As if Pepsigate wasn’t enough to get people riled up, this could be even move apocalyptic!
H. Steven Wiley takes a close look at the real Two Cultures, Scientists vs. Engineers!
In the past, I have heard there was conflict between the “two cultures” of science and the humanities. I don’t see a lot of evidence for that type of conflict today, mostly because my scientific friends all are big fans of the arts and literature. However, the two cultures that I do see a great deal of conflict between are those of science and engineering.
At one extreme, you have basic scientists, who seek to discover entirely new processes and knowledge. At the other extreme, you have applied engineers who use the knowledge to build useful devices.
When working with these multidisciplinary groups, I have observed a definite cultural difference between scientists and engineers. Basic scientists seem to be very comfortable with ambiguity and the unknown. Applied engineers, however, depend on and expect established knowledge and certainty. Of course, there is a continuum between these extremes with respect to specific technical fields as well as the people who work in them. However, there is a definite difference in the comfort zone of people who identify themselves as scientists or engineers.
Of course, the article deals mostly with generalizations and stereotypes, but as with many of those, there is often enough truth in them to make it worthwhile to pay at least a little attention.
My library serves mostly scientists with only a very small number of engineers in the student body.
I was wondering — those of you whose libraries serve large numbers of both science and engineering students, do you see a difference in the kinds of questions they ask, the kinds of services they take advantage of or the kinds of collections they need?