Thursday, January 22, 2009

Calling all Build Engineers

During my recent CSC301 lecture, I was surprised to find out how few students were aware that they could actually get a job as a full-time build engineer. It makes me think that there's probably a study to be done in this area.
  • To what extent are build processes and project maintenance discussed in CS education?
  • What is the market value of a professional build engineer?
  • How to build engineers perform their job? Is there a way it can be improved?
The last point is something that causes me mild concern. It seems that, in some cases, the methods used to set-up and execute project wide builds can be semi-structured voodoo.


Rory said...

Further comment regarding build engineering. It occurred to me this afternoon that this particular skill set would make an excellent little consulting business. Target market could be small businesses that are in the process of growing, at the tipping point where CI infrastructure would be a benefit, but could not justify the cost of hiring a full-time B.E. A consultant, familiar with the tools in the CI domain, could enter a company, set up their system for them, and (for a nominal fee, of course), maintain an account with the client should they need further assistance or modifications. Again, I'm positive that something like this must exist already, I just haven't been looking too hard.

Martyloo said...


One of the hats I wear at my job is "build engineer". You raise some very interesting questions. Here's another one to ponder: out of all people who wear the "build engineer" hat, how many do this _exclusively_. I think this role is often done as part of a greater set of responsibilities.

Rory said...

Hi Martyloo,

Thanks for the feedback. I agree that it is often the case that developers handle build issues in tandem with their normal duties of writing code, but this is not universal. In my previous work experience, at a particularly large software firm, build engineering was an entire department, and when possible teams were assigned full-time build engineers to maintain the infrastructure and configure whatever tasks were required. Whether or not the cost/benefit ratio works out for this type of configuration remains to be seen, I think.