engineer vs. scientist

I was speaking with a friend tonite about the structure of communities. During this conversation, he told me that i needed to remember that even in the realm of communities, there are scientists and engineers.

Scientists want to understand the theories behind something and they’re willing to use tools when necessary to get to the core of why/how.

Engineers want to build things and they’re willing to use theory when it will help the construction.

I like this separation.

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2 thoughts on “engineer vs. scientist

  1. Bernie Hogan


    I do believe that within a social group there are almost always three types of hubs, emotional leaders, organizational leaders and intellectual leaders. Sometimes these three can be found in the same person, but it is just as likely that they are three different people.

    I would suspect that your scientist is like the intellectual leader and your engineer like the organizational leader. I can’t remember offhand who irst said this, but on Barry’s website you can find a paper by him and Harrison White that tracks this phenomena, and provides network data in two invisible colleges.

  2. Brennon O Kaye

    I see the dichotamy and totally agree with it. All the mad/scientists (wrench turning, grease under the nails, makers of the right tools for the job, etc…..) do not mend well socially with the strict theorists, but the symbiosis is inherant. The scientist vs. engineer relation is simple, without one, the other could not exist. No scientist can get a thing done, without a half-way descent machinist, (whether it be programming, or actually maching of instruments) Engineers on the other hand, must use every bit of applicable theory, whether it be from pure nature, or fiat academic elitists, to produce something of value. Fuller’s edict was “If it works, then it is beautiful.” I believe functionality is the key to beauty as well, as functionality is a trait that is quantitative, as well as qualitative. That is where raw science and engineering form a unity, in pure functionality. It is their most common bond, and strongest, in theory.

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