Engineers – We are the Odd Men Out

I have been fascinated since the day my Elder brother introduced me to the World of Dilbert.

I am including in this post some of the best lines from Scott Adams’ Book:  “The Dilbert Principle”.

The lines are from Chapter 14 – Engineers, Scientists, Programmers and other Odd People

Here we go:

People who work in the field 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 them is to understand their motivations.

Engineering is so trendy these days that everybody wants to be one. If there is somebody in your life who you think is trying to pass an engineer, give him/her this test to discern the truth.

ENGINEER IDENTIFICATION 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.

…My contribution to the understanding of engineers will be to try to explain the noble, well-reasoned motives behind what the so-called normal people perceive as odd behaviors.

The Most Common Engineering traits:

Social Skills

“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, 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

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. Normal people don’t understand this concept; they believe that if ain’t broken, don’t fix it. Engineers believe that if ain’t broken, it doesn’t have enough features yet.

Fashion and Appearance

Clothes are the lowest priority for an engineer, assuming the basic thresholds for temperature and decency have been satisfied. Anything else is a waste. If you think about it logically, you are the only person who doesn’t have to look at yourself, not counting the brief moments you look in the mirror. Engineers understand that their appearance only bothers other people and therefore its not worth optimizing.

Honesty

For humans, honesty is a matter of degree. Engineers are always honest in matter of technology and relationships. Engineers sometimes bend the truth to avoid work. But thanks to the concept of “common usage” this is not technically dishonest in the modern workplace. 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.”

Explaining Engineering

Most people don’t know what it means to be an Engineer. There are many types of Engineers and they do man fascinating things during the work-day. However, the excitement and pure adrenaline rush of the engineer’s life id sometimes lost when it is explained to other people.

Powers of Concentration

I 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.

Risk

Engineers hate risk. They try to eliminate it whenever they can. The best way to avoid risk is be advising that any activity is technically impossible for reasons that are far too complicated to explain. If that  approach is not sufficient to halt a project, then the engineer will fall back to a second line of defense: “It’s technically possible but it will cost too much.”

Ego

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 type 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.)

Nothing is more threatening to the engineer than the suggestion that somebody else has more technical skill. When an Engineer says that something can’t be dome (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 to not stand between the engineer and the problem. The engineer will set upon the problem liked a starved Chihuahua on a pork chop.

An engineer who is surrounded by machines is never lonely and never judged by appearance. These are friends. So it should be no surprise that engineers invest much of their ego in what kind of “friends” they have.

_________________________________________________________________________

That’s the end of the story. Engineer is born and later refined to be called one. They stand out in public. That’s why may be they are outstanding. 😉

P.S. : I have assignments to complete right now. So, I will include some comic strips from Dilbert in the next post.


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4 thoughts on “Engineers – We are the Odd Men Out

  1. “ENGINEER IDENTIFICATION TEST”
    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,
    Fascination with Gadgets,
    Engineers understand that their appearance only bothers other people and therefore its not worth optimizing.
    An engineer who is surrounded by machines is never lonely and never judged by appearance. These are friends. So it should be no surprise that engineers invest much of their ego in what kind of “friends” they have.
    Engineers hate risk. They try to eliminate it whenever they can.

    These are some words from your post , I liked the most. 🙂

  2. In contrast, 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

    And the looks one, I do accept it!! I liked the most 🙂

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