Engineering is sometimes thought of as applied science, but engineering is far more. The essence of engineering is design and making things happen for the benefit of humanity. Engineers do basic and applied research. But all too often, engineers who conduct research are generically identified as scientist or researchers. It is no more appropriate for someone to describe an engineer as a researcher as it would be for us to depict a surgeon as a health care worker.
American engineers endure a rigorous course of study at more than 300 accredited engineering schools in the United States for the right to be called an engineer; many continue their studies in engineering and other fields to become CEO’s, universities presidents, physicians, lawyers, and yes, even astronauts. We must not dilute the value of an engineering degree by using the word engineer arbitrarily or frivolously, nor must we consign the word to relative obscurity. We, as an engineering community, must speak with pride about our engineers and our engineer achievements and not allow our profession to be wholly subsumed within the lexicon of science and technology. The distinction may be small to some , but if our children believe that engineers are only structured to drive trains or debug computer programs, we will have lost whatever progress we made when, 40 years ago, the Mercury 7 transformed the word engineer into hero.