What Engineers Say Versus What Engineers Mean (Part 1)

There is a fine line between what engineers say and what engineers mean.


Engineers are also liars. There’s no denying that. Although not necessarily compulsive liars, engineers at times have to do the necessary evil of lying and make their way out of it without ever proven wrong. It’s an inherent skill to survive from engineering school to the profession, and doesn’t really affect the credibility of the engineer when the lies are concealed just right.

There is a fine line between what engineers say and what engineers mean. This line separates the truth and the cover-up. Most of the time, it just works.

Here are some of those laughable lines that engineers say but don’t actually mean it:

What Engineers Say:
Developed after years of intensive research.

What Engineers Mean:
It was discovered by accident.

It is understandable that in a field like engineering, where there is so much theory to study, we resort to trial and error method. Often, it just works in our favor that manually having to execute the step by step method.

 

What Engineer Say:
The design will be finalized in the next reporting period.

What Engineers Mean:
We haven’t started this job yet, but we’ve got to say something.

It says it all: the lack of time to finish the project or even the design is hard labor. It isn’t done overnight.

 

What Engineers Say:
A number of different approaches are being tried.

What Engineers Mean:
We don’t know where we’re going, but we’re moving.

As said, there are infinite number of ways to solve an engineering project problem only to try each one of them – which also yields infinite tries of who knows where.

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What Engineers Say:
Project slightly behind schedule due to unforeseen difficulties.

What Engineers Mean:
We are working on something else.

Engineers have a multitude to do and it’s really a matter of priority. Each project will be given attention until further notice.

 

What Engineers Say:
Close project coordination.

What Engineers Mean:
We should have asked someone else or let’s spread the responsibility for this.

 

When engineers in a team fail, this is the perfect alibi. When there’s no work done yet despite of no excuses, something must be wrong with the its members.

 

What Engineers Say:
Extensive report is being prepared on a fresh approach to the problem.

What Engineers Mean:
We just hired three guys, we’ll let them kick it around for a while.

Yeah, the point-it-to-others approach always works. Pin others to do the job even when they have no clue about the project.

 

What Engineers Say:
Major technical breakthrough.

What Engineers Mean:
Back to the drawing board.

This excuse perhaps has an underlying pain that engineers have to start on a new concept again for the project to work. A ‘major technical breakthrough’ means engineers have to convene and crack heads to produce another output.

 

What Engineers Say:
Customer satisfaction is believed to be assured.

What Engineers Mean:
We were so far behind schedule that the customer was happy to get anything at all from us.

Giving the customer some assurance gives a feeling of security that the project is leading somewhere, when it is really not.

 

What Engineers Say:
Preliminary operation tests were inconclusive.

What Engineers Mean:
The darn thing blew up when we threw the switch.

The initial tests are always a disappointment. Something will explode and the whole system will be trashed. Engineers have to start again.

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What Engineers Say:
Tests were extremely gratifying.

What Engineers Mean:
It works and boy are we surprised.

It comes to a point that the trial and error method works that engineers are surprised themselves. It wasn’t the expected method of output but it just worked.

 

What Engineers Say:
The entire concept will have to be abandoned.

What Engineers Mean:
The only guy who understood the thing quit.

When the guy who is solely responsible of the project quits, engineers start from scratch. It pays to contribute to the project, or at least know something about it so the project won’t fall out just because only one knows the darn thing and quits.

 

What Engineers Say:
Modifications are underway to correct certain minor difficulties.

What Engineers Mean:
We threw the whole thing out and are starting from scratch.

There will be projects that are still pursued that are no longer significant. When it’s finally realized, time and resources have already been wasted that engineers can no longer take back.  Ouch.

Dion Greg Reyes
A young civil engineer finding his place in the industry. Pilipino.

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What Engineers Say Versus What Engineers Mean (Part 1)

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