IEEE IEEE Home Search IEEE Shop Web Account Contact IEEE
Membership Publications/Services Services Standards Conferences Careers/Jobs

Engineers at Work & Play

Engineer (definition)
An Engineer, A Physicist, and A Mathematician
Questions Asked by Holders of Different Degrees
Viewpoints re: Equations
Engineer Facts
The Genie & the Engineer
The Engineer and the Balloonist
The Engineer and the Guillotine
You might be an engineer if:
The World’s Top 25 Shortest Books
What Engineers Believe
A Visit to the Zoo
Engineers & Managers
The Tech Writer and the Engineers
An Engineer in Hades

Engineer (definition)

An engineer is a person who passes as an exciting technical expert on the basis of being able to turn out with prolific fortitude, infinite strings of incomprehensive estimates calculated with microscopic precision from vague assumptions and debatable figures taken from inconclusive data obtained with recording devices of problematical accuracy by uninformed persons of doubtful reliability and questionable mentality.

An Engineer, A Physicist, and A Mathematician

An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are shown a pasture with a herd of sheep, and told to put them inside the smallest possible amount of fence.

The engineer is first. He herds the sheep into a circle and then puts the fence around them, declaring, "A circle will use the least fence for a given area, so this is the best solution."

The physicist is next. She creates a circular fence of infinite radius around the sheep, and then draws the fence tight around the herd, declaring, "This will give the smallest circular fence around the herd."

The mathematician is last. After giving the problem a little thought, he puts a small fence around himself and then declares, "I define myself to be on the outside!"

Questions Asked by Holders of Different Degrees

The graduate with a Science degree asks, "Why does it do that?"
The graduate with an Engineering degree asks, "How does it do that?"
The graduate with an Economics degree asks, "How much will that cost?"
The graduate with a Liberal Arts degree asks, "Would you like fries with that?"

Viewpoints re: Equations

Engineers think that equations approximate the real world.
Scientists think that the real world approximates equations.
Mathematicians are unable to make the connection.

Engineer Facts

Q: When does a person decide to become an engineer?
A: When he realizes he doesn’t have the charisma to be an undertaker.

Q: What do engineers use for birth control?
A: Their personalities.

Q: How can you tell an extroverted engineer?
A: When he talks to you, he looks at your shoes instead of his own.

Q: Why did the engineers cross the road?
A: Because they looked in the file and that’s what they did last year.

Q: How do you drive an engineer completely insane?
A: Tie him to a chair, stand in front of him, and fold up a road map the wrong way.

The Genie & the Engineer

Three guys – a Canadian farmer, Osama bin Laden, and a Civil Engineer are walking together one day. They find a strange lantern; rub it, and a Genie pops out of it.

"For freeing me, I will give each of you one wish, which is three wishes total," says the Genie.

The Canadian says, "I am a farmer, my dad was a farmer, and my son will also be a farmer. I want the land to be forever fertile in Canada." Pooooof! With the blink of the Genie’s eye, the land in Canada was forever made fertile for farming.

Osama bin Laden was amazed, so he said, "I want a wall around Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran so that no infidels, Jews or Americans can come into our precious state." Pooooof! Again, with the blink of the Genie’s eye, there was a huge wall around those countries.

The Engineer says, "Before I make my wish, I am very curious. Please tell me more about this wall."

The Genie explains, "Well, it’s about 5000 feet high, 500 feet thick and completely surrounds the country. Nothing can get in or out – it’s virtually impenetrable."

The engineer says, "Fill it with water."

The Engineer and the Balloonist

A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts, "Excuse me. Can you help me? I promised my friend I would meet him half an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am." The man below says, "Yes. You are in a hot air balloon, hovering approximately 30 feet above this field. You are between 40 and 42 degrees N. latitude, and between 58 and 60 degrees W. longitude."

"You must be an engineer," says the balloonist. "I am," replies the man. "How did you know?" "Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost."

The man below says, "You must be a manager." "I am," replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?" "Well," says the man below, "you don’t know where you are, or where you are going. You have made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now it is somehow my fault."

The Engineer and the Guillotine

During the French Revolution, a priest, a drunkard, and an engineer were to be executed using the guillotine. They ask the priest if he wants to face up or down when he meets his fate. The priest says that he would like to face up so he will be looking toward heaven when he dies. They raise the blade of the guillotine, release it, it comes speeding down and suddenly stops just inches from his neck. The authorities take this as divine intervention and release the priest.

Next the drunkard comes to the guillotine. He also decides to die face up hoping that he will be as fortunate as the priest. They raise the blade of the guillotine, release it, it comes speeding down and suddenly stops just inches from his neck. So they release the drunkard as well.

The engineer is next. He too decides to die facing up. They slowly raise the blade of the guillotine, when suddenly the engineer says: "Hey, I see what your problem is!"

You might be an engineer if:


A truck driver hauling a tractor-trailer load of computers stops for a beer. As he approaches the bar he sees a big sign on the door saying "NERDS NOT ALLOWED ‑ ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK!" He goes in and sits down. The bartender comes over to him, sniffs, says he smells kind of nerdy, and asks him what he does for a living. The truck driver says he drives a truck, and the smell is just from the computers he is hauling. The bartender says OK, truck drivers are not nerds, and serves him a beer.

As he is sipping his beer, a skinny guy walks in with tape around his glasses, a pocket protector with twelve kinds of pens and pencils, and a belt at least a foot too long. The bartender, without saying a word, pulls out a shotgun and blows the guy away. The truck driver asks him why he did that. The bartender said not to worry, the nerds are over-populating Silicon Valley, and are in season now. You don’t even need a license, he said.

So the truck driver finishes his beer, gets back in his truck, and heads back onto the freeway. Suddenly he veers to avoid an accident, and the load shifts. The back door breaks open and computers spill out all over the freeway. He jumps out and sees a crowd already forming, grabbing up the computers. They are all engineers, accountants and programmers, wearing the nerdiest clothes he has ever seen. He can’t let them steal his whole load.

So remembering what happened in the bar, he pulls out his gun and starts blasting away, felling several of them instantly. A highway patrol officer comes zooming up and jumps out of the car screaming at him to stop. The truck driver said, "What’s wrong? I thought nerds were in season."

"Well, sure." said the patrolman, "But you can’t bait ‘em."

The World’s Top 25 Shortest Books (excerpted):

24. The Engineer’s Guide To Fashion
22. The Difference Between Reality and Dilbert
12. Easy UNIX

What Engineers Believe

Normal people 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.

      —Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle

A Visit to the Zoo

A group of gifted first-graders were on a field trip to the zoo.  The teacher decided to see how much they already knew by asking them to identify some of the animals.

First they came to the marine mammal exhibit. Jamie said, "I see seals!!"  "And how did you know, Jamie?"  "My daddy is a marine biologist and he told me that seals have shiny fur, big eyes, flippers and whiskers."

Later they visited the American exhibit.  Billy called out "Prairie dogs!!!"  "How did you know?"  My mommy is a scientist for National Geographic and she showed me how they look like great big squirrels and they live in the ground and build tunnels and make lots of yipping sounds and even kiss - YUCK!"

Finally they came to the African animal exhibit where where there was a cage with some large mandrills squawking to each other. Bobby started shouting "ENGINEERS!! ENGINEERS!!"  "Bobby, that doesn't make any sense. What do you mean?"  "My daddy's an engineer, and he's always hunched over, has red eyes, talks in words I can't understand, and complains he has calluses on his behind!"

Engineers & Managers

A software engineer, a hardware engineer, and a department manager were on their way to a convention. They were driving down a steep mountain road when suddenly the brakes on their car failed. The car careened almost out of control down the road, bouncing off the crash barriers, until it miraculously ground to a halt scraping along the mountainside. The car's occupants, shaken but unhurt, now had a problem: they were stuck halfway down a mountain in a car with no brakes. What were they to do?

"I know," said the department manager, "Let's have a meeting, propose a Vision, formulate a Mission Statement, define some Goals, and by a process of Continuous Improvement find a solution to the Critical Problems, and we can be on our way."

"No, no," said the hardware engineer, "I've got my Swiss Army knife with me.
In no time at all I can strip down the car's braking system, isolate the fault, fix it, and we can be on our way."

"Wait a minute," said the software engineer. "Before we do anything, I think we should push the car back up the road and see if it happens again."

The Tech Writer and the Engineers

A tech writer dies and arrives in Hell, where Satan growls, "I gotta escort these other sinners into the pit, lady. Take a look behind doors 1 and 2 to see which you prefer."

Terrified, the tech writer peeks behind Door 1 and sees a tech writer agonizingly formatting 12 million lines of documentation on a flaming computer. Aghast, she peeks behind Door 2 and sees a tech writer writing 23 million manuals on a mountain of screen captures written by a shrill, egomaniacal programmer who shrieks at every line.

In despair, she looks behind a third door and sees another tech writer like herself, chairing a never-ending meeting, munching bonbons, surrounded by fresh-faced admiring engineers sucking up to her with gifts of flowers, fresh fruit and fine wines and telling her she's a documentation genius.

Satan returns and asks, "Well, which door, 1 or 2?"

The tech writer says, "I'd like Door 3, please."

"You can't have Door 3," Satan says. "That's Engineer's Hell."

An Engineer in Hades

An engineer dies and reports to the pearly gates. St. Peter checks his book 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, "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?"

[So, it's actually a lawyer joke, but it involves an engineer]

Copyright © 2005 - Institute for Electrical and Electronic Engineers & Mountain View Product Marketing, Inc.
Created by Mountain View Product Marketing, Inc.   Hosted by
Valid HTML 4.01! Valid CSS!