Engineers, as practitioners of engineering, are professionals who invent, design, analyze, build and test machines, complex systems, structures, gadgets and materials to fulfill functional objectives and requirements while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety and cost. The word engineer (Latin ingeniator) is derived from the Latin words ingeniare (“to create, generate, contrive, devise”) and ingenium (“cleverness”). The foundational qualifications of an engineer typically include a four-year bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline, or in some jurisdictions, a master’s degree in an engineering discipline plus four to six years of peer-reviewed professional practice (culminating in a project report or thesis) and passage of engineering board examinations.
The work of engineers forms the link between scientific discoveries and their subsequent applications to human and business needs and quality of life. A professional engineer is competent by virtue of his/her fundamental education and training to apply the scientific method and outlook to the analysis and solution of engineering problems. He/she is able to assume personal responsibility for the development and application of engineering science and knowledge, notably in research, design, construction, manufacturing, superintending, managing and in the education of the engineer. His/her work is predominantly intellectual and varied and not of a routine mental or physical character. It requires the exercise of original thought and judgement and the ability to supervise the technical and administrative work of others. His/her education will have been such as to make him/her capable of closely and continuously following progress in his/her branch of engineering science by consulting newly published works on a worldwide basis, assimilating such information and applying it independently. He/she is thus placed in a position to make contributions to the development of engineering science or its applications. His/her education and training will have been such that he/she will have acquired a broad and general appreciation of the engineering sciences as well as thorough insight into the special features of his/her own branch. In due time he/she will be able to give authoritative technical advice and to assume responsibility for the direction of important tasks in his/her branch. Engineers develop new technological solutions. During the engineering design process, the responsibilities of the engineer may include defining problems, conducting and narrowing research, analyzing criteria, finding and analyzing solutions, and making decisions. Much of an engineer’s time is spent on researching, locating, applying, and transferring information. Indeed, research suggests engineers spend 56% of their time engaged in various information behaviors, including 14% actively searching for information. Engineers must weigh different design choices on their merits and choose the solution that best matches the requirements and needs. Their crucial and unique task is to identify, understand, and interpret the constraints on a design in order to produce a successful result.
Engineers apply techniques of engineering analysis in testing, production, or maintenance. Analytical engineers may supervise production in factories and elsewhere, determine the causes of a process failure, and test output to maintain quality. They also estimate the time and cost required to complete projects. Supervisory engineers are responsible for major components or entire projects. Engineering analysis involves the application of scientific analytic principles and processes to reveal the properties and state of the system, device or mechanism under study. Engineering analysis proceeds by separating the engineering design into the mechanisms of operation or failure, analyzing or estimating each component of the operation or failure mechanism in isolation, and recombining the components. They may analyze risk.