Science Isn’t Engineering; Engineering Isn’t Science
Venn Diagram: Science and Engineering
Science is not engineering. Engineering is not science. They are, however, similar.
Science is assumed to be the study of general truths, the observation of objects and processes, and the discovery of laws that govern the physical world and the phenomena that exist in it. Engineering, on the other hand, is the application of science and mathematics to manipulate the properties of matter and convert the sources of energy that occur in nature as to become useful to people by accomplishing certain tasks.
Sometimes, engineering techniques and tried-and-true devices preceded any raw explanation by science. From an article titled “Don’t ask a scientist to engineer real change” on Tuesday, February 03, 2009: “Take steam engines: They were pumping water out of mines long before a science of thermodynamics was developed to explain how they worked. The engines were what prompted researchers to look into the nature of steam power in the first place.” The article goes further to argue that sometimes, science can get in the way of engineering breakthroughs.
The principles that explain how a battery works, for example, are old news. But a lightweight and cost-effective battery pack with enough juice to power a car over long distances remains an elusive goal.
On the other side of the coin, we have those those that believe that engineering does not supersede science, and science is not the end-all of new technology. From another article of the same day, “Scientists and engineers need each other“:
Sure engineers build bridges, engineer homes to be safe in hurricane winds, and build rockets to the moon. But without some scientist first figuring out the math and science used for the engineering, there would be few engineering creations, and many of them would fall down for faulty assumptions.