I wish the engineering world worked as you described. And yes, I am an engineer (Master's in geological engineering, and my PE/P.Eng thank you very much).
The sad truth is that there is a hell of lot of engineering time spent on mundane work that can and should be automated away --most of my life was spent pushing around columns in excel, hunting down typos, and debugging god awful analyses written in excel. I jokingly refer to heavy infrastructure engineering (I did landslides, soils, mines, tunnels, rail, etc.) as the place where technology goes to die.
Most of the clients demand cost-reimbursable billed hour contracts, so it's also where efficiency goes to die. Better to have a junior engineer spend 4 weeks pushing data around and billing it out than optimizing that task so the engineer can spend their 'guru time' thinking about concrete loadings, failure modes, gaps in the design. I picked up a lot of fortran, R, python, and even lisp on the job working on automating the garbage tasks that took up 75% of my time so I could spend more time/budget on actual important design implementation issues (so I could sleep easy at night when I stamped designs). Saving 5-10% budget was appreciated (we can win more contracts!) but figuring out how to do something 2x, 3x, 4x as fast was not ("We won't make any money because we aren't billing enough hours!").
This is why I'm back at school doing a Master's in statistics/machine learning --couldn't handle the amount of BS tasks that should have been automated away keeping me away from the interesting and challenging parts of my job, with no improvements in sight. I do not miss nightmares analyses (for an earthquake soils design of an LNG plant) spread across _3,000_ excel sheets and 60+ directories, combining the output of multiple different versions of garbage software run by different teams in different countries. Oh god. Doing the quality control on that? Nope. Nope. Nope. That was two months of my life I'm not getting back. And this was with a well known, highly reputable design firm!