Stereotypes of an engineer

To be an engineer, what the stereotype suggests is that you meet the following cirteria:

  1. You are licensed / have a certificate to qualify you for your work.
  2. Your work involves high consequence.
  3. You involve a great deal of math in your work.

Only one of the above holds true.


There have been engineers before there have been licenes. You can be a treehouse engineer, if you so wanted to.

In America, chemical engineering was first introduced around the later 1800-1900, long before any states had introduced certificates/licenes for the job. They were first introduced later, as Regulations are written in blood#.

This does not invalidate those early chemical engineers, but only invalidates the argument that they weren’t.

High consequence

“An engineer only deals with high consequences in their work, because if they build that bridge in the wrong way, hundreds of people can die”

That is an example argument, but you also have engineers designing handles on suit cases. It takes an engineers work to figure out the correct folding of the handle and making sure this moving part has the durability to survive the lifetime of the suitcase box itself.

Advanced maths

This heuristic is more flimsy than the other. Something is only advanced when the observer thinks it is. I.e., it’s highly subjective.

Math comes in all shapes and sizes though. And it’s true, engineers does use math in their work. You have to be careful though when you’re defining “math”, as math is a huge subject, as even Programming requires math#.