The Equation for Dating

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With equations, the engineer can figure things out. He may set up an equation something like this:

P = 100 x 0.0034(p1 + p2 + p3)


P = Likelihood, in percent, that a woman will go out with him

p1 = Likelihood, as a fraction of 1, that he (the engineer) will decide to ask her out 

p2 = Likelihood, as a fraction of 1, that he (the engineer) will actually ask her out when he talks to her

 p3 = Likelihood, as a fraction of 1, that when he (the engineer) will talk that she actually understands that he is asking her out

In the engineer’s mind, the values of the three variables on the right side of the equation are typically:

p1 = 0.2                         p2 = 0.4                              p3 = 0.2

p1 is obviously low because the engineer knows the value of the other two variables. This may be as high as 0.3 for the confident, “outgoing” engineer

P2 is somewhat higher since, even though it is less than half the time, it is more likely that he will say the words in his mind than decide to say them, especially if he writes it out.

P3 is again quite low, mainly due to the fact that if the engineer will, as some may, start the discussion with an equation as to why the girl may want to go out with him, he typically loses her when he pulls out the calculator.

The 0.0034 value represents what an engineer sees as the probability that this girl, any girl, will actually say, “Yes”. Quite low, indeed, but at least it’s not negative. It is important to see where the engineer makes a mistake – easy to do when it comes to matters of the heart. He only calculates that there is a little over 1/3 of one percent chance that at that point she will actually say yes. This is not 33 percent chance, but well under 1 percent we are talking about here. But the engineer vastly underestimates this. Depending on the circumstances, this number is actually between 40% and 70%. Yes, that high. Some of these women have seen McGyver, too, and many are thinking, “Hmmmm, maybe.”

So we see that the process is much more involved than a silly musing of whether to ask a woman out. There are calculations to make, probability estimations to determine, equations to derive. And, yes, I realize that we are talking about relationships. But this is relationship theory done the engineer way.

Great Website for Finding Satellites

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People will frequently ask me, “How can I know when I can see the Cosmos 2237 Rocket from my home?” OK, one time, someone asked me when to view the International Space Station. Whatever the satellite, there is one great place to go.

A great website is Heavens Above. Go there, enter your location – on a map for most people, some engineers may know their latitude and longitude from memory. Then explore the satellite passes that are visible from your home, as they have all the info you need available – which satellite, the time it appears, where in the sky to look, etc. Don’t forget to check out the Iridium Flares (especially the -6, -7, or -8 ones), the brightest satellites most people never know exist. But with the info from this website, you will amaze your friends as you act like a prophet or fortune-teller. You will not be disappointed.

Also, Heavens Above will give you great information that my friend, an NE (non-engineer) named Tom, may ridicule, but engineers may find fascinating: the altitude of the International Space Station over time, the location of man-made probes that are beyond the solar system, a plan view of the relative location of all the planets (even Pluto, though we all know it was defrocked), and so much more!

Introducing Engineers

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A colleague of mine, a non-engineer, came back from a project meeting where engineers were only a small segment of the assembled group. They met in a small auditorium and to start off the meeting, the facilitator asked that all the different groups stand and be recognized: personnel from the environmental field, right-of-way, public relations, the building contractor, and others, were all asked to rise when their group was called. My coworker said that it when it came time for the engineers to stand, he noted the typical engineering stature that EVERY ENGINEER there assumed – slow to stand, head down, hands in pockets. I think my colleague was laughing about this. Actually, I think he still is laughing about it. But, I see it not as an introverted, socially inept pose, but rather that the engineers are humble and don’t like the attention. Whatever the root cause, look for the engineering stance next time you are in a project meeting and someone says, “Can the engineers all stand.”

You Might Be an Engineer If…

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You’ve taken more time to decide to buy a car than you actually owned it.


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All right, it’s soap box time. Somebody’s got to do it.

The number 1,000 is GREAT. It is the answer to many simple measurement questions:

How many meters are in a kilometer? How many grams in a kilogram? How many milliliters in a liter?

There are a lot of numbers that engineers like, and though they may not have this one as their favorite, engineers like it when all you have to do is move a decimal to change units. This definitely beats 5,280 or 16 or 8 or other odd numbers* one would have to memorize in a different measurement system other than the metric system. Regardless of Democrat or Republican, if a candidate had as his or her main platform to convert to the metric system, I know who I’d be voting for. Especially if they also made science fiction the national movie genre.

*Yes, all the odd numbers used as examples are actually even numbers, but that just shows (in my mind) how strange the system we have is.

Public Speaking – Not for Engineers

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It is no secret that engineers do not do well, as a whole, in public speaking. Anyone who has slept, make that sat through a presentation where an engineer has shown slide after slide of data that cannot be read, let alone fully understood, knows what I mean. Monotone does not help, either.

From our files of extrapolated data (meaning we didn’t actually measure anything, but it is likely good data from our perception), we see a bar chart with various professions and their level of ability in public speaking vs. how they perceive themselves. Here is the chart:

Comparing Different Professions on Their Actual Ability vs. How They Perceive Their Public Speaking Ability

Here are a few notes regarding this graph:

– Lawyers, Surgeons, and Professors are far better at public speaking than engineers, but they think they are far better than they are.

– Teachers are generally very good at public speaking, but lack confidence.

– Engineers, although very close in their perception of how they make presentations, are, in technical terms – BAD.

– If you ever get a chance to see a rodeo clown talk, take it.

Thoughts of Tork, the World’s First Engineer

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This week at engineeringdaze, we are going to follow the exploits of the first engineer, the caveman named Tork. Tork was so advanced for his era, being an engineer, that he was frequently shunned by other cavemen. But that is another story.

Below are ten thoughts that went through Tork’s prehistoric mind on a typical day. You will see that even though Tork was a caveman, he was still an engineer, and the thoughts of an engineer are not much different today than they were back in Tork’s day.

Thoughts of Tork:

“If we not make wheels square, but round – big less in friction.”

“Maybe get water to caves through series of hollow tubes. No. Never catch on.”

“Stinks in cave. Got to work on waste disposal get-out (removal).”

“Water fall from upper pond. Could use energy to… to… do something.”

“Why cavewoman not want to be around me?”

“Not be able to talk to cavewoman anyway.”

“If only there was interconnected tubes that would bring all information of world to my cave and display on flat surface to watch.”

“If only there was magic box to hold in hand that would bring all information of world – without tubes. That be magic.”

“Hope Crog bring back rock abacus he take for hunt trip to hit animals. Need to calculate best opening size at side of cave to cool down best.”

“Got to talk at caveman meeting day after today. Nervous! Hope point with power work good.”

Public Speaking – An Explanation

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This week at engineeringdaze, we are going to follow the exploits of the first engineer, the caveman named Tork. Tork was so advanced for his era, being an engineer, that he was frequently shunned by other cavemen. But that is another story. Today, we will discuss how Tork influenced the public speaking ability of engineers, or lack thereof.

Tork mass-produced the wheel for caveman consumers.  Actually, Tork was a consultant, making many rocks and skins for his services.  One fateful day, Tork was asked to speak before the caveman business association and unwittingly stood up on one of his wheels to give his speech.  Since a firm understanding of all the rudiments of friction was not yet in the engineers’ learning, the wheel, with Tork on it, began rolling, toppling Tork on his, shall we say, solid waste disposal unit.  After that, Tork and all engineers throughout history, when placed in front of an audience, have felt like they are trying to stand on a wheel, hopelessly teetering back and forth for a long time before finally falling on their – well, you get the picture. This not only explains why engineers are poor at public speaking, but also explains why engineers now often assume that there is a frictionless surface for most engineering problems.  Better safe than sorry.

Engineers have Tork to thank, or blame, for their public speaking woes. Tork did many good things for humankind, as engineers do now. But public speaking is not one of them.

You Might Be a (prehistoric) Engineer If…

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(This is the Tork version. Tork was a caveman and the very first engineer. He is the topic of all of this week’s posts.)

– you have ever tried to calculate the speed you would have to run so that you would not get eaten by a dinosaur only to get eaten by the dinosaur because you weren’t running while you were doing the calculations with your rock abacus.


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This week at engineeringdaze, we are going to follow the exploits of the first engineer, the caveman named Tork. Tork was so advanced for his era, being an engineer, that he was frequently shunned by other cavemen. But that is another story. Today, we look at a number that was important to Tork.

Tork wanted desperately to  have a cave-dwelling relationship with a cavewoman. The number 2 was high in his engineering caveman mind. “If there is me, and there is her, there is 2 of us.” Though an engineer, he was still a caveman and did not have lofty thoughts. Some may think these thoughts are not much different than most any man, caveman or otherwise. But for Tork, who lived in a time when numbers were not used that much, the number 2 was special. He, being an engineer, understood that 2 meant more than him. He understood that 2 meant he had to impress the cavewoman. He understood that 2 meant possibly devising equations in order to calculate his chances with the cavewoman. Indeed, 2 was a very important number to him.

Unfortunately, Tork suffered the same difficulties that all engineers that followed him would suffer. Tork used 2 small sticks to draw in the dirt at times, and figure things out. He carried them with him in a small pouch he fashioned in his caveman “shirt”, and he held them in place with a piece of bark. Thus, he cursed all engineers throughout history by first “inventing” the pocket protector, and then being seen as too much of a geek by most cavewomen, who were attracted to the cavemen whose arms were stronger due to having to pick up big rocks instead of calculating how to live without having to do that.

Meanwhile, Tork was still hoping for: 2.

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