12 Important Insights from the Minds of Engineers

UBM Americas' 2017 Mind of The Engineer survey provides a look at how engineers feel about a variety of topics including job satisfaction, workplace concerns, and even which superhero they most identify with.
  • What's on engineers' minds? How do they perceive themselves today compared with general public? And how do they feel about their industry?

    In partnership with Readex Research, the Advanced Manufacturing Group of UBM Americas, the parent company of Design News, conducted a survey of 29,542 individuals who identified their primary job function as engineering. The resulting 1,494 responses give a glimpse into the mind of the engineering community on a variety of topics ranging from job satisfaction and workplace concerns, to engineers' opinion on the most important inventions, inventors, and even their favorite superheroes and operating systems.

    Click through to view insights from UBM's 2017 Mind of an Engineer Survey. And click here to download an infographic related to the study.

  • Top Workplace Concerns

    Regarding the challenges they may encounter in their work, engineers were most concerned with keeping their skills up to date (63%). Keeping current with the latest trends in technology was the second most popular concern (55%), and national or global economic conditions were a concern with 47% of respondents. Job security and engineering functions being moved off shore were the least reported concerns, both at 29%. 

  • Money Is Not an Issue

    Engineers love what they do. Asked if they would keep their jobs even if finances were not an issue only 21% said they would quit working. Fourteen percent were not sure. But 65% said they would keep working anyway.

  • Job Satisfaction Is High

    Among respondents 82% reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the work they do. Only 2% were not at all satisfied. 

  • Favorite Superhero – Iron Man

    Engineers think of themselves as Tony Stark. Asked which comic book superhero they most identify with themselves with 15% of respondents said Iron Man. Batman came in second at 8%, and Captain America and Superman tied for third at 6% each.

    Wonder Woman was the big hit with female engineers however, with 29% saying they identify most with her. Four percent of women engineers associated themselves with Supergirl and only 3% with Batgirl.

    Forty-three percent of engineers said they didn't associate themselves with any super hero listed.  (Image source: Marvel Comics)  

  • Engineers Choose Android Over iOS

    Android was the favorite smartphone operating system for engineers, with 32% of respondents preferring it. Apple iOS came in a near second with 26%. (Image source: Google)  

  • Engineers Aren't Geeks

    Asked how they perceive themselves, the majority of engineers agreed that engineers see themselves as intelligent (85%), ambitious (76%), and having a wide range of interests (85%). Fifty-nine percent agreed engineers see themselves as risk takers and 32% said engineers identify as extroverts.

    Only 37% agreed engineers identify themselves as geeks. However 72% of engineers agree that non-engineers identify engineers as geeks. They did, however, agree that non-engineers view engineers as intelligent. Forty-four percent believe non-engineers see engineers as ambitious and only 20% believe non-engineers see engineers as humble. 

  • Greatest Inventor – Nikola Tesla

    Nikola Telsa may not get the love and admiration he deserves among the general public, but he's got plenty of love from engineers. Asked who they thought was the greatest inventor 32% of respondents voted for Nikola Tesla. Tesla's rival Thomas Edison came in second with 22% of votes. (Image source: Napoleon Sarony [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

  • Best Science Fiction Writer – Isaac Asimov

    It looks like engineers love the Foundation series. Isaac Asimov was the heavy favorite for best science fiction author with 30% of engineers listing him as their favorite. (Image source: By Phillip Leonian [1] from New York World-Telegram & Sun.[2] [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons) 

  • Engineers Love Problem Solving

    Those surveyed were asked how much they agree with a series of statements regarding their feelings on their work. Eighty-seven percent of engineers agreed the best part of their job was problem solving. Overall 85% also agreed they like trying new things in their work. Echoing concerns with the workplace, 65% of respondents agreed they have to take more time to train themselves on new technologies and design techniques. 

  • Luck Is Not Important for Success

    It should come as no surprise that engineers don't put much stock in luck. Asked if lucky breaks or hard work were more important for success in life 53% of engineers believe hard work and luck are equally important. Forty-one percent believe hard work is most important. But only 4% believe that luck alone is most important. 

  • Most Important Invention: The World Wide Web

    Engineers were asked what they consider the five most important inventions of the last 75 years. The World Wide Web and mobile devices (smartphones, e-readers, and wearables) were the clear favorites with 87% and 85% (net) of respondents respectively. The integrated circuit was a distant, but still important, third place at 66%. Twenty-two percent of engineers listed autonomous vehicles. And a small percentage (4%) who must like to play as hard as they work listed microbreweries.  

  • Favorite Social Media Site: YouTube

    YouTube is the preferred social media site for engineers both for work and personal reasons with 69% of respondents saying they access the video streaming site for work-related reasons and 76% saying they use Youtube for personal reasons (we're going to guess cat videos). LinkedIn was the next most common social media site used for work-related reasons (62%) followed by Google+ (39%).

    Facebook was the next most commonly accessed for personal reasons (56%) followed by Google+ (40%).

    Only 9% used Snapchat for personal reasons and 2% used it for work-related reasons ... meaning even engineers can't find a good use for Snapchat. (Image source: YouTube)


ARMTechCon logoARM Technology Drives the Future. Join 4,000+ embedded systems specialists for three days of ARM® ecosystem immersion you can’t find anywhere else.  ARM TechCon  . Oct. 24-26, 2017 in Santa Clara, CA.  Register here  for the event, hosted by  Design News  ’ parent company UBM.


Chris Wiltz is the Managing Editor of Design News.


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