This study investigated the views of the nature of engineering held by 6th-grade students to provide a baseline upon which activities or curriculum materials might be developed to introduce middle-school students to the work of engineers and the process of engineering design. A phenomenographic framework was used to guide the analysis of data collected from: (1) a series of 20 semi-structured interviews with 6th-grade students, (2) drawings created by these students of "an engineer or engineers at work" that were discussed during the interviews, and (3) field notes collected by the researchers during the interviews. The 6th-grade students tended to believe that engineers were individuals who make or build products, although some students understood the role of engineers in the design or planning of products, and, to a lesser extent in testing products to ensure that they "work" and/or are safe to use. The combination of drawings of "engineers or engineering at work" and individual interviews provided more insight into the students' views of the nature of engineering than either source of data would have offered on its own. Analysis of the data suggested that the students' concepts of engineers and engineering were fragile, or unstable, and likely to change within the time frame of the interview.