What makes us engineers, as I was witnessing a lot of changes in my life recently I was wondering who I am, my diplomas and work say I am an engineer, my paycheck says I am an engineer, what do I do to prove I am an engineer and not just a mere developer ? I needed to take a step back and look at what I was and what made me an engineer in the first place. Back when I was a kid I loved drawing, I was drawing at every time of the day, all kind of things, people, animals, fantasy creations, imaginary buildings and so on. Some people saw me as an artist but those were my first attempts at creation.
Around 10, I was writing comics to tell stories but I was never happy with the result and always wanted to do better before I show it to anyone, in the end I just burnt those and nobody ever knew. I was starting to become a perfectionist without even realising what it meant. Then I started creating games on paper, that involved more thinking, I was playing those alone to make sure those would make sense before showing them to my siblings and friends. Same thing happened than with my comics creation attempt, all thrown away.
Then we had a second home computer with Windows 2000 on it, with few games, and it opened a lot of possibilities to me; I wanted to play video games for living, at the time I didn’t know it was actually a thing but the closest thing I could do was video game creator (didn’t know it was called programer or developer back then). I believed that at some point in the process I would get to test some of those creations.
Years later during high school I had to make a choice, at the time my mom wanted me to follow my grandfather footsteps so I become a surgeon, as I wasn’t about what I would do I followed that path during high school that matches the one that would lead me to IT. After I got my A levels, I didn’t really know what to do and I thought that 5 years to become an engineer was a lot. At that time I decided to go to the university in order to get a Higher national diploma of IT which would and actually did take me two years to obtain so I could secure something to be directly employed, but after I achieved that I thought “Ok, I’m 19, what’s next ?”. I didn’t hesitate long I went to an engineering school where I had the possibility to be graduated in three years. That still seemed long to me but I was just taking a year after the other. Lots of bloodshed eyes, allnighters, drinking, partying, exams and three years later that was it, I was an engineer. A few days later I had that discussion that triggered my move to London in a tech oriented startup (Lodgeo) which was the next logical step of my evolution.
Now, it’s been a year and a half I have been here, I have progressed, much more than people can imagine, a lot changed. During my second engineer school year I created a windows phone app called G-Series, quite a decent app that I released as soon as I developed it because I was so proud of it. Once released to the Windows store I got crushed by most of the users that didn’t get the app to work. Not enough testing, I had unit tests but nothing at the UI level. When I saw those critics I was pissed, all those hours spent developing, running it and bragging about how much of a computing god I am were all a waste. After a few days I decided to get back at it, I got it fixed and enhanced it, I wanted it to be perfect so nobody can criticise it. In the end, I never released that enhanced version, last month (a couple of years since I last took a look at that code) I decided to open that project and I ran it on my phone, it seemed ready to be public. I did not do any change to it, but I had a different vision, it was good enough to do what it’s supposed to do without any issues even though there was a few obscure scenarios that may never occur to an actual user that stopped me a few years back.
The reason I do not release this app then is that the market is more than crowded now with additional stuff that did not exist two years ago. At that time I realised that the perfection I was running after is not a fixed state, it’s keep on moving, failing again and again until I have something that people can use, and then make it better, more resilient to wild users. It looks like I finally tempered my vision to deliver something that works, something that people can get into their lives. That’s what I learned over the past couple of years, that continuous learning is what makes me an engineer. I am not changing into something else, I am something that needs to keep changing, evolving in order to not become stale. I am an engineer.