My colleagues sometimes get into heated debates about the difference between a programmer and an engineer. The latter is more common in the US than the UK, and often people in the UK don’t really understand what is meant by it. My usual answer to this question is that words are made up and don’t mean anything, but my helpful answer to this question is that to me, programmer means “programs things”, engineer means “works with technical systems”, and the former is a subset of the latter.
Before I got hired as a software engineer by Rare, I studied mechanical engineering at university, which means designing mechanisms and structures. I learned lots of interesting stuff about different kinds of steel, but I also learned about the engineering principles behind designing any functional system. I use that knowledge at work daily, and even though I picked it up in the context of clevis pins and composite materials it applies very nicely to templated functions and explicit constructors. So here’s the end to end process I use for designing technical systems of any kind.Continue reading