There are a lot of good reasons why we humble engineers aren't necessarily known for our charisma or our good looks, but we do have a lot of modeling experience. Every day we make computer models of buildings, and we place these models under high wind and earthquake forces so that when the building is built and an actual earthquake or wind storm hits, the building will stay safely standing.
Some engineers also go on a lot of model walks.
And you could say that this guy's a model engineer - three pencils at the ready in is chest pocket, thick glasses to see every detail, a physique made for long hours sitting behind a desk, and his left hand in his pocket is probably holding a calculator.
June 2016 Wright News
...and the related story my dad used to tell of the new guy on the construction crew who cuts the board too short so his boss sends him to the superintendent to ask for a "board stretcher".
...or the electrician who instructs his apprentice to "wipe up the voltage drops".
...or the engineer who's told his design is an ID 10 T solution.
...or the new attorney who's sent to fetch a stack of "verbal agreement forms".
May 2016 Wright News
Like the old saying goes, you don't have to be crazy to be in this industry, but it helps.
I feel like I can relate to this guy - especially when I'm in Lowes or Home Depot (my favorite stores) browsing for seemingly unrelated parts for some creative new home improvement project (one of my favorite things to do). Once, and only once, I made the mistake of trying to explain to a helpful Lowes employee what I was doing. "So you're gonna take this electrical conduit and pound the ends flat and bolt it to this thing and use it as a what?" The more I tried to explain, the more perplexed he became. It didn't take me long to realize that whenever anyone asks me if I need help, the best course of action is to quickly say, "Nope, I'm good thanks", and then go back to talking to myself.
For another cartoon relating to the mental health of design professionals, click here.
After a lifetime in the construction industry, both as a structural engineer and as a builder, I've learned that there's always more than one way to solve a problem - and often the builder has the better idea.
...but I'm not so sure about this guy.
Other brilliant things I've learned: measure twice, cut once; the north arrow does not mean "this side up"; the boss may not always be right, but the boss is always the boss; treat people how you want to be treated; and all's well that ends.
From the time I was about age 11, I spent a good part of summer vacations at the construction site building houses with my dad who had a small construction company. One day we were framing a house and had just nailed down the plywood over the floor framing. Dad told me to go down and throw up some studs so we could start framing the walls. After waiting a few minutes and no studs, he walked over to the edge to see what was the hold-up. As soon as he appeared over the edge of the house, I bent over and began retching and heaving loudly as if I was trying to vomit. Finally I looked up and said, "Dad, I've tried and tried but I just can't 'throw up' any studs". We had a good laugh, and then it was back to work.
Unlike this guy, we never had a crane to lift our trusses. Instead, we hefted them up by hand one at a time. It was always a relief when the roof trusses were all safely standing in place.
If only they'd built those old west towns a bit bigger, there might have been a lot fewer gunfights.
I can see it now: Two rough characters square off at twenty paces in the middle of town wearing tool belts and slinging nail guns. "This here town just ain't big enough fer the both of us", one would say, "so me 'n my gang'll start buildin' over there and you'n yer gang c'n build over here."
February 2016 Wright eNews