17 Busted Funny Myths About Engineers

Engineers carry with them a particular reputation. We take a more in-depth look at common myths about engineers and bring you the truth.
Jessica Miley
Are the myths about engineers really true?1,2

Engineers cop a lot of slack for being boring, uncreative and uptight.  But the engineers we know are far from these typical stereotypes. Read on as we bust the funniest myths about engineers.

1. They are not ‘creative’

Santiago calatravo proves engineers are creative.
Source: Pixabay

While it is important for engineers to get to the best solution as efficiently as possible. The work of Santiago Calatrava proves that the final design can also be beautiful. The Spanish architect and engineer is famous for his buildings and bridges that take engineering to a whole new creative level.

2. They love math

Einstein said ideas might be more important than math skills
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Well, of course, they do.  But most good engineers will be suspicious of someone that is overly confident in just hard mathematics. Einstein was famously quoted as saying, "The mere formulation of a problem is far more often essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science."

3. They are super nerdy and can’t make friends

Group work is hard, but essential
Source: Pxhere

Forget the old joke: Q: How do you know if an engineer is outgoing and gregarious? A: He looks at your shoes rather than his own! A new generation of engineers is shrugging off the old stereotype of being shy and awkward and are focussing on collaborative thinking and work practices. 

While the idea of a group project still spooks a lot of early engineering students, they soon realize to succeed as an engineer you have to be able to communicate complex ideas to laypeople and that you are more likely to get your ideas across if you can make at least a little bit of small talk.

4. They are all Star Trek fans

Star Trek engineers are like gods
Source: GerladFord/Flickr

This one is a little hard to dispel considering that the engineers on the starship Enterprise are portrayed as heroes, occasionally even having sex with aliens. This is obviously a slightly more glamorous life than a regular engineer.  We'll let them have this one. 

 5. They only hang out with other engineers

Engineers can find it hard to be social
Source: Biswarup Ganguly/Wikipedia Commons

While we all like to hang out with people with similar interests it only takes reading this moving obituary of Google Engineer Dan Fredinburg by Jesse Katz to see what huge influence engineers can have on people and the world.

 6. They are rigid pragmatists

Not all engineers want to play by the rules.
Source: teamlambchop/Twitter

In a discipline that is defined by rules and structures, being a pragmatist comes par for the course. However, don't get the idea that engineers aren't ready to break the rules for a bit of fun or creativity. 

7. They are obsessed with fixing things

Engineers make the best camping buddies
Source: Imgur

Why is this a bad thing? Engineers make the best housemates and neighbors. Even if they don't really know what they are doing, they are ready to go give it a go, as demonstrated by this brilliant list of do-it-yourself projects completed by ambitious engineers. 

8. They will try and explain everything to you

explaining engineer
Source:  Peter Thoeny/Flickr

While this might be a bad thing, dating advice columnists believe dating an engineer will get yo a partner that is ready to really examine your relationship and find positive solutions to your problems. While no-one wants to date a know-it-all, engineers usually have pretty specific knowledge so you likely learn a lot too.  

9. Engineers are unhealthily obsessed with the Big Bang Theory

The Big bang Theory is essential watching for engineers
Source: BagoGames/Flickr

The Big Bang Theory is an American sitcom based around the lives of a group of young, superintelligent engineers and scientists. Despite its rocky start in the ratings, the show has continued onto to be in its 12th season.  The initially no-name actors now pull close to a 1 million USD per episode likely largely thanks to the avid fandom engineers have for the show. The show is much loved by the engineering and science community for its portrayal of the hyper-nerdy group of friends. While we can't comment on if this obsession is unhealthy we totally understand the draw in watching a show that makes jokes about physics funny.

10. Engineers don’t have a sense of humor 

11. They hate to be wrong

Who does like being wrong?
Source: Amazon

No-one likes to be wrong, but engineers have a certain reputation for really hating to be wrong. Though if this brilliant t-shirt is anything to go by, it is probably just a case of bad data. 

12. They don’t care about nature

Engineers are often inspired by nature
Source: Wikimedia Commons

The uninformed might say that engineers are just results orientated without caring what is in the way. But those in the know that engineers not only care deeply for the environment, but they are also inspired by it. Take the Japanese Shinkansen or bullet train.  Engineers took inspiration from the bill of the kingfisher bird who dives into the water without making a splash.  

The kingfisher inspired the Japanese bullet trains
Source: Pixabay

13. Engineer students don’t party

A quick google of engineering students parties will dispel this myth But there isn't a better example than the invention of the Turbo Tap by University of Wisconsin-Madison engineering student Matt Younkle in 1995. While waiting in line for a beer, Younkle was frustrated by how slow the standard tap filled the glass. Enter the Turbo tap a device that uses laminar flow to fill a pint in under 4 seconds. 

14. They are stingy

Engineers share their skills around the globe
Source: Student Design and Experimental Learning Centre/Flickr

Engineers have a reputation for overcharging and overdesigning. But while there are bad guys in every industry many engineers are generous with their time and are dedicated to getting the projects done in the best possible manner. 

This is particularly true of engineers who volunteer with Engineers Without Borders (EWB). EWB groups work in developing countries or disadvantaged communities to assist with engineering projects.

15. They just give output to your inputs

Engineers want to be part of the solution
Source: Pxhere

Engineers are solution orientated, but they also often have a holistic approach to problems which makes them potentially great leaders.  So despite the myth that they only care about outputs, engineers are often more willing to look at the big picture to get there, which according to Business Insider means they have the potential to be great leaders.

16. They have no musical talent

After hearing the late great Paul Allen shred his guitar like Hendrix, there will be no question that engineers don't have musical talent.  Allen, who sadly passed away this year was such a music fan that he set up the Experience Music Project in Seattle now called the Museum of Pop Culture, a museum dedicated to the history of rock music with a focus on one of Allen's favorite musicians Jimi Hendrix. 

17. They only care about solutions

Good engineers care about others and their clients
Source: Link Humans/Flickr

When big companies hire new engineers skills matter, but something else often trumps diplomas and certificates. Empathy and care.  Good engineers care and not only about solutions. An engineer that cares about his teammates, the client and the overall working process is far more likely to succeed in their career and risk through the ranks, than an engineer solely focussed on the hard solutions.


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