I think the valuable extraction from "engineer" is the ability to apply the scientific objective method of reasoning to solve problems, and believe even a lawyer might possess that skill. I don't think holding a patent on an ic, for instance, would be a beneficial requisite.
There are degreed engineers, registered professional engineers, and (just) engineers, including the self educated, such as Jim Williams. Having the paper in hand does not make you better BUT it DOES open a few more doors for you. The concept of putting engineers "in charge" is interesting, I think, because we do have several different types of engineers. Some are brilliant across a wide spectrum, like Williams, while others genius extends only slightly beyond a microscopic field. I don't think that a well chosen group of engineers would mean automatic war, but the right group would certainly be much harder to bluff. The problem that we have with lawyers running the show is that they choose to go by president, tending to let people get away with whatever somebody got away with before. That is a well lubricated PTFE coated slippery slope with a steep incline. My assertion is that lawyers can never find that some action is wrong, and at best may be able to brand things as uncommon.
Putting real engineers in charge would probably not make our present situation much worse, no matter what they would do.
The reason we have few engineers in politics is really more that engineering types gravitate to the concrete and typically shun the fuzziness that is central to political systems. Unless we are able to evaluate decisions in the full visible light spectrum (democratic) instead of just black and white,(fascist) we are likely destined to be less successful in politics.
This whole discussion has spun out of control quickly. The point of the topic was to invite people with less intention to manipulate others and more intention to solve problems. I'm not saying these items are opposites, but I'm saying that everyone sees there is a problem and out current round of congressmen are not the solution. This is one perspective on how to solve the problem. I happen to agree with the idea of bringing people with a history of honesty in to replace all congress. The fact that they will make honest decisions for the sake of the country without the intent to get gain (other than working hard for a living) is better than having the most brilliant . Unless the most brilliant have proven to be honest and hard working.
Stepping on the toes of special interest groups (SIGs) may not be a bad thing. Most of them are selfishly driven and an accomplished engineer thinks differently. Eventually the SIGs will start moderating their demands differently.
@mrwood- This is actually the exact question I wanted to pose to the people on this thread, because there seems to be too schools of thought on that. Can a person be considered an engineer by virtue of his/her knowledge, skills and accomplishments, or does being considered an engineer actually require the piece of paper that certifies that you took the courses, did the required reading, etc.?
Personally I would side with the former camp. Jim Williams was certainly an engineer, as are many other brilliant people who earn a living doing engineering work but never earned a degree. But I am curious what other people think on this.