| Engineers Explained:||[ back to top ]|
People who work in the fields of science and technology are not like other people. This can be frustrating to the non-technical people who have to deal with them. The secret to coping with technology-oriented people is to understand their motivations. The following will teach you everything you need to know. Their customs and mannerisms can be learned by observing them, much the way Jane Goodall learned about the great apes, but without the hassle of grooming.
ENGINEER IDENTIFICATION TEST
Engineering is so trendy these days that everybody wants to be one. The word "engineer" is greatly overused. If there's somebody in your life who you think is trying to pass as an engineer, give this test to discern the truth.
You walk into a room and notice that a picture is crooked; you...
Engineers have different objectives when it comes to social interaction. "Normal" people expect to accomplish several unrealistic things from social interaction:
In contrast to "normal" people, engineers have rational objectives for social interactions:
FASCINATION WITH GADGETS
To the engineer, all matter in the universe can be placed into one of two categories:
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 private parts are exposed, then the objective of clothing has been met. Anything else is a waste.
LOVE OF "STAR TREK"
Engineers love all of the "Star Trek" television shows and movies. It's a small wonder, since the engineers on the Starship Enterprise are portrayed as heroes. This is much more glamorous than the real life of an engineer, which consists of hiding from the universe.
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 others do.
Male engineers reach their peak of attractiveness later than normal men, becoming irresistible dynamos in their mid thirties to late forties. Just look at the examples of irresistible men in technical professions: Bill Gates or MacGyver. Female engineers become irresistible at the age of consent and remain that way until their clinical death.
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.
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
The Hindenberg, the Space Shuttle Challenger, the Hubbell space telescope, Apollo 13, Titanic, the Ford Pinto, the Corvair ...
The risk/reward calculation for engineers looks something like this:
Ego-wise, two things are important to engineers: how smart they are and 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.
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.
| Comprehending Engineers:||[ back to top ]|
Comprehending Engineers -- Take One
An architect, an artist and an engineer were discussing whether it was better to spend time with the wife or a mistress. The architect said he enjoyed time with his wife, building a solid foundation for an enduring relationship. The artist said he enjoyed time with his mistress, because of the passion and mystery he found there. The engineer said, "I like both. If you have a wife and a mistress, they will each assume you are spending time with the other woman, and you can go to the plant and get some work done."
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Two
Q: What is the difference between Mechanical Engineers and Civil Engineers?
A: Mechanical Engineers build weapons; Civil Engineers build targets.
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Three
The graduate with a Science degree asks, "Why does it work?"
The graduate with an Engineering degree asks, "How does it work?"
The graduate with an Accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"
The graduate with a Liberal Arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with your Big Mac?"
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Four
To the optimist, the glass is half full.
To the pessimist, the glass is half empty.
To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Five
Three lawyers and three engineers are traveling by train to a conference. At the station, the three lawyers each buy tickets and watch as the three engineers buy only a single ticket. One of the three lawyers asked: "How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?" "Watch and you'll see," answers one of the engineers.
They all board the train. The lawyers take their respective seats but all three engineers cram into a restroom and close the door behind them. Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the restroom door and says, "Ticket, please."
The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on. The lawyers saw this and agreed it was quite a clever idea. So after the conference, the lawyers decide to copy the engineers on the return trip and save some money. When they get to the station, they buy a single ticket for the return trip. To their astonishment, the engineers don't buy a ticket at all. "How are you going to travel without a ticket," asks one perplexed lawyer. "Watch and you'll see," says one of the engineers.
When they board the train, the three lawyers cram into a restroom and the three engineers cram into another one nearby. The train departs.
Shortly afterward, one of the engineers leaves his restroom and walks over to the restroom where the lawyers are hiding. He knocks on the door and says, "Ticket, please."
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Six
An engineering student was walking across campus when another engineer rides up on a shiny new motorcycle. "Where did you get such a rockin' bike?" asked the first engineer. The second engineer replied, "Well, I was walking along yesterday minding my own business, when a beautiful girl rode up on this bike. She threw the bike to the ground, took off all her clothes, and said, 'Take what you want.'" The first engineer nodded approvingly. "Good choice! The clothes probably wouldn't have fit."
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Seven
Q: What is the definition of an engineer?
A: Someone who solves a problem you didn't know you had, in a way you don't understand.
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Eight
Q: When does someone decide to become an engineer?
A: When he realizes he doesn't have the charisma to succeed as an undertaker.
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Nine
Q: What do engineers use for birth control?
A: Their personalities.
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Ten
Q: How can you tell an extroverted engineer?
A: He looks at your shoes when he's talking to you, rather than his own.
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Eleven
Q: Why did the engineers cross the road?
A: Because they looked in the file, and that is what they did last year.
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Twelve
Q: How do you drive an engineer completely insane?
A: Tie him to a chair, stand in front of him and fold a road map the wrong way.
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Thirteen
An engineer dies and reports to the pearly gates. St. Peter checks his dossier and says, "Ah, you're an engineer -- you're in the wrong place." So the engineer reports to the gates of hell and is let in. Pretty soon, the engineer gets dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell, and starts designing and building improvements. After a while, they've got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and the engineer is a pretty popular guy.
One day, God calls Satan up on the telephone and says with a sneer, "So, how's it going down there in hell?" Satan replies, "Hey, things are going great. We've got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and there's no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next."
God replies, "What??? You've got an engineer? That's a mistake -- he should never have gotten down there; send him up here." Satan says, "No way. I like having an engineer on the staff, and I'm keeping him. God says, "Send him back up here or I'll sue." Satan laughs uproariously and answers, "Yeah, right. And just where are YOU going to get a lawyer?"
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Fourteen
There are three engineers in a car; an electrical engineer, a chemical engineer and a Microsoft engineer. Suddenly the car just stops by the side of the road, and the 3 engineers look at each other wondering what could be wrong. The electrical engineer suggests stripping down the electronics of the car and trying to trace where a fault might have occurred. The chemical engineeer, not knowing much about cars, suggests that maybe the fuel is becoming emulsified and getting blocked somewhere. Then, the Microsoft engineer, not knowing much about anything, comes up with a suggestion, "Why don't we close all the windows, get out, get back in, open the windows again, and maybe it'll work!?"
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Fifteen
A woman in a hot air balloon realized she was lost. She reduced altitude and spotted a man below. She descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."
The man below replied, "You're in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You're between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude." "You must be an engineer," said the balloonist. "I am," replied the man, "How did you know?"
"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I've no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help at all. If anything, you've delayed my trip." The man below responded, "You must be in Management." "I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?"
"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you're going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you've no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it's my fault."
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Sixteen
A man was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. The frog spoke up again and said, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week." The man took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to the pocket. The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess I'll stay with you and do ANYTHING you want." Again, the man took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket. Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess, that I'll stay with you and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?" The man said, "Look, I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is cool."
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Seventeen
A priest, a doctor and an engineer were waiting one morning for a particularly slow group of golfers. The engineer says: "What's with these guys? We must have been waiting for 15 minutes!" The Doctor replies: "I don't know, but I've never seen such ineptitude!" And the priest adds: "Hey, here comes the greens keeper. Let's have a word with him."
The priest asks the greenskeeper: "Say, George, what's with that group ahead of us? They're rather slow, aren't they?" George replies: "Oh, yes, that's a group of blind firefighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free anytime."
The group was silent for a moment, then the priest says: "That's so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight." The doctor adds: "Good idea. And I'm going to contact my ophthalmologist buddy and see if there's anything he can do for them." Finally, the engineer asks: "Why can't these guys play at night?"
Comprehending Engineers -- Take Eighteen
Three engineering students were gathered together discussing the possible designers of the human body. One said, "It was a mechanical engineer." Just look at all the joints." Another said, "No, it was an electrical engineer. The nervous system has many thousands of electrical connections." The last one said, "Actually it was a civil engineer. Who else would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational area?"
| Letter from MIT:||[ back to top ]|
Letter from MIT... and Response
From many web sites and e-mails...
From one John Mongan: "MIT certainly has a reputation to be proud
of, but its admissions department went
a little over-board, I think. I actually received this letter, and actually mailed the following (original) response."
April 18, 1994
Mr. John T. Mongan
You've got the grades. You've certainly got the PSAT scores. And now you've got a letter from MIT. Maybe you're surprised. Most students would be.
But you're not most students. And that's exactly why I urge you to consider carefully one of the most selective universities in America.
The level of potential reflected in your performance is a powerful indicator that you might well be an excellent candidate for MIT. It certainly got my attention!
Engineering's not for you? No problem. It may surprise you to learn we offer more than 40 major fields of study, from architecture to brain and cognitive sciences, from economics (perhaps the best program in the country) to writing.
What? Of course, you don't want to be bored. Who does? Life here *is* tough *and* demanding, but it's also *fun*. MIT students are imaginative and creative - inside and outside the classroom.
You're interested in athletics? Great! MIT has more varsity teams - 39 - than almost any other university, and a tremendous intramural program so everybody can participate.
You think we're too expensive? Don't be too sure. We've got surprises for you there, too.
Why not send the enclosed Information Request to find out more about this unique institution? Why not do it right now?
Michael C. Benhke
P.S. If you'd like a copy of a fun-filled, fact-filled brochure, "Insight," just check the appropriate box on the form.
May 5, 1994
Michael C. Behnke
You've got the reputation. You've certainly got the pomposity. And now you've got a letter from John Mongan. Maybe you're surprised. Most universities would be.
But you're not most universities. And that's exactly why I urge you to carefully consider one of the most selective students in America, so selective that he will choose only *one* of the thousands of accredited universities in the country.
The level of pomposity and lack of tact reflected in your letter is a powerful indicator that your august institution might well be a possibility for John Mongan's future education. It certainly got my attention!
Don't want Bio-Chem students? No problem. It may surprise you to learn that my interests cover over 400 fields of study, from semantics to limnology, from object-oriented programming (perhaps one of the youngest professionals in the country) to classical piano.
What? Of course you don't want egotistical jerks. Who does? I *am* self indulgent *and* over confident, but I'm also amusing. John Mongan is funny and amusing - whether you're laughing with him or at him.
You're interested in athletes? Great! John Mongan has played more sports - 47 - than almost any other student, including oddball favorites such as Orienteering.
You think I can pay for your school? Don't be too sure. I've got surprises for you there, too.
Why not send a guaranteed admission and full scholarship to increase your chance of being selected by John Mongan? Why not do it right now?
P.S. If you'd like a copy of a fun-filled, fact-filled brochure, "John Mongan:What a Guy!" just ask.
|Tim Rickard's "Brewster Rockit"|
"I want to die like my father, peacefully in his sleep,
not screaming and terrified, like his passengers."
| Engineering Humor||[ back to top ]|