Why are programmers not called "engineers" when they are making video games, but only when they're making websites?

@JordiGH Devaluing of the same work when it's done for an entertainment/art product?

@ink_slinger Maybe! Or maybe overvaluing the other one, I don't know.

I want "engineer" to be a licensed profession, with regulations and a code of ethics.

@JordiGH That's a good point. And, actually, engineer *is* a licensed profession (albeit a self-governed one). Are computer engineers licensed and regulated in the same way as, say, mechanical engineers? As far as I know, they aren't, but I may be wrong about that. Why are they even allowed to use the word?

@ink_slinger And there has been rare enforcement of the term "engineer" in Canada, but last I heard about it was in QuΓ©bec, 16 years ago. I think the term "engineer" has been bandied about since then without a lot of enforcement.


@JordiGH I didn't realize it wasn't regulated in the US.

@ink_slinger I know, that's so nuts to me. FREEDOM!!

It's as crazy to me as having anyone go and say they're a physician or a lawyer, with nobody checking up on their credentials.

@JordiGH On the other hand, you have things like retired engineers basically selling their stamp to anyone willing to pay, as if it's totally fine for a retired chemical engineer to stamp plans for a suspension bridge or something. Of course, because it's regulated in Canada, that could come back to badly bite that person in the ass if the bridge collapses.

@ink_slinger Really, I didn't know chemical engineers were stamping bridges for money. That's another problem.

I actually took an engineering ethics course in university, despite not becoming an engineer. They made a big deal about the iron ring and how its sound of scratching on paper as you sign was supposed to remind you of your duty to society.

@JordiGH I don't think it's common. And it's definitely not ethical. But it happens.


@ink_slinger @JordiGH mmmmm engineer here (EIT) registered with APEGA, ask me anything. For what it's worth chemical engineers can't just stamp off on a bridge, much less retired ones. If you retire you are no longer registered with your engg org, and you wouldn't be able to practice.

And if you have evidence of someone misrepresenting the profession do share because APEGA and related orgs have the ability to take action on stuff like that.

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@ink_slinger @JordiGH I also now work in America where everyone is an engineer for whatever reason and it is frustrating, because the regulation of the practice keeps public confidence in engineering.

But I think there's a lot of myths out there about what APEGA is and what they do. If you haven't gone through the classes or registered through them, you probably misunderstand some of how this works.

@thatgeoguy @ink_slinger Wait, regulation of the practice? There is regulation in the US about who can call themselves an engineer?

@JordiGH @ink_slinger Sorry, I work in the US but am registered with APEGA in Alberta. There is no regulation of engineering practice in the States.

The thing that is frustrating is people who take a one week coding bootcamp and feel they can call themselves engineers.

It is also frustrating that explaining why the practice should be regulated and the word should be protected makes you look like some kind of word nazi and people accuse you of gatekeeping.

@thatgeoguy @ink_slinger I wonder why the US has this thing about calling you a word nazi about engineers but not about doctors, lawyers, or airline pilots. It's so weird. Maybe because they romanticise the lone inventor?

@JordiGH @ink_slinger It's understandable because classically controlling words and titles is a way to disenfranchise women or people of colour and keep them out of the workplace. Doctors has a very strong risk of malpractice, but calling yourself a web engineer doesn't pose the same individual risk, so it is perceived differently.

It's also a means to kickstart careers in Silicon Valley. Nobody trusts "guy who dropped out of high school who works in his garage" but they do trust an engineer.

@thatgeoguy @JordiGH Not formally retired, I suppose, because they still have an active stamp. I don't have personal evidence of anything, just stories I've heard from engineers. Might be more US type stories. Not sure, to be honest. (ChemE stamping a bridge is probably hyperbole; but CivilE stamping a bridge he had nothing to do with? Bad but technically legal, right)

@thatgeoguy @JordiGH My favourite weird Engineering thing is that the code of ethics (specifically APEGA's, I think) forbids you from joining a union because of reasons...except every single engineer who works for, as an example, the City of Edmonton, is automatically part of the union unless they're management. They get a pass because...they didn't formally sign a union card?

It's very weird. (Again, this is second hand from engineer friends, so perhaps I'm misunderstanding.)

@thatgeoguy @JordiGH I'm pretty sure, if you're getting pressured to violate the code of ethics and do something shady, the pressure would be coming from management, not the union, but that's just me 🀷

@ink_slinger @JordiGH I'm not so sure about this, this sounds bunk. The code of ethics (see section 3.2) is very clear:


In no way does this forbid unions, just lays out your priorities in your work. It says nothing about unions. Going back to Chem engg stamping a bridge for a Civil project, see the second rule in the code of ethics in section 3.2, which translated from legalese is: "stay in your lane bro." :)

@thatgeoguy @JordiGH I wonder where the misinterpretation of "no unions" came from. I was told this explicitly by an engineer (who is definitely not anti-union himself). I'm not going to read the entire document, but a quick scan doesn't turn up anything that could obviously misinterpreted that way. Very odd.

@ink_slinger @JordiGH Perhaps he was attempting to start / join a union that was meant to take the place of a professional engineering ethics body? That's not allowed. Your union does not overrule your obligation to APEGA, and you cannot replace APEGA with another union / organization. That's codified into law.

But there hasn't been a case of APEGA coming down on people for joining the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE). I mean, I was a member myself once upon a time!

@ink_slinger @JordiGH I guess mostly I don't understand where these myths come from. They may just be stories made up to discredit APEGA, or they may be leaving some key facts out.

Based on every interaction / class / document I've ever read from APEGA though, this isn't really a conflict until it you make it a conflict.

@thatgeoguy @JordiGH "you cannot replace APEGA with another union / organization"

Perhaps it was some misunderstanding of that bit, thinking that it technically forbade you from being part of a union because it was "another organization." I have no idea. Now I'm very curious. I'll have to ask him about it some time.

@ink_slinger @JordiGH Yeah, each province encodes a single organization with the authority to self-govern engineering in that province. It's nationalized in that sense. You can't make up your own standards body and then say "screw you APEGA we have our own club now."

This is to prevent e.g. big companies (oil&gas) from making their own "standards bodies" with their own "code of ethics" that run counter to the point of having an engineering practice in the first place.

@ink_slinger @JordiGH I don't know if it's bad. A Civil Engg stamping on a bridge they didn't work on isn't great, but it depends on the context. If they review the work themselves then there isn't a problem if they're an independent contractor or not.

If they don't review it and rubber stamp, well, that's not great. But the stamp is also them putting their ass on the line, and the legal liability associated with that isn't worth it.

@thatgeoguy @ink_slinger All I wish is that Facebook "engineers" also faced legal liability for stamping features like that one time they experimented on unwitting people's emotions.

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