You Might Be an Engineer If…

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– you have ever run a benefit-cost algorithm on which calculator to buy using the calculators that are for sale.

An Update on the Scientific Calculator

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A couple weeks ago I shared talked about a neighbor kid stopping by to borrow a scientific calculator for a science final exam. I didn’t have to get one of my kids’ calculators, but, of course, had one on hand to lend him.

So, he brings it back and, unfortunately, I wasn’t here. He left it with my wife or one of my kids. I have it now. But, what I don’t have is information. How did he do on his science final? Did the calculator help? What equations did he use? What functions did he use? Did he use the calculator later to determine the gas mileage of the family car, or figure out the area of their irregular yard, or to help him derive an equation that will determine how much pizza to order with his friends if a number of them go out to eat together and want to order different sized pizzas and he determined the square inches for different combinations of pizza sizes and compared them to the number of people times the average number of square inches of pizza each person would eat? Did he run the calculations of the height-to-weight ratio of all his family members? Did he calculate the angle of trajectory to throw a baseball to optimize the opportunity of hitting the window of the neighbor nobody likes?

If it weren’t for the fact that most engineers don’t like to, want to, or are the least willing to talk that much, they would be asking all those, too. Most engineers would probably just say, “Hey, the calculator do OK?” which sums up all the above questions.

A lent calculator can be a wonderful conversation starter.

The Availability of a Scientific Calculator

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Just a couple days ago, a neighbor kid stopped by and explained that he had a final in some advanced high school science class and his scientific calculator went missing. Would we have one he could borrow?

I do realize that most people may ask their own kids if they had one, if they were using it, if it was OK for a neighbor to borrow their calculator. But, I am an engineer. I was able to quickly find one of two or three scientific calculators of my own I have around the house – actually, one was in my backpack I carry around everywhere – and lend it to him.

As an engineer, I think it only natural that people would have a calculator of their own. It helps with balancing checkbooks and stuff like that. But if a person wanted to figure out the angle of roof, or the surface area of an irregular object like an alien spaceship, or might just want to know the cube root of a number like 845, then a scientific calculator would be very helpful. I don’t see how anyone makes it through life without a scientific calculator. The least you can do with it is lend it to a neighbor kid.

btw – The cube root of 845 is 9.454, rounded to the nearest thousandth.