The Chasm Between Science and Engineering


Professor GÓ§ran Roos stated that “Science is the business of turning money into knowledge. Engineering is the business of turning that knowledge back into money”

It’s a damn shame about the chasm between science and the rest of us; scientists go unrewarded for helping get their knowledge back into the public domain.

This is a real handicap for engineers in industry trying to do all the heavy lifting of turning Australia into a ‘clever country’.

Our scientists’ publically-funded knowledge generation is completed upon publication; peer-reviewed papers are the currency of science and the key to scientific promotion.

The currency of engineers is different; we are rewarded for turning knowledge into something useful that people want and that makes profit for those companies in the private sector who employ us.

So it’s a hard bridge to cross, this mixing of Australian science with Australian engineering to benefit our common economy; both parties have fundamentally different objectives, threats and rewards.

One of the rarest and most beautiful things that can happen to an Australian engineering company is winning the trust and respect of an Australian scientist. We get to tap into the scientific literature and scientific rigour - the real watershed of impartial testing of sensors and ideas.

And those scientists get to see their work make some impact in the real world.

Reflecting on thirty years of measurement engineering, my strongest impression is the value that four different scientists – all from within CSIRO – have had on the MEA product line and my own ideas. These relationships were informal.

CSIRO is taking tentative steps to formalize this intermingling, and moving tentatively to insert researchers into business.

When all is said and done, most of the time there is far more said than done.

Talking is no useful route to making real things happen. Formal support for those rare and informal connections between scientists and engineers will save us all much skulking among the bushes.

Then we can indeed become a clever country.

Dr Andrew Skinner in his graduation clobber


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