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Engineering Quotes and Sayings

This collection of engineering quotes showcases the many roles that engineers fulfill and their vital roles in an advanced society.

Engineers invent, design, build, analyze, and test systems, structures, materials, and machines to address functionality, safety, and cost. As such, engineers work on various products and services and serve a valuable role.

These engineer and engineering quotes also address work responsibilities, the importance of their work, and their inspiration. Enjoy.

Ten Best Engineering Quotes

1.) The engineer has been, and is, a maker of history.
James Kip Finch

2.) As engineers, we were going to be in a position to change the world – not just study it.
Henry Petroski

3.) When you want to know how things really work, study them when they’re coming apart.
William Gibson

4.) Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

5.) Science can amuse and fascinate us all, but it is engineering that changes the world.
Isaac Asimov

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6.) The way to succeed is to double your failure rate.
Thomas J. Watson

7.) No one wants to learn by mistakes, but we cannot learn enough from successes to go beyond the state of the art.
Henry Petroski

8.) Successful engineering is all about understanding how things break or fail.
Henry Petroski

9.) A good engineer thinks in reverse and asks himself about the stylistic consequences of the components and systems he proposes.
Helmut Jahn

10.) The world would be a better place if more engineers, like me, hated technology. The stuff I design, if I’m successful, nobody will ever notice. Things will just work and be self-managing.
Radia Pearlman

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Insights on being an engineer.

Good Engineering Quotes

11.) Engineering or technology is the making of things that did not previously exist, whereas science is the discovering of things that have long existed.
David Billington

12.) There’s nothing I believe in more strongly than getting young people interested in science and engineering, for a better tomorrow, for all humankind.
Bill Nye

13.) Manufacturing is more than just putting parts together. It’s coming up with ideas, testing principles, and perfecting the engineering as well as final assembly.
James Dyson

14.) I just want people to be excited about the hard stuff; that’s what engineering is.
Hank Green

15.) Engineering problems are under-defined; there are many solutions, good, bad, and indifferent. The art is to arrive at a good solution. This is a creative activity involving imagination, intuition, and deliberate choice.
Ove Arup

16.) The fewer moving parts, the better. Exactly. No truer words were ever spoken in the context of engineering.
Christian Cantrell

17.) Improvement makes straight roads: but the crooked roads without improvement are roads of genius.
William Blake

18.) Engineering is not only the study of 45 subjects, but it is the moral study of intellectual life.
Prakhar Srivastav

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Funny engineering sayings.

Funny Quotes For Engineers

19.) To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, it is half empty. And, to the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

20.) It’s all about engineering.

21.) The goal of science and engineering is to build better mousetraps. The goal of nature is to build better mice.

22.) An engineer is someone who is good with figures but doesn’t have the personality of an accountant.

23.) I’m an old man now, and when I die and go to Heaven, there are two matters on which I hope for enlightenment. One is quantum electrodynamics, and the other is the turbulent motion of fluids. And about the former, I am rather more optimistic.
Sir Horace Lamb

24.) I cannot even open an umbrella properly. How could I ever have been a civil engineering student?
Paresh Rawal

25.) Engineers have more words for screwing up than the Inuit have words for snow.
Pierce Nichols

26.) The first rule of engineering: Beware of prototypes. Along with, avoid anything made by an engineer who doesn’t have all his own fingers.
Simon R. Green

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Amusing Quotations

27.) Any idiot can build a bridge that stands, but it takes an engineer to build a bridge that barely stands.

28.) Engineering, to define rudely but not inaptly, is the art of doing that well with one dollar, which any bungler can do with two after a fashion.
Arthur Mellen Wellington

29.) Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.
Theodore Roosevelt

30.) When engineers and quantity surveyors discuss aesthetics and architects study what cranes do, we are on the right road.
Ove Arup

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Notable Engineering Quotes.

Short Quotes For Engineers

31.) Aviation is the branch of engineering that is least forgiving of mistakes.
Freeman Dyson

32.) A theory may be so rich in descriptive possibilities that it can be made to fit any data.
Phillip Johnson-Laird

33.) One man’s ‘magic’ is another man’s engineering. ‘Supernatural’ is a null word.
Robert A. Heinlein

34.) The most important thing is keeping the most important thing the most important thing.
Donald Coduto

35.) India can be a leader in genetic engineering; it has institutions that no other country does.
Nina Fedoroff

36.) The engineer’s first problem in any design situation is to discover what the problem really is.

37.) Information theory is a bridge from mathematics to electrical engineering and computing.
James Gleick

38.) We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us.
Winston Churchill

39.) We are continually faced with great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insolvable problems.
Lee Iacocca

40.) Math is my passion. Engineering is my profession.
Wilfred James

41.) A country without engineering skills and knowledge will never become a developed country.
Mahathir Mohamad

42.) If reverse engineering is banned, a lot of the open-source community is doomed to fail.
Jon Johansen

43.) In nature, design, engineering, and fabrication aren’t separate; the bone does it all.
Neri Oxman

44.) Projects we’ve completed demonstrate what we know; future projects decide what we’ll learn.
Mohsin Tiwana

45.) Software is a great combination between artistry and engineering.
Bill Gates

46.) There is no technology today that cannot be defeated by social engineering.
Frank Abagnale

47.) I have not failed but found 1000 ways to not make a light bulb.
Thomas Edison

48.) The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds.
Theo Jansen

49.) I don’t know technology, engineering, or accounting.
Bernard Ebbers

50.) Architecture begins where engineering ends.
Walter Gropius

Quotes About Engineers

51.) Engineers like to solve problems. If there are no problems handily available, they will create their own problems.
Scott Adams

52.) Airplanes aren’t designed by science but by art despite some pretense to the contrary. I’m not suggesting that engineering can do without science. In fact, it stands on scientific foundations, but there is a gap between scientific research and the engineering product, which is abridged by the engineer.

53.) Engineering is the art of directing the great sources of power in nature for the use and convenience of man.
Thomas Tredgold

54.) The history of engineering is really the history of breakages and of learning from those breakages. I was taught at college ‘the engineer learns most on the scrapheap.’
C.A. Claremont

55.) You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.
Buckminster Fuller

56.) As in real life, complex engineering designs demand a pragmatic approach.
Haresh Sippy

57.) The ideal engineer is a composite. He is not a scientist, he is not a mathematician, not a sociologist or a writer, but he’ll use knowledge and techniques of all of these disciplines in solving engineering problems.
Nathan W. Dougherty

58.) We, the unwilling, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, for so long, with so little, we are now qualified to do anything with nothing.

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Motivational Quotations

59.) What we usually consider as impossible are simply engineering problems… there’s no law of physics preventing them.
Michio Kaku

60.) There is no demand for women engineers, as such, as there are for women doctors, but there’s always a demand for anyone who can do a good piece of work.
Edith Clarke

61.) Failure is central to engineering. Every single calculation that an engineer makes is a failure calculation. Successful engineering is all about understanding how things break or fail.
Henry Petroski

62.) The trick to having good ideas is not to sit around in glorious isolation and try to think big thoughts. The trick is to get more parts on the table.
Steven Johnson

63.) The problem in this business isn’t to keep people from stealing your ideas; it’s making them steal your ideas!
Howard Aiken

64.) I don’t spend my time pontificating about high-concept things; I spend my time solving engineering and manufacturing problems.
Elon Musk

65.) Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.
Sir Henry Royce

66.) When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty, but when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.
R. Buckminster Fuller

67.) Anything which is physically possible can always be made financially possible; money is a bugaboo of small minds.
Robert A. Heinlein

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Interesting Engineering Quotes

68.) Normal people believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.
Scott Adams

69.) With the advent of genetic engineering, the time required for the evolution of new species may literally collapse.
Dee Hock

70.) Architects and engineers are among the most fortunate of men since they build their own monuments with public consent, public approval, and often public money.
John Prebble

71.) At that time (1909), the chief engineer was almost always the chief test pilot as well. That had the fortunate result of eliminating poor engineering early in aviation.
Igor Sikorsky

72.) It is exciting to discover electrons and figure out the equations that govern their movement; it is boring to use those principles to design electric can openers. From here on out, it’s all can openers.
Neal Stephenson

73.) Design is not how it looks and feels. Design is how it works.
Steve Jobs

74.) All we know about the new economic world tells us that the nations which train engineers will prevail over those which train lawyers. No nation has ever sued its way to greatness.
Richard Lamm

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Inspirational Quotes

75.) I kind of think of engineering like the chefs at a restaurant. Nobody’s going to deny chefs are integrally important, but there are also so many other people who contribute to a great meal.
Ben Silbermann

76.) Relying on nothing but scientific knowledge to produce an engineering solution is to invite frustration at best and failure at worst.
Henry Petroski

77.) The life work of the engineer consists of the systematic application of natural forces and the systematic development of natural resources in the service of man.
Harry Walter Tyler

78.) A scientist can discover a new star, but he cannot make one. He would have to ask an engineer to do it for him.
Gordon Lindsay Glegg

79.) Engineering is quite different from science. Scientists try to understand nature. Engineers try to make things that do not exist in nature. Engineers stress invention.
Yuan-Cheng Fung

80.) I take the vision which comes from dreams and apply the magic of science and mathematics, adding the heritage of my profession and my knowledge of nature’s materials to create a design.

81.) Art without engineering is dreaming. Engineering without art is calculating.
Steven Roberts

82.) The story of civilization is, in a sense, the story of engineering – that long and arduous struggle to make the forces of nature work for man’s good.
Lyon Sprague DeCamp

83.) At its heart, engineering is about using science to find creative, practical solutions. It is a noble profession.
Queen Elizabeth II

84.) Manufacturing, science, and engineering are incredibly creative. I’d venture to say more so than creative advertising agencies and things that are known as the creative industries.
Sir James Dyson

Famous Engineering Quotes

85.) This job is a great scientific adventure. But it’s also a great human adventure.
Fabiola Gianotti

86.) Engineers are not mere technicians and should not approve or lend their name to any project that does not promise to be beneficent to man and the advancement of civilization.
John Fowler

87.) Engineering or technology is the making of things that did not previously exist, whereas science is the discovering of things that have long existed.
David Billington

88.) Engineering is the art of modeling materials we do not wholly understand into shapes we cannot precisely analyze so as to withstand forces we cannot properly assess in such a way that the public has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance.
Dr. AR Dykes

89.) It is hardly surprising that the malodorous field of garbology has not attained the popularity of rocket science, oil exploration, or brain surgery.
Hans Y. Tammemagi

90.) I’ve never seen a job being done by a five-hundred-person engineering team that couldn’t be done better by fifty people.
C. Gordon Bell

91.) Automation is cost-cutting by tightening the corners and not cutting them.
Haresh Sippy

92.) Engineering is the science of economy, of conserving energy, kinetic and potential, provided and stored up by nature for the use of man. It is the business of engineering to utilize this energy to the best advantage so that there may be the least possible waste.
William A. Smith

Engineering Sayings

93.) Engineering is the art of modeling materials we do not wholly understand into shapes we cannot precisely analyze so as to withstand forces we cannot properly assess in such a way that the public has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance.
Dr. AR Dykes

94.) The scientist discovers a new type of material or energy, and the engineer discovers a new use for it.
Gordon Lindsay Glegg

95.) Engineering is practicing the art of the organizing forces of technological change. Engineers operate at the interface between science and society.
Gordon Stanley Brown

96.) Great triumphs of engineering genius — the locomotive, the truss bridge, the steel rail are rather inventions than engineering proper.
Arthur Mellen Wellington

97.) Engineering refers to the practice of organizing the design and construction of any artifice which transforms the physical world around us to meet some recognized need.
G.F.C. Rogers

98.) A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
Douglas Adams

99.) A good scientist is a person with original ideas. A good engineer is a person who makes a design that works with as few original ideas as possible. There are no prima donnas in engineering.
Freeman Dyson

100.) The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong, it usually turns out to be impossible to get at and repair.
Douglas Adams

101.) Engineer is a mediator between the philosopher and the mechanic. And, as an interpreter between two foreigners, must understand both languages; the engineer should possess both practical and theoretical knowledge.
Henry Palmer

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Positive Quotes About Engineering

102.) Scientists study the world as it is; engineers create the world that has never been.
Theodore von Karman

103.) There can be little doubt that, in many ways, the story of bridge building is the story of civilization. By it, we can readily measure an important part of a people’s progress.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

104.) Engineering stimulates the mind. Kids get bored easily. They have got to get out and get their hands dirty: make things, dismantle things, fix things. When the schools can offer that, you’ll have an engineer for life.
Bruce Dickinson

105.) We will always have STEM. Some things will drop out of the public eye and will go away, but there will always be science, engineering, technology, and mathematics.
Katherine Johnson

106.) If not for the compulsions of engineers, mankind would never have seen the wheel, settling instead for the trapezoid because some Neanderthal in marketing convinced everybody it had great braking ability.
Scott Adams

107.) The way you learn anything is that something fails, and you figure out how not to have it fail again.
John Kobak

108.) You see, my ambition was not to confound the engineering world but simply to create a beautiful piece of art.
Kit Williams

Technology Insights

109.) Engineering or technology is all about using the power of science to make life better for people, reduce cost, improve comfort, and improve productivity.
N. R. Narayana Murthy

110.) An 18-year-old is good enough for our business, and we can teach them engineering in two years.
Shiv Nadar

111.) Incurable diseases will eventually force mankind to justify disruptive nanotech and genetic engineering.
Toba Beta

112.) When Henry Ford began to produce the V-8 motor, he chose to build an engine with all cylinders cast in one block and instructed his engineers to produce a design. The design was placed on paper, but the engineers agreed that it was simply impossible to cast an eight-cylinder engine block in one piece. Ford replied, ‘Produce it anyway.’
Henry Ford

113.) Engineering, medicine, business, and architecture are concerned not with the necessary but with the contingent – not with how things are but with how they might be – in short, with design.
Herbert A. Simon

114.) I was going to engineering school but fell in love with physics.
Leonard Susskind

Engineering Insights

115.) In engineering, the joints are the most crucial. They have to be both firm and flexible, exactly like the joints in our body.
Haresh Sippy

116.) My first and last wish to my parents was to complete my engineering.
Sonal Takalkar

117.) The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.
Leonardo da Vinci

118.) In the world of engineering, innovation is the engine that drives progress.
Thomas Edison

119.) One has to watch out for engineers – they begin with the sewing machine and end up with the atomic bomb.
Marcel Pagnol, Critiques des Critiques

120.) Engineering is the professional and systematic application of science to the efficient utilization of natural resources to produce wealth.
Theodore Jesse Hoover

121.) Engineering is the art and science of nuts and bolts. 
Haresh Sippy

122.) I was originally supposed to become an engineer but the thought of having to expend my creative energy on things that make practical everyday life even more refined, with a loathsome capital gain as the goal, was unbearable to me.
Albert Einstein

123.) The most important thing is to keep the most important thing the most important thing.
Donald P. Coduto

124.) They make mistakes in their assumptions, in their calculations, in their conclusions. That they make mistakes is forgivable; that they catch them is imperative. Thus it is the essence of modern engineering not only to be able to check one’s own work but also to have one’s work checked and to be able to check the work of others.
Henry Petroski

125.) I take the vision that comes from dreams and apply the magic of science and mathematics, adding the heritage of my profession and my knowledge of nature’s materials to create a design.

Being an Engineer Takes

126.) Aeroplanes are not designed by science but by art in spite of some pretence and humbug to the contrary. I do not mean to suggest that engineering can do without science; on the contrary, it stands on scientific foundations, but there is a big gap between scientific research and the engineering product which has to be bridged by the art of the engineer.
British Engineer to the Royal Aeronautical Society in 1922

127.) Any idiot can build a bridge that stands, but it takes an engineer to build a bridge that barely stands.

Notable Engineering Quotes

128.) Scientists investigate that which already is. Engineers create that which has never been.
Albert Einstein

129.) If it’s not broken, take it apart and fix it.
The Engineer’s Motto

130.) Strive for perfection in everything you do. Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.
Sir Henry Royce

131.) Engineering is the closest thing to magic that exists in the world.
Elon Musk

132.) Engineers turn dreams into reality.
Hayao Miyazaki

133.) To an optimist, the glass is half-full. To the pessimist, it is half-empty. And to the engineer, it has a safety factor of two.

134.) No one has ever had an idea in a dress suit.
Sir Frederick Banting

135.) A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Antoine de Saint Exupery

Engineering and Engineers FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about engineers and engineering.

How many types of engineers are there?

There are six major types of engineers: chemical, civil, electrical, geotechnical, management, and mechanical. But, there are many others serving in engineering-related roles beyond these focuses.

How many years of study are required to become an engineer?

Many colleges offer four-year programs, but some require five years.

What is the salary of an engineer?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that engineers have a median annual wage of $91,010.

What U.S. Presidents had engineering backgrounds?

Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter. Hoover was a mining engineering major at Stanford University. Carter was a student at Georgia Tech. He served in the Navy as an engineer on nuclear-powered submarines for ten years.

By Michael O’Halloran

About Michael O'Halloran

Michael O’Halloran founded Greeting Card Poet in 2014 and has worked as its publisher and editor ever since. He has co-authored four books on kids’ trivia and four on coaching. Previously, Michael was the president of Magnetic Poetry. He has invented and brought over 75 new gift and toy products to market, most of which deal with wordplay. Mike is married and a father of four daughters.


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