Teardown: The Engineer’s Mind

June 06, 2013 // By Patrick Mannion
EDN Brand Director Patrick Mannion turns the Teardown spotlight on to the enginering community, drawing on the source material of a recent study and survey.

I thought I’d extract a piece from our recent "Mind of the Engineer" Study to provide a view of your perception of the engineering mind, so this one’s all about you and your contemporaries: What you think of you, and what you think others think of you. There are some surprises, some affirmations, and of course some fun twists.

The charts below at first look imposing but here’s how to read them: They show the mean aggregate of pairs of opposing terms which anchor either end of a scale (from 5 to +5).  For each pair of anchored terms, respondents adjust this scale to more accurately express their sentiments about engineers. In the case of Figure 1 , your peers were asked to review a series of words or phrases which might describe how they view themselves as an engineer.  In the case of Figure 2 , they were also asked how others (non-engineers) generally view you, as engineers. 


Figure 1 As we grow, we remain somewhat introverted, but become a lot less humble (more arrogant?), take greater risks, and have a wider range of interests.


Figure 2 Oddly, we think people view us as smarter than even we think we are: How could that
possibly be?

Some quick observations include that we generally see ourselves as being risk takers, extroverted, humble, and smart and having a wide range of interests ( Figure 2 ). However, as we mature in our careers, we tend to take more risks, get less humble (more confident? Or worse arrogant?), more contented (less ambitious? Settling?) and have a wider range of interests (done the engineering thing, now what? Retirement?)

For many, Figure 2 will be rather amusing. We think we’re risk takers, humble, ambitious, and have a wide range of interests, while we think others view us as risk adverse, borderline arrogant, not so ambitious, and have a very narrow range of