The Engineering Family or Team: Who are They
Engineering is a family that is made up of some members. In this family, each member has specific function or function(s) performed. In the other words, engineering is a family that is made up of division of labor. The reason for the division is to make work easy and for maximum efficiency.
Engineering is a well respected area of study apportioned for men of greatness and societal changers. An engineer is change maker. He makes effort to effect positive change wherever he or she finds himself/herself.
The wise old learned people understood the efficiency of dividing the engineering discipline into branches and did not hesitate in moving the motion.
The level of the function performed by each member of the family varies. Before further note on this topic, it is important to note that engineering team is different from branches of engineering. These are two related topics but they vary. They vary because the contents of the two topics are not the same.
In some market places or electronic repairing shops, we sometimes hear people that usually came to repair their electronics products call the repairer engineer. The person whom the title is addressed feel great when he hear people call him such name irrespective of the fact that he did not attend any tertiary institution. At the back of his mind, he truly knows he did not deserve such “big title” because he does not have any certificate to prove that. He is able to repair the electronic products based on his acquired skill in electronics. He is not a “real engineer” rather he is a member of the engineering family called craftsman. In this topic, to be discussed are the real engineering team and the functions, and limit of any member of the team.
The Members of the Engineering Team
For success to be achieved in the field of engineering, a professional engineer will work with other technically educated people (called members of engineering family) to form what is known as an engineering family (Faluyi 1993), or engineering team (Oluka, Onwualu, and Eneh). Hence, the members of the engineering team are:
- Technologists; and
Among these classifications or divisions, the engineer stands as the headman to direct and organize the activities of the other team members.
The craftsmen are the lowest in terms of all the members of the engineering family. They are the first and the oldest members of the engineering family, because they existed before the modern day engineers. The craftsmen did not attend any school and used their brains to make impact in the society. They are known as the ancient engineers. In the modern time, the craftsmen usually obtain Senior Secondary School Certificates or any certificate that proves that they were trained before they are allowed to work with professional engineers during finishing operations.
The examples of craftsmen in our society today are the carpenters, mechanic, electricians, masons, plumbers, welders, and some others. Among all these examples, each of the members of the groups has their roles in making engineering works to be completed.
The roofing level of a building cannot be complete without the proper work of the carpenter. There is no way a professional engineer will climb on top of the building he is supervising to perform the function of craftsmen unless he had already acquire the skill before his engineering profession, apart from that, the person to perform the carpentry work becomes the carpenter. The carpenter must have been trained in carpentry to perform the job neatly. That is the reason why craftsmen must be highly skilled to carry out their duties effectively.
The welders on the other hand have their own roles in engineering field. Metallurgical engineers in most case supervise them on the nature of the material they are to used to perform a particular task. It is after the strength of the material and the weldability has been detected that the welder will be called to perform his tasks. He acquires welding skills while the metallurgical engineers understand the theory and the basic of the materials that the welder uses in welding.
There are many mechanics that are situated in many places where they repair faulty vehicles. They are doctors to most machines and automobiles. When cars develop faults, it is the duty of the mechanic to critically examine the cars and find out the problems with such cars and repair them at the end of the discovery. Good mechanics usually receive lots of works and they make good profits from the work they perform.
The technicians are the principal members of the engineering family. They play their own roles in making engineering family complete. As there are duties by father, mother and children in a family, so are the duties performed by the technicians as one of the members of the engineering family. The engineering family will not be complete without the technicians taking their place in the field of engineering. A professional engineer cannot be playing and dancing at the same time and that calls for the membership of technicians to help in solving some engineering challenges.
The technicians are usually the direct supervisors to the craftsmen in the engineering work places. They are the group that comes after the craftsmen from the bottom of the engineering family hierarchy. The qualifications of technicians are usually higher than that of craftsmen. The either have Ordinary National Diploma (OND) from technical college in any country of their specialization, or Full Technological Certificate (FTC).
The level of skill a technician acquires is usually more than that of craftsmen. The reason is because a technologist supervises many craftsmen that work under his care. He needs to have knowledge on the diverse areas of work carried out so that he can correct any craftsman that makes mistake in carrying out the duties assigned to him.
In the construction sites, the technicians are there to supervise the functions being performed by the masons and the laborers that assist them. He is there to direct the masons on what they should do at any particular moment to get things put right. In a layman’s language, these men are being addressed as contractors or the foremen in certain locations.
The technology comes third in the ranking of the engineering team from the bottom of the hierarchy. It can also be put that they are the second from the top of the hierarchical ranking after the engineers.
In terms of academic qualifications, the technologists have higher academic qualifications than the technicians and the craftsmen. In Nigeria for instance, a technologist is expected to obtain Higher National Diploma (HND) certificate from any engineering programme carried out in Polytechnics or colleges. In the engineering duties, they stand to supervise the technicians in the duties assigned to them.
Technologist acts as interface between the engineer and the technician. He sends the information derived from the technician to the engineer for the engineer to take note and sort out ways to solve any challenge encountered in any of the projects being carried out. If for instance that there is a construction work going on in New York, United States, and the technicians are lacking some materials they need in completion of their own part of the work, the information is taken to the technologists who later takes it to the engineer to make provision of such materials.
In some locations, there is usually controversial argument between the technologists and the professional engineers. The controversy is because that the technologists want to be addressed as professional engineers without knowing that that there are hiding ideas that the professional engineers have which they (the technologists) do not know.
An engineer is always an engineer. He is never craftsman, technician, or a technologist. That a technologist is rubbing shoulder with engineer is because he does not know and understand what the engineer passed through in his days in universities before he understood the theories and practical backgrounds related to his area of specialization. The difference between the engineers, craftsmen, technicians, and the technologists is clear. In some locations like Africa, it takes five good years to complete an engineering course from any engineering institution. This duration of time spent shows the profession is not what any person can come up and decide to study.
Some candidates picked engineering courses and could not finish them because the area of specialization is no child’s play. Engineering involves a lot of calculations and mathematical applications in solving societal problems. In fact, the engineers are known as the problem solvers or the solution providers.
The engineers are on the top most level in the hierarchy of the engineering family. In terms of educational qualification, an engineer is expected to acquire a degree in any engineering fields. The degree is called Bachelors in Engineering. Most engineers go further to acquire their master and doctorate certificates to add to the ones they already got. By training, engineers are equipped with creative minds for mathematical, analytical, and managerial skills.
There are many roles performed by engineers in every engineering companies located worldwide. In standard automobile, metallurgical, chemical, and electronic industries, there are specific class of engineers that conduct specific activities in such establishments. In a standard chemical engineering company, the chemical engineers are principally there to pilot the affairs that are being carried out. It is not as if that it is only chemical engineers that are found there but they play principal role to ensure efficiency on the work done in the industry.
The family of engineering is a great one. Each group needs the help of the other.
Working as a team helps in every profession. The engineering team plays important roles in our society. They work together to achieve a particular goal required in any engineering project. Some members of this team have knowledge on diverse areas of technology to keep on with improving in the positive impacts of technological development. In this topic, discussed were the engineering team which is principally made up of the craftsmen, technicians, technologists and the engineers.
- Faluyi, A. O. (1993), The Engineering Family: Relatives, Roles and Responsibilities, Proceedings of 1st Engineering Assembly, COREN, Lagos, PP 12-26
- Oluka S. I., Onwualu, A. P and Eneh, I. I. (1999), Engineer in Society, Smart Press Limited.