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Engineering Technologist?
Engineering Technician?

What is an Engineering Technologist?

"An engineering technologist is a specialist dedicated to the development, design, and implementation of engineering and technology. Engineering technology education is more of a broad specialized and applied engineering education. Engineering Technologists often work under traditional engineers."

What is an Engineering Technician?

"An engineering technician is primarily trained in the skills and techniques related to a specific branch of engineering, with a practical understanding and has general fundamental engineering concepts. Engineering technicians often assist engineers and technologists in projects and research and development. An engineering technician sits between a skilled craft worker and a Technologist."

The above definitions come from Wikipedia!

I guess both could be the new titles for the for draftsman. Except there is no reference to drafting or documentation. Am I the only one that finds that strange? Is there a discipline today that is being trained in engineering documentation? Look at the above definitions. I am not sure they have a working definition of "Engineering Technology".

The total purpose of engineering is to provide concise, complete and unambiguous documentation to manufacturing.


The engineering world is coming full circle.

First Boeing eliminates the Drafting Group!

They renamed the draftsmen “Engineering Technicians”. Looks like that title is now part of the engineering lexicon. I will tell you there is no entry point for any engineering discipline at Boeing without a BSME.

So, there is no more drafting in engineering?

The Death of the Draftsman or “Where has all the talent gone?”

But a rose is a rose by any other name!

What do they call engineering documentation, today?

Engineering Documentation Today!

That is where everything fell apart for Boeing!

I always use Boeing for an example. I am a Boeing trained draftsman. I worked at Boeing, I was introduced to PC based 3D CADKEY in 1986 and became a dealer. I proceeded to sell  CADKEY to Boeing and all of its suppliers and provided engineering services for years. I was instrumental in assuring that CADKEY could utilize CAD information from Catia 3 to today, with Catia 5.

The 1980's - 3D CAD - The Beginning

I have watched Boeing make mistake after mistake, adding Band-Aid after Band-Aid trying to implement 3D CAD into their engineering system. Pre-Catia 5 it was a smooth operation. Basically, duplicating the past, providing the supplier with a print and a 3D model. But Dassault obviously convinced Boeing to base their complete engineering on their unproven and convoluted PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) system based on MBE (Model Based Enterprise).

The Death of PLM

Why MBE/MBD/PMI Will FAIL

So the drafting group was gone. They allowed the draftsman, now engineering techs to leave by attrition replacing them with degreed engineers. Sadly, they did not create a path to transition the draftsman’s responsibility to these new, 3D CAD engineers.

Educating the New 3D CAD Engineer - 2015

Here is the article that sparked this interest. When I was drafting, there were no magazines that touted anything. We did enjoy Aviation Week. Now we have article after article written by someone that has never designed anything.

Democratization and Education

Now here where the definitions start get confusing.

Engineering vs. Engineering Technology

Engineering and engineering technology are separate but closely related professional areas that differ in:

  • Curricular Focus – Engineering programs often focus on theory and conceptual design, while engineering technology programs usually focus on application and implementation. Engineering programs typically require additional, higher-level mathematics, including multiple semesters of calculus and calculus-based theoretical science courses, while engineering technology programs typically focus on algebra, trigonometry, applied calculus, and other courses that are more practical than theoretical in nature.

  • Career Paths – Graduates from engineering programs are called engineers and often pursue entry-level work involving conceptual design or research and development. Many continue on to graduate-level work in engineering. Graduates of four-year engineering technology programs are called technologists, while graduates of two-year engineering technology programs are called technicians. These professionals are most likely to enter positions in sectors such as construction, manufacturing, product design, testing, or technical services and sales. Those who pursue further study often consider engineering, facilities management, or business administration.

There is much overlap between the fields. Engineers may pursue MBAs and open their own consulting firms, while technologists may spend their entire careers in design capacities.

So, there you go. It is obvious that Engineering Technologists and Technicians are basically serving as draftsman and design draftsman. The industry has already proven that they do not need this discipline. They are trying to keep the BSME from what? Working hard. Yes, drafting work is grunt work. They think they can slough it off on the two new disciplines. I think not.

Still, there is no reference to documentation? Very odd, it is like they have no idea what part documentation plays in engineering.


How does Boeing differentiate these jobs today?

The draftsmen are gone.

Only engineers are doing all the work, design, analysis and documentation.

This is the design engineering process today at Boeing and I suppose it is the future of the profession. I know many engineers that are taking this in stride and find a high level of camaraderie with the old draftsman they find on linkedin. Mostly with fit, form and function design and engineering documentation.

Sadly, engineers are stuck in the workaday world of design and documentation. The days are gone when they would instantly move to management, where they would start with small projects and move up. The path to management has gotten very small for today's degreed engineer. We used to call them board engineers. Yes, today, most will be glorified draftsman, but since the draftsman is gone, there will be no way for them to realize this and they will be happy with their lot in life.

How we design today.

The 3D Model

I will focus on the aircraft industry. You can drop in the appropriate CAD system for your industry. It seems like industries have settled on specific systems. This is the only way to have a semblance of continuity between engineering and functional CAD experience.

The design is done in Catia 5. Why Catia 5? Catia 6 has been out for a decade. Truth be told, Boeing is basically stuck with Catia 5. The same with the rest of the airplane design companies, Airbus, Bombardier, etc.  

CADKEY or Catia? Boeing’s Billion-Dollar 3D CAD Mistake!

Why? It is the only way to standardize on engineers. In the past, when engineering was based on manual drawings, most of the design was done by design draftsman that would walk on to the job and be productive “that” day.

Today, you have to have a degree and Catia 5 experience. I have old contract design draftsman friend that has been designing with Catia 5 since the beginning (We met while on contract with Boeing in 1986). He is now having a hard time finding a job. NO DEGREE! He uses the title "Design Engineer" today. I will tell you there is no need for draftsmen in these companies. I am sure HR and the jobshops are not looking for Engineering Technologists. Have you ever read a job description? Sometimes you wonder if they even know what they are looking for or even talking about.

He would easily qualify as an Engineering Technician. Even with all his design and documentation experience, there is no place for him.

So, you can see that it would be virtually impossible for Boeing to set up these new disciplines. Result, BSME with Catia 5 experience only. Sadly, it is now more important that the engineer is familiar with Catia 5 than have the engineering discipline in aerospace.

Engineering Yesterday & Today
Engineer's Job Description
The Search for the Purple Squirrel

I saw this years ago. I was contracted to create fully detailed parts for a company that was machining parts for the now defunct Eclipse Aircraft. They were using NX and we were provided with the native NX files. We were using CADKEY at the time and we could read the NX native files directly. The documentation used minimized dimensioning, generated in the documentation module and delivered as jpgs.

You could see that these were not designed by aerospace designers, but automotive designers that had NX experience. Makes you wonder if they would have used Catia, would the program succeeded with the access to more aircraft engineers and designers.

As you can see the industry would have to get together to set up a system to find out where these technologist and technician disciplines could fit. I am quite sure that engineering management does not have the applicable knowledge to do this and guide human resources to set up the requirements.

Engineering today is in chaos. All engineering is basically learned on the job.

In the past, the young engineer was thrown into the drafting department to learn the drafting process. There is no such thing today. They walk into the door with no mentors to help them. I am sure it is a very confusing process and not what they were expecting.

The Future

Could we develop a system where we could use these different disciplines?

No, it would be impossible.

But we could prepare the Mechanical engineer for the job.

It is relatively simple.

The first year of an engineering degree would be in form, fit and function design learned concurrently with 3D CAD. With this experience, it would easy to move them into classic engineering. But today’s engineering designer doesn’t need the math skills of the past. Trigonometry, which was a major tool of the draftsman is not needed in the graphically driven 3D CAD world. This experience would prepare him/her for all of the CAE applications.

Should the New 3D CAD Engineer Learn Drafting?

I was just reminded of my trig knowledge the other day. It was so inherent in drafting I almost forgot it. We trigged everything. We had our little trig books. I wish I could find my Boeing trig book, it was replaced by our calculators around 1975. Yes, I am that old.

I was introduced to 3D CAD in 1982 on Computervision CADDS 4. As I worked on my 3D parts I would check everything with trig. It took me three times as compared to the CAD system that did it once. After a couple of weeks I trusted the system.

Documentation on all levels needs be taught, including a couple of weeks doing manual drafting. Just to get the tools of the past in their hands. Then to create fully detailed drawings generated from the 3D models to PMI (If that is still a viable engineering deliverable).

I will reiterate, as much as engineering seems to try to ignore it!

The total purpose of engineering is to provide concise, complete and unambiguous documentation to manufacturing.

I would not include electronic drafting training (2D drawings). Since it will never be used.

We just make sure the BSME training includes all of the skills of the engineer and draftsman of the past.

It is truly a new world and not a bad one.

The ease of 3D design is incredible and generating the documentation, even as a completely detailed drawing, is so much simpler than before.

Of course, we need to get them trained. I walked off of a 12 week, 480 hour Boeing sponsored drafting training class and was productive the first week on the job. It would be great if the colleges actually looked a the industry and provided the skills required.

We don’t need Engineering Technologist or Engineering Technicians. We just need to get the BSME the training necessary to meet the requirements of today’s engineering world.

It really is not that difficult.


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Joe Brouwer
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