Some have wondered what it must be like for two structural engineers to be in a non-structural engineering situation.  I know I have (my wife is a human resources manager, which is the exact opposite of a structural engineer). 

Engineers, and in particular, structural engineers, have a certain and special way of looking at the world. Apparently there is a corresponding “non-engineering” way of understanding the world that the non-engineers know and appreciate. I have no idea what that is, but probably it works somewhat.    

So what happens in a relationship featuring two structural engineers?  Two colleagues, whom I’ll refer to as “AJ” and “Emma”, have graciously agreed to share with us some aspects of their work as structural engineers, outside of the office.     


Interviewer:  What is your favorite value of f’c?

Emma: 3500 psi

AJ: 5000 psi  

Interviewer:  Steel or concrete?

Emma: Do you even know me? Masonry, of course.

AJ: After a long deliberation, I have decided to go with steel (thank you Professor DeWolf for turning me). At least we agree that it’s not timber.   

Interviewer: AJ and Emma, when you get home after work, do you have battles about design codes?  If so, which ones?
Emma: No, we are not nerds.  Though AJ doesn’t really like recipes so I doubt he follows codes.

AJ: When was the last time you actually spelt out the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials? 

Interviewer: Who does better analysis, Emma or AJ?
Emma: Of people or structures?

AJ: I think this would be me.  Emma spends too much time investigating them.

Emma: People or structures?    

Interviewer:  Is it easier for two structural engineers to communicate in a relationship, since you’re both engineers and don’t have to deal with irrational, nonlinear personality types? Or is it harder, considering the cliché that engineers don’t really know how to communicate?

Emma: I think it takes work for men and women to learn how to communicate regardless of their profession. Though just ask AJ, I can rationalize any argument.

AJ:  I think I actually am an irrational, nonlinear personality type.  How else would I be able communicate with highway engineers and all of their vertical and horizontal curves? 

Interviewer: How embarrassed are you when you attend functions together attired like engineers?

Emma: What do you mean, fleeces and merrells are acceptable anywhere.

AJ:  I am still waiting for someone to buy me a bridge tie.   

Interviewer:  What is your favorite episode of Star Trek?
AJ: Well growing up in the 80’s, I am a much bigger fan of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The episode where Captain Picard is captured by the Borg has got to be one of my favorites. But there are so many to choose from I could talk about this all day long.

Emma: Return of the Jedi.

AJ: That’s not Star Trek.

Emma: I will never claim association with trekies

AJ: I will only get rid of my Klingon costume if you get rid of your Ewok costume.

Emma: That is my fleece you’re talking about!

Commentary by Interviewer:  AJ is incorrect. The Borg episode is OK, but the best episode is “The Inner Light.” This is the one where an alien device has Captain Picard imagining that he lives a different life on a dying planet. 


Discussion of Results and Conclusion

We are grateful to “Emma” and “AJ’ for sharing some aspects of their analysis and design outside of the office. I’m not sure if we’ve learned any overarching themes from this discussion. But it does seem that if Emma and AJ participate in the engineering edition of “The Newlywed Game,” they will certainly win a prize selected especially for them, probably a package including a laptop and designer pocket protectors. And now, respected readers, Qapla' !  (1)(2)

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(1)  “Qapla'” means “Success” in Klingon.  It may appropriately also be used to say “goodbye” or “farewell”.

(2)  You can Google “Goodbye in Klingon”.  Google will actually recognize this as a viable option as you type it, and provide dozens of helpful references.