We Be Wizards
“We are dreamers, shapers, singers, and makers. We study the mysteries of laser and circuit, crystal and scanner, holographic demons and invocations of equations. These are the tools we employ, and we know many things.” – Elric, The Geometry of Shadows, Babylon 5
Years ago, at the beginning of my education, one of the Masters charged our introduction to our craft began our class with the statement above:
Written boldly on the board at the fore of the lecture hall, he then continued, explaining that we as Electrical Engineers are modern-day wizards. We make arcane sigils and employ strange formulae, then use them to create devices to manipulate things unseen to create results wondrous, daily commanding far more forces than kings of old (in terms of raw energy equated to man-power). An excellent and inspiring analogy, which became something of a cross between a joke and an affirmation of ability to those who had the fortune of going through that Master’s class.
Through my education and education out of the classroom, what we do has been described variously as magic, voodoo, black magic (in reference to RF work), incomprehensible, mysterious, and variations on this. And I tend to agree: Engineers are modern-day wizards, using their knowledge of the world and how it works to bend it to their will. As I graduated, I sought definitions of the old1 stages of apprenticeship, and found I most fit the definition of Journeyman: I have studied my craft and know it, but I have neither the experience nor the workshop which allow me to claim the status of Master2.
1 Or not so old. The apprenticeship traditions are still practiced in many places and trades today (e.g. Germany)
2 Another way to look at it; an apprentice will struggle to practice their craft without proper tools and guidance, a journeyman can practice their craft well with proper tools and occasional references and guidance and can create some tools as needed, a master can practice their craft without the benefit of proper tools and can create the tools they need to practice their craft well.