Author Topic: Are all engineers like this?  (Read 14129 times)

Ricky

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 842
Are all engineers like this?
« on: March 09, 2015, 01:00:13 PM »
Since this is also a mostly gathering of engineers, I thought I'd ask this here. I recently had a "conversation" with a Software Engineer.

Overall, I gathered that he/she

1. Mainly concerned with facts. Not concerned with the "what-ifs".
2. Very cynical.
3. Not very empathetic.
4. Abrasive tone in general.
5. Acts like knows something more than you.
6. No frills.

Are all engineers like this? My degree is in MIS and I haven't even started my career yet but am second-guessing myself if I'm going to have to work with people like this.

And it could have been a totally isolated incident. I just don't want to start associating "engineer" with "poor-people skills" in general if I'm wrong.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 01:04:57 PM by Ricky »

Exflyboy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6478
  • Age: 58
  • Location: Corvallis, Oregon
  • Expat Brit living in the New World..:)
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2015, 01:02:32 PM »
Umm... No actually.

And they don't know everything.. just a heck of a lot..:)

vhalros

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 309
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2015, 01:43:42 PM »
 I don't think all software engineers have the same personality. You get a variety just as you would in any other career.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2015, 01:44:26 PM »
Nope, I'm too empathetic for my own good.

Annamal

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 429
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2015, 01:51:05 PM »
Yeah, nope, not at all, I work in a group of developers and a lot of them are empathetic, friendly people.

About the only thing that you can say about good software engineers is that they are likely to be quite good at pattern recognition and application, beyond that it is like any other field.

JLee

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5665
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2015, 01:53:54 PM »
Are all <class/profession of humans> identical?

C'mon now.

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2935
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2015, 01:54:39 PM »
Since this is also a mostly gathering of engineers, I thought I'd ask this here. I recently had a "conversation" with a Software Engineer.

Overall, I gathered that he/she

1. Mainly concerned with facts. Not concerned with the "what-ifs".
2. Very cynical.
3. Not very empathetic.
4. Abrasive tone in general.
5. Acts like knows something more than you.
6. No frills.

Are all engineers like this? My degree is in MIS and I haven't even started my career yet but am second-guessing myself if I'm going to have to work with people like this.

And it could have been a totally isolated incident. I just don't want to start associating "engineer" with "poor-people skills" in general if I'm wrong.

I think this engineer may have embodied the common stereotypes that many people have about engineers in general LOL.
It's not true that all software engineers are the same in terms of all of these things. I do find that the more senior they are though, the bigger one's head can tend to get especially about who's right and who's wrong.

This particular engineer may embody any of those given points potentially due to past experiences that have resulted in him turning into a "brilliant jerk" (see Netflix's culture slide deck). Perhaps too many QA and marketing folks have bothered them about bugs that aren't really bugs but are "features" or "by design", etc. I really think it depends on the individual you are working with but yes, I know exactly what you're talking about  :)

Static Void

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 103
  • Age: 56
  • Location: Silicon Valley Beach
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2015, 02:00:18 PM »

1. Mainly concerned with facts. Not concerned with the "what-ifs".
2. Very cynical.
3. Not very empathetic.
4. Abrasive tone in general.
5. Acts like knows something more than you.
6. No frills.
...
Are all engineers like this?


No, but it's one of the fields where this personality type is somewhat accepted and can despite these (cough) quirks, more or less, thrive.

Thoughts...
#1 -- Actually, they may be analyzing and discarding What-ifs faster than you're expecting. Or they may be a little blind, see #5

#2, 3, 4, 5 -- Unpleasant.

#6 -- Lovable (if not accompanied by the negative-frills of 2, 4, 5).

Yeah, I know and have been all these people!

v10viperbox

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 48
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2015, 02:01:03 PM »

1. Mainly concerned with facts. Not concerned with the "what-ifs".
2. Very cynical.
3. Not very empathetic.
4. Abrasive tone in general.
5. Acts like knows something more than you.
6. No frills.


Everything but 5 fits me. I get paid to make things work and not kill anybody in the process of doing that and in the use of what ever muguffin I was paid to create. With 5 if I don't know something I am up front about it, worst thing in the world is going backwards when you took someone at there word and hurting someone. Having said that from a outside perspective we do know more about the engineering and design then someone asking questions 90% of the time. When someone brings up something stupid it aggravates. For example at one point I was asked why i did not use a specific material for a support project. It was like asking why we did not make the product out of jello when clearly there is going to be a elephant stepping on it.

Engineers with empathy to how people feel in a project vs what needs to get done are a liability to me. If you don't have the facts to backup your argument and its just a feeling, you can stuff it. If you don't like the guy next to you stuff it and get your work done.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 02:03:58 PM by v10viperbox »

Candace

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 584
  • Age: 53
  • Location: Hampton Roads, Virginia
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2015, 02:15:31 PM »
Software engineers had better be concerned with the "what-ifs". Error handling can be a large part of our code.

I'm a software engineer, and when others are abrasive I just chalk it up to their personality and let it roll off me. Unless I've just said something stupid. Then I own up to it. It happens a fair amount.

Sid Hoffman

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 743
  • Location: Southwest USA
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2015, 03:07:19 PM »
Since this is also a mostly gathering of black people, I thought I'd ask this here. I recently had a "conversation" with a black person.

Overall, I gathered that he/she

1. Mainly concerned with facts. Not concerned with the "what-ifs".
2. Very cynical.
3. Not very empathetic.
4. Abrasive tone in general.
5. Acts like knows something more than you.
6. No frills.

Are all black people like this? My degree is in MIS and I haven't even started my career yet but am second-guessing myself if I'm going to have to work with people like this.

And it could have been a totally isolated incident. I just don't want to start associating "black people" with "poor-people skills" in general if I'm wrong.

Take a look at what you wrote, if you had written it about any other group and ask yourself if stereotyping is ever OK.

Doulos

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 116
  • Age: 41
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2015, 03:15:33 PM »
In general, engineering is a field where high math non-personable people flock to.
Just like Charismatic people flock to jobs like marketing, broadcasting, performance.

There are really 2 questions there.  The 1st is obvious, "no, different people are different".
The 2nd.  Yes, Engineers in general are not people people.  Social skills are of very low importance in engineering.

adkarmol

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 18
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2015, 03:17:24 PM »
I just have to laugh at this question (good-naturedly, of course). I am married to a CS Engineer (works for Amazon currently), many of my best friends are CS Engineers (including a ton of my friends I grew up with ended up in CS), and my step-dad ran an open-source consulting and web-hosting company out of our house growing up (and I even worked for his business for a while).

I would consider myself an 'artsy/emotional type,' so I think I've had just about every 'outsider experience' of 'computer people' possible. (Though I do consider myself an science fiction/fantasy uber-nerd, so there is some stereotypical overlap there ;) I would agree with what others have said: You probably experienced someone stereotypically indicative of this category of career/interest, but they are just as varied a bunch as any other area of study/work.

That being said, my own experience is that they tend not to value emotions *quite* so highly, because they are invested in facts, but also because, a HUGE part of at least traditional CSE careers involves long, lonely hours staring at a computer screen, something that an emotional person probably couldn't do (if you have too many 'feelings,' physical or emotional, you probably aren't going to elect that kind of work--as me how I know ;). There are always, always exceptions for both people and work, but that's the type it tends to draw. Introverts, Aspergers/Autism spectrum, 'socially-challenged' (or just uninterested) are common, but again, not a hard-and-fast rule. And it all depends on WHERE you want to work, as well. For example, from what DH tells me, anyone particularly socially-challenged would not get by at places like Google or Amazon where teamwork is a must. But where he used to work at an equally high-level facility (government contractor), introverted types were valued much more highly because the work and the general social climate was different.

In college, there was this joke that girls would go lay out in bikinis on the law quad or medical campus to snag themselves a lawyer or a doctor, but I always said that they should be going up to the engineering campus with their bikinis, because engineers as partners, in my biased opinion are more respectful, less self-centered, more socially-aloof which actually makes them more REAL with very little 'front', and their careers are probably going to be 9-5s instead of crazy, bizarre, life-consuming jobs.

They do tend to discount emotions and like to be argumentative, which makes them come across as self-important know-it-all a-holes, but remember a few things: They actually probably think they are just stating facts, and are not TRYING to be mean, they are just doing what they have to do at work or school, which is to simply make a point and make something work correctly (many-a-fight with the DH over this, and I still struggle with it). And part of the stereotype about this career is actually true for many: They were bullied in school when they were younger, so facts and indisputable truths became their armor and their strength. I experienced this over and over again, and having been best friends and in relationships with many, this tends to be their story. They sound like they're being jerks (and sometimes they just are) but if you get to know them, you find that it's a defense mechanism they had to adopt to fight back and find their own strength.

My two cents, feel free to disagree. I just had to comment because CSE people are some of the best people I have ever met, and I wouldn't be afraid to work with them at all, just prepare yourself to be understanding and flexible, and a little badass with your own ability to state facts and back up your arguments ;)

Ocinfo

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 313
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2015, 03:42:23 PM »
Not all but they're not exactly negative traits for an engineer and some of the best engineers that I work with are very similar to what you describe. However, I have seen people with those traits end up frustrated when they hit a ceiling and watch other engineers keep advancing even if they aren't technically as good but do have some of the softer skills that are needed higher up. We joke that an introverted engineer looks at his feet when he passes you in the hall, an extroverted one looks at your feet. If you have decent technical skills and decent people skills then you have a real chance doing well because there aren't many people that can competently straddle that boundary.

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7849
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2015, 04:01:42 PM »
i'm an EPC engineer i have to be concerned with what if's but asking a blanket statement and putting everyone in one category will never work.  my wife engineer empathetic, me not so much .. i dont know everything but i know alot and the younger the engineer you run into specifically with a type A personality.  They will act like they know more ... trust me i used to think i knew more. 

Annamal

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 429
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2015, 04:27:17 PM »

Engineers with empathy to how people feel in a project vs what needs to get done are a liability to me. If you don't have the facts to backup your argument and its just a feeling, you can stuff it. If you don't like the guy next to you stuff it and get your work done.

I suppose it depends on what you are engineering (and on whether you have team members who do have empathy or are UX designers) but I would disagree very strongly with this if you are making  software that people need to interact with on a day to day basis. It's no good making the smartest software in the world if it is inadvertently steering its users into making mistakes.

If you don't take other people's responses and human quirks into account then you are ultimately going to wind up with bad software (and users who curse you every time they have to train up other users).

Middlesbrough

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 268
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2015, 04:40:28 PM »
I actually have an element of human engineering in my day job. I have to be able to create a product that everyone can use with the entire range of human compacity. Not only does my team need all the hard skills, but soft skills to explain what we are trying to do to any person. Not only do we have to make it work, we have to convince you it will work too and buy into the concepts.

AlwaysBeenASaver

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 444
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2015, 04:52:47 PM »
Since this is also a mostly gathering of engineers, I thought I'd ask this here. I recently had a "conversation" with a Software Engineer.

Overall, I gathered that he/she

1. Mainly concerned with facts. Not concerned with the "what-ifs".
2. Very cynical.
3. Not very empathetic.
4. Abrasive tone in general.
5. Acts like knows something more than you.
6. No frills.


I'm a software engineer.

1: I work hard to drill down to the facts; drilling down to facts when working on a project is extremely important and there is often a limit on discussion time so I want to make sure the most important things are discussed first, before running out of time. It's not that I'm unconcerned with what-if's, but I absolutely need to determine what the facts are in order to successfully do my work.
2: Not at all, I'm extremely optimistic. However I do get beaten down by corporate roadblocks so could come across as cynical after being in one job too long.
3: I probably don't come across as empathetic in many situations.
4: Not at all.
5: I try hard not to come across this way.
6: Definitely. I don't see much value in frills.

johnny847

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3196
    • My Blog
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2015, 05:03:19 PM »
Are all <class/profession of humans> identical?

C'mon now.

QFT

Janie

  • Guest
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2015, 05:32:42 PM »
no

caliq

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 675
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #20 on: March 09, 2015, 05:39:23 PM »
#1 -- Actually, they may be analyzing and discarding What-ifs faster than you're expecting.

This -- I'm not an engineer but am working on becoming a scientist.  I often get into trouble when interacting with people because I generally don't voice an opinion on a subject until I've already considered all possible 'what ifs' and discarded them or adjusted my opinion appropriately or made a contingency plan or whatever.  Then when others are like, "well have you thought of XYZ?" I get annoyed because it's something I thought of >10 steps ago and it feels like they think I'm stupid, because why else would they suggest such an obvious possible issue?  So then I get bitchy and they get mad and blech. 

Really though, OP, I think this is a very silly question to ask :/

finitelement

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 46
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #21 on: March 09, 2015, 05:39:51 PM »
Writing software is not engineering, I don't care what the job title says lol

AlwaysBeenASaver

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 444
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2015, 05:51:31 PM »
Writing software is not engineering, I don't care what the job title says lol

It is according to webster:

: the work of designing and creating large structures (such as roads and bridges) or new products or systems by using scientific methods

2 b :  the design and manufacture of complex products <software engineering>

The Beacon

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 148
    • Financial Freedom Tips
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #23 on: March 09, 2015, 06:16:36 PM »
Writing software is not engineering, I don't care what the job title says lol

You could not be more wrong.  Software is more engineering than anything else.  What is not controlled by software nowadays? Look at a jet fighter. The algorithms for terrain comparison are extremely complex.  How about artificial intelligence?


As for OP's question, I am an extremely personable SE...
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 06:21:32 PM by Sharpy »

finitelement

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 46
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2015, 06:31:34 PM »
Writing software is not engineering, I don't care what the job title says lol

You could not be more wrong.  Software is more engineering than anything else.  What is not controlled by software nowadays? Look at a jet fighter. The algorithms for terrain comparison are extremely complex.  How about artificial intelligence?


As for OP's question, I am an extremely personable SE...

If I tell a software developer what the mathematics are he needs to program to be able to create a functional analysis tool, in my opinion there's not much engineering on his part. It's more of an art creating a functional program with no hiccups.

In my opinion, unless a software engineer is a registered PE, creating programs for a nuclear power plant, writing software for NASAs next mission, or anything along that scientific approach with specs and procedures, then it's not real engineering. I agree with what you said about that being a part of engineering. However, someone who writes patches for Microsoft words picture insert function shouldn't consider themselves as a software engineer.

willow

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 95
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2015, 06:40:07 PM »
Since this is also a mostly gathering of engineers, I thought I'd ask this here. I recently had a "conversation" with a Software Engineer.

Overall, I gathered that he/she

1. Mainly concerned with facts. Not concerned with the "what-ifs".
2. Very cynical.
3. Not very empathetic.
4. Abrasive tone in general.
5. Acts like knows something more than you.
6. No frills.

Are all engineers like this? My degree is in MIS and I haven't even started my career yet but am second-guessing myself if I'm going to have to work with people like this.

And it could have been a totally isolated incident. I just don't want to start associating "engineer" with "poor-people skills" in general if I'm wrong.

I've met a lot of people like that. Especially the No Frills, cynical types. I find the "acts like they know something more than you" applies to anyone who is insecure, except for geniuses, who really do know more than you.

The what ifs part I find striking. To me, a good engineer, especially software engineer, is all about the "what ifs".

bacchi

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4000
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #26 on: March 09, 2015, 06:49:50 PM »
However, someone who writes patches for Microsoft words picture insert function shouldn't consider themselves as a software engineer.

You're treading on dangerous ground here. Write an iOS app? Engineer! Serve up some CSS/HTML? Engineer! Use onclick for a button? Engineer! ;)


BlueHouse

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3208
  • Location: WDC
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #27 on: March 09, 2015, 07:03:15 PM »
#1 -- Actually, they may be analyzing and discarding What-ifs faster than you're expecting.

This -- I'm not an engineer but am working on becoming a scientist.  I often get into trouble when interacting with people because I generally don't voice an opinion on a subject until I've already considered all possible 'what ifs' and discarded them or adjusted my opinion appropriately or made a contingency plan or whatever.  Then when others are like, "well have you thought of XYZ?" I get annoyed because it's something I thought of >10 steps ago and it feels like they think I'm stupid, because why else would they suggest such an obvious possible issue?  So then I get bitchy and they get mad and blech. 

Really though, OP, I think this is a very silly question to ask :/

LOL!  Excellent response!  you displayed all 5 of the traits the OP described in a very succinct paragraph.  Very funny.  Thanks for the laugh.

willow

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 95
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #28 on: March 09, 2015, 07:09:27 PM »
Writing software is not engineering, I don't care what the job title says lol

You could not be more wrong.  Software is more engineering than anything else.  What is not controlled by software nowadays? Look at a jet fighter. The algorithms for terrain comparison are extremely complex.  How about artificial intelligence?


As for OP's question, I am an extremely personable SE...

If I tell a software developer what the mathematics are he needs to program to be able to create a functional analysis tool, in my opinion there's not much engineering on his part. It's more of an art creating a functional program with no hiccups.

In my opinion, unless a software engineer is a registered PE, creating programs for a nuclear power plant, writing software for NASAs next mission, or anything along that scientific approach with specs and procedures, then it's not real engineering. I agree with what you said about that being a part of engineering. However, someone who writes patches for Microsoft words picture insert function shouldn't consider themselves as a software engineer.

Typical arrogant engineer.

Really though, I get what you are saying. However, I wouldn't be so quick to belittle another person's occupation. I'm also curious, how much software engineering have you done? I am constantly amazed by the number of technical types who actually have a hard time writing software. I had a best friend in college would was a brilliant math major. Only C they ever got was in Computer Science, and that was even with me helping them with their homework. They had a 4.0 before that class.

willow

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 95
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #29 on: March 09, 2015, 07:15:17 PM »
#1 -- Actually, they may be analyzing and discarding What-ifs faster than you're expecting.

This -- I'm not an engineer but am working on becoming a scientist.  I often get into trouble when interacting with people because I generally don't voice an opinion on a subject until I've already considered all possible 'what ifs' and discarded them or adjusted my opinion appropriately or made a contingency plan or whatever.  Then when others are like, "well have you thought of XYZ?" I get annoyed because it's something I thought of >10 steps ago and it feels like they think I'm stupid, because why else would they suggest such an obvious possible issue?  So then I get bitchy and they get mad and blech. 

Really though, OP, I think this is a very silly question to ask :/

This.

It's annoying to be in a meeting and people ask "don't you have anything to add?" or "don't you have any questions?".
No. I fully understand everything you just said. The people asking questions weren't paying attention.

Also,

"Then when others are like, "well have you thought of XYZ?" I get annoyed because it's something I thought of >10 steps ago and it feels like they think I'm stupid, because why else would they suggest such an obvious possible issue? "

Happens all the time. Especially gets me in trouble with the spouse. I'm more calm and rational at work, but at home, I sometimes can't help but let loose the fury of my frustrations.

finitelement

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 46
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #30 on: March 09, 2015, 07:40:55 PM »
Writing software is not engineering, I don't care what the job title says lol

You could not be more wrong.  Software is more engineering than anything else.  What is not controlled by software nowadays? Look at a jet fighter. The algorithms for terrain comparison are extremely complex.  How about artificial intelligence?

As for OP's question, I am an extremely personable SE...

If I tell a software developer what the mathematics are he needs to program to be able to create a functional analysis tool, in my opinion there's not much engineering on his part. It's more of an art creating a functional program with no hiccups.

In my opinion, unless a software engineer is a registered PE, creating programs for a nuclear power plant, writing software for NASAs next mission, or anything along that scientific approach with specs and procedures, then it's not real engineering. I agree with what you said about that being a part of engineering. However, someone who writes patches for Microsoft words picture insert function shouldn't consider themselves as a software engineer.

Typical arrogant engineer.

Really though, I get what you are saying. However, I wouldn't be so quick to belittle another person's occupation. I'm also curious, how much software engineering have you done? I am constantly amazed by the number of technical types who actually have a hard time writing software. I had a best friend in college would was a brilliant math major. Only C they ever got was in Computer Science, and that was even with me helping them with their homework. They had a 4.0 before that class.

That's absolutely true.  I'm not belittling or saying it's easy. If I can write my own software we wouldn't have to pay a programmer to work directly with the engineers. I apologize that I came off that way. Surprisingly the Internet is filled with articles arguing about this very thing, and it seems to endlessly go back and forth.  My field has a set of requirements, specs, and standards, and the more I work in the field the more rigid it becomes; like most engineering fields.  I don't see much of the engineering principles engraved in software development.  But I do see more creativity in creating something functional. 

Emilyngh

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 892
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #31 on: March 09, 2015, 07:50:52 PM »
Yes.

And all librarians wear buns and glasses.

All policemen love donuts.

All physicists are men in lab coats with crazy-ass hair.

All construction workers have great abs.

Are all people with degrees in MIS (whatever-the-hell that is) presumptuous and shallow, attempting to stereotype entire groups of people by one interaction with a single person in this group?   Just askin'.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2015, 07:53:30 PM by Emilyngh »

Ricky

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 842
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #32 on: March 09, 2015, 08:00:54 PM »
Yes.

And all librarians wear buns and glasses.

All policemen love donuts.

All physicists are men in lab coats with crazy-ass hair.

All construction workers have great abs.

Are all people with degrees in MIS (whatever-the-hell that is) presumptuous and shallow, attempting to stereotype entire groups of people by one interaction with a single person in this group?   Just askin'.

I'm going to say you're an Engineer.

But seriously, I also have these personality traits at times, so I meant no harm. I was talking to them in a "customer support" type situation and they performed badly, that's all.

Kris

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4480
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #33 on: March 09, 2015, 08:08:18 PM »
Writing software is not engineering, I don't care what the job title says lol

You could not be more wrong.  Software is more engineering than anything else.  What is not controlled by software nowadays? Look at a jet fighter. The algorithms for terrain comparison are extremely complex.  How about artificial intelligence?


As for OP's question, I am an extremely personable SE...

I'm married to a software engineer, and interestingly, I just asked him about this a month or so ago: specifically, how are you an engineer, exactly?  His answer completely convinced me that he is.

Also, he is the exact opposite in almost every way of the stereotype the OP observed, interestingly.

Emilyngh

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 892
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #34 on: March 09, 2015, 08:42:50 PM »
Yes.

And all librarians wear buns and glasses.

All policemen love donuts.

All physicists are men in lab coats with crazy-ass hair.

All construction workers have great abs.

Are all people with degrees in MIS (whatever-the-hell that is) presumptuous and shallow, attempting to stereotype entire groups of people by one interaction with a single person in this group?   Just askin'.

I'm going to say you're an Engineer.

But seriously, I also have these personality traits at times, so I meant no harm. I was talking to them in a "customer support" type situation and they performed badly, that's all.

Yes.   I have a PhD in an engineering field, have worked as an engineer and now am a physics prof.

Although what it is about stereotypes that really bothers me is that IRL I do *not* fit the stereotypes of an engineer or physics prof for that matter and by promoting stereotypes, one not only insults those is that group, but also reinforces the idea that stereotyping is appropriate in general.

I am a woman and allegedly look "young" (although I got my PhD 10 years ago, and really, I don't).    I'm pretty sure that I just look like a woman, which people subconsciously associate with naivete and lack of accomplishment (ie., "youth").   So, no matter how accomplished I become, whenever I meet new people, I am reminded of how much they automatically discount me by how surprised they almost always are with my career.    When someone sees me they not only don't assume that I'm someone who has published peer-reviewed journal articles, but they actually have so much disbelief when straight-up told what I do that they question me like it's the craziest shit they've ever heard.   "What?!?   But you don't look like a physics professor.   No, you look more like a yoga instructor"- was literally said to me about 2 weeks ago.   WTF.

 So asking a "question" regarding whether the irritating personality of one person serves as evidence regarding stereotypical characteristics of an entire group was ignorant at best, and offensive at worst, as it only encourages this type of stereotyping regarding what/who an engineer is.

*Also, FTR, while I might come of as curt on here, IRL I've actually been told by a previous boss that I should tone down my "bubbly" personality b/c people aren't going to take me as seriously as a scientist.   B/c IRL I'm very friendly, a people person, etc., just as women are raised socially to be.   So, again, your proposed stereotype actually then reinforces an engineering stereotype that is limiting to women, and well, limiting to anyone else not like the stereotype.


« Last Edit: March 10, 2015, 01:16:53 PM by Emilyngh »

zolotiyeruki

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3281
  • Location: State: Denial
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #35 on: March 10, 2015, 10:11:55 AM »
...   "What?!?   But you don't look like a physics professor.   No, you look more like a yoga instructor"- was literally said to me about 2 weeks ago.   WTF....
I think that was meant to be a compliment :)

I'm an EE, currently doing server administration and software development.  I won't wade into the whole "is software engineering really engineering" argument (as tempting as it is!). 

If you read the chapter in "The Dilbert Principle" about scientists, engineers, and other technical people, it could have been (mostly) written about me.  My wife was cracking up laughing while reading that part.
This -- I'm not an engineer but am working on becoming a scientist.  I often get into trouble when interacting with people because I generally don't voice an opinion on a subject until I've already considered all possible 'what ifs' and discarded them or adjusted my opinion appropriately or made a contingency plan or whatever.  Then when others are like, "well have you thought of XYZ?" I get annoyed because it's something I thought of >10 steps ago and it feels like they think I'm stupid, because why else would they suggest such an obvious possible issue?  So then I get bitchy and they get mad and blech. 
Oh, goodness, a thousand times this. 

mm1970

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 6948
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #36 on: March 10, 2015, 10:20:42 AM »
Writing software is not engineering, I don't care what the job title says lol

You could not be more wrong.  Software is more engineering than anything else.  What is not controlled by software nowadays? Look at a jet fighter. The algorithms for terrain comparison are extremely complex.  How about artificial intelligence?


As for OP's question, I am an extremely personable SE...

If I tell a software developer what the mathematics are he needs to program to be able to create a functional analysis tool, in my opinion there's not much engineering on his part. It's more of an art creating a functional program with no hiccups.

In my opinion, unless a software engineer is a registered PE, creating programs for a nuclear power plant, writing software for NASAs next mission, or anything along that scientific approach with specs and procedures, then it's not real engineering. I agree with what you said about that being a part of engineering. However, someone who writes patches for Microsoft words picture insert function shouldn't consider themselves as a software engineer.

Typical arrogant engineer.

Really though, I get what you are saying. However, I wouldn't be so quick to belittle another person's occupation. I'm also curious, how much software engineering have you done? I am constantly amazed by the number of technical types who actually have a hard time writing software. I had a best friend in college would was a brilliant math major. Only C they ever got was in Computer Science, and that was even with me helping them with their homework. They had a 4.0 before that class.

I am an engineer, with a degree in Chem E, many years of experience, and a 3.7 at a top-10 engineering school.

I cannot program my way out of a paper bag.  I passed my computer class in college (Pascal).  I struggle STRUGGLE to do the programming that helps me in my job, whether it be SQL, JMP, Visual basic for access or excel.  STRUGGLE.

m_m

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 7
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #37 on: March 10, 2015, 11:19:33 AM »
#1 -- Actually, they may be analyzing and discarding What-ifs faster than you're expecting.

This -- I'm not an engineer but am working on becoming a scientist.  I often get into trouble when interacting with people because I generally don't voice an opinion on a subject until I've already considered all possible 'what ifs' and discarded them or adjusted my opinion appropriately or made a contingency plan or whatever.  Then when others are like, "well have you thought of XYZ?" I get annoyed because it's something I thought of >10 steps ago and it feels like they think I'm stupid, because why else would they suggest such an obvious possible issue?  So then I get bitchy and they get mad and blech. 

Really though, OP, I think this is a very silly question to ask :/

This.

It's annoying to be in a meeting and people ask "don't you have anything to add?" or "don't you have any questions?".
No. I fully understand everything you just said. The people asking questions weren't paying attention.


Agree with all of this and tired of it.  "You need to contribute more in meetings."  I'm sorry, all you did in your meeting was talk about things I already thought of and moved on from.  I can tell you that and you can call me arrogant, I can make up dumb questions just to kill time and look involved, or I can sit here silently looking for jobs on my laptop.

Got some criticism years ago about being "black and white" - insulting because it implies small mindedness.  If you really go into detail about your thought process it would bore people - "in this situation this solution would be best, if this condition exists, though, you would want to do this instead, but if this happens the most likely solution would be..." etc., etc.  Not even close to black and white.  You can either be told you give too much detail or that you're too black and white.  Wish it was appropriate to ask "is there anyone smarter here I can talk to?"

One of my favorite examples was talking about the results of a linear programming optimization model.  They wanted to change the results because they didn't like them and they thought the optimizer didn't work right.  I told them the problem was with the inputs or the model design, not the optimization software.  I tried explaining that it was like a calculator, if you put in 4 and 4, get 8, and expected to get 7, maybe one of the numbers you put in was wrong.  The calculator is going to give you the right answer every time...for the question you asked.  Unfortunately many non-technical types are going to take offense to an explanation like this.  "That engineer just explained to me why I'm wrong.  What a jerk."  You can explain it as politely as you like, but people don't like being corrected.

Certainly they're not all the same, but I can imagine there are some very angry engineers out there after years of dealing with this kind of stuff.  I'm working with mostly engineers now and I spend my time getting work done and not defending basic principles of math anymore.

theonethatgotaway

  • Guest
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #38 on: March 10, 2015, 11:55:21 AM »
People with Aspergers tend to find themselves better suited toward Engineering.

I've met a lot of engineers that have the qualities that you describe. I've also met a lot that are opposite in ways on which you describe.

Source: Three brothers are engineers, two are the way in which you describe and one is not. My husband manages them for a living and their personalities can lean towards what you describe.

Emilyngh

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 892
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #39 on: March 10, 2015, 12:36:57 PM »
...   "What?!?   But you don't look like a physics professor.   No, you look more like a yoga instructor"- was literally said to me about 2 weeks ago.   WTF....
I think that was meant to be a compliment :)


Perhaps.   And yet, it's really not.   The overall effect of it is just one more person telling me yet one more time that I really don't belong in the group that I have already spent over 15 years working my ass off to belong in (and excelling in). 

 I'm very confident that this is not a "compliment" that male engineer/scientists ever hear.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2015, 12:40:34 PM by Emilyngh »

johnny847

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3196
    • My Blog
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #40 on: March 10, 2015, 01:03:33 PM »
...   "What?!?   But you don't look like a physics professor.   No, you look more like a yoga instructor"- was literally said to me about 2 weeks ago.   WTF....
I think that was meant to be a compliment :)


Perhaps.   And yet, it's really not.   The overall effect of it is just one more person telling me yet one more time that I really don't belong in the group that I have already spent over 15 years working my ass off to belong in (and excelling in). 

 I'm very confident that this is not a "compliment" that male engineer/scientists ever hear.

As a male engineer, I can attest to that. Never have I had somebody doubt my career choice when I told them what I do.

caliq

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 675
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #41 on: March 10, 2015, 02:45:54 PM »
#1 -- Actually, they may be analyzing and discarding What-ifs faster than you're expecting.

This -- I'm not an engineer but am working on becoming a scientist.  I often get into trouble when interacting with people because I generally don't voice an opinion on a subject until I've already considered all possible 'what ifs' and discarded them or adjusted my opinion appropriately or made a contingency plan or whatever.  Then when others are like, "well have you thought of XYZ?" I get annoyed because it's something I thought of >10 steps ago and it feels like they think I'm stupid, because why else would they suggest such an obvious possible issue?  So then I get bitchy and they get mad and blech. 

Really though, OP, I think this is a very silly question to ask :/

This.

It's annoying to be in a meeting and people ask "don't you have anything to add?" or "don't you have any questions?".
No. I fully understand everything you just said. The people asking questions weren't paying attention.


Agree with all of this and tired of it.  "You need to contribute more in meetings."  I'm sorry, all you did in your meeting was talk about things I already thought of and moved on from.  I can tell you that and you can call me arrogant, I can make up dumb questions just to kill time and look involved, or I can sit here silently looking for jobs on my laptop.

Got some criticism years ago about being "black and white" - insulting because it implies small mindedness.  If you really go into detail about your thought process it would bore people - "in this situation this solution would be best, if this condition exists, though, you would want to do this instead, but if this happens the most likely solution would be..." etc., etc.  Not even close to black and white.  You can either be told you give too much detail or that you're too black and white.  Wish it was appropriate to ask "is there anyone smarter here I can talk to?"


Ooh I struggle SO much with the bolded part!  I do actually verbalize a lot of my planning steps at home, to my husband.  His eyes glaze over at a lot of the more technical stuff but as I'm nearing the end of my undergrad, there's a lot of "what if's" bouncing around in my head.  So I'm constantly going, well if X happens, then we will do Y, or Z, or if B, then C, etc etc etc.

Apparently some people don't like that level of planning, because he's gotten the impression that I'm just super flaky and can't decide what I want, which makes him rather anxious :(  It's like, no, I do know exactly what the end goal looks like, but I can see about 203394203 different paths that will get me there.  And I guess I just need to keep my mouth shut about all of them xD

Also, I'm glad there are lots of people who identify with what I initially said because whoever had the first reaction last night that thought I was joking and trying to personify all of OP's stereotypes made me feel like a total jerk :(  I guess maybe it came off as pretty arrogant but that wasn't really my intent. 
 

Gerard

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1400
  • Location: eastern canada
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #42 on: March 10, 2015, 04:57:50 PM »
You're not likely to find out what a group of people are like by asking that group, especially if the stereotyped traits of that group include a stunning lack of self-awareness and a high level of defensiveness. :-)

(And yes, I would say the same thing about many many people in my own employment group, including me sometimes!)

nlips

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 3
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #43 on: March 11, 2015, 02:32:20 AM »
Writing software is not engineering, I don't care what the job title says lol

You could not be more wrong.  Software is more engineering than anything else.  What is not controlled by software nowadays? Look at a jet fighter. The algorithms for terrain comparison are extremely complex.  How about artificial intelligence?

As for OP's question, I am an extremely personable SE...

If I tell a software developer what the mathematics are he needs to program to be able to create a functional analysis tool, in my opinion there's not much engineering on his part. It's more of an art creating a functional program with no hiccups.

In my opinion, unless a software engineer is a registered PE, creating programs for a nuclear power plant, writing software for NASAs next mission, or anything along that scientific approach with specs and procedures, then it's not real engineering. I agree with what you said about that being a part of engineering. However, someone who writes patches for Microsoft words picture insert function shouldn't consider themselves as a software engineer.

Typical arrogant engineer.

Really though, I get what you are saying. However, I wouldn't be so quick to belittle another person's occupation. I'm also curious, how much software engineering have you done? I am constantly amazed by the number of technical types who actually have a hard time writing software. I had a best friend in college would was a brilliant math major. Only C they ever got was in Computer Science, and that was even with me helping them with their homework. They had a 4.0 before that class.

That's absolutely true.  I'm not belittling or saying it's easy. If I can write my own software we wouldn't have to pay a programmer to work directly with the engineers. I apologize that I came off that way. Surprisingly the Internet is filled with articles arguing about this very thing, and it seems to endlessly go back and forth.  My field has a set of requirements, specs, and standards, and the more I work in the field the more rigid it becomes; like most engineering fields.  I don't see much of the engineering principles engraved in software development.  But I do see more creativity in creating something functional.

I think part of the problem is that software development now is such a wide field that some things feel much more engineer-y than others.    Are the people who design and build mobile phones and base stations engineers?  How about the people writing the embedded software that talks to the network?  How about the people building telephone and internet exchanges - that's mostly software now...  There are many things that are run in software on generic platforms now, that used to be done by specialist hardware.  Why isn't it engineering any more?

Anywho, my field also has requirements, specs and standards!

I have an engineering degree, and interned at structural and mechanical engineering firms during my summers.  I now work for a software company and it doesn't feel any less engineering-y to me.

Malaysia41

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3314
  • Age: 46
  • Location: Verona, Italy
    • My mmm journal
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #44 on: March 11, 2015, 02:56:56 AM »

One of my favorite examples was talking about the results of a linear programming optimization model.  They wanted to change the results because they didn't like them and they thought the optimizer didn't work right.  I told them the problem was with the inputs or the model design, not the optimization software.  I tried explaining that it was like a calculator, if you put in 4 and 4, get 8, and expected to get 7, maybe one of the numbers you put in was wrong.  The calculator is going to give you the right answer every time...for the question you asked.  Unfortunately many non-technical types are going to take offense to an explanation like this.  "That engineer just explained to me why I'm wrong.  What a jerk."  You can explain it as politely as you like, but people don't like being corrected.

Certainly they're not all the same, but I can imagine there are some very angry engineers out there after years of dealing with this kind of stuff. I'm working with mostly engineers now and I spend my time getting work done and not defending basic principles of math anymore.

You engineers think you have it bad?  Try being Gerald Hurst.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Hurst.  An Engineer's engineer with the patience of a saint.   He comes up against unbelievable bullshit, and yet, somehow, maintains his composure.  Pretty impressive.

Annamal

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 429
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #45 on: March 11, 2015, 04:44:52 AM »


There's always this sketch, sums up the frequent problems between experts and everyone else
The Expert :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

Disclaimer, I have fantastic users, many of whom are very good at creating specs and I have very rarely encountered these kinds of problems.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 14151
  • Age: 38
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #46 on: March 11, 2015, 05:20:12 AM »
1. Mainly concerned with facts. Not concerned with the "what-ifs".
2. Very cynical.
3. Not very empathetic.
4. Abrasive tone in general.
5. Acts like knows something more than you.
6. No frills.

1.  It's more important to focus on the current situation during damage control . . . which in many companies is business as usual.  No need to worry about hypothetical problems when you're putting out fires all over the place as it is.  Sometimes this bleeds into the approach that's taken in day to day stuff.
2.  Realist?
3.  Why is this important?
4.  Abrasive and direct often get confused.  Many engineers are direct, often there's greater value in this field put on fixing a problem than coddling insecurity in others.
5.  Probably does.
6.  Cool.

My take on the comments as an engineer, married to an engineer, who works with engineers every day.  :P

DecD

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 298
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #47 on: March 11, 2015, 05:42:51 AM »


There's always this sketch, sums up the frequent problems between experts and everyone else
The Expert :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg

Disclaimer, I have fantastic users, many of whom are very good at creating specs and I have very rarely encountered these kinds of problems.

This may be my favorite youtube video ever.

Is every X always Y?  When you're talking about people, the answer is always no.  And...let's be honest....insulting, which must have been the intention.  Why else would you seek out a group of people and say "are all of you just as obnoxious and grating as this one guy I have to work with?"

As far as #1 goes, I'd say that the first half does probably represent most good engineers- we are concerned with facts and reality.  But PART OF THAT is contingency planning, which is equally (more?) important in design.  "concerned with facts" is not mutually exclusive with "concerned with what-ifs".  Not at all.

#2-6 are simply personality traits of the one guy you met.  Perhaps I have a bit of #5 in me as well, because, come on OP, you must be aware that these things are ridiculous to foist on a group of millions of humans.

I have a PhD in engineering and am now working in the world of software development.  I can tell you that it is, in fact, engineering.  Of course, we are (quite literally) creating the software to fly NASA's next mission, so I suppose that I already fit into the narrow definition of "what is engineering" that the fellow above will allow.  Glad we have an expert around here to keep things real.

And two thumbs up to Emilyngh.  Thanks for expressing that so eloquently.

dcheesi

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 879
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #48 on: March 11, 2015, 06:16:36 AM »
1. Mainly concerned with facts. Not concerned with the "what-ifs".
2. Very cynical.
3. Not very empathetic.
4. Abrasive tone in general.
5. Acts like knows something more than you.
6. No frills.
Sounds like an overconfident young(?) hot-shot developer. These folks exist, and they can be annoying, even (or especially) to other developers. But they're not the norm in my experience. Of course I'm a software developer, so my own perspective may be bit skewed ;-)

By the numbers:
1. Not at all. What-ifs are my bread and butter. Some techies are fairly concrete thinkers, but if anything I would say that software attracts the more abstract thinkers.
2. Um, yeah. Years of working in a corporate environment will do that, especially if you're not the type to "drink the kool-aid" to begin with.
3. The social skills of techies can vary greatly, as does interest in improving them.
4. Again, some engineers are better than others. I think the main difference from other disciplines is that engineers can *get away* with being abrasive, due to their perceived "wizard" status and the associated stereotypes.
5. Another "young hotshot" trait.The longer you work and the more you learn, the more humble you generally become. But of course there are people who never outgrow their "more knowledgeable than thou" attitude.
6. Pretty common among techies, though not universal. Engineers generally have an optimization mindset, and frills are by definition superfluous and tend to get optimized out.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2015, 06:18:52 AM by dcheesi »

jsloan

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 79
Re: Are all engineers like this?
« Reply #49 on: March 11, 2015, 06:36:47 AM »
Quote
One of my favorite examples was talking about the results of a linear programming optimization model.  They wanted to change the results because they didn't like them and they thought the optimizer didn't work right.  I told them the problem was with the inputs or the model design, not the optimization software.  I tried explaining that it was like a calculator, if you put in 4 and 4, get 8, and expected to get 7, maybe one of the numbers you put in was wrong.  The calculator is going to give you the right answer every time...for the question you asked.  Unfortunately many non-technical types are going to take offense to an explanation like this.  "That engineer just explained to me why I'm wrong.  What a jerk."  You can explain it as politely as you like, but people don't like being corrected.

Certainly they're not all the same, but I can imagine there are some very angry engineers out there after years of dealing with this kind of stuff.  I'm working with mostly engineers now and I spend my time getting work done and not defending basic principles of math anymore.

As a lead developer I would keep these types of developers away from clients and users too.  Sometimes the people you are explaining these things to are stakeholders of a project that control budgets or have influence over the direction of the project.  I can't tell you how many referrals I have gotten from people who said some existing application or process didn't work the way they wanted only to discover that the code I inherited was actually pretty well written.  When I would dig deeper into what was wrong with the application it usually would come down to personality differences where the user(s) didn't like working with previous developers. 

So being 'technically' correct is good because you know that the system works as expected, but sometimes those soft skills are just as important when you want to have people actually use your system.  In the above case, walking users through why entering 4 and 4 = 8 would be a better exercise than making people feel stupid.  I would equate the above story to someone going to up an overweight person and saying: "If you lost 50 pounds you would be more attractive and healthy".  You are not technically wrong, but you sound like a dick.           
« Last Edit: March 11, 2015, 06:46:09 AM by jsloan »