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Current Issue: Wednesday July 9, 2008
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Stuff Engineers Like
This article is devoted to stuff that engineers like.

By Dawson Overton
1B Systems

The Discovery Channel – It is very important for engineers to distinguish themselves from the other “technical” majors of math and science. After all, they are “applied” science majors, and despite most of their theoretical courses being almost identical to the courses taken by their less practical counterparts, they will never miss a chance to explain to lesser students how we would still be in the stone age if it weren’t for technology (and clearly, by association, engineering). It is therefore natural that engineers love television’s greatest celebration of applied science in history, the Discovery Channel! If invited to an engineer’s house, there is an 80% chance that they will be watching Discovery Channel. This can be a prime opportunity to raise your engineering status by saying “Oh, this episode of Mythbusters is pretty interesting, but after watching it four times I can’t help but argue with the grade of neodymium magnets they use for their wall climbers”.

Thinkpads – Engineers are all about practicality, and there is no laptop that is more closely associated with this word than the Lenovo Thinkpad. A helpful tip for finding out the locations of engineering lecture halls is to observe the number of Thinkpads in the room; if there isn’t at least one Thinkpad present, you aren’t in an Engineering class. Engineers are crazy about Thinkpads, and this is not surprising given their unique ability to appreciate their business-class reliability and black, minimalist design. When discussing laptops with an engineer, do not mention that Thinkpads cost almost twice what a more consumer-oriented laptop with similar hardware would, or that they have terrible proprietary software – they are very likely to become hostile and launch a long-winded rant concerning the inconsequentiality of these claims and the indisputable superiority of their laptop choice. Useful guideline: insulting an engineer’s Thinkpad is roughly equivalent to insulting his or her mother.

Not getting laid – Being an engineer is hard work, and engineers have to be very selective with what they do with their free time. Between labs, class, assignments, the Discovery Channel, and recreational vector calculus, it is an extreme challenge to fit in other less important activities. Among these activities: eating, sleeping, and sex, and for most it is an easy decision as to which one gets compromised. In order to understand engineers, it is important to be aware of their tight schedule and respect that many engineers make the noble choice of not wasting their time with petty things like having sex. Important tip: Do not mention that this is likely not by choice; the engineer will almost assuredly become upset and may attempt to attack you IRL.

Wearing t-shirts with tech company logos – When observing engineers, pay close attention to the t-shirt they are wearing. If you are, in fact, in an engineering building, you will not be hard pressed to find t-shirts adorned with things like “Google”, and “”. To others, wearing these shirts casually may look like a desperate bid to show their allegiance to said company and get hired by the secret company scouts patrolling campus. Engineers, however, are above such petty uses of the tech company t-shirt. Its actual role is as an important status symbol in engineer-engineer interaction, and engineers wearing the rarest shirts from the most respected companies are automatically cooler than those who get their shirts from more common places such as on-campus events. Note: Engineers wearing non-tech company t-shirts aren’t even counted in the social standing.

xkcd – With a tagline like “A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language,” there is no mystery why engineers go nuts for xkcd. They can’t get enough of it! After all, engineers love the idea of being romantic, and perhaps reading a webcomic about romance will increase their romantic abilities in real life. Language is equally intriguing to them since it means broadening their horizons, and being better able to relate to students of other faculties. If attempting to befriend an engineer, a good tip to keep in mind is the “xkcd quote”. Simply quoting xkcd will increase respect that engineers hold for you substantially and without fail. Try it! The next time you are in an engineering building, make sure to say “I’m not slacking off, my code’s compiling!”, and you are guaranteed to get at least 3 high-fives. Trivia: If there is an engineering wardrobe staple that approaches the popularity of the tech company t-shirt, it is t-shirts purchased at the xkcd store.

Copyright � 2008 The Iron Warrior

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