I fell into the trap at an early age. On learning that my uncle was an electronics engineer, I confidently handed him my broken toy helicopter in full expectation of soon flying across the living room again with guns blazing, lights flashing and rotors rotating. Sadly not. As it turned out my uncle knew his stuff, but didn’t carry a pocketful of spare helicopter parts about with him just in case.
The years passed and I found myself on the other side of it. ‘So you’re studying engineering? Great! Can you just fix my radio / Walkman / TV / car?’ ‘Err, well, I’ll have a look…’ as it seemed a pretty basic request for someone studying 60 hours a week for an engineering degree. If I couldn’t untangle a tape from a cassette player what hope would I have of designing a new Forth Bridge?
So Secret Engineer’s observations on the ‘jack of all trades’ problem certainly raised a smile with me. It also reminded me of an often used but terribly misguided question I see on potential customer’s supplier questionnaires - ‘How many engineers do you have?’ Being the helpful sort I now read that as ‘Do you have the engineering skills, experience and capacity to undertake the work we require?’ and reply appropriately. It seems the myth continues…
The use of the word “engineer” to describe anyone even vaguely technical rankles, but an assumption that engineers can make or fix anything is equally irritating writes the Secret Engineer. One of the accusations that generally gets flung about round here is that the term “engineer” is used far too freely. The perceived degradation that comes with its use for technicians and mechanics seems to invariably cause ire and to raise hackles