Also see Engineers and Business Humor.

Quotes and One-Liners

Grammatical analysis of the IRU

The purpose of this examination
Is to monitor the IRU operation
The IRU?
You said "I are you?"
From the viewpoint of a grammarian
I conclude: you're a barbarian!

Following the grammarian cue
You ought to call it "IMU"
"I am you" is grammatical
But--objection--is it logical?
I am I--and--you are you;
So, in accord with the logical view
It's either "IMI" or "URU".

Fortunately the device
Cares not at all about this advice:
Completely ignorant of its name
It functions properly all the same.

You're Really an Engineer If...

Engineering Pick-up Lines

Engineers and Mistresses

An architect, an artist and a chemical engineer were discussing whether it was better to spend time with the wife or a mistress.
The architect said he enjoyed time with his wife, building a solid foundation for and enduring relationship.
The artist said he enjoyed time with his mistress, because of the passion and mystery he found there.
The chemical engineer said, "I like both."
Chemical Engineer: "Yeah. If you have a wife and a mistress, they will each assume you are spending time with the other, and you can go to the lab and get some work done."

Hot Air Balloon

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 tell me where I am?"
The man below says, "Yes you're in a hot air balloon, hovering thirty feet above this field."
"You must work in Engineering or Information Technology," says the balloonist.
"I do," replies the man. "How did you know."
"Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but it's no use to anyone."
The man below says, "You must be a Program Manager."
"I am," replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?"
"Well," says the man, "you don't know where you are, or where you're going, but you expect me to be able to help. You're in the same position you were before we met, but now it's my fault."

Which End is Up?

A group of managers were given the assignment to measure the height of a flagpole. So they go out to the flagpole with ladders and tape measures, and they're falling off the ladders, dropping the tape measures--the whole thing is just a mess.
An engineer comes along and sees what they're trying to do, walks over, pulls the flagpole out of the ground, lays it flat, measures it from end to end, gives the measurement to one of the managers and walks away.
After the engineer has gone, one manager turns to another and laughs. "Isn't that just like an engineer, we're looking for the height and he gives us the length."

Why Engineers Don't Write Cookbooks

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1.) 532.35 cm3 gluten
2.) 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3
3.) 4.9 cm3 refined halite
4.) 236 cm3 partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride
5.) 177.45 cm3 crystalline C12H22O11
6.) 177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11
7.) 4.9 cm3 methyl ether of protocatechuic aldehyde
8.) Two calcium carbonate-encapsulated avian albumen-coated protein ovoids
9.) 473.2 cm3 theobroma cacao 10.) 236 cm3 de-encapsulated legume meats (sieve size #10)

To a 2-L jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 Btu/F-ft2-hr, add ingredients one, two and three with constant agitation.
In a second 2-L reactor vessel with a radial flow impeller operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients four, five, six, and seven until the mixture is homogeneous.
To reactor #2, add ingredient eight, followed by three equal volumes of the homogeneous mixture in reactor #1.
Additionally, add ingredient nine and ten slowly, with constant agitation. Care must be taken at this point in the reaction to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.
Using a screw extrude attached to a #4 nodulizer, place the mixture piece-meal on a 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm).
Heat in a 460K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank and Johnston's first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until golden brown.
Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25C heat-transfer table, allowing the product to come to equilibrium.

The Guillotine

A priest, a drunkard, and an engineer were led to the guillotine for their crimes. The executioner pulled the priest forward first and asked him if he wanted to be facing up or down when he met his face.
"Upward," said the priest. "I want to be looking toward heaven when I die."
The blade zoomed downward, but stopped just an inch short of the priest's throat. All assembled agreed that it was divine intervention, and let the priest go free.
The drunkard was pulled forward next, and decided to copy the priest, hoping he would get as lucky. Again the blade zoomed down but stopped just short of the drunkard's throat. So the authorities released him as well.
It was finally the engineer's turn. He, like the others, decided to face upward. The blade slowly raised back into place. "Oh, hey, I think I know what the problem is." The engineer exclaimed. "That cable to the left appears to be catching the rope!"

A Boy and His Frog

A boy was crossing a road one day when a frog called out to him and said, "If you kiss me, I'll turn into a beautiful princess." He bent over, picked up the frog and put it in his pocket.
The frog spoke again and said, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a beautiful princess, I will stay with you for one week." The boy took the frog out of his pocket, smiled at it and returned it to his pocket.
The frog then cried out, "If you kiss me and turn me back into a princess, I'll stay with you and do ANYTHING you want." Again the boy took the frog out, smiled at it and put it back into his pocket.
Finally, the frog asked, "What is the matter? I've told you I'm a beautiful princess, that I'll stay with you and do anything you want. Why won't you kiss me?"
The boy said, "Look, I'm an engineer. I don't have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog is cool."

One day I noticed a poster on a bulletin board at the college I attend. At the top it said "Want to Have Fun With Other Engineers? Attend the Engineer Picnic on Saturday". You could tell the non-engineers who read the sign--they were the ones who were laughing!

Normal People vs. Engineers

Normal people believe that if it isn't broke, don't fix it.
Engineers believe that if it isn't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet.

Engineers Explained

People who work in the fields of science and technology are not like other people. This can be frustrating to the nontechnical people who have to deal with them. The secret to coping with technology-oriented people is to understand their motivations.

Engineer Identification Test

Engineering is so trendy these days that everybody wants to be one. The word "engineer" is greatly overused. If there's somebody in your life who you think is trying to pass as an engineer, give him this test to discern the truth.

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."

Social Skills

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.

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 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 the engineer, the world is a toy box full of sub-optimized and feature-poor toys.

Fashion and Appearance

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.

Love of "Star Trek"

Engineers love all "Star Trek" television shows and movies. It's a small wonder, since the engineers on the starship Enterprise are portrayed as heroes, occasionally even having sex with aliens. This is much more glamorous than the real life of an engineer, which consists of hiding from the universe and having sex without the participation of other life forms.

Dating and Social Life

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 a 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. Just look at these examples of sexually irresistible men in technical professions:
*Bill Gates.
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 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."


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?"

Powers of Concentration

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. This sometimes causes engineers to be pronounced dead prematurely. Some funeral homes in high-tech areas have started checking resumes before processing 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:
*Hubble space telescope
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.
*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. And when they succeed in solving the problem they will experience an ego rush that is better than sex--and I'm including the kind of sex where other people are involved.
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.

You might be a chemical engineer if...

Note from Denny: I hope any engineer who reads this file will not take exception to the humor--it is not meant in a negative way. I have a close friend who is an engineer and I have sent some of the jokes to him. He has never taken offense--though he sometimes sends an explanation of the logical and technical errors they contain ;-)