"Software engineering is gravely hampered today by immature practices."If I draw parallels between software engineering and civil engineering (arguably the most mature engineering discipline) my spontaneous conclusion was: Yes, software engineering seems to be more like how cathedrals were built in medieval times. The construction of them were based on rules of thumb and the practical skills and experience of architects and stone masons instead of the type of engineering practices taught at universities today. Interestingly enough, one can still see the "successful" cathedrals still standing several centuries later. But it would have been impossible for the architect of Lund Cathedral to build something like the nearby Turning Torso. So the engineering in civil engineering has certainly "matured".
But where is software engineering failing? Everyone has heard of software projects running over time, over budget or have not been used as intended (or not used at all). But wait a minute! Exactly the same thing is common within civil engineering as well. There are many examples from a single contractor renovating a small house up to world known buildings such as the Sydney Opera House:
"The original cost estimate in 1957 was £3,500,000 ($7 million). The original completion date set by the government was 26 January 1963 (Australia Day). Thus, the project was completed ten years late and over-budget by more than fourteen times."So in this respect software engineering is as immature as other engineering disciplines.
So what is the fuss about? I agree that there is no consensus in the software community on how to do the equivalence of structural mechanics calculations or stress tests. Are we more hampered by this lack of consensus on how to do engineering tasks than by the difficulty to run large projects, which seem to be common to other engineering disciplines?