Job-Title Controversy

Readers are still hashing out the meaning of the terms “designer” and “engineer.” And although they have no problem defining ethical behavior, they also think ethical behavior is disappearing.

An engineer is an engineer . . .
Having run an engineering and design business for over 40 years, I have followed with amusement the “CAD Jockey ” discussion (“The Attack of the CAD Jockey?” Aug. 23). We design and build commercial products and production machinery, and I find that a person’s title or degree doesn’t matter. It is what comes out at the end of a project that’s impor tant. We let people do whatever they can and benefit from their experience.

Harold Parks

A good engineer must be both a good engineer and a good designer. A good designer is not an engineer (and is not expected, or required, to be one).

Dayle D. Winnie

Anybody can learn CAD and create geometry. But not all people can design. Designers have creativity and some sense of what will make a product work. I’ve been on all sides of this designer/engineer debate for many years and have met many design engineers who could not design something as simple as a pin. On the other hand, I’ve worked with designers who understood basic principles and could engineer and design products.

In companies, there is a mix of people. There are those who can analyze things once they are designed, those who can take something from concept all the way through manufacturing, and those who create geometry from concepts sketched out on napkins.

It is not correct to state that design is simply creating geometry. I realize that in some places, CAD jockeys are called designers, but nothing could be further from the truth. It takes someone with engineering-design knowledge to create designs.

Jaime Robledo

Over the last 25 years I have gone from a technical illustrator to an automation design engineer without an engineering degree. However, it is important to note that at some companies I would not be considered an engineer without an engineering degree.

Prior to the meltdown of 2008, I was a special projects engineer at a company that was growing and letting HR control titles. As a result, HR personnel would not consider anyone without an engineering degree for any engineering positions and were forcing people with 10 to 15+ years of experience but no degree out of engineering positions.

At another company, I was given the title mechanical designer because I do not have an engineering degree. Those with engineering degrees were called mechanical engineers.

My experience indicates that the term “designer” has two basic definitions. The one used in the editorial refers to the person responsible for the look, touch, and feel of the product. The second is the person who does the same functions of an engineer without an engineering degree. The second definition is the one most of your readers are most familiar with. Another way to look at it is that the first definition refers to industrial design, while the second refers to mechanical design.

As a side note, I found the definitions for “designer” frustrating during a job search. A thorough and specific list of job duties and responsibilities is much clearer than just a title with generic qualifications.

By the way, I have continued my education by earning Associates degrees in technical illustration and math, a BA in Family Studies, an MBA, and a graduate degree in accounting. It would be nice if engineering classes were offered in the evenings like so many other programs.

John E. Melton

CAD jockeys are computer-age draftsmen and draf tswomen. They are not designers unless they have additional training in, knowledge of, and aptitude for one or more of the numerous fields of design. Even sketching or drawing free hand requires talent not necessary for good CAD jockeys. Indeed, I am a CAD jockey and I can’t draw a pretty picture to save my life.

Bob Vanstone

Farewell ethics
Our society has gone from a Christian-based one in the idealistic past to the “if it feels good do it” attitude in the 60s, to our current and cynical “get it while you can” mood today (“Where Did Ethics Go?” Sept. 6).

There is a tendency to push morals to the side when it comes to personal responsibility in society. Why are we surprised to find out it carries over into professional careers? Or, if we take the Darwinistic approach of survival of the fittest, instead of taking care of the least among us, did Madoff actually do anything wrong other than get caught?

Mike Bartle

Ethics went to the same place morals and principles went. Our nation has been in a state of decline for many years now as we stand idle watching entertainment, and political and other institutions raise our kids to be what we see today. This will not stop until we get off the sidelines and get involved. Thanks for your words of wisdom, I was feeling like a loner in this new world.

Felix Ronmint

Curing the U. S. blues
More engineers, greater encouragement of the entrepreneurial spirit, and most importantly, fewer MBA’s (“Made in America?” June 14). This is what we need for manufacturing to thrive in this country.

Joe Bonasses

This is one of the best and most encouraging articles I have seen in a long time regarding the state of American manufacturing. We need more forward thinkers like the folks mentioned here. Buy American. Be American.

Bill White

Conversion error
If the Super Draco can develop 150,000 lbf of thrust, then the metr ic equivalent should be 670,000 N (“Spacetruckin’ with SpaceX,” Sept. 6).

Dennis McKee

Good catch. The correct figures for the Super Draco should be 15,000 lb of thrust or 67,000 N — Stephen J. Mraz

 

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