When the general public thinks about mechanical engineers, I’m sure the first thing they think about is the humour and storytelling they are renowned for. Maybe not, but for people who work in the field there is a rich vein of comedy that comes with learning about all things mechanical. Depth of knowledge in the subject gives rise to many in-jokes that leave normal people confused.
Whether it’s a silly pun to help during a long lab session, a rude joke to lighten a student’s mood during a revision session or an interesting anecdote told by an old professor, there’s humour and storytelling to be found in the world of mechanical engineering.
I remember being at university when the lift in the engineering block had a strange fault. It worked fine, mechanically speaking, but the display showing what floor the lift was on was always out by 1 or 2 floors. People not familiar with this lift would have a confused look on their faces, trying to figure out why the lift stated they were on the 2nd floor when they were trying to get to the 4th.
After a couple of months without this being fixed, an ingenious engineer solved the problem by adding error bars to the display. Now people using the lift were greeted with a “± 2” next to the floor number to help them navigate the building.
Anyway, we’ve searched around and gathered some of the best mechanical engineering jokes for you and perhaps our favourite anecdote of all time. Enjoy!
Best joke for the pub
To an optimist, the glass is always half full.
To a pessimist, the glass is always half empty.
To a mechanical engineer, the glass has a Factor of Safety of 2.0
Best mechanical engineer stereotype joke
A mechanical engineer crosses the road and hears a frog calling out to him, “If you kiss me, I will turn into a beautiful princess.”
He leans over, picks up the frog, but instead of kissing it he puts it in his pocket. The frog, confused, ups the ante. “If you kiss me, I will turn back into a beautiful princess and I will stay with you for one whole month.” The engineer takes the frog out again, thinks for a moment, but puts it back into his pocket.
The frog, growing desperate, cries out, “If you kiss me and turn me back, I’ll do whatever you say!” Again, the engineer ignores this request.
Finally, the frog asks, “What is the matter? I’ve told you I’m a beautiful princess, I’ll stay with you for a month and do whatever you say. What more do you want?”
The engineer says, “Look, I’m a mechanical engineer. I don’t have time for a girlfriend, but a talking frog, now that’s cool!”
Did you hear about the person who invented the escalator?
They were mechanically inclined.
Best broke joke
Conventional wisdom: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Mechanical Engineer: If it ain’t broke, consider adding more features.
Best laser-focused engineer joke
A mechanical engineer’s wife goes missing, so he goes to the police station to file a report.
Engineer: I’ve lost my wife; she went out shopping and still hasn’t returned.
Policeman: We’ll need a description of what she looks like. What was she wearing?
Engineer: I don’t remember.
Policeman: How tall is she?
Engineer: I don’t know.
Policeman: What colour is her hair?
Engineer: I’m not sure.
Policeman: Colour of her eyes?
Engineer: Never noticed.
Policeman: Did she leave in a car?
Policeman: Tell me the make, model and colour of the car?
Engineer: It was a black Audi A8 with a supercharged 3-litre V6 engine, generating 333 horsepower teamed with an eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission with manual mode and it has full LED headlights, which use light-emitting diodes for all light functions and has a very thin scratch on the front left door…
Best infantile joke
What did the mechanical frog say?
Best anecdote: the story of the Venera 14 probe
Although touching on the world of aerospace engineering, the story of the Venera 14 space probe has the misfortune of describing one of the unluckiest mechanical engineering problems ever.
The Soviet Union was a pioneer in the exploration of the planet Venus. Designing a probe that can land on Venus and return meaningful scientific data is an extremely difficult engineering challenge. The conditions on Venus are harsh, to say the least. The pressure is 92 times that on earth, temperatures can reach a blistering 465oC and the atmosphere is filled with thick clouds of sulphuric acid.
The Soviets named their first programme of Venus probes Venera, and initially there was little success. Probe after probe failed to leave earth’s orbit or lost communications en route to Venus. On March 1st, 1965, the Venera 3 probe (the 9th launch in the Venera programme) was the first man-made object to land on another planet. A more accurate description is crash land; communications were lost just before atmospheric entry.
Venera 4 became the first probe to return data on Venus’s atmosphere before losing communications on landing. Venera 7 was the first to survive the landing and communicated from the surface for 23 minutes before succumbing to the heat and pressure. Venera 9 returned the first black and white images of the surface, and Venera 13 returned the first colour images as well as soil data.
The technological achievement of taking images of the surface of Venus cannot be understated. The conditions meant that the cameras were protected by lens caps which had to pop off once the probe landed on the surface.
So now we get to Venera 14. Like its predecessors, the probe had a suite of instruments for taking scientific measurements. Amongst these was a spring-loaded arm which extended out from the probe to measure the compressibility of the Venusian soil. It landed on March 5th, 1982, after a 4-month cruise.
On landing, Venera 14 functioned for 53 minutes and returned data on the soil as well as measuring the wind speed. However, it is best known for measuring the compressibility of the lens caps that protected the cameras. Somehow when one of the lens caps popped off a camera to take pictures it happened to land in the exact spot where the spring-loaded arm was pointed. Sometimes engineering can be a cruel world.