Engineer Identification Test

How to recognize a real Engineer

[Engineering is so trendy these days that everybody wants to be one. The word “engineer” is greatly overused. If there’s somebody who you think is trying to pass as an engineer, (1) review the “ENGINEER TRAITS” section; then (2) give him/her the “ENGINEER IDENTIFICATION TEST” to discern the truth…]


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 subjects.

To the engineer, all matter in the universe can be placed into one of two categories:
     * things that need to be fixed; and
     * 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 engineers, the world is a toy box full of sub-optimized and feature-poor toys.

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 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 virginity.
Male engineers reach their peak of sexual attractiveness later than normal men, becoming irresistible erotic dynamos in their mid thirties to late forties.
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 as follows:
     “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?”

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 as follows:
     * Hindenberg;
     * Space Shuttle Challenger;
     * Hubble space telescope;
     * Apollo 13;
     * Titanic;
     * Ford Pinto;
     * Corvair.
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 the project, then the engineer will fall back to a second line of defense: “It’s technically possible but it will cost too much.”

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 that is better than sex.
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.

Now you’re ready to give that suspected Engineer the test…


You walk into a room and notice that a picture is hanging crooked. You...
     A. Straighten it;
     B. Ignore it;
     C. 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 “C” 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 “Marketing.”

Engineering with fabric. - Jean Muir

See if he passed the literaracy test. - Archie Bunker

College is a refuge from hasty judgment. - Robert Frost

The engineering is secondary to the vision. - Cynthia Ozick

Pedestrian: a man whose son is home from college. - Unknown

Death and taxes are unsolved engineering problems. - Romana Machado

The first test of a truly great man is his humility. - John Ruskin

Often the test of courage is not to die, but to live. - Conte Vittorio Afieri

I'll take a drug test, if you'll take an IQ test. - Fritz Hollings

The best intelligence test is what we do with our leisure. - Laurence J. Peter

Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education. - Mark Twain

A college education shows a man how little other people know. - T.C. Hailburton

Texas is now a cornerstone of the electoral college for Republicans. - Ed Gillespie

Your best self shows up only when you are put to an impossible test. - Unknown

Success can test one's mettle as surely as the strongest adversary. - Unknown

A pretty good test of a man's religion is how it affects his pocketbook. - Francis James Grimke

You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test. - George W. Bush

The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching. - John Wooden

Scientists discover the world that exists; engineers create the world that never was. - Theodore von Karman

The college graduate is presented with a sheepskin to cover his intellectual nakedness. - Robert M. Hutchins

Genetic Engineering: A recent attempt to formalize what farmers have been doing all along. - Unknown

If you want to test your memory, try to recall what you were worrying about one year ago today. - E. Joseph Cossman

If a young person has any idealism at all, it's strongest about the time he finishes college. - Sargent Shriver

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power. - Abraham Lincoln

It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test. - Elbert Hubbard

The real test of your character is your treatment of those who can be of no possible service to you. - Unknown

One has to look out for engineers - they begin with sewing machines and end up with the atomic bomb. - Marcel Pagnol

The only reason they say 'Women and children first' is to test the strength of the lifeboats. - Jean Kerr

Here is a test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished: If you are alive, it isn't. - Richard Bach

Taxpayer - someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination. - Ronald Reagan

Not every puzzle is intended to be solved. Some are in place to test your limits. Others are, in fact, not puzzles at all. - Vera Nazarian

The Swedish engineer who invented the zip fastener made a greater intellectual leap than many scientists do in a lifetime. - Martin Rees

I think sleeping was my problem in school. If school had started at four in the afternoon, I'd be a college graduate today. - George Foreman

This, then, is the test we must set for ourselves; not to march alone but to march in such a way that others will wish to join us. - Hubert H. Humphrey

Camping is not a date; it's an endurance test. If you can survive camping with someone, you should marry them on the way home. - Yvonne Prinz

My son really has the spirit of Valentine's Day. When he was in college, he used to send his mother a heart-shaped box of laundry. - Milton Berle

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. - Corrie Ten Boom

Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find his right road. - Dag Hammarskjold

They submitted bills, and we paid them. Then we checked the engineering reports and found out that we had paid them far more than we owed them. - Donald Trump

I was thrown out of college during my freshman year, for cheating on my metaphysics final - I looked within the soul of the boy sitting next to me. - Woody Allen

see also   Engineer  Section
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