Arguing is something that people do when they are emotionally involved, or perhaps even as recreation, as so wonderfully captured by the classic, timeless Monty Python "Argument" sketch (click here for a summary of the sketch; it also has links to the script and a video clip.) Engineers even like to sometimes argue technical issues "after hours", while unwinding at the local snack shop, watering hole, or conference.
But what should engineers argue about: The "best" processor? The "best" operating system or language? Which debug tools to use in various circumstances?
Yes, those are viable topics, but I'd like to propose some bigger, broader topics for engineers to debate with their fellows. To help you all get started, I have included links to some previous columns on these topics:
- What went right (or wrong) with Space Shuttle program, and why didn't it live up to its initial promise (see here)?
- Is spread-spectrum clocking a clever engineering technique, or is it a down-and-dirty cheat (see here)?
- Should we be switching to Daylight Savings Time, or is it an outmoded concept from an era now gone, and which now brings no real benefit (see here)?
- Is circuit design—as distinct from IC design—still a widely needed skill (see here)?
- Should we replace the standard car steering wheel with a joystick (see here)?
- Will the outcome of Texas Instruments' planned acquisition of National Semiconductor be a net gain, loss, or neutral (see here)?
- Is IBM's Watson an indication of how far computers have come in replicating the human brain, or of how little we actually know about the brain (see here)?
- And the big one: should "climate science" and even be considered as science, in the classical, traditional meaning of the term "science" (see here)?
Remember, it's OK to argue based on your personal beliefs, but it is also good to try to argue both sides of an issue—it's an important mental exercise.
Are there other "big picture" topics you would suggest engineers have a spirited argument about? ◊