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Engineers Explained (Grant Du Plooy)
The Application Group

I don't know who to credit for this but it seems fairly accurate:

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.  This chapter will teach you 
everything you need to know.  I learned their customs and mannerisms by 
observing them, much the way Jane Goodall learned about the great apes, 
but without the hassle of grooming.
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. 
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."
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.
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.
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.
Engineers love all of the "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 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 
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 an intense desire to mate with them, thus producing engineer-like 
children who will have high-paying jobs long before losing their 
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.
     *  MacGyver.
     *  Etcetera.
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 
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?"
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 
in the environment.  This sometimes causes engineers to be pronounced 
dead prematurely.  Some funeral homes in high-tech areas have started 
checking resumes before processing the 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
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.
 *   Hindenberg.
 *   Space Shuttle Challenger.
 *   SPANet(tm)
 *   Hubble space telescope.
 *   Apollo 13.
 *   Titanic.
 *   Ford Pinto.
 *   Corvair.
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 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-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. 
(Other times just because they forgot.)  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.  The engineer will set upon the 
problem like a starved Chihuahua on a pork chop.

[Note - reportedly by Scott Adams - ed.]

(From the "Rest" of RHF)

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