I, too, have struggled with the “engineer” title. Having a BA in math, and no academic engineering training, I never considered myself an engineer. However, I have held embedded software engineer jobs for years and have been given that title on various business cards by my employers.
Although Oregon also has laws about using the title without passing the professional engineer's exams, I have not made the effort to correct my employers. Why not? Because that title is the most apt description of what I do. Having some other title while working with other software engineers would not give me the respect and (accompanying pay) that I deserve. I don't pretend to know how to evaluate stresses on bridges, but I can hold my own with any BSEE who designs embedded software. I know more about hardware than non-embedded programmers and I do software designs from scratch. I do not call myself an “engineer” without the qualifying “software”. Better yet, I refer to myself as an “embedded software engineer,” although that is awfully wordy and demands explanation at your average cocktail party. I will continue to refer to myself this way until some alternate title gains usage and respect.
As for the value of a “broad education,” I believe my education was just as broad as a BSEE's although in different areas. My education in the liberal arts helped me become stronger in a whole range of people skills ranging from written and verbal communication to creativity to empathy for other people's personalities and cultural differences. Frankly, I'd like to see a lot more engineers become more skilled in these “soft” arts.
Sr. Embedded Software Engineer
Clarity Visual Systems, Inc