Thursday, January 29, 2009


Sure, engineers love doing things the hard way, but there's more to it: they also like doing things themselves. Not to be relegated to the level of the hammer-swinging simian handyman, staple excuses in-hand, engineers are quick to try their keystroke-hardened hands at a problem before turning the job over to the professional with the monkey wrench.

Engineers are generally cynical when it comes to people and the dreaded thought of human interaction; between at least four years of college, above-average paychecks, and job titles that cause eyes to glaze over, they have quite a superiority complex. Even alleged peers are seen as incompetent, and the only way to avoid headaches later is to fix the problem themselves.

An entire commercial ecosystem has cropped up to serve these engineers. Make Magazine and its Maker Faire, and even Mythbusters (a.k.a. Jamie and Adam Build Stuff) not only give engineers ideas, but practically coerce them into trying to do better, all while online stores quietly facilitate a likely trip to the hospital; "do not try this at home" isn't a warning, it's a challenge.

So the next time you see an engineer attempting a task that's below him, don't ask if the glue will hold; just sit back—at a safe distance—and enjoy the show.

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