The EE Times Community Debates Whether Engineering Decisions Really Do Follow Objective Rules

Conversations That Matter on EE Times

Nov 26, 2013, 12:00 ET from EE Times

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Engineering is a discipline that follows logical, objective rules – or does it? Independent contractor and EE Times contributor, Henry Davis, explores how engineers who gain a better understanding of business will be better engineers in Engineering is much more than engineering decisions Davis compares a real-world engineering experience comparing the motivation behind the decision making process of one engineer buying a car.  

Join the discussion that came to life on

prabhakar_deosthali   11/22/2013 12:28:25 AM
"It is a general observation that while selecting the car, the man will look at the details like the engine capacity, fuel economy, braking system etc while his wife will look at the different color shades and the body styling available. So as a engineer, while designing a family car, the consideration has to be given what women would like as the exterior look of the car and what men would prefer as the engine, luggage space and all that technical stuff.

Many times your boss will have certain bias towards selecting a particular microprocessor while designing an embedded system and by hook or by crook he will convince you to use the same whatever be your technical opinion..."

It goes both ways
Bert22306   11/22/2013 6:10:19 PM
"I don't think that engineers should be just drones, either. There's no question that cost is important. Every design has an objective, and the objective has to be met within certain constraints. Cost is one key constraint. And there are many others. But engineers also have the responsibility to set things straight, when management is making bad decisions. Engineers have the responsibility to "sell" their designs to management, and the give and take is part of the engineering process.

I had to chuckle about the auto example. The implication that engineers must make purely objective decisions, sort of like robots, seems silly to me. Of course, you include objective requirements, but then after those are met, you go with what you like..."

Alvie   11/24/2013 11:36:18 AM
"As someone that has mostly done Engineering...I have a strong opinion on this, which of course might not match your own experiences.
...Engineering has (in some cases, most of the time) a clearer, more focused view on what [the] market demands, and how to fill those demands in a profitable way. Upper layers are often misguided by short-term (or even by bad) market projections, and never (or rarely) hear what the engineering teams say in terms of feasibility, time-to-market, and long-term evolution. Unfortunately, not only is this my opinion, [but] it happened to my company in the past.

But, when Engineering gets into the customer and business areas, [they] can fight back...I think that Engineering not only should but must be present in these areas, some of the Engineering decisions and opinions are opposite to the "make a lot of money, and make it quick" view of the upper layers. Engineers tend to consider things in a more, let's say, sustainable way, than the CEOs and the Product Managers. Engineers not only know the "can we, how do we", but also "for how long can we do this before clients start flooding the support lines..."

To read the complete story or to join in the conversation on, see: "Engineering Is Much More Than 'Engineering Decisions'."

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