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Experiment!: Planning, Implementing and Interpreting by Oivind Andersson

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5.1 Research and Development

Many Ph.D. students carry out research in applied fields. They may share techniques, methods and practical tasks with people who develop products in industry. The Ph.D. student is usually awarded an academic title after a few years, but the engineer is not. If that title is to have any real value there must be a crucial difference between what they do.

In this book, the term research refers to scientific research – not to the work carried out in Research & Development organizations in industry. I will make the point that the difference between research and development lies in the purpose and outcome of the tasks, rather than in individual techniques and tasks. We may get an idea of what characterizes development work by looking at how the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET) in the United States defines the engineering profession:

Engineering is the profession in which a knowledge of the mathematical and natural sciences, gained by study, experience, and practice, is applied with judgment to develop ways to utilize, economically, the materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind.

This, indeed, sounds like a respectable profession, but is engineering really the only occupation characterized by these things? Scientists, too, use mathematics and science with judgment and their work is funded because society expects to benefit from it in the long run. Let us keep this definition of engineering in the back of our minds and ...

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