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# Arrogant Engineers37

## Arrogant Engineers

(OP)
Ok... So someone tell me why this is.....

I notice it with most customers and suppliers I work with, as well as my-self from time to time.  I even notice it in these forums.

What is it that makes engineers so arrogant?  I was asked this earlier today by someone that thougth i was being arrogant because I told them a convesion from mm to inches was easy.  In these forums, if you read most of our posts... you will even notice there is a sence of this arrogance in a good portion of the responses....

Is it because we are for the most part well educated and that makes us this way?  Or is it that we are all "nerds" and do not have the best interpersonal communication skills?  Or are we just a large group of cocky know it alls?

I don't know, perhaps arrogance is not the word I am looking for, but you all know what I am getting at.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

From the offending perspective, I'd say that the disconnect is not with "arrogant engineers", but rather the "(flush with inferiority complexes and intimidated by engineers) non-engineers" that are the cause of the phenomenon.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Part of it is that in our particular fields we are 'relatively' expert, at least compared to general public.

For instance on most math, especially anything more complex than basic arithmetic, we will have much higher competancy than lay folk.

For me, especially having worked both situations converting mm to inches is easy.  For my wife or son, not so much.

Communication skills are also a factor.

Personality too is a factor.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

"aww, it's easy, man!" could be reassuring to someone a bit intimidated by converting inches to mm, or vice versa, or it could sound arrogant. I guess it all depends on the tone of voice, inflection, etc, and the mood of the listener.

I think it would be more arrogant to say "oh, well, this is an extremely difficult calculation...".

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

I think it's just that many of these things ARE SIMPLE.

Anyone who doesn't know or doesn't take the time to know is either dumb or lazy or both.

How's that for arrogance

It's also the whinny tone that these people have when they say, "It's too technical," or, "It's too hard."

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

I feel it is the total opposite. Most Engineers that I know do not go into bars speak loudly during a conversation with sombody and anounce to the world that s/he is an Engineer with their chest out.  Or even drive expensive cars and have trophy wives. Most Engineers I know are realy down to earth.  Now, if the Engineer is carrying on about a heavy duty subject, you may be confusing that with passion not arrogoncy.

Tobalcane
"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

IR, I think you're right on.

Converting metric to inches is easy.  It is simple math.  Maybe you can't remember the 25.4 conversion factor, big deal, but even grade school kids can multiply.  It's easy and I'm not afraid to call people on it.

I get referred to as arrogant because of personality and delivery.  Mainly, being the introverted personality type, I don't talk unless spoken to and I don't make random assumptions about nonsense just to hear myself speak.  But, if a conversation is going on and I happen to know the subject matter - which by default means I've studied it enough to be better educated than the guy who just heard about it on the news -- the same guy who started the conversation - then all of a sudden the quiet guy in the corner is speaking out because who knows everything.  Well, that is what gets portrayed.

It gets portrayed that way because, we as engineers, have an inherent need to educate others and my presentation skills are not too shy when it comes to correcting someone of gross errors in their facts.

--Scott

http://wertel.eng.pro

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

...."but even grade school kids can multiply. "

Are you smarter than a 5th grader?  Should first be asked...and then wait for that look...LOL

Tobalcane
"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

3
(OP)
Now, our head quality guy has a right to call me an arrogant jerk.  But I act that way with him, because that is the only way i can get through to him.  He has been this companies head quality engineer for 15 years and he is a moron...

quick story...

He came to me about a month ago ranting and raving about how stupid engineering is.  He threw a print infront of me and told me he couldn't measure parts because the print was in metric and he only had english instruments.  So I told him to convert from mm to inches and he would be fine.  He got all hot and started yelling about how he doesn't know how to do that and it is my responsibility to do the complicated engineering.  I quite literaly had to pull my jaw off the floor.  I was extremely busy and did not have time to mess with it... So, I told him that if he sat in the corner of my office in "time out" I would change the print to english for him... but only then would I do it.  Let me tell you... bad idea, he flew off the handle... But I stuck to my guns, and eventually he turned and sat in the corner while I converted the 5 dimensions for him... oh and I made it take about 5 mins... :)  Now he hates me... Oh well...

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

sbozy25,
I had a very similar situation once. So, I changed the dwg to show in/[mm]. He still got mad because he now had to dimension twice!
Sometimes you want to just want to .... never mind.

Chris
SolidWorks 07 4.0/PDMWorks 07
ctopher's home (updated 04-21-07)

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

When I watch "I am smarter than a 5th grader" my wife thinks im arrogant.  I knew the answers of the science question and I said... "I cant believe he doesnt know the answer!!!"  And my wife said (she is an attorney btw).. I dont know it either!!!

Never, but never question engineer's judgement

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Someone with less intelligence than you will think you're being arrogant, someone with more intelligence than you will think you're showing off, someone with equal intelligence will either argue with you or not listen to you at all.
This is only my observation.

Chris
SolidWorks 07 4.0/PDMWorks 07
ctopher's home (updated 04-21-07)

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

2

I am a female architect who has spent the bulk of her career working for engineering firms.  I can honestly say I have never found a single engineer I would call arrogant.  Socially inept and lacking interpersonal skills yes, but not arrogant.  I’d say many bordered on shy.

My guess is that you miscalculated the reaction the customer/listener would have when you told them something they found difficult was easy.  Although accurate, it was demeaning to them.   Perhaps the better way to handle it would be to genuinely and sympathetically ask what is causing their difficulty, offering to show them how to do the conversion, or send them a link to any number of sites that will do it for them, and then offering to help if they have future trouble with the conversion, without making the JUDGEMENT that the task is easy.

I’d love to go on and on with this topic.  I have been on a personal quest for a long time to improve my own interpersonal communication and my ‘believability’ when I testify in court for work.  Two things I would recommend that have worked for me.  Start some reading about personality types.  Meyers-Briggs is good, but I like the Enneagram (9-types).  Also, the book Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, PhD is a good resource.  I am currently listening to the audio version.  Check out Non-Violent communication by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg.  I think you can listen to excerpts on his website.

Or you may find you own path, other books and different sources.  It is not a quick study, especially for those of us not born with an innate ability, like me.  It takes work, but most importantly, you have to be motivated by a desire to improve yourself, not a need to change others.

"If you are going to walk on thin ice, you might as well dance!"

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

It happens in all fields.. say, oh dog training

"Clicker training is easy"... sure for those with good timing and the ability to read dogs... guess what, these are the people that go into teaching others how to train dogs...

I haven't found most engineers to be arrogant. The people I have found to be arrogant are the self taught ones... I took martial arts two places, one fairly traditional, the other headed up by a self taught guy... they were equal in being VERY good martial artists (if that's the term); however those who had learned from others always knew there were people out there better than them, the self taught one (who had tremendous natural talent) was "almost as good as he thought he was" (and that was saying a lot as he was excellent... however during his formative years in the art, he had never run into anyone that truely knew more than he did or was better than him...

My opinions only
SLH

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

I agree with sbozy25, engineers are arrogant.  I think it is part of the history of engineers.  I don't know about everyone else but I spent most of my first year of univ singing songs about how much smarter we and better we were than the other faculties.  It was 8 months of brainwashing.  ERTW?

It wasn't until I made friends in other programs that I realized how ridiculous it all was.

Having said that though, it still does blow my mind sometimes how difficult people make math out to be.  Even situations that require some sort of logical action can totally fluster them.

But, everyone is different, I see a simple math mistake and it bothers me, they read something where I put a comma in the wrong spot and they feel the same way.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

It's not arrogant if you are just that [dern] good.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

In addition to the normal kinds of arrogance, which is a bit rare for engineering type, sometimes people will act blustery to defend their intellectual "turf." Some people are just really touchy if you try to ask questions about the plant they're running or the calculation they did, even if you're just asking for information's sake. They just feel this need to prove that they're on the ball, display their competency, etc.

People can also put up a "you don't understand it as well as me" shield for political purposes, such as avoiding or pushing for a change in the workplace. But that can happen in all parts of the business.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

2
I'm actually very quiet and shy.

Sometimes I overcompensate.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Twoballcane said
"Most Engineers that I know do not go into bars speak loudly during a conversation with sombody and anounce to the world that s/he is an Engineer with their chest out.  Or even drive expensive cars and have trophy wives. Most Engineers I know are realy down to earth."

I quoted that to my wife, and now I have to sleep down stairs.

Thanks alot buddy.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

sbozy, frankly if a guy in an Engineering related position can't do that math he should be canned.  If he can't convert mm to inches how does he cope with interpreting GD&T, especially any MMC/Bonus tol, statistical tolerancing etc.  I wouldn't call what you did arrogance so much as frustration, I posted on that very topic a while back.

That said a lot of people struggle with real world math problems, or as my wife calls them 'word problems'.

I bet if you gave him the problem of 76.2/25.4 he'd eventually have got the right answer, even if it took a calculator.  You tell him to convert the 76.2 mm pipe into inch dimensions using the conversion factor of 25.4 mm to 1 inch he's lost.

Engineers spend a big part of their careers turning 'word problems' into mathematical equations.

An example or arrogance from this site, a few weeks ago someone posted a question of how to calculate the weight per foot for a plastic pipe, saying he had a CAD model that calculated the mass but he didn't understand how to get this information.

Most of the responses immediately demeaned the OP saying anyone with a high school education should be able to work it out etc.  Turned out the guy was a tech illustrator not an Engineer.

I know this is Eng-tips not tech illustrator tips but I figured it was a related profession and not too unreasonable for him to use this site, there are a bunch of designers, drafters, and architects on here too (plus those of us in exempt industry that don’t have PE and aren’t striving toward it which some posters think shouldn’t be called Engineers) so I decided to try and help.

I can see how peoples response to this guy could be seen as arrogance, even I questioned if he was an intern or something (which is why he explained he was a tech illustrator) so was perhaps guilty.

I will say I’ve noticed the arrogance a bit more in the US than I did in the UK, as I mentioned before the sense of superiority of Engineers to Drafters/Designers is more evident here than back in Blighty but it may also have been the industry I was in and/or the employer.

That said I’m sure some of those reading this will consider me arrogant, I’m willing to admit that though I try not to be sometimes I probably am.  Likewise I sometimes think I have a chip on my shoulder so I’m sure others think it even more often!

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

#### Quote:

American Strong Ale

Isn't that an Oxymoron?

That was an example of me being an arrogant Brit, thinking our beer is better than your gnats... sorry I meant your beer.

On topic, a couple of posts that may be construed by some as having some arrogance to them.

thread507-192959: Quality of Structural Drafting Work

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Maybe it just other people that become selfconsious and perhaps a little ashamed that they cant do simple unit conversions?

Morten

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

If an engineer is wrong they might say "You are right."

It is rare to hear an engineer say "I'm wrong or I made a mistake."

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Monkeydog (frat name?)

Sorry about that!  If your wife is a trophy wife (as in you married her for her looks and not for her brains)Im not understanding why she was mad.

I hope your Porshe wont get mad and make you drive the Toyota!;)

Tobalcane
"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

I have been called forthright, blunt, to the point. I take these as compliments. Arrogant, a few times, but not very often. In engineering we are taught to be objective, not subjective and I truly believe a lot of the times it kills our interpersonal (or is it intra) skills. Though I have learned how to cater my response to my audience working in the industry, it is necessary. But... sometimes no matter what you do people feel threatened by an engineer's ability to learn and somewhat understand almost any technical subject matter.

In the case of this Quality guy he obviously doesn't do too much technical stuff in terms of math, but he might know a ton about the shop and how to tweak a process to tighten up the standard deviation. From the sounds of it he did not get an engineering degree, but worked his way up from the shop floor. I find that too many quality engineers don't have a degree, but that is another story.

In any case, giving the quality engineer the conversion factor should have ended it. The "time out" probably has more to do with the arrogance than anything else.

And some american porters make boddingtons, or whatever a comparable Brit beer is, taste like hot gartbage. I wonder if they export the good beer from UK to US?? Now that I think of it, what are the best beers in UK, whhooopps off the topic. No coffee = bad engineer

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

I saw somewhere when there is a difference of 20 points in IQ the people have a hard time communicating with each other.  I think this is the case with engineers, as most of us have high IQ's.  That is really what makes an engineer a good engineer because we have the ability to figure things out, not just book learning.

Anyway, I believe that "lay people" generally have lower IQ's than engineers who talk over their heads and act like math is easy.  They mistakenly decide this is arrogance.

This is what I do to prevent myself from being labeled arrogant:
1.  I never talk about engineering stuff with my non engineer friends.  They don't understand it and they label me arrogant or a nerd, or they just aren't interested.

2.  I always assume non-engineers have the technical mind of a child and that I should carefully explain things to them in the same way that I explain stuff to my six-year-old.  This works pretty well.

3. I also understand that just because I have more theoretical and practical knowledge than non-engineers, that many others have more social knowledge than me.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

2
"It's easy."
"It's good enough."
"You don't need to do that."

I don't know if that's arrogance. Ignorance, maybe, Incompetence, maybe.

In the engineering profession, the arrogant engineers I know are mostly coastal engineers. They surf, I don't, so I'm not sh*t. They seem to really look down on any profession that works with their hands - including computer modeling of anything other than grains of sand.

Then again, THIS is what arrogance is all about: http://www.areavoices.com/wrestling/images/thumbnail/rick_martel1.jpg.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

6
For the most part, it's not arrogance, and the problem is not IQ or intelligence.  It's knowledge.  My sister in law, with a PHD in genetics and arcane weird stuff comes across as arrogant to me, but that's because she assumes that I (who never took biology even in high school) know all of this stuff that she works with every day.

When we as engineers assume that our audience knows something as a basic fact, and make it obvious that we assume they SHOULD know it, that's when we appear arrogant.

Off the top of my head, I can't remember how many duplex outlets are allowed on a single 15 amp household circuit, but I don't consider an electrician arrogant for knowing that.

It's not about treating your audience as idiots, it's about treating them with respect.  Don't assume they know everything you do, or they'll turn the tables on you, and guaranteed there are things that YOU don't understand about what they do.

Why is common courtesy and respect so hard to find?

As for the quality guy who was confused by metric drawings, I would write up a non-conformance on him, for not having the proper tools to do his job - ie, metric tools for measuring.  Any quality guy should know that a metric item should be checked with metric tools.  There is no excuse for doing conversions.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

People can confuse confidence (technical or otherwise) with arrogance.  I suppose it likely depends, as some of the previous posters indicate, on how the information is delivered to or more importantly, perceived by the audience.  This is especially true to providing technical information to those without a strong background.  If their eyes start to glaze over, it is best to take a different tact.

regards,

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

"Why is common courtesy and respect so hard to find?"

Because it isn't worth the effort. Consider:

Some "assistant" in the "retail service industry"  remarked to me for whatever reason (I probably needed an answer to a question) "you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar."

To which I replied, "no, if you really want to catch flies, you need a handful of dog sh*t. Now please give me what I require as I am PAYING YOU for it!" Or that's how I'd like to recall it in my memory.

I find myself often on the ass-end of a double standard. Work I do is expected to be better than perfect, but when I'm checking someone else's work, I'm expected to give 'em a break. I also can explain things pretty well - yet I constantly run into other engineers, people with experience, who just don't "get it" and because of that, I'm an idiot.

I hate "dumbing-down" anything. If I don't know much about a subject, I have no problem admitting it. Is there a problem with that? (yes, if it's structural engineering-related, another story). Whenever I talk to a lay-person about engineering, I use the proper terms (e.g., modulus of elasticity) and try to define them as I go along. But if someone's talking to me about plasma physics, what's up with me not knowing the latest? 'coz everyone else knows them.

Thus, I choose to respond with violence. Result: no one talks to me much any more. Ahh, bliss.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Engineers sometimes look arrogant because they often make the mistake of assuming that other people know what they know.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

There is a very fine line between confidence and arrogance.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

It has been my experience that people I label "arrogant", whether "engineers" or not, are people that I do not truly know, but only have as an acquaintance.  I often discover that it is my ill conceived perception of them that is flawed, yet there are always those that once I do get to know them on more than an acquaintance level that just turn out to be a-holes.  Unfortunately for most of us perception is reality.

Brian

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

3
Engineers arrogant... ever met a surgeon !!??

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

So true epoisses, in fact Doctors generally, very much of a God complex.

Engineering isn't the only proffession to exhibit this tendancy, but it is the only one we're members of.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

I've seen a few "arrogant" engineers before. Still not sure what makes them so. Perhaps the unwillingness to admit when they've made a mistake?
I can recall a drawing where the engineer wrote a drill angle that was impossible....he didnt make the call to the supplier first...turns out we had to hand correct all the drawings before they went out for tender...and we didnt get to cross off the wrong angle, we had to make it a RANGE of angles that would include his impossible one, so that he was still right.
But Ive experienced arrogance at other times as well. Ever walk into a room full of engineers with your "iron ring" left at home?

Ever seen an engineer belittling a technologist? or plumber? or other "lower" tradesperson? (I've seen it, many times). I dont know what causes it, but for some reason some of us peeps with heads full of math think we know better than the people installing our design. Then they come back and tell us that "Yup, that valve will fit where you want it, but there wont be enough clearance to turn it off next time you want to do maintenance..." and we get all upset and tell them to "just make it work".

I think the UNarrogant engineers are the ones who value the knowledge of everyone else around them. The rest still have alot to learn.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

ar·ro·gance   Pronunciation[ar-uh-guhns]

–noun: offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride.

If someone that can't do a simple unit conversion is offended that it is easy for me, I am not so sure I am concerned about that. But since we really are superior, why wouldn't we display it? If you got it, flaut it so to speak...

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" Oddball, "Kelly's Heros" 1970

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### RE: Arrogant Engineers

I'm note sure if this qualifies as arrogance but I saw a vanity plate that says LITIG8R.  I was driving right behind that guy and even without looking at his face I didn't like that guy.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

If you are secure in your knowledge and talent, you don't need to be arrogant.

Arrogance is used by insecure people, so they can remind themselves of how superior they believe themselves to be.

There is nothing wrong with people not knowing something; there are 'simple' conversions that many people don't know how to do.  Some world leaders can't pronounce 'nuclear'; some movie starlets/professional sluts can't even drive drunk.  Everyone has important basic skills they lack.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

#### Quote:

Arrogance is used by insecure people, so they can remind themselves of how superior they believe themselves to be.
Thats it precisely.
Why do some doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc display arrogance.  There are other factors in their life they are supremely insecure about so they must thrust the aspect of their life they excel at.
The best non-arrogant engineer's I have met, have done something other than engineering in their life and have rounded themselves.
The reason why neophyte university students are heaped with the ERTW non-sense is because most often they aren't well rounded and require something to give them confidence to maintain "university life" (social, grades, etc).  The problem however arises when these students emerge and need to hold on to that thinking to cope with their life.

Presto chango.....you go from being a post-pubescent, hormonal student.........to a jerk in the handing of a scroll.

Today is gone. Today was fun.
Tomorrow is another one.
Every day, from here to there,
funny things are everywhere. ~'Dr.' Theodor Geisel

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

With doctors,  it's not arrogance, it's self-preservation.  As with many things engineering, there's never 100% knowledge of the situation and conditions.  In engineering, that's generally dealt with by design margins and some assumption of future risk.

With a patient, he's either dying of cancer or has a completely benign tumor, and there's no future risk, it's present and the patient is right there in front of you.  Any level of self doubt will eat you alive and you'd burn out in a matter of months, so you have to be certain, just to keep your sanity.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

I'm 45-years-old and I can still walk on my hands, It's quite easy, I can't believe anyone can't do it, it's so easy.

Charlie
www.facsco.com

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

"Doctors kill people one at a time. Engineers do it by the hundreds." :hehe:  "In engineering, that's generally dealt with by design margins and some assumption of future risk." Plus there is a measure more consistency in a slab of aluminum than say, some guy's liver. Plus I can another one of those from McMaster.

I suppose it's easy to see how an engineer can come off as an arrogant know-it-all. But by nature, engineers are supposed to be know-it-alls about a lot of things. Either way, I try my hardest not to be talk at a stratospheric level around certain people. People like the technician on my project. The last thing I want him to believe is that I think I'm smarter than he is.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Here I pose a question to you.

Do arrogant people choose to be engineers or does engineering make a person arrogant?

I have  been considered arrogant my entire life.  I do not feel that I am an arrogant person by any means.  I do not brag about my accomplishments (or at least I try not to).  I am also shy and tend to not talk when I do not feel comfortable.  But I will talk up a storm when the topic and situation are right.  Maybe this polar opposite personality trait leads individuals to believe that a person is arrogant because he/she was quite while other people talk about common social topics but couldn't be shut up when he/she started talking about technical/nerdy subject matter.  This expression about subject matter that most engineers find interesting may/will be a topic that a large portion of society have no knowledge of or care to learn.  I believe this separation of interest is the leading contributor to the perception of arrogant engineers.

Brian

How arrogant dose this post sound???

Brian
SW 2006 SP 4.1

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Charlie,
You arrogant B*****D!!!

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Dave, a star for you.

Of course,I guess I could be called arrogant for that, oh, the inhumanity.

I still haven't heard anyone tell me why I shouldn't be arrogant.

Another thing, Arrogance is a rainbow of colors......

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Pride comes before a fall/fool?

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

KENAT, I think that is extremely arrogant to suggest you know when Lions give birth.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Sorry, guess I slipped up on that arrogant thing again.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Arrogant engineers...

I tend to keep my gob shut unless on firm ground.  Therefore my non-engineer acquaintances always consider me arrogant.  How to win?

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Are engineers really any more arrogant than other professions? trades? services? ...

I have met arrogant people across a whole host of industries, markets, jobs, what have you, including the check-out person at McDonald's who told me that $1.95 from$5 is \$2.95 change, and that I can't add (well, technically, it's subtract, but I quibble).

Then again, since we engineers are really that good, then it really isn't arrogance then is it?

"Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater."
Albert Einstein
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### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Question:  What's the difference between God and an engineer??
Ans:  God doesn't think he's an engineer.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Then who is the "Intelegent Designer"?

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

That's the point.  Inteligent design not inteligent engineereing.

It was done by a designer not an engineer.

You know what designers are like, just look at a couple of posts complaining about them lately.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

2
Everyone has something that they can teach you, but you won't learn anything from them unless you are willing to listen. Some engineers choose not to listen to the opinions of others, especially if those opinions are expressed by non-engineers such as sales people, marketing employees, lab technicians, manufacturing workers, managers, etc. I personally am almost always willing to listen to the opinions expressed by others, but rarely am I inclined to pursue their ideas if I don't perceive that they contain the required technical merit to solve the problem. While these people can sometimes come up with very creative and technically sound suggestions to resolve specific engineering issues, I would say that the majority of the time the person with the background and experience in the job (i.e. the degreed engineer) will come up with the most viable solution. And that's why they were hired - to perform engineering. When non-engineering professionals feel that their opinions or contributions are not valued by the engineer, they may perceive this type of response as arrogant.

I understand that people need to feel respected and valued. If they believe that the engineer does not respect them or value their opinion, it chips away at their self-esteem. And it hurts. Putting yourself in their shoes can make this a very enlightening experience. But when the discussion turns to a technical nature and centers around a project that I am working on or am responsible for, I will not back down or compromise when it comes to the fundamental engineering principles or procedures that impact the outcome of that project. And I expect the people that I work with to respect my opinion when it comes to engineering. The consequences of allowing someone to marginalize the quality and safety of a design is not an acceptable price to pay in order to incorporate their ideas or input. This is another way that engineers may be perceived as arrogant.

And then there's the insecure guy who tries to mask his lack of confidence and ability with an over-the-top display. I haven't met any engineers who I would say fit that description yet, but you never know. They may be one out there somewhere...

Maui

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

There is some truth in the engineers and arrogance statement in the sense that *certain* engineers consider themselves the only species capable of sound decision making, on any level engineering or not (marketing, politics...).

I remember myself as an inexperienced eng taking part in a multi disciplinary project meeting with sales guys and what have you. I did not like the project idea from the beginning and at a certain point I could not hold back any longer and told everyone that I was sorry to let them know that from engineering point, the project idea was fundamentally flawed (or I think I said bs). Complete silence, blank faces staring at me, says one of the sales guys: "So???".

That is when I realised a 4th dimension exists, which, as I told myself, I should maybe start to explore a bit further as part of my professional progress.

The alternative would have been to resign and become a world famous cartoonist

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

I think the way sales and marketing, project management, etc roles dominate modern businesses there's a defensiveness from engineers who feel (often quite rightly) that they actually create the product and should be valued more.

Defensiveness can often come across as arrogance.

Ben

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Early in my career I was quite likely able to come across as arrogant.  In my office I had a plaque (given as a gift when I was in High School) "Nobody's perfect, just some of us are closer than others".  If you did not know my sense of humor, you could easily regard it as something arrogant to have on display.  I still have it only I keep it at home.

I also remember using statements (which may or may not be "original") such as:

"He who thinks he knows everything, only serves to irritate those of us who do."

"I have no superiors, and @#%& few equals".

These are taken out of context from the otherwise humorous conversations in which they were used.  Arrogant statements, absolutely.  If someone did not know me well enough, I would undoubtedly be "branded" an arrogant person.

Thankfully as my career has progressed and evolved, I have become aware that how I am perceived by others (especially those without a technical background), is an essential skill to being successful in what I do.  The people I work with have widely varying skillsets (technical and otherwise) and I keep a repertoire of simple examples so when someone in casual conversation asks me what I do, I have something they can easily relate to.

Regards,

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

2
If someone started lecturing you on the legal implications of your actions you would not call them arrogant, you would call them a lawyer.

People dont tend to question what the doctor, lawyer or accountant says but they do tend to question the engineers all the time. This lack of respect for our knowledge often breeds arrogant reactions.

We also do a complicated job and make it look simple, it is often much easier to be dismissive than to explain the reasons for our decisions in laymans terms.

Dumbing down the details is sometimes hard to do without sounding condescending.

csd

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

One more data point...

Most engineers are (for want of a better word) shy.  We don't shout our mouths off about every subject, only when we know we are on solid ground.  Hence we are seen by non-engineers to be "always right".  This is where the arrogance comes from.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Not me.  I'm just an arrogant SOB.

What?  Someone had to say it to bring the smiles!

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

To quote a very wise man (me!)

Arrogance is the easiest way to deal with idiots.

Taa Daa

Kevin

“It is a mathematical fact that fifty percent of all doctors graduate in the bottom half of their class." ~Author Unknown

"If two wrongs don't make a right, try three." ~Author Unknown

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Arrogance is usually intelligence viewed through the lens of mediocrity.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Where I live (1/2 hr outside New York City), almost everyone is arrogant. Modesty is considered a liability around here and will probably not get you a new job. I wish it wasn't so.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

I have had my moments of arrogance.  I venture to say that it is usually with people who think my degree is 'just a piece of paper' and value my education less than I do.  After all, I was there.......

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

The more I learn, the more I realize what I don’t know.
When I do know something, I tend to correct others that insist what is wrong isn’t.
If they didn’t insist, I probably wouldn’t have corrected them.
Is correcting a Self-righteous A**H*** being Arrogant? Maybe.

I studied long & hard to gain this knowledge. Now that I am older I have a hard time holding my tongue when someone, attempting to be something they are not, holds court and spouts forth incorrect blather. (bs) It’s wrong and could be dangerous. Buddy, I’m calling your bluff. Gotcha!

We have a shop full of Repair Technicians that are very skillful and I don’t talk down to them. They might ask me to do it myself. I have 10 thumbs. I do communicate, not necessarily at a lower level, but using their language. (In college my girl friend was studying to be a Dental Technician. She studied Calculus also. It is the white stuff you scrape off of teeth.)

I don’t think I appear arrogant. That is one of my wife’s functions…Arrogant Police. She has started to refuse to watch any technical movies or TV shows with me. So now I keep my mouth shut. You would think after 34 years I could express my opinion about the technical competence of a director of a technical movie. So we watch Doctor shows. My brother has been a Paramedic for 30 years. He is not allowed to watch Doctor shows. When we get together all we watch are Cop Shows. My daughter is in the Police Academe. Pretty soon all we will be able to watch will be sports.
NOW YOU ARE TALKING ARROGANCE!

Rerig
If I were arrogant I wouldn't go by rerig.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

5
I'm an engineer and I think most engineers fit the stereotype of being arrogant.  When explaining something to people, some engineers tend to stress the easy parts and gloss over the hard parts, while simultaneously leaving out chunks of information.  It's like the engineer can't remember when they didn't know it.

So here's my screenplay.  I guess the working title is "Arrogant Engineer".

Engineer:  After I fix the hemtopic regagulator...
Normal:  What's that?
Engineer:  It stop the spurdastic from achieving combabulary phase A.  Understand?
Normal:  No.
Engineer:  It stops the SPURDASTIC (gestures wildly) from ACHIEVING combablary PHASE A.
Normal:  Uh… (looks around scared)
Engineer:  Look, I’ll make it easier.  You know what two plus two is, right? What addition is?
Normal:  Of course I do!
Engineer:  Hey, I’m just making sure buddy.  You didn’t know what a spurdastic was, so I’m trying to go slowly…
Normal:  OK, fine, thank you… (swallowing his pride)
Engineer:  Well the answer is four.  That’s why we have four spurdastics.  Now imagine if they got real hot.  I mean really hot.  That would be bad, right?
Normal:  Four spurdastics?
Normal:  I guess so.
Engineer:  That’s why combabulary phase A is bad.  You know what bad is, right?
Normal:  Uh, I have a meeting to go to, we’ll pick this up another time.

(NORMAL walks away.)

Normal:  Arrogant sonofapoodle!

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

star for sideswiper.  I hope I am not the only one who found that funny!!

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

TheTick,

Star for you. Hope you don't mind if I borrow that occasionally!

I wonder if part of the reason engineers are perceived as arrogant is that we understand most people's work so much better than they understand ours? I can speak basic legalese to lawyers, high school maths to accountants, curse and swear along with the fitters and speak fluent bullsh*t to managers. If they were listening to me talking to another engineer I suspect they would think I was speaking in tongues. We are considerably more versatile than most professions and I think that because we have a level of expertise in so many fields it perhaps brings out insecurities in others who can't match either the breadth or depth of knowledge in the average engineer.

----------------------------------
I don't have an attitude problem. You have a perception problem...

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Oh please. Any moron knows that combabulary phase B is much worse than combabulary phase A.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

geekEE, you should be more clear.  As one claiming to be an engineer, you have a responsibility to be accurate and complete.

Your statement is true only for longitudinal axis spurdastics.  As anyone with REAL experience knows, lateral axis spurdastics only enter combabulary phase B in the presence of tachyons, and even then the magnitude of the phase B deviations does not approach the value of the phase A deviations.

Only in a longitudinal axis spurdastic does the combabulary phase B deviation exceed the phase A, but of course it does so by two orders of magnitude so I give you credit for at least being correct there.

So next time, make it clear you were speaking of LONGITUDINAL AXIS spurdastics, and you won't have to be corrected in a public forum such as this by someone as humble and meek as myself!

debodine

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Ha ha ha!  I think debodine made my point better than I did.  That's rich.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

debodine,

Can you please explain the bit between spurdastics and spurdastics, its all dutch to me.

I take it the regulator stops the thing from overheating.

As mentioned before communication is one of those soft skills that is essential for engineers in practice. If you cant dumb down what you say then you really need to figure out how you can, or find a position where you dont have to deal with people.

csd

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

We either have to 'dumb it down' for our audiences or we have to instill in them the confidence that we not only know what we're doing but that we also have their best interests in mind.

That's the 'perfect world' scenario.  It pops up occasionally.

The real world scenario is more likely to be like working for manager or client who not only does not understand what we're trying to do, but he also has expectations far out of line with reality.  I try to deal with these as gently and tactfully as possible, but somewhere along the line it sometimes becomes impossible and I have asked more than one 'manager' exactly what act of legislation recently repealed Ohm's Law...

old field guy

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Try explaining central heating to ones spouse who insists on switching the heating on when feeling cold and opening windows when feeling hot!  In the end I gave up.  Couldn't face all those arguments about why I thought I knew what I was talking about.  I chose to pay a higher heating bill instead and stay quiet.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

SomptingGuy,

I know exactly what you are talking about. I have given up trying to explain to my wife about the false economy of frequently turning fluorescent lights on/off and the miniscule amount that LEDs use up.

csd

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Don't get me started!

On holiday once in Wales (where it's always cold) we had a small electric heater to make the bedroom bearable before bed time.  I was scolded for leaving the light on in the room while the heater was running.  Almost ended up on the sofa!

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

SomptingGuy,

It depends which part of Wales. I have been to Pembrokeshire twice and I had at least once day of about 30C each time.

csd

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

debodine, hahaha, if you were any more humble and meek, I'd have to slap you.

SomptingGuy, that sounds like my ex-girlfriend. If she was cold, she set the heat to the maximum setting. I tried explaining that that wouldn't warm the room any faster than setting it to a comfortable setting, but she never changed her ways.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Sideswiper,

Star for you buddy, the sonofapoodle cracked me up, perfect forum insult

As for the rest, I think you made it all up, but I forgive you

Kevin

“It is a mathematical fact that fifty percent of all doctors graduate in the bottom half of their class." ~Author Unknown

"If two wrongs don't make a right, try three." ~Author Unknown

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

geekEE, if I understand you correctly, my physical health will be much safer from degradation if I am LESS humble and meek?  <grin>

Are we allowed to have this much fun on this forum?

debodine

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Your wives/girlfriends are the height of rationality compared to a friend of mine.

He had this big heater in his room plus a portable air conditioner. He would turn the heater on full blast and then regulate the temperature by adjusting the airconditioner.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

I've found that, as a group, we are thought of as pretty arrogant.  I've accepted this, even though I don't think of myself that way.

I often have to go to the field and work with contractors who think this way as well.  My trick is to defuse the situation by explaining that all engineers take a class in college to be arrogant, but I made a D.  This usually gets a chuckle and the room will warm up just a little...

If you "heard" it on the internet, it's guilty until proven innocent. - DCS

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

In my city there is a big rivalry between 2 engineering colleges. One has the reputation of the best engineering school in the country (the one that I attendend to ) and the other gets the remainder students that don't have vacancy in the first one.
We have a joke that goes like this:
"What does an engineer from school A (the best one) says to and engineer from school B?
-It's a Cheeseburger and a Coke, please."

Is this being arrogant?

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

No, it's being cliched. Everyone tells that joke.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

When I'm with other technical people I tend to involve them in the thought process I'm going through.  With lay people, I don't, and it comes across as less arrogant.

Good luck,
Latexman

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Medicine Eng, the joke goes.

Q. "What do you say to an arts graduate with a job"

A. "Big Mac & Fries please"

It's verging on arrogance but firstly has an element of truth and secondly is somewhat clichéd as Tomfh pointed out.  This has been used as the base of many jokes, such as yours which support rivalries between schools, departments courses etc.

Your version is just pointing out that some schools are truly superior to others.

In my schools town there was a real University and an "institute" which used to be a polytechnic college.  We nicknamed the institute variously “dimstitute”  or “ destitute”.   Is that arrogance, or just typical rivalry?   Either way it’s not arrogance due to being an Engineer, so probably not relevant to this thread.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Here's another variant:

The graduate with an Accounting degree asks, "How much will it cost?"
The graduate with an Arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"

Those poor old arts students were the butt of everyone's jokes. Half the toilet paper dispensers at Sydney University had the following message: "Arts degrees, Please take one"

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Guys at my school who couldn't quite hack the engineering math switched to a special major: Industrial Distribution.

It was arrogant to look down on them ... and stupid.

They've all retired as Caterpillar dealers and such, and I'm still trying to scratch out a living, engineering parts for their yachts.

Mike Halloran
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Engineers often have answers derived from published data and calculations that can be replicated and validated.

Many managers, HR types, and general hangers-on often have answers based on opinions, flavors of the month, and what they think will please the boss.  They THINK they have real answers, but when they are confronted with somebody (an engineer) who's confident of an answer, they label him as 'arrogant'...

"I'm not arrogant, I'm just that d*mned good!"

old field guy

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

oldfield,

Maybe engineers arent arrogant enough. If we were then we would be making the judgement of others, not the other way around.

csd

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Oldfield,

You have just explained my current situation.  I ask the client what their selection criteria for a pump is, and they tell me it is the 20 year whole life cost based on a 7% discount rate.  I go to the market place and select the best pump against these criteria.  This happens to be the cheapest pump with the lowest efficiency.

Then the client says what about carbon footprint.  Surely we should be minimising carbon footprint.  So I go to the market place and find a pump with the lowest carbon footprint.  Naturally, it doesn't look like what they are used to - low melting point materials, plastics etc, so they tell me they want the highest efficiency, above 85%.  So I go to the market place and find them a pump which will operate at above 85% efficient, but it costs a fortune, so they tell me they want the best whole life cost, not just running cost.

So where did I go wrong - it was doing exactly as they asked me to do, not as they wanted me to do.  I relied on numbers to back up my proposals rather than the latest fashion.

I thought I was doing as the client wanted.  They probably thought I was being arrogant.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Don't you think upper management is arrogant in some of their decisions. At the last company I worked for, Japanese Chairmen and publically traded, in Japan, had a lot of managers I would classify as arrogant. Though I think the act of classifying or calling someone arrogant almost makes you arrogant.... anyways. Based on whims and superficial figures, some of these decisions seemed to go against the strategy of all people in business, to make money. They woud make the decision that they wanted "insert asian import vehicale brand here" as a customer and were prepared to sell them items at a loss, right out of the gate. That seems like an ill informed decision at best.

Why us engineers base our opinion on facts, a lot of people that classify us as arrogant, base there facts on opinion. Buts thats the way it is, so get used to it I geuss.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Worked for a company and a mechanic told me, "the managers where trying to make this company go out of business.  So we really performed just to spite them."  It's poetic!

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

I find a lot of engineers to be very arrogant and self centered.

I am thankful that I'm not one of them.

I don't even like to tell people I'm an engineer half the time.  I am proud of it, but I don't feel the need to advertise it or flaunt it in front of people.

I think a lot of the arrogance from engineers stems from a lack of self esteem.  They feel bad about themselves for some reason or another, so they need to use their intelligence or engineering career to boost their image to themselves and those around them.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

#### Quote:

I find a lot of engineers to be very arrogant and self centered.

I am thankful that I'm not one of them.

Uhm how do you know? Most arrogant people don't think they're arrogant (grin). Seriously though, I've only met a few engineers that I'd call arrogant... and most of those were good enough that the term might not apply (ie they weren't arrogant, they were just right).

SLH

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

When I was in U.S. Navy nuc school, I encountered a lot of resentment due to the fact that I was doing well with a lot less effort than many others who were failing.  Some used the "A" word ("arrogant", not the other "A" word).

Never mind that I did whatever I could to help my peers.  I coached.  I encouraged.  I did watches when duty nights fell before tests.  I gave rides and ran errands for the car-less.  I never once held myself to be "better" than my peers just because I was performing better.

The judgment of "arrogant" seems to have its roots in envy and resentment.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

An interesting little saying might be fun to insert here.  I am not claiming this saying is accurate and universally applicable...just that I like the way it sounds.

"A person who actually knows what their doing often seems arrogant to the ignorant."

I don't think the saying is using the word ignorant in a pejorative sense, only in the sense of the ignorant person being untaught in that particular area of knowledge.

debodine

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Quote "I am proud of it, but I don't feel the need to advertise it or flaunt it in front of people."

So you say that you do not need to "flaunt it in front of people"   Doesn't this statement itself sound a little arrogant?

I mean you are assuming that you have something to "flaunt" to begin with, right?

A truly humble person would think that he doesn't have anything to flaunt.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

gabbot, I KNOW I have nothing to flaunt but I'm pretty sure I still come across as arrogant sometimes.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Does humility preclude awareness that one knows something that someone else doesn't??

Hg

Eng-Tips policies:  FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Arrogance is an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions. The competent engineer does not base their conclusions on presumptuous claims or assumptions - they base their conclusions on facts. If they are aware of the limits to their own knowledge and ability, and can speak with confidence on the topics that are in their realm of expertise, this may leave an impression of arrogance on those who lack a similar capability or knowledge base. But it isn't arrogance.

A competent engineer does not feel the need to prove himself/herself to anyone.

Maui

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Very well stated, Maui!

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Thanks for the compliment Tick, and the star.

Maui

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Very well stated Maui but as I read this thread I am reminded of a universal truth "pride will come before the fall".  When I speak I always remember there is often someone that knows more then me.

It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid, than to open it and remove all doubt. – Mark Twain

Heckler
Sr. Mechanical Engineer
SWx 2007 SP 4.0 & Pro/E 2001
o
_`\(,_
(_)/ (_)

"Avoid the base hypocrisy of condemning in one man what you pass over in silence when committed by another." -- Theodore Roosevelt

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

There seem to me a general assumption that self confidence is arrogance, and it is not. I am experienced enough to know when I am on solid or shaky ground, and if I am on solid ground I will stand on it. That may appear arrogant, but it does not meet Maui's definition.

If I am on solid ground I will also do everything I can to educate those around me why I am taking the stand that I am taking, which is where I take issue with Maui:

A competent engineer is willing and able to prove himself/herself to anyone, which in the long run makes everyone more competent.

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" Oddball, "Kelly's Heros" 1970

Please see FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of the Eng-Tips Forums.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Sms, I disagree with your interpretation of my previous post. I stated that a competent engineer does not feel the need to prove himself/herself to anyone. This does not mean that a competent engineer is unwilling to educate those around them by providing insight into the reasons for their decisions. Good mentors will provide junior engineers with this type of information on a regular basis if they expect them to improve and grow. My statement should be interpreted to mean that a competent engineer does not require the approval of others, especially those who are less competent than they are in their area of expertise, to validate their work. A competent engineer will know how well they did the job at hand, and whether or not it met the criteria that they were provided. They do not require the validation of others in order to make that determination, and so do not feel the need to prove themselves to anyone.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

This was said by someone with regards to climbing mountains, but it probably applies to some questions from laymen regarding engineering

'If you have to ask, then you will never truly understand.'

csd

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

Maui, my apologies, I did indeed misinterpret your post. You cleared it up nicely.

"Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves? Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here? Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?" Oddball, "Kelly's Heros" 1970

Please see FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of the Eng-Tips Forums.

### RE: Arrogant Engineers

I would say, it's probably not the level of intelligence or eductaion or knowledge that makes an engineer arrogant. It's probably the person inside him makes him one of that.

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