Recognising the engineer

Recognising the engineer Letters There are always others worse off I cannot see how Steve Smith could have been serious when he suggested that engineers making mistakes couldn’t cost lives (compared with a doctor or architect) or affect someone’s freedom (compared with a lawyer), but only affect minor things such as someone’s mobile not working.
If you looked round an intensive care unit, you would see how vital electronics is in saving lives. As engineers we do not always get the respect and recognition we deserve, but remember there are almost always others who are worse off.
We get a lot more respect and, almost certainly, money than the majority of teachers, and each one of them affects the lives and futures of a great number of children, including perhaps the next generation of engineers. Would you want to swap with them? Jodi Bowman ‘Smith is right to some degree’ I have been closely following your ‘Recognising the Engineer’ debate, particularly the outrage that Steve Smith has caused. However I find myself agreeing with some of what he said. As a design engineer I have some distance between the end product and myself. When mistakes are made, at a code or hardware level they are picked up in may months of life cycle and verification tests. Then they are re-tested by approval agencies before any are sold. This is in contrast to a doctor who must get it nght there and then, or teachers or nurses that often work with the threat of violence. There is a fundamental difference about being directly accountable and indirectly accountable for ones actions. I am surprised that may other engineers cannot see this distinction. B. Crossland, Gloucestershire At least we’re not despised by Jo Soap If the government was serious about improving engineers’ status, perhaps they should mandate that major electronics projects paid for out of government (tax payers’) funds should be managed by Chartered Engineers. It might help reduce cost over-runs, too. The rest of us could carry on as we are, provided we don’t want to rise to such levels. The well-rewarded professions with high status and compulsory registration (lawyers, accountants, senior doctors and the like) are also those most despised by the ‘man in the street’. By contrast, most engineers are reasonably comfortably off, and because no one understands what you do, they don’t criticise. Dressed in jeans and driving a ten-year old car, nobody gives me a second glance. If you want to get rich, climb up to the top of the heap, or become an entrepreneur. Robert Ingham

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