In the 12/06/99 issue of Design News, editor Chuck Murray asked readers if they cared about styling. Some of the responses would surely cause the fashion police to come running, while others prove that some engineers care more than you'd think about the label on their jeans.
Matter of perspective
I take exception to your phrase "Engineers are, in general, fashion-challenged." I prefer to think that I'm free from fashion's artificial constraints, which allows me to focus on what really matters. Keep up the good work. I love Design News.
Senior R&D Engineer
Function over form
Neat article. To answer your question, "Do engineers care about styling?" In a word, NO. I care more about getting the darn rascal working first. Then, if there is any time left, I might attempt to polish its looks.
Northrop Grumman Corp.
Rolling Meadows, IL
I once had a pair of winter gloves that I loved, except for the fact that they didn't cover my wrists. When I came across another pair just like them, I cut the new pair off at the thumbs and sewed the fingerless parts to the bottom of my original pair. Now, I had an excellent pair of gloves that were extremely warm, good for making snowballs, and kept my wrists covered. I'm sure they looked terrible, but who cared? How they looked was way down on my list of requirements.
Design News reader
Would that be Armani or Versace?
While I do know some engineers who couldn't care less about their appearance and that of their car, I am certainly not one of them. I have enjoyed driving since before I could do it legally. I have owned Mustangs, Chevys, Sporty Fiats, and numerous motorcycles. As far as dress is concerned, I am currently wearing Italian from head to toe. I do care.
So please do not buttonhole us engineers into one convenient category. We have enough trouble at parties without a respected magazine such as yours continuing the stereotype.
Design News reader
Debunking the stereotype
Every time I see a car with a spoiler, I think to myself how ridiculous it is to pay for something so entirely non-functional, especially on family cars and minivans that have no sporting pretense whatsoever. I think you'll find most engineers feel the same wayit if doesn't serve a purpose, why pay for it?
On the other hand, you will find that the engineers coming out of school in the last decade are not the stereotypical pocket-protector-wearing computer nerds that people associate with the label "engineer." Sure, some of those guys still exist, but I think they are becoming more the exception than the rule. Engineers my age (under 30) tend to keep tabs on and are involved in pop culture trends. Personal style is important to us. Some of us have even managed to nurture personalities and date on a regular basis.
Don't get me wrong. I occasionally find myself explaining basic physics to a five-year-old. I sometimes pay more attention to the machine in a picture than to the bikini-clad girl draped over it. Maybe some traits are universal.
No fashion plate
I share your views on engineers' automobiles and clothing habits. I find myself dressed in khaki cargo pants (lots of pockets), hiking shoes (comfy), and white shirt with snaps rather than buttons (quicker.) No fashion plate here. Automotive-wise, I drive a Honda CRX (high mileage, good performance, dead reliable) with 311,000 miles on it. My motto is, "If it ain't broke, don't sell it."
Senior Product Engineer
I think it takes an engineer to appreciate the very things that your article claims we don't care about! Engineers buy products that seem well-engineered to them. As a design engineer, I'm interested in seeing what my fellow design engineers have been able to pull off.
I do agree that, on average, engineers aren't all that style-savvy, but there are exceptions. In my opinion, engineers in the auto industry fall in love with the sleek and curvy lines of their cars. And some of us are out here are wearing our Ralph Lauren jeans and DKNY shoesright inside Motorola headquarters in fact!
Nicole M. Imbrogno
CTS Wireless Components
Save the restyling $$
Cute column. I'm a female (not too style-challenged) engineer who thinks that my employer's current fascination with "edge" design results in ugly vehicles with higher-than-desirable corrosion probability. The style needs to not get in the way of the function of the vehicleunless of course the function of the vehicle is to be stylish.
But most of us simply want a car that gets us where we're going reliably; one whose doors open and close easily when we want them to; and one that has a clock that isn't too hard to reset for daylight savings time. Consumers would be better off if car makers saved the "restyling" dollars for something more functional, like upgrading the brakes.
Ann Marie O'Connell, PE