catapult magazine

catapult magazine


engineering = science??


Apr 26 2003
11:44 am

I agree, VanderCrowd. (Your first initial doesn’t happen to be D., does it? :o) )

While modern engineering relies heavily on the natural sciences, reducing it to being just another one of the sciences is wrong. You said it well when you said "Science involves abstraction. Engineering involves synthesis. "

Science is about looking at one part of reality and “figuring it out.” For example, a physicist doesn’t care what color a moving object is or what it is worth on the stock market or legal issues concerning the object. (Well, she probably is concerned about those things in the back of her mind, but those are not the things she is studying.) Instead, she is concerned with the ball’s motion, mass, etc. She’s abstracting the physical properties that she is concerned with in order to find out more about that particular aspect.

Engineering, on the other hand, has to concern itself with all parts of reality. An engineer can’t only worry about the motion of an object. He has to worry about economic factors, environmental factors, legal factors, aesthetic factors, and many more. An engineer has to take what he knows about all the sciences and use that knowledge to design something that takes into account all parts of reality. That is what is meant by saying engineering involves synthesis.

But, while I wouldn’t call engineering a “Science,” I wouldn’t call it an “Art” (at least, it doesn’t fit in with any of the other things they have under the Art category) or a “Social Issue,” either. It really doesn’t fit in any of the categories. So, that may be the reason it is in the “Science” category.