You May Have Seen My Face on BART
Isis Anchalee
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And I’m a Self Thought Nuclear Physicist!


Amidst all the recent #ILookLikeAnEngineer kerfuffle, one thing in @isisAnchalee’s post strikes me weird:

I am a passionate self-taught engineer

Now, I don’t care for an idiot commenting on a BART ad campaign, claiming he (or she?) knows what an engineer should or shouldn’t look like. In fact, I think that the person name shouldn’t be censored from comments so that he’s publicly shamed for being such a bigot. Having more than a censored screencap would have also make it easier finding who that person is: a bigot, a troll, or perhaps a dummy account used as part of an elaborate marketing campaign to manufacture virality. If #Gamergate thought me anything it’s to always verify.

But right now we have nothing but a Photoshopped image to rely on. Where’s the actual Facebook post or an archived copy? Before I support a hashtag, I’m looking for some kind of verification that I’m not being played here

But until then, let’s go back to back to the “I am a passionate self-taught engineer” quote, as this is something I just can’t grasp: what exactly qualifies as a self-thought engineer? Is it someone who taking enough online Coursera courses that net enough credit for a 4-year Engineering degree?

Because like it or not, Engineering is something that you can just staple as a title. And although software engineering is a bit more fluid and less regulated (at least in some states), calling yourself an engineer after taking a Comp Science 101 course is misleading to say the least.

Just like you’d expect a proper ice cream to contain milk fat, and like you’d want your doctor to be an actual MD and not a PhD in paleontology, there are some expectations coming from the title “Engineer: If not a proper 4 year engineering degree then at least a Computer Science B.Sc with relevant qualifications. You might be a programmer, a software developer, or IT professional — there are plenty titles to go around without misusing the word “engineer”. An Engineer has to be trustworthy after all.

Is Isis Wegner a qualified engineer? Maybe, I have no idea. But perhaps the #iLookLikeAnEngineer hashtag gives us a clue: not everything that looks like an engineer is an engineer.

So I guess that I can go with #iLookLikeANuclearPhysicist hashtag then: I understand some physics principles (Newtonian and Quantum!), and I have a microwave which I use on a daily basis to practice nuke my lunch. And if Hollywood can cast Denise Richards as a Nuclear Physicist — anything goes.