Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Architecture .vs. Engineering

During my recent conversations with many folks, this topic keeps coming: architect .vs. engineer, or architecture .vs. engineering. I think I’d like to share some of my views in this topic, and to make it clear and simple. My views presented here is also consistent with my other writings and presentations.

Engineering usually follows certain established disciplines, methodologies, and workflow, which is repeatable and process driven. With a mature process in place, the difference an engineer make can be minimized, which is good for production purpose, and is also the motivation for the popular CMMI adoption.

Architecture is a creative art for operation; it is more conceptual oriented, with emphasis on vision, insight, and creativity. Therefore, the difference made by architects can be enormous, while engineering is the next step to follow. I am not ignoring that the architecture creation/development process also need discipline and skills that can be trained to support the talent and creativity that generate ideas and concepts.

In my old days working for high-tech companies in Silicon Valley, there is a saying: behind each successful product, there is a super-star architect. I believe this is applicable to architects in any other arenas as well, e.g. the famous architects for buildings. The architect hiring should not be a “body shopping”.

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