An engineering technologist is a professional trained in certain aspects of development and implementation of a respective area of technology. Engineering technology education is even more applied and less theoretical than engineering education, though in a broad sense both have a focus on practical application. Engineering technologists often assist engineers but after years of experience, they can also become engineers. Like engineers, areas where engineering technologists can work include product design (including improvement), fabrication and testing. Also as with engineers, engineering technologists sometimes rise to senior management positions in industry or become entrepreneurs.
The engineering technology field often overlaps with many of the same general areas in engineering (e.g. design/development, testing) but the focus is even more on application than in engineering field (which is, in a somewhat different sense, also about the application of science). Engineering technologists are more likely than engineers to focus on (post-development) implementation or operation of technology but this is not a strict rule as they often do design original concepts. The National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) in the USA summarizes the distinction as being that engineers are trained more with conceptual skills to "function as designers," while engineering technologists "apply others' designs." The mathematics and sciences, as well as other technical courses, in engineering technology programs, tend to be taught with more application-based examples, whereas engineering coursework provides a more theoretical foundation in math and science (because those are the very subjects that engineers apply directly). Moreover, engineering coursework tends to require higher-level mathematics, including calculus and beyond, as well as more extensive knowledge of the natural sciences applied in design, which also serve to prepare students for research (whether in graduate studies or industrial R&D). Engineering technology courses generally have more labs associated with their undergraduate courses that require the hands-on application of the studied topics.
Although in the USA, some states require a BS degree in engineering accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) of Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) with no exceptions, about two-thirds of the states accept BS degrees in engineering technology accredited by the Engineering Technology Accreditation Commission (ETAC) of ABET to become licensed as professional engineers. Each state has different requirements on years of experience to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) and Professional Engineering (PE) exams. A few states require a graduate MS in engineering to sit for the exams. This education model is more in line with the educational system in the United Kingdom where an accredited MEng or MSc degree in engineering for further learning is required by the Engineering Council (EngC) to be registered as a Chartered Engineer. Engineering technology graduates with applied engineering skills often gain further learning in graduate school with an MS degree in engineering technology, engineering, engineering management, construction management or a National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)-accredited Master of Architecture degree program. These degrees are also offered online or through distance learning opportunities with various universities, both nationally and internationally, allowing an individual to continue working full time while gaining an advanced degree.
Nature of workEdit
Engineering technologists are employed in a wide array of industries and areas including product development, manufacturing and maintenance. They may become managers depending upon the experience and educational emphasis on management. Entry-level positions relating in various ways to product design, Product testing, product development, systems development, field engineering, technical operations and quality control are common for engineering technologists.
In general, the work of engineering technologists focuses more often on the practical application of engineered products and processes for a range of purposes, whereas the work of engineers emphasizes the application of math and science for design/development purposes (in ways that tend to require a more extensive theoretical foundation of mathematics and the natural sciences). NSPE describes the difference between engineering and engineering technology as follows:
"The distinction between engineering and engineering technology emanates primarily from differences in their educational programs. Engineering programs are geared toward the development of conceptual skills and consist of a sequence of engineering fundamentals and design courses, built on a foundation of complex mathematics and science courses. Engineering technology programs are oriented toward application and provide their students introductory mathematics and science courses and only a qualitative introduction to engineering fundamentals. Thus, engineering programs provide their graduates a breadth and depth of knowledge that allows them to function as designers. Engineering technology programs prepare their graduates to apply others' designs."
The ABET summarizes engineering technology as "the application of scientific and engineering knowledge and methods combined with technical skills in support of engineering activities; it lies in the occupational spectrum between the craftsman and the engineer at the end of the spectrum closest to the engineer."
In addition, ABET has stated: "Engineering and engineering technology are separate, but intimately related professions. Here are some of the ways they differ:
- Engineering undergraduate programs include more mathematics work and higher-level mathematics than engineering technology programs.
- Engineering undergraduate programs often focus on theory, while engineering technology programs usually focus on application.
- Once they enter the workforce, engineering graduates typically spend their time planning, while engineering technology graduates spend their time making plans work.
- At ABET, engineering and engineering technology programs are evaluated and accredited by two separate accreditation commissions using two separate sets of accreditation criteria.
- Graduates from engineering programs are called 'engineers', while graduates of engineering technology programs are called 'engineering technologists'.
- Some U.S. state boards of professional engineering licensure will allow only graduates of engineering programs—not engineering technology programs—to become licensed engineers."
Engineers generally focus more on conceptual design and product development, while engineering technologists are more likely to work in testing, fabrication/construction or fieldwork. Of course, those areas overlap considerably (e.g., testing and fabrication are often integral to the overall product development process and can involve engineers as well as engineering technologists).
There is generally no distinction made between engineers and engineering technologists when it comes to hiring by most companies in the industry, engineering technologists are normally recruited equally as engineers. In 2012, The Journal of Engineering Technology published results that show "that a very broad range of engineering companies operating across the full spectrum of engineering services and products, baccalaureate engineering technology graduates are operating as engineers. Moreover, these graduates function in many engineering roles equally as well as their contemporaries from engineering."
Education and accreditationEdit
Beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, some post-secondary institutions in the U.S.and Canada began offering degrees in engineering technology, focusing on applied study rather than the more theoretical engineering degrees. The focus on applied study addressed a need within the scientific, manufacturing and engineering communities, as well as other industries, for professionals with hands-on and applications-based engineering knowledge. Depending on the institution, associate's and/or bachelor's degrees are offered, with some institutions also offering advanced degrees in engineering technology.
In general, an engineering technologist receives a broad range of applied science and applied mathematics training, as well as the fundamentals of engineering in the student's area of focus. Engineering technology programs typically include instruction in various engineering support functions for research, production and operations and applications to specific engineering specialties. Information technology is primarily involved with the management, operation and maintenance of computer systems and networks, along with an application of technology in diverse fields such as architecture, engineering, graphic design, telecommunications, computer science and network security. An engineering technologist is also expected to have had some coursework in ethics.
Professional organizations from different countries have signed a mutual recognition agreement called the Sydney Accord, which represents an understanding that the academic awards of engineering technologists can be recognized in all signatory states. The recognition of the Sydney Accord for engineering technologists can be compared to the Washington Accord for engineers and the Dublin Accord for engineering technicians. The Engineering Technologist Mobility Forum (ETMF) is an international forum held by signatories of the Sydney Accord to explore mutual recognition for experienced engineering technologists and to remove artificial barriers to the free movement and practice of engineering technologists amongst their countries. ETMF can be compared to the Engineers Mobility Forum (EMF) for engineers.
Graduates acquiring an associate degree or lower typically find careers as engineering technicians. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics: "Many four-year colleges offer bachelor's degrees in engineering technology and graduates of these programs are hired to work as entry-level engineers or applied engineers, but not technicians." Engineering technicians typically hold a two-year associate degree, while engineering technologists likewise hold a bachelor's degrees.
Internationally, the Sydney Accord is an agreement signed in 2001 acknowledging the academic equivalence of accredited engineering technology programs in the signatory nations. In some countries, only those individuals who have graduated from an accredited curriculum in engineering technology and have a significant amount of work experience in their field may become registered technologists. A technologist's recognition may be in the form of a certification or a professional registration.
In Canada, the new occupational category of "technologist" was established in the 1960s in conjunction with an emerging system of community colleges and technical institutes. It was designed to effectively bridge the gap between the increasingly theoretical nature of engineering degrees and the predominantly practical approach of technician and trades programs. Provincial associations may certify individuals as a Professional Technologist (P.Tech.), Certified Engineering Technologist (C.E.T.), Registered Engineering Technologist (R.E.T.), Applied Science Technologist (AScT) or Technologue Professionel [T.P.]. These provincial associations are constituent members of the Canadian Council of Technicians and Technologists (CCTT), which nationally accredits technology programs across Canada through its Canadian Technology Accreditation Board (CTAB). Nationally accredited engineering technology programs range from two to three years in length, depending on the province, often containing as many classroom hours as a 4-year degree program.
In the United States, the hierarchy of educational structure and acknowledgment starts at the U.S. Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The U.S. Department of Education acknowledges regional and national accreditation and CHEA recognizes specialty accreditation. One technology accreditation is currently recognized by CHEA: The Association of Technology, Management and Applied Engineering (ATMAE). CHEA recognizes ATMAE for accrediting associate, baccalaureate and master's degree programs in technology, applied technology, engineering technology and technology-related disciplines delivered by national or regional accredited institutions in the United States. As of March 2019, ABET withdrew from CHEA recognition
The National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) awards certification at two levels depending on work experience: the Associate Engineering Technologist (AT) and the Certified Engineering Technologist (CT). ATMAE awards two levels of certification in technology management: Certified Technology Manager (CTM) and Certified Senior Technology Manager (CSTM). ATMAE also awards two levels of certification in manufacturing specialist: Certified Manufacturing Specialist (CMS) and Certified Senior Manufacturing Specialist (CSMS). In 2020, ATMAE announced offering the Certified Controls Engineer (CCE) and Certified Senior Controls Engineer (CSCE) professional certification. While the CTM, CMS and CCE certifications are obtained through examination, the CSTM, CSMS and CSCE require industry experience and continuous improvement via the obtainment of professional development units (PDUs).
American Society of Certified Engineering Technicians (ASCET) is a membership organization that issues Certified Member certifications to engineering technicians and engineering technologists. Professional engineers are issued Registered Member certification.
The United Kingdom has a decades-long tradition of producing engineering technologists via the apprenticeship system of learning. UK engineering technologists have always been designated as "engineers". The term "engineer" in the UK is used to describe the entire range of skilled workers and professionals from tradespeople through to the highly educated Chartered Engineer. In fact up until the 1960s professional engineers in the UK were often referred to as "Technologists" to distinguish them from scientists, technicians and craftsmen. The modern term for an engineering technologist is "incorporated engineer" (IEng), although since 2000 the normal route to achieving IEng is with a bachelor's or honors degree in engineering. Modern technical apprenticeships would normally lead to the engineering technician (EngTech) professional qualification and with further studies at higher apprenticeship level an IEng. Since 2015, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) has introduced engineering degree (bachelors and masters) apprenticeships. The title "incorporated engineer" is protected by civil law. Prior to the title "incorporated engineer", UK technologists were known as "technician engineers" a designation introduced in the 1960s.
In the United Kingdom, an incorporated engineer is accepted as a "professional engineer", registered by the EngC, although the term "professional engineer" has no legal meaning in the UK and there are no restrictions on the practice. In fact, anyone in the UK can call themselves an "engineer" or "professional engineer" without any qualifications or proven competencies in engineering and most UK skilled trades are sometimes referred to as "professional" or "accredited" engineers. Examples are "Registered Gas Engineer" (gas installer) or "Professional Telephone Engineer" (phone line installer or fault diagnosis).
Incorporated engineers are recognized internationally through the Sydney Accord academic agreement as engineering technologists. One of the professional titles for engineers in the United Kingdom, recognized in the Washington Accord is the chartered engineer. The incorporated engineer is a professional engineer as declared by the EngC of the United Kingdom and the European definition as demonstrated by the prescribed title under 2005/36/EC as an "engineer". The incorporated engineer operates autonomously and directs activities independently. They do not necessarily need the support of chartered engineers because they are often acknowledged as full engineers in the UK (but not in Canada or the U.S.). The United Kingdom incorporated engineer may also contribute to the design of new products and systems.
The chartered engineer and incorporated engineer, whilst often undertaken similar roles, are distinct qualifications awarded by the Engineering Council, with Chartered Engineer CEng status being the terminal engineering qualification.
Incorporated engineers currently require an IEng accredited bachelors or honors degree in engineering (prior to 1997 the B.Sc. and B.Eng. degrees satisfied the academic requirements for "chartered engineer" registration), a Higher National Certificate or diploma, City and Guilds of London Institute higher diploma/full technological cert diploma or a Foundation Degree in engineering, plus appropriate further learning to degree level or an NVQ4 or SVQ4 approved for the purpose by a licensed engineering institution.
The academic requirements must be accompanied by the appropriate peer-reviewed experience in employment-typical 4 years post qualification. In addition to the experience and academic requirements, the engineering candidate must have three referees (themselves CEng or IEng) that vouch for the performance of the individual being considered for professional recognition. There are a number of alternative ways to achieve IEng status for those that do not have the necessary qualifications for applicants, that can clearly show they have achieved the same level as those with qualifications, including:
- writing a technical report, based upon their experience and demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of engineering principles;
- earning the City and Guilds graduate diploma (bachelors level) and a postgraduate diploma (masters level) accredited by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE);
- following a work-based learning program; or
- taking an academic program specified by the institution to which they are applying.
Germany – European UnionEdit
Engineering Technologist/State-certified EngineerEdit
The title 'state-certified engineer BVT' is awarded to qualified engineering technologists (staatlich gepruefter Techniker) by the Bundesverband höherer Berufe der Technik, Wirtschaft und Gestaltung e.V. ("Association of Higher Professions for Technology and Design") or BVT, conditional on two years of professional experience, current BVT membership and payment of an administration fee.
The engineering technologist is a vocational, continuous professional development non-academic but an equivalent qualification, awarded after successfully passing state examinations governed by German federal rules. To be eligible for the engineering technologist examination, candidates must fulfill the following requirements: completion of one of the school systems (Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium), an apprenticeship of at least two years duration, one year of completed professional work experience and attendance of a taught program with a course load of 2400–3000 hours, usually completed within two years in full-time or 3.5 – 4 years part-time at vocational colleges.
As of January 2012, the state-certified engineer/engineering technologist was allocated to level 6 of the European Qualifications Framework, equivalent to undergraduate degrees (bachelor's level). Furthermore, the engineering technologist constitutes an advanced entry qualification for German universities and in principal permits entry into any undergraduate academic degree program. The engineering technologist/state-certified engineer should not be confused with academically qualified engineers, which previously graduated from universities as Diplom-Ingenieur (Diploma in Engineering) and following the Bologna process with BEng + MEng degrees.
State-certified technicians/engineers in the EU directivesEdit
As of January 31, 2012, state-certified engineers, state-certified business managers and state-certified designers are at level 6-bachelor on the DQF and EQF. The qualifications more than a decade ago were entered into EU Directives as recognized regulated professions in Germany and the EU. Annexes C and D were added to Council Directive 92/51/EEC on a second general system for the recognition of professional education and training to supplement Directive 89/48/EEC.
Top institutions involved included the federal government (the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology), EU Standing Conference and Economic Ministerial Meeting of Countries, the German Confederation of Hand-plant, the Confederation of German Employers' Associations, German Chambers of Industry and Commerce, Confederation of German Trade Unions and Federal Institute for Vocational Application. These government institutions agreed on a common position on the implementation of the EQF and a German qualifications framework (DQR).
European Union law and other documents considered to be public include:
- Annexes C and D to Council Directive 92/51/EEC on a second general system for the recognition of professional education and training to supplement Directive 89/48/EEC
- EU Directive 2005L0036-EN 01.01.2007
- ANNEX III list of regulated education and training referred to in the third subparagraph of Article 13(2)
The qualifications framework requires: "regulated courses for the professions of state-certified ('staatlich gepruefte(r)') technician/engineer ('Techniker(in)'), business economist (business manager), ('Betriebswirt(in)'), designer ('Gestalter(in)') and family assistant ('Familiepfleger(in)'), of a total duration not less than 16 years, a prerequisite of which is successful completion of compulsory schooling or equivalent education and training (of a duration of not less than nine years) and successful completion of a course at a trade school ('Berufsschule') of a duration of not less than three years and comprising, upon completion of at least two years of work experience, full-time education and training of a duration of not less than two years or part-time education and training of equivalent duration."
International engineering technologist (IntET)Edit
The international engineering technologist (IntET) qualification was launched in late 2007 by ETMF, which is part of the International Engineering Alliance (IEA). The qualification is awarded by each member jurisdiction followed by a jurisdictional identifier, such as IntET (UK) for the UK.
In addition to the benefits gained through IEng professional qualification (an eligibility requirement), IntET (UK) offers additional benefits, including letters after the name (such as "J. Smith IEng IntET (UK)") and easier admission to National Registers of IntET register member jurisdictions. The EngC and its fellow ETMF members are pursuing the possibility of future mutual recognition of professional titles, which would further enhance the benefits of IntET qualification.
The IntET (UK) qualification is open to UK-registered incorporated engineers who have met the requirements: seven years post-graduate experience, two years the responsibility of significant engineering work and maintaining continuing professional development. Incorporated engineers who do not hold an accredited degree recognized under the Sydney Accord or equivalent academic qualification, are currently not eligible to apply for IntET (UK) qualification.
References and notesEdit
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