Note: All images below are by Leonardo Da Vinci.
One of my old college professors once told us a story about the difference between scientists and engineers. You put them both in a closed room together. The door isn’t locked, and they can take as many steps as they want. The catch, each step can only be half the distance to the door. The scientist would starve to death because he can never get closer than half the distance to the door. The engineer, on the other hand, takes his ‘half way’ steps until he gets close enough. Then he says ‘Close enough’, grabs the door know, and goes down the street to get a few beers.
The story isn’t as funny now as it was back when I was in school. In the real world (as opposed to a college campus) the line between engineering and science is blurry. A good practitioner of either has to dabble in the other. But it does strike at the heart of the difference between a scientist and an engineer. Science is about exploring the principles that make the universe work, and it helps to be very literal down to the smallest detail. Engineering is about taking those scientific principles and making them work to our advantage and sometimes requires a hard-nosed practicality to make things work.
In short, engineering is problem solving through applied science. Engineering is a broad field with lots of branches , and each of those branches even further. I’m not really qualified to talk about most types of engineering, but I do want to explore my particular branch of the engineering tree in my next post.
For a little more info, see the National Society of Professional Engineers.