[Guest Blogger] Proud to be a Professional Engineer AND an IT Professional

Graham Jones (Surrey, British Columbia, IT Pro)

Graham sent me a nice note to complement the recent series Rodney has started around "Proud to be an IT Pro". I agree with a lot of his comments even though I do not have one of the iron rings (although my dad does, maybe it rubs off).  

What are your thoughts? Are we going to have a serious movement to get recognition with a certification that is vendor agnostic and promoted by a powerful national organization like CIPS?

Over the past few days I have been greatly encouraged by the posts about how people feel about being IT Pros and I also think that the IT Pro blog should be given credit for providing a forum to express those feelings. We need to tell the world how we feel, and why,  and not just what we know if we are to elevate the status of our profession in the longer term. When you consider some of the key phrases that have been consistently used such as “solving problems”, “helping people”, “make the world a better place”, etc., we are really talking about basic human desires/needs. This is certainly not confined to the computer industry. I have been around long enough to see the new computer arrive in a semi-trailer truck and have much less processing power than a cheap laptop today. If we could go back in time it would be instructive for today’s IT Pro’s to spend a day using the equipment of those days 40 years ago. Were the people any less passionate about things? Absolutely not. You work with the “tools” that you have to try and satisfy precisely the same needs. For example, when I was doing software development (engineering applications written in Fortran) if I was really lucky I would get 2 runs per DAY. It took me 3 years to complete the project.

I spent the majority of my career in the Process Industries although I have always had a passion for computers. So my point is that the sentiments recently reflected are just the same as those in other professions and are somewhat central to the public status that those professions have attained over many years, perhaps even hundreds of years in some cases. There is a great deal of work being done right now by dedicated people who are trying to give the IT Profession the same sort of societal status as other recognized Professions. Having been a Professional Engineer for many years I can compare and contrast and yes, I am proud to be a Professional Engineer. I know that I earned that recognition. Whether you consider it to be just or not until the IT Profession achieves a certain public status the full value that we contribute will not be widely recognized nor fully appreciated. Formal government recognition such as exists for the CIPS I.S.P. designation is much more important than many appreciate, both for personal career benefit and that all important public recognition. As a Professional Engineer in Canada we have the unique symbology of the “iron ring” (actually it’s stainless steel these days J) which many people recognize. Even though most people don’t know exactly how or why you have it they often do behave differently towards you because there is a publicly recognized status. For example, it might seem a small thing but Professional Engineers can act as guarantors for passport applications (no we aren’t allows to charge – darn it!). When IT Professionals are widely recognized in the same light then we will have made a giant step forward.


Graham Jones, P.Eng., MVP

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