It seems that the same creative bent that helps engineers produce
breakthrough product designs extends also to their sense of humor.
Several months ago, on the Design News "Break Time" page, we started occasionally running an "Answer of the month" contest. We would pose an answer, such as "bulk modulus," and ask readers to make up a funny question to go with it. We encouraged readers to use their imaginations and have fun.
We got hundreds of responses, so we asked Associate Editor Michael Puttré to plow through them with other staffers and choose the best. Among the picks:
"What variable relates the expansion of your waistline to the number of doughnuts you squeezed in at breakfast?" That was the question electrical engineer Scott Heiserman, of Frontier Engineering, Oklahoma City, sent to go with the answer "bulk modulus."
Not unexpectedly, "fuzzy logic" drew a large number of responses. The best non-bear, non-corporate-decision-making response, came from Rick Heyne of Lucas Manufacturing, Mansfield, OH: "What do you get when you cross Haight-Ashbury with Silicon Valley?"
The answer "rotary actuator" drew several responses, many of them related to the Rotary Club. But the two best took different tacks. One, from Bob Royal, of H.O. Trerice Co., Oak Park, MI, asked "What is required to operate a hula hoop?" Jay Kinsinger, of Ohio Willow Wood, a Mount Sterling, OH designer of prosthetic components, wrote: "What object, when struck, turns a skier's linear motion into basket-over-tea-kettle motion?"
Jeff Doneghue, senior product designer at Siemens, Princeton, NJ, deserves applause for his question for "chief engineer." "What position requires at least 10 years of hard work, half a head of hair, 23 calculators, 34 pocket protectors, six computers, a 30-lb weight increase, three ulcers, four hemorrhoids, one suit, and two ties?"
But the hands-down winner, who will receive a $100 gift certificate, is Mike Gray, of Laser Machining, Somerset, MI. Responding to the answer "moment of inertia," Gray posed this question: "What did Larry say to Curly after hearing Moe say "The magnitude of impact is dependent on the force of velocity?"
Moe meant "of inertia," of course.