an engineer - but not in today's high tech world.
    Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

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    Project Engineer Cragyon's Avatar
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    Thanks KElly!

    davidtirner, I think you might qualify as a designer. If you pass a professional licencing procedure by a sanctioned professional pool engineers association - then call yourself an engineer.

    Until then, you might ask around in your field to determine what is considered a engineer.

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    Technical Fellow jboggs's Avatar
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    Some of the best "engineers" I have ever worked with did not have a degree, but they did have a lot of scars from years of experience. As far as I'm concerned you can call yourself whatever you want, but ... When it comes to offering your services on the public market if you describe yourself as an engineer and you do not have the accepted paperwork to prove both the education and experience, that's where you could have a BIG problem. In most jurisdictions it is illegal for a business or individual to include the word "engineer" or "engineering" in their company name or offering of services if they do not have on staff a full-time Professional Engineer currently licensed to practice in that state.

    You say you have generally good experience with the things you have designed and built. That's great! I would probably want to have you on my design team. You seem to have a good "gut feel" for the physics involved. Regrettably even some licensed engineers may lack that intuitive "feel". But fortunately their education and understanding can still lead them to the right answer anyway. It is a longer path to the result but it can be explained in physical terms.

    Can you explain in terms of detailed mathematical, geometrical, dynamic, thermal, or structural analysis WHY your ideas worked? Or more importantly why some other variation did NOT work? A Professional Engineer can explain the basis for his design decisions in court. The phrase "I just felt in my gut it would work" is not a good legal defense.

    It may seem unfair to you, and frankly I understand why, but engineers must protect the use of the term, because the general public does not know the difference. I might be really good at "doctoring" folks but I should not offer my services to the public as a doctor without the proven documented knowledge to back it up.

    I would strongly suggest that you investigate the options you might have (on-line, community college, etc.) to obtain the education you would need to get an accredited Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree. Then all the arguments would be over. We would warmly welcome a competent and proven practitioner to our ranks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kelly Bramble View Post
    Maybe? I'm not qualified to judge what a chef is or what experience/education is required - I understand the limitations of my knowledge sets. I think Craig (Cragyon) has over 35 years design engineering experience - he's an engineer. I have a formal degree in engineering (ME), tested and licensed by the the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as a GDTP as well as having 36 years direct design engineering experience.

    You, are not an engineer... Period.



    Operating CAD software is not engineering, nor does it qualify you as anything other than a CAD operator.

    So, you likely appled code and a reviewing engineer signed off. You are at most a "pool designer"...

    In this world of high technology, high skill sets required to function as an engineer, it is rare to encounter a non-formally educated person doing actual engineer work. Design is not engineering, cad is not engineering, managing your self is not engineering. Maybe 50 years ago when technology was much less people could work experience into being an engineer - but not in today's high tech world.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cragyon View Post
    Thanks KElly!

    davidtirner, I think you might qualify as a designer. If you pass a professional licencing procedure by a sanctioned professional pool engineers association - then call yourself an engineer.

    Until then, you might ask around in your field to determine what is considered a engineer.
    I'm still stuck on the underlying point here guys...

    first I am NOT a pool designer. What I built was a totally unique structure, designed for a specific temporary purpose - it's just one of several large projects this past 12 months. None of the others have to do with swimming pools.

    But, sticking with the pool example, if I am not an engineer, who did engineer the pool? One day there was a requirement for a pool, a few weeks later the pool is built and in use. It was not a kit pool engineered by anyone else. It did not rely on methods proven in previous pool designs, it was unique. How did that come to be without any engineering?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jboggs View Post
    Some of the best "engineers" I have ever worked with did not have a degree, but they did have a lot of scars from years of experience. As far as I'm concerned you can call yourself whatever you want, but ... When it comes to offering your services on the public market if you describe yourself as an engineer and you do not have the accepted paperwork to prove both the education and experience, that's where you could have a BIG problem. In most jurisdictions it is illegal for a business or individual to include the word "engineer" or "engineering" in their company name or offering of services if they do not have on staff a full-time Professional Engineer currently licensed to practice in that state.

    You say you have generally good experience with the things you have designed and built. That's great! I would probably want to have you on my design team. You seem to have a good "gut feel" for the physics involved. Regrettably even some licensed engineers may lack that intuitive "feel". But fortunately their education and understanding can still lead them to the right answer anyway. It is a longer path to the result but it can be explained in physical terms.

    Can you explain in terms of detailed mathematical, geometrical, dynamic, thermal, or structural analysis WHY your ideas worked? Or more importantly why some other variation did NOT work? A Professional Engineer can explain the basis for his design decisions in court. The phrase "I just felt in my gut it would work" is not a good legal defense.

    It may seem unfair to you, and frankly I understand why, but engineers must protect the use of the term, because the general public does not know the difference. I might be really good at "doctoring" folks but I should not offer my services to the public as a doctor without the proven documented knowledge to back it up.

    I would strongly suggest that you investigate the options you might have (on-line, community college, etc.) to obtain the education you would need to get an accredited Bachelor of Science in Engineering degree. Then all the arguments would be over. We would warmly welcome a competent and proven practitioner to our ranks.
    Thanks.

    In essence I can explain in words why I believe something is correct, or why it why potentially fail. And I'm able to make most calculations myself and often do to back up my initial gut feeling. The reason I have everything reviewed by a trained structural engineer is, as you say, the day ever comes where I have to prove due diligence was given.

    In the UK I don't believe an Engineer has to have a specific accreditation. There are certain specialist fields of engineering which may be more heavily governed, but in general, in the UK at least, a persons profession is defined by what they do for a living rather than what they were accredited to do. My question was more about the moral issues I suppose, is it simply a bit rude to say 'I'm an engineer' when someone else was formerly educated to be able to say that? Or should it be OK, on the basis that I took a different but equally valid route to gain the same level of experience and understanding.

    I too have worked with teams of engineers, some of whom had no degree and had effectively learned on the job. But they work for a dedicated engineering firm, they were quite clearly doing the job (in fact everyone on this thread has seen some of their work), so it certainly seemed reasonable to me to refer to them all equally as engineers!

  18. #18
    Administrator Kelly Bramble's Avatar
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    A welder can design and build a building - they are not a structural engineer. An accountant can design and build a deck on the back of their house - they are not a engineer. A landscaping person can design and build a drainage ditch - they are not a civil engineer. A technician can design and build a custom car, modify a motor and they are still not an engineer.

    Not until you can design with the engineering calculations, develop engineering specifications on materials, processes, etc. and are certified or licensed as an engineer - YOU are not an engineer..

    Closing this thread. Good luck.


    Quote Originally Posted by davidturner View Post
    I'm still stuck on the underlying point here guys...

    first I am NOT a pool designer. What I built was a totally unique structure, designed for a specific temporary purpose - it's just one of several large projects this past 12 months. None of the others have to do with swimming pools.

    But, sticking with the pool example, if I am not an engineer, who did engineer the pool? One day there was a requirement for a pool, a few weeks later the pool is built and in use. It was not a kit pool engineered by anyone else. It did not rely on methods proven in previous pool designs, it was unique. How did that come to be without any engineering?
    Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

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