Science, Tech, Math › Science What Is the Difference Between a Scientist and an Engineer? Practical and Philosophical Differences Share Flipboard Email Print Chemical engineers supervise the central pumping station at the Yukos Oil and Gas company in Nefteyugansk, Siberia. Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated February 20, 2019 Scientist versus engineer... are they the same? Different? Here's a look at the definitions of scientist and engineer and the difference between a scientist and engineer. Practical and Philosophical Differences A scientist is a person who has scientific training or who works in the sciences. An engineer is someone who is trained as an engineer. So, the practical difference lies in the educational degree and the description of the task being performed by the scientist or engineer. On a more philosophical level, scientists tend to explore the natural world and discover new knowledge about the universe and how it works. Engineers apply that knowledge to solve practical problems, often with an eye toward optimizing cost, efficiency, or some other parameters. Considerable Overlap There is considerable overlap between science and engineering, so you will find scientists who design and construct equipment and engineers who make important scientific discoveries. Information theory was founded by Claude Shannon, a theoretical engineer. Peter Debye won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with a degree in electrical engineering and a doctorate in physics.