Rankings For Engineering Fields

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by circuitashes, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. circuitashes

    Thread Starter Active Member

    May 13, 2008
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    Considering the numerous fields of engineering already in existence coupled with the newly emerging ones, i was wondering if there was any system of ranking them in order of importance. Personally, i feel materials engineering is the most important since our understanding of materials must come first before any useful manipulation of these materials could be done. Who agrees/disagrees with me.
     
  2. beenthere

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    Apr 20, 2004
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    It always goes like that - first the hardware, then the software.
     
  3. thingmaker3

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    My other hobby is blacksmithing/knife-making. I've only read eight or nine books on metallurgy, but I'd have to say material science is fun. Don't know if it's important, but it's fun. :D

    Certainly materials science, along with many other disciplines, has had a huge boost from the software engineers. Predicting CCT curves for theoretical alloys with 90% confidence allows months of experimentation to be squished down to an afternoon. I understand similar number crunching is opening exciting doors for the polymer people and the ceramics crowd. I've seen drastic results in the foundry industry from simulations for gating & risering and resultant cooling patterns & superior parting lines.

    The most important field of engineering is whichever one I need to solve the problem at hand. Once that's done, something else becomes the most important field.;)

    Nothing tops multidisciplinary effort, though. Go team go!
     
  4. nanovate

    Distinguished Member

    May 7, 2007
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    I guess you could also rank them by salary.

    It depends on what you mean by importance and the time frame. Importance considering contributing to the advancement of the human race or importance to a particular society at a particular time etc...

    Just a note Materials Science/Engineering is not recogonized by some insurance comapnies as an engineering profession for insurance purposes -- no discount. Of course this probably more due to the lower sample size and historical data of that groups risk.
     
  5. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
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    Another possibility is to look at impact a particular field has directly had on society and the human race - can anyone suggest that anything has had as significant an impact as electronics and software in the last 40 years? Ok, so we needed the materials scientists and physicists to discover the fundamentals but they now rely on he fruits of the technology electronics/software engineers produce, so this shows one ultimately relies on the other.

    If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants (slightly out of context in this discussion, but wholly applicable).

    Dave
     
  6. circuitashes

    Thread Starter Active Member

    May 13, 2008
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    Let me try and re-phrase here. Which field of engineering has more or less laid the solid foundation for mordern day technological advancements, so much so that if we were to expunge it from history, we wouldn't be where we are today. Of course its current contribution to society should also be significant.
     
  7. circuitashes

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    May 13, 2008
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    Are you then saying there is no definite or absolute way of determining which field is more important (both historically and currently) than the other?
    Another question: Which engineering field when deleted from man's history would result in little or no loss to man's advancement?
     
  8. jpanhalt

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    Jan 18, 2008
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    My vote: Social engineering.

    John
     
  9. circuitashes

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    May 13, 2008
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    Ha! Ha! Very funny. What is social engineering anyway?
     
  10. jpanhalt

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    One of three definitions from herehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_engineering

    John
     
  11. circuitashes

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    May 13, 2008
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    Don't mean to spoil the fun jpanhalt, but i did check the 1st def. from wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_engineering_(political_science) and i must disagree with your nominating social engineering. I beleive social engineering is hugely responsible for the political decision to include science and math as basic compulsory subjects in almost all educational systems. Without it, i feel fewer people would come across engineering subjects, and let alone consider engineering as a life long career. It is responsible for the somewhat high regard people have for engineering.
     
  12. jpanhalt

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    Well, I guess if you expand the definition to what's in the second paragraph,
    then social engineering (i.e., laws and governance of civilization) goes from bottom to top.

    The point I was making, which I think you are missing, is that such questions as you asked are inherently impossible to answer, and it is a fruitless endeavor to attempt to do so.

    John
     
  13. circuitashes

    Thread Starter Active Member

    May 13, 2008
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    Good point.

    I did get your point. Now i hope you would also get mine and see if you can reconsile yours and mine by answering this question: Is it impossible to objectively (rather than subjectively) tackle questions such as the one i asked without being subject to views such as are promoted by social engineering?

    In other words can one answer a question (independently) without being subject to the views of others?
     
  14. jpanhalt

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    Yes, it is impossible. However, as you know, one can never prove something is impossible.

    Consider the following achievements and potential achievements (among many thousands):

    Elimination of smallpox (polio, etc. through immunization)
    Antibiotics
    Semiconductors
    Electronic communication
    Detection of extraterrestial life

    How can you rank than list objectively and without any external input from or consideration of the views of others?

    John
     
  15. circuitashes

    Thread Starter Active Member

    May 13, 2008
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    Looking at the list you gave, anyone would be tempted to agree with you for one simple reason: The list is multi-disciplinary.

    However, given another list from just one discipline, it would be a little easier to rank objectively - albeit still with some difficulty.

    All the same, point taken.
     
  16. thingmaker3

    Retired Moderator

    May 16, 2005
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    None of them. "Engineering" is a very recent endeavor in human history. What we now call "material science" began a couple million years ago, with Og and Grogg comparing which stones flaked most properly for a hide scraper. Or would that have been "process engineering?" Or "mechanical engineering, fracture systems?"

    To folk in the 18th century and earlier, an "engineer" was the guy who knocked down castle walls during sieges. The most important field of engineering was the one that got the wall down.
     
  17. Dave

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    Nov 17, 2003
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    Yes, that is exactly what I am saying. I regularly have this discussion with a colleague of mine who is a physicist (trying to be an engineer).

    We need to differentiate between importance (which IMO is un-quantifiable as to which is most important) and impact. Impact is a facet of importance, but they are not the same thing. In the last 40 years (and more so in the last 20 years) I doubt any field has had the immense impact that electronics has had (with the exception of perhaps medicine, and that has relied heavily on other fields, particularly chemistry and bio-medical imaging).

    Dave
     
  18. studiot

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    Nov 9, 2007
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    An Asimov Foundation fan?????

    Can an all powerful being set himself an impossible task?

    Biggest impact ?
    Nuclear Engineering
    Hiroshima - arms race - star wars - collapse of USSR -etc etc.

    Most important?

    Well I believe it was a Roman who first said that a good engineer can turn his hand to anything (needed).

    examples are Mr Hughes and Mr Morley who both wrote superb textbooks in Electrical Engineering, Structural Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Engineering.
     
  19. thingmaker3

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    My brother-in-law is a marine engineer who designs airplanes for a living. My sister-in-law is an EE who develops GUI software packages.
     
  20. Dave

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    Nov 17, 2003
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    Can I ask, in the US does marine cover both air and sea? In the UK marine is almost exclusively related to the sea, and someone who designs planes would either be an aeronautical, mechanical or electrical engineer.

    Dave
     
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