As physics students at the liberal University of Cape Town in apartheid-era South Africa, we looked down on engineering students. They had a reputation for being raucous and reactionary; worse, they took the easier physics courses in which you learned more about rules rather than explanations.
Therefore, when I first heard the words “financial engineering” in connection with the founding of the International Association of Financial Engineers in 1992, I disliked the moniker. I had been on Wall Street since 1985, and the few available textbooks – Cox & Rubinstein’s Options Markets and Jarrow & Rudd’s Option Pricing – didn’t resemble engineering books at all. I much preferred to think of what we practitioners did each day as science. But inappropriate though I thought it was, the term stuck.