An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics, economics and ingenuity to develop solutions to meet economic and societal needs. Engineers design structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, safety and cost. The word engineer is derived from the Latin root ingenium, meaning “cleverness”.
Engineers are grounded in applied sciences, and their work in research and development is distinct from the basic research focus of pure scientists. The work of engineers forms the link between scientific discoveries and the applications that meet the needs of society.
Software engineering (SE) is a profession dedicated to designing, implementing, and modifying software so that it is of higher quality, more affordable, maintainable, and faster to build. It is a “systematic approach to the analysis, design, assessment, implementation, test, maintenance and re-engineering of a software by applying engineering to the software”. The term software engineering first appeared in the 1968 NATO Software Engineering Conference, and was meant to provoke thought regarding the perceived “software crisis” at the time. Since the field is still relatively young compared to its sister fields of engineering, there is still much debate around what software engineering actually is, and if it conforms to the classical definition of engineering. The IEEE Computer Society’s Software Engineering Body of Knowledge defines “software engineering” as the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software, and the study of these approaches; that is, the application of engineering to software. It is the application of Engineering to software because it integrates significant mathematics, computer science and practices whose origins are in Engineering.
Software development, a much used and more generic term, does not necessarily subsume the engineering paradigm. Although it is questionable what impact it has had on actual software development over the last more than 40 years, the field’s future looks bright according to Money Magazine and Salary.com, who rated “software engineering” as the best job in the United States in 2006.
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