Javier 馃悵 CR

1 year ago 路 3 min. reading time 路 0 路

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Engineer vs. scientist: what is the difference?

Engineer vs. scientist: what is the difference?

Further to @Ken Boddie 's article on engineers :

Some people say there is no difference between a scientist and an engineer, while other people think the two careers are totally separate from each other. Scientists and engineers often have strong opinions about what they do, which makes sense, since it involves discovering, inventing and improving just about everything, right? We asked members of both professions how they would describe the difference between a scientist and an engineer. Here's what they had to say.


Engineer vs. scientist: what is the difference?

These could be different opinions:

"Scientists are the ones who create the theories, engineers are the ones who implement them. They complement each other and often work together, the scientists tell the engineers what to do and the engineers tell the scientists the constraints that say what to do are not to be found. In fact, they are different, but they work very closely together."


"Scientists ask what happens and why in the natural world, while engineers use the answers scientists find to create new inventions and ideas, not in the natural world. Both are equally important, because without scientists, engineers would not , and without engineers, the research that scientists do would be a waste. They go hand in hand "


"There is hardly any difference between the two. In the end, it's all mathematics and physics."


"Science is about knowledge and engineering is about invention."


"Science is a lot of high-level theory and engineering is implementation and optimization. Often, a computer scientist will come up with a plan that a technical engineer will have to modify because the theory is not realistic enough to be in production. Engineers deal with mathematics , efficiency and optimization while a scientist deals with "what is possible".


"Engineering is, in some ways, more of a science than science itself. There is something entirely artistic in the pursuit of knowledge simply for knowledge's sake, as a scientist does, and something less so in the functional, practical, minimalist themes behind most engineering. Science is more romantic, in a way, a never-ending quest, engineering is limited to goals, profit margins and physical means."


"I am a scientist who works with engineers on a daily basis. I am generally treated as one of them and often perform the same tasks. The main difference is that a scientist focuses on the unknown while the engineer focuses on the 'known'. In fact, we complement each other well when engineers can overcome their ego."


"As we can see from the list of the Noble Prize in Physics , we can already tell who inhabits that area. Scientists are the ones who initiate the process, and their work is sometimes theoretical in form, but really exciting both mathematically and mystically. Engineers really don't need to go that far to accomplish their purpose. I rarely see an engineer who knows the strong force."


"THE difference: engineers are trained to use tools, where scientists are trained to make them. Engineers are workers, where scientists are free workers. Engineers spend most of their time looking for a solution where scientists spend their time analyzing the problem . Engineers always treat the disease while scientists treat the root of the disease. Engineers are narrow minded and scientists are broad minded."


"They are cousins! Scientists develop theories and work to verify them, engineers look to these theories to 'optimize' things in real life. For example, scientists may research and discover some properties of a material, while engineers look for how to Use these properties optimally considering efficiency, cost and other aspects of interest. There is an overlap between science and engineering. In fact, you may find an engineer 'developing theories' and a scientist 'optimizing.'"


What do you think?

The purpose of science is the understanding and improvement of the manifestations of nature. To this end, those engaged in science seek to understand the knowledge previously produced, formulate hypotheses, perform experiments, keep records of their observations, analyze the results obtained to make deductions that explain the natural phenomena of interest.

On the other hand, those who work in engineering use the knowledge produced by science to create technological innovations that respond to economic, functional, environmental, ethical, legal, etc. requirements.
While science is concerned with proving the validity of its theories, engineering takes pleasure in demonstrating the usefulness of its creations.

Sometimes, science is hindered in its work by the lack of an instrument to carry out the experimentation, it is then that scientists make the creation of this to fulfill their task, but this is a byproduct of their task, we must not forget that their main task is knowledge.

Something similar happens when engineering requires knowledge that does not yet exist, then, engineers dedicate themselves to the task of producing knowledge to carry out their main task, which is technological creation.

Technological creation is a means that the scientist uses to achieve his most important task, in the same way, the production of knowledge is a means for the engineer to achieve his main goal.

The manifestations of science can be found in the articles that scientists publish in scientific journals: Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena, Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Journal of Molecular Structure, Journal of the National Medical Association, etc.

The manifestations of engineering are found in concrete examples: an electric generator, a refinery, a dam, a circuit, etc.

In conclusion, science is oriented to produce knowledge and engineering is oriented to use that knowledge for technological creation.


I myself agree most with the first comment in the buzz. A scientist's goal is to get the YES, NO, or Partial Correct to a theory. Once the theory, through the scientific method has a 鈥榶es鈥 answer, the engineer comes up with ideas of how to use this proven information.


I like how @Ken Boddie said 鈥業t follows that all engineers are scientists but not all scientists are engineers.鈥

Javier 馃悵 CR

1 year ago #5

#4 I agree鈥 too many pending things right now 馃馃槳馃槶馃槶馃槶

It would be great if there was the option/feature allowing people to augment or otherwise supplement an article (with the OP's green light of course)鈥

Javier 馃悵 CR

1 year ago #3

#2 @Ken Boddie 

Your contribution of course is the best by far of course !!! now this post really does help my friend !!!! 馃ぃ馃ぃ馃ぃ馃ぃ馃ぃ馃ぃ馃ぃ馃ぃ馃ぃ馃ぃ馃ぃ

Ken Boddie

1 year ago #2

With all due respect, @Javier 馃悵 CR , I propose that most of the above statements of contribution in your post appear to have been contributed by scientists with little practical knowledge of the application of engineering in industry, or possibly by engineers with little understanding of the overall engineering profession, from an overview position of wide exposure, experience and understanding. Many engineers study science subjects in their first year at uni, along with fellow science students, depending upon the individual set-up of the university and their various faculties and departments within each faculty. For example, in many of the Scottish universities it is not until second year, after studying additional rudiments of physics, chemistry and mathematics et al in first year, that a range of engineering discipline studies begin, and then, in later years, the engineering undergraduate starts to choose between various engineering streams and disciplines. Back in my day, I could only choose between mainstream engineering subjects of civil, mechanical or electrical, but now the main topics are, I understand, wider. 


It follows that all engineers are scientists but not all scientists are engineers.


The 鈥榗omments/quotes鈥 in your post about only scientists doing research are, in my humble opinion, way off the mark.  Engineers, in effect, practise in four categories as follows:

  • Municipal Engineers (working for Councils and 鈥榦verviewing鈥 the work of the consultant and the construction engineer, as below, and doing no research or design or construction); 
  • Construction Engineers (working for contractors and developers, getting things built and project managing major construction projects, but doing very little, if any, research or design):
  • Consultants (who perform design and provide engineering and scientific advice, but rarely. if ever, are responsible for actual construction); 
  • Research Engineers (who either work for the government [state or federal] and universities, or in a research role for major consultants).

Speciality engineers are hard to find within the engineering profession these days 9as many have been 鈥榮tolen鈥 from the profession at point of graduation by other professions, keen to take advantage of their well rounded problem solving training and skillset.  Hence, my particular consulting firm employs graduate scientists (environmentalists, geologist and mathematicians, with the occasional rogue chemist) in addition to engineering graduates, thus producing a more comprehensive and diverse mix with which to mould our staff into a work force of extended competency. These days, companies, whether operating in so called science (if there is such a meaningful word in industry) or engineering (the term these days is very loose on its own without specialty definitions) cannot always afford to label our staff by what they did at university.


Work life is becoming both wide ranging and specialised at the same time, as science (in the all encompassing sense, including engineering) progresses (some might argue regresses). The more specialised we become in our skill sets, the more we need to be able to talk the language of our fellow scientists, including engineers, for successful solutions to a broadening range of world-wide problems.

Wow--so many interesting observations and contradictions.  I worked alongside R&D engineers as a Product Engineer.  [Yea--I know--I know--it's not on my CV] The utmost prized characteristic was not a knowledge of mathematics and physics, but imagination.  


Still--nothing can be translated from imagination to fruition without the universal language of math.

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