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What is a software engineer? Not even IBM knows

We’re all aware that as cloud applications grow in importance, businesses are clamoring to hire more software engineers. They might work in mobile application development, database design and administration, security, communications, analytics, or somewhere else.

While most businesses acknowledge that simply finding software engineers can be a challenge, IBM, of all companies, admits something much more revealing: IBM doesn’t even know what a software engineer is.

During a presentation on big data analytics at a recent conference in Boston, Mike O’Rourke, vice president of product development for IBM’s cloud data services team, made a statement that I found rather startling:

“There are 400 different ways that people in IBM have described themselves as software engineers.”

That’s just inside one company (admittedly a very large one). Look online and you’ll find wildly varying definitions.

How do you define software engineer? Join the discussion and post your definition. Let’s see how well they line up or vary. Perhaps this is a new area crying out for standards.

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A programmer with more software architectural skills (ie patterns & frameworks) than a normal developer.
A software engineer is a person who can manage the definition, design and construction of software products with a high degree of confidence that they will work correctly.
Just like a conventional engineer, the software engineer uses a variety of tools and techniques to ensure the final product can be guaranteed to work to specification.  A software engineer knows the product is correct because of complete traceability between requirements and implementation, and there is proof that every product component at every level is implemented correctly.