Software And Engineering

13 December 2023

Throughout my career, people have compared software development to “traditional” engineering, usually in a way to scold software developers for not doing a proper job. As someone who got his degree in Electronic Engineering, this resonated with me early in my career. But this way of thinking is flawed because most people have the wrong impression of how engineering works in practice.

Glenn Vanderburg has spent a lot of time digging into these misconceptions, and I strongly urge anyone who wants to compare software development to engineering to watch his talk Real Software Engineering. It's also well worth listening to his interview on the podcast Oddly Influenced. Sadly I've not been able to persuade him to write this material down - it would make a great article.

Another good thinker on this relationship is Hillel Wayne. He interviewed a bunch of “crossovers” - people who had worked both in traditional engineering and in software. He wrote up what he learned in a series of essays, starting with Are We Really Engineers?