Engineering humour: Help wanted

There is great work being done to raise awareness on the role of engineering in society, and to show that engineering offers rewarding (in all senses), enjoyable and diverse opportunities. This is, of course, important as there is evidence that we need more engineers to help deliver sustainable economic growth. But there is a risk that the delivery of this message can start to get a bit, well, worthy and preachy, which in turn can start to switch people off.  So as we engineers try to spread the word about engineering, a bit of self-deprecating humour can be really powerful in helping keep a sense of balance in our message.  I’ve started to collect and share some examples of this but I would very much welcome suggestions for other resources to add. Some great ones found so far include Big Bang Theory: Engineers = Oompa Loompas of scienceDilbert: The Knack; and Louis C.K. “Everything is amazing and nobody is happy”

Genesis_crash_site_scenery
NASA/JPL

There are also powerful and embarrassing ‘failure’ stories that can be used to show that engineers do make some cringeworthy comical errors. Two great illustrations are the Genesis spacecraft (where a single accelerometer inserted up-side down resulted in the loss of a >$260m probe as it returned to earth) and the Mars Climate Orbiter (a confusion between metric and imperial units led to the destruction of a >$300m spacecraft as it entered Mars orbit).

So, if anyone has suggestions for videos, cartoons (and, yes, I know that there is a whole website of Dilbert-related engineer-specific cartoons!) or situations that show engineering in a self-deprecating light, please add a comment. But please no more ‘Jokes that only engineers would understand’; we want examples of humour that are inclusive, not ‘in-jokes’ .. funny though many of those are.

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