You walk into a room and notice that a picture is
hanging crooked. You...
Buy a CAD system and spend the next six months
designing a solar- powered, self-adjusting picture
frame while often stating aloud your belief that the
inventor of the nail was a total moron.
The correct answer is "3" but partial credit can be
given to anybody who writes "It depends" in the margin
of the test or simply blames the whole stupid thing on
Engineers have different objectives when it comes to
social interaction. "Normal" people expect to
accomplish several unrealistic things from social
interaction: Stimulating and thought-provoking
conversation Important social contacts A feeling of
connectedness with other humans In contrast to "normal"
people, engineers have rational objectives for social
interactions: Get it over with as soon as possible
Avoid getting invited to something unpleasant
Demonstrate mental superiority and mastery of all
FASCINATION WITH GADGETS
To the engineer, all matter in the universe can be
placed into one of two categories: (1) things that need
to be fixed, and (2) things that will need to be fixed
after you've had a few minutes to play with them.
Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no
problems handily available, they will create their own
problems. Normal people don't understand this concept;
they believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't
have enough features yet. No engineer looks at a
television remote control without wondering what it
would take to turn it into a stun gun. No engineer can
take a shower without wondering if some sort of Teflon
coating would make showering unnecessary. To the
engineer, the world is a toy box full of sub-optimized
and feature-poor toys.
FASHION AND APPEARANCE
Clothes are the lowest priority for an engineer,
assuming the basic thresholds for temperature and
decency have been satisfied. If no appendages are
freezing or sticking together, and if no genitalia or
mammary glands are swinging around in plain view, then
the objective of clothing has been met. Anything else
is a waste.
DATING AND SOCIAL LIFE
Dating is never easy for engineers. A normal person
will employ various indirect and duplicitous methods to
create a false impression of attractiveness. Engineers
are incapable of placing appearance above function.
Fortunately, engineers have an ace in the hole. They
are widely recognized as superior marriage material:
intelligent, dependable, employed, honest, and handy
around the house. While it's true that many normal
people would prefer not to date an engineer, most
normal people harbor an intense desire to mate with
them, thus producing engineer like children who will
have high-paying jobs long before losing their
Male engineers reach their peak of sexual
attractiveness later than normal men, becoming
irresistible erotic dynamos in their mid thirties to
late forties. Just look at these examples of sexually
irresistible men in technical professions:
Female engineers become irresistible at the age of
consent and remain that way until about thirty minutes
after their clinical death. Longer if it's a warm day.
Engineers are always honest in matters of technology
and human relationships. That's why it's a good idea to
keep engineers away from customers, romantic interests,
and other people who can't handle the truth.
Engineers sometimes bend the truth to avoid work. They
say things that sound like lies but technically are not
because nobody could be expected to believe them. The
complete list of engineer lies is listed below.
"I won't change anything without asking you first."
"I'll return your hard-to-find cable tomorrow." "I have
to have new equipment to do my job." "I'm not jealous
of your new computer."
Engineers are notoriously frugal. This is not because
of cheapness or mean spirit; it is simply because every
spending situation is simply a problem in optimization,
that is, "How can I escape this situation while
retaining the greatest amount of cash?"
POWERS OF CONCENTRATION
If there is one trait that best defines an engineer it
is the ability to concentrate on one subject to the
complete exclusion of everything else in the
environment. This sometimes causes engineers to be
pronounced dead prematurely. Some funeral homes in
high-tech areas have started checking resumes before
processing the bodies. Anybody with a degree in
electrical engineering or experience in computer
programming is propped up in the lounge for a few days
just to see if he or she snaps out of it.
Engineers hate risk. They try to eliminate it whenever
they can. This is understandable, given that when an
engineer makes one little mistake the media will treat
it like it's a big deal or something.
EXAMPLES OF BAD PRESS FOR ENGINEERS
Space Shuttle Challenger
Hubble space telescope
The risk/reward calculation for engineers looks
something like this:
RISK: Public humiliation and the death of thousands of
innocent people. REWARD: A certificate of appreciation
in a handsome plastic frame.
Being practical people, engineers evaluate this balance
of risks and rewards and decide that risk is not a good
thing. The best way to avoid risk is by advising that
any activity is technically impossible for reasons that
are far too complicated to explain.
If that approach is not sufficient to halt project,
then the engineer will fall back to a second line of
defense: "It's technically possible but it will cost
Ego-wise, two things are important to engineers: How
smart they are. How many cool devices they own. The
fastest way to get an engineer to solve a problem is to
declare that the problem is unsolvable. No engineer can
walk away from an unsolvable problem until it's solved.
No illness or distraction is sufficient to get the
engineer off the case. These types of challenges
quickly become personal --a battle between the engineer
and the laws of nature.
Engineers will go without food and hygiene for days to
solve a problem. (Other times just because they
forgot.) And when they succeed in solving the problem
they will experience an ego rush that is better than
sex -- and I'm including the kind of sex where other
people are involved.
Nothing is more threatening to the engineer than the
suggestion that somebody has more technical skill.
Normal people sometimes use that knowledge as a lever
to extract more work from the engineer. When an
engineer says that something can't be done (a code
phrase that means it's not fun to do), some clever
normal people have learned to glance at the engineer
with a look of compassion and pity and say something
along these lines: "I'll ask Bob to figure it out. He
knows how to solve difficult technical problems."
At that point it is a good idea for the normal person
to not stand between the engineer and the problem. The
engineer will set upon the problem like a starved
Chihuahua on a pork chop.