Engineering is a discipline of computer science that focuses on designing and developing computer systems and application software. The role of engineers is to find solutions to problems with computer systems and applications. These professionals take the foundation of engineering and apply it to creating software during each step of the development process to ensure everything works well together.
This article will outline 4 considerations to help you understand what IT engineers do and who they are.
CONSIDERATION 1: Expertise
Engineers are experts in programming languages, software development, and computer operating systems and apply engineering ideas to the design of the software from the initial stage to the final. A Software Engineer, or Software Design Engineer, is responsible for evaluating a company’s product needs and developing software that reflects its brand or customer base. A Software Engineer, or Software Development Engineer, is responsible for developing software systems that align with user needs. Their duties include meeting with clients or business professionals to strategize ideas for beneficial software, coordinating with other IT professionals to design software, and running tests to catch coding errors. Software Engineers use an analytical, engineering-focused approach and expert knowledge of programming languages to develop computer architectures and ensure all software is as functional and robust as the client or consumer needs.
CONSIDERATION 2: Responsibilities
Engineers are usually responsible for architecting and designing large, complex enterprise systems for major companies. Often, engineers create plans and blueprints for software systems — even though they might not be doing much of the coding themselves. However, engineers still have a vast knowledge of programming languages and concepts.
Software engineers are well-versed in the software development life cycle, also known as the SDLC. This process is used to design, develop, and test software to produce a high-quality product. The SDLC involves planning, defining, designing, building, testing, and deploying software.
CONSIDERATION 3: Engineers vs. Developers
An engineer can assume the developer role, but an engineer’s core focus lies in the architecture. The main difference between development and engineering is that the latter oversees “how things work together” while the former focuses on creating functional applications, “what people see.”
Anyone can be a software developer once they learn how to code. Developers have specific technical knowledge aligned with coding languages and programs.
However, to be an engineer, they need to understand how to make the ecosystem work.
- An engineer should be able to do everything a developer does but with a more comprehensive design philosophy.
- A developer usually starts the application development process by speaking to customers and figuring out their software needs.
- Engineers take a bigger picture view than developers, meaning they’re more focused on the overall structure of a software and application ecosystem- its design and eliminating technical debt.
- Engineers are interested in solving more root-cause problems while minimizing the impact on other parts of the system and its architecture.
CONSIDERATION 4: Implementation
A developer implements. Focusing their talents often on a single area, a specific task, or within a particular environment without looking at the “bigger picture.” While an engineer always looks at the “bigger picture.” An engineer can assume the developer role, but an engineer’s core focus lies within architecture, design, and planning.
To put it into a simple analogy, think about a news agency comparing journalists to editors. Editors can learn their broader skills on the job with years of experience and solid performance as a journalist. Same with Engineers (more general) and developers (deep expertise in a specific software).