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Engineers Are Funny

Engineers Are Funny

I was looking at some old copies of my Editor’s Viewpoint (editorials) and came across this one from 2002 that is still relevant. Paraphrasing the old TV program “People are Funny,” this could be called “Engineers are Funny, too.”

There are times when engineers are misunderstood. And, there are times when we feel like Rodney Dangerfield because we get no respect. Some people think we're nerds. Others think we’re just a little weird.

I think that part of the reason many people wonder about engineers is that our training has taught us to be curious, methodical, and perfectionists. To this end, we've developed formulas for just about everything. All we need is a book of formulas (or should I say formulae) and we can solve any engineering problem.

In these unsure times we should replace the book of formulas with a book of engineer jokes. We have to learn how to laugh at ourselves. To get the ball rolling, we have collected several jokes that really describe what an engineer is like. Here they are:

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.

This one compares mechanical and civil engineers:

Question: What's the difference between Mechanical Engineers and Civil Engineers?

Answer: Mechanical Engineers build weapons and Civil Engineers build targets.

This proves that engineers are really smarter than the average person: 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 Liberal Arts graduate asks, “Do you want fries with that?”

This one points out that power electronics engineers appreciate designing sophisticated systems: Normal people believe that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Power electronics engineers believe that if it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

Then, there is the story about an engineer who was a good troubleshooter and had an exceptional gift for fixing mechanical things. He retired after 30 years. Several years later his old company was having problems with one of its systems. They tried everything they could think of, but nothing worked.

In desperation, they called the retired engineer to see if he could fix the problem. After studying the machine for a day, he marked a small “x” in chalk on one of system’s components. “This is where your problem is.” The part was replaced and the machine worked perfectly. He billed the company $50,000 for his service. The company demanded an itemized accounting for his engineering services.

The retired engineer responded:

One chalk mark…………………….….$1.00

Knowing where to put it…………$49,999.00


It was paid in full and the engineer retired for the second time.

Marketing and engineering have always had trouble understanding each other. For example, an engineer was leaving the office late one evening when he saw the marketing manager standing in front of a shredder with a piece of paper in his hand.

“Listen,” said the marketing manager, “this is a very sensitive and important document here, and my secretary has gone for the night. Can you make this thing work?”

“Certainly,” said the engineer. He turned the machine on, inserted the paper, and pressed the start button.

“Excellent!” said the marketing manager as his paper disappeared inside the machine, never to be seen again. “I just need one copy.”

Reliability is part our life: The marketing manager asks, “How many engineers does it take to replace a light bulb?” The engineer answers, “None, the darn thing should not have failed anyway. My MTBF calculations said it would last 25 years.”

Then, there's that old saying: I used to wish I was an engineer, and now I are one.

We've been the brunt of jokes for many years, yet we continue to design, develop and produce electronic systems that perform jobs that were never imagined even 100 years ago. However, we can still laugh at ourselves.

We would like to ask our readers to e-mail their favorite engineer jokes to [email protected]. Please keep them clean and avoid jokes related to politics, religion, and other controversial topics. If we get enough jokes, we'll post them on the Power Electronics website with your name and company

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