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Portrait of the Dalek as a Young Engineer

January 21, 2013

Yea, yea… you do a study and you find out that engineers are unfeeling thinking machines.  Next…

The results were clear-cut, apparently: engineering students cared nothing for other human beings’ feelings and had few of their own. They were cold-hearted and uncaring, remorseless human machines. By contrast the medical students were warm and bursting with empathy and love.

You might be speculating at this point that this is because a lot of medical students are women but hardly any engineering students are, and indeed Rasoal et al openly admit that “it’s well known that women are more empathetic than men”.

However this was taken into account while evaluating the results, and engineers still came out flinty and unfeeling compared to their fellow men (mostly fellow men).

That’s probably why we’re such cynics on the blog.  We’re just unfeeling machines that want to keep our own money, freedoms, and opinions.

There was a “bright spot” in that the study differentiated the classic engineer from the computer geek.  Computer geeks were fine within limits.  Well, I’m not a computer geek.  I’m stuck in a company full of them, but I take pride in being a heartless automaton that’s interested only in making something work well and work as close to forever as possible.  My company hired me to be that, and I’ve lasted a long time that way.

But it’s interesting… with the rise in emotional attachments I’ve also seen many engineering companies lose their fastball.  We spend so much time wanting to be liked, or wanting to make it pretty.  Instead, we should be focusing on making a maps function work, or perhaps not writing so much code that we can’t find all the bugs.  I don’t want to stop a broad array of people from coming into engineering, but I do want to see the people in it have the same pride in functionality that I saw in my seniors when I joined up.

At least for now, I can rest on the fact that my stuff will keep working.  At least until someone decides it’s not pretty enough.


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