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What is a Software Engineer? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mathieu-André Chiasson   
Wednesday, 25 February 2004
This is a question that many people are asking themselves.  They sometime misunderstanding the true meaning of Software Engineering.  Here is a definition that can be found at Thomson Course Technology

Software Engineer: "responsible for designing and programming large-scale computer systems and applications. Similar to a systems analyst, software engineers primarily design and build complex system software, such as operating systems, protocol architectures, or databases upon which application software programs will run. Software engineers often make use of complex methodologies like Object-Oriented Modeling and Design and rapid application development (RAD) tools like Rational Rose to build these large-scale systems; as a result, software engineering normally requires formal training in computer science."

Unfortunately the term "software engineer" is used in a wide variety of meanings:

  • An engineer who writes computer programs.
  • Anyone who writes complex computer programs.
  • A manager who oversees a software project.
  • A researcher who conducts research in any of the the research areas called "software engineering".

A Software Engineer has a code of ethics, and it is also a professional practitioner:

  1. A Software Engineer has appropriate training in both technical (e.g., mathematics, sciences, software design, fundamentals of computing, project management) and non-technical areas (e.g., ethics and professionalism).
  2. A Software Engineer agrees to adhere to a code of ethics.
  3. They take legal and ethical responsibility for their work and its impact on the public. Engineers have a legal duty to ensure that their work is appropriate for the purposes that it is intended and will not endanger the public.
  4. In Canada they must be registered members of the appropriate provincial association. This is a matter of the provincial laws.


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