Engineering practices – What is that?

What does a boom in an industry bring in? It brings in a shortage of talent.

What does shortage of talent bring in? It brings in a great demand for the talent.

What does great demand mean in a shortage of talent? It increases the supply in an inorganic manner and inverse vandalism occurs.

In a country called Noviland, carpentry was an expensive business dictated by undersupply of wood as the wood cutters only had access to axes. This kept carpentry and arts related to wood accessible only to the elite and the academics who studied carpentry. This brought in many skilled and intelligent people to the field who were well respected and well paid, people were committed to workmanship. Even though the forest cover was huge in Noviland, technology of axes led to a limited supply.

A wood cutter’s daughter invents a circular saw that can be driven through the bicycle gears which helps to cut trees at 10 times the pace they were used to. Suddenly the supply of wood increased ten fold and there were not enough carpenters. The demand for carpenters grew way too much that it drove their paychecks very high, prompting people to switch careers. Those who learnt other trades, tools and works now did a simple study of hammer, nails & saw and jumped into the profession.

Maintaining old work was easy as everything was in place and simple maintenance tasks were all required to keep up. New work is were all the hell broke loose. People were now getting furniture that does not last long, wooden bridges collapsed on a few days of exposure to heat and rain. People who wanted to replace their furniture dreaded at the cost of replacement and replacement failures. There were way too many carpenters and finding passionate people was next to impossible. Carpentry became a high paying job where no passion or study was required, all it matters was to know about hammer, nails and saw. Some of them who did exceptionally well were immediately made a manager and given interns to manage thereby killing passionate carpenters in the interest of scale.

Software engineering in a few countries is at this state, merely having a crash course in Java and understanding of few libraries are enough to be called as a programmer. Programming is not just writing code, it is solving a communication problem which involves many aspects. Lots of productivity is lost because of the failure to understand and implement good engineering practices. Some people pick agile as a tool to enhance productivity but do nothing to improve the capability of the developers. There are so many practices which can help us develop and release software in days & weeks but many of us are still stuck at the timescale of months & years because of the ignorance of practices as well as reduced progression on the skill level.

Below is a table which helps us to find where we stand in terms of skills, I can say with confidence that even with 10 years of experience many of us will not rate ourselves proficient. We should let skill and passion dominate engineering fields.

 Table source: http://science.raphael.poss.name/programming-levels.html

 

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