Nothing like a little engineering humour to get the year off to a good start!

This is one of my favourite engineer jokes, one that’s been kicking around the web for quite a while. I’m not sure the original source, but this is there I found it for today’s post.

If you know the original source, please let me know in the comments.

Here goes:

A Software Engineer, a Hardware Engineer and a Departmental Manager were on their way to a meeting in Switzerland. They were driving down a steep mountain road when suddenly the brakes on their car failed. The car careened almost out of control down the road, bouncing off the crash barriers, until it miraculously ground to a halt scraping along the mountainside. The car’s occupants, shaken but unhurt, now had a problem: they were stuck halfway down a mountain in a car with no brakes. What were they to do?

“I know”, said the Departmental Manager, “Let’s have a meeting, propose a Vision, formulate a Mission Statement, define some Goals, and by a process of Continuous Improvement find a solution to the Critical Problems, and we can be on our way.”

“No, no”, said the Hardware Engineer, “That will take far too long, and besides, that method has never worked before. I’ve got my Swiss Army knife with me, and in no time at all I can strip down the car’s braking system, isolate the fault, fix it, and we can be on our way.”

“Well”, said the Software Engineer, “Before we do anything, I think we should push the car back up the road and see if it happens again.”

(And BTW, I do hope to be a little more consistent with the Friday Fun posts going forward than I was in the latter part of 2012.)

Comments

  1. #1 HP
    January 4, 2013

    I heard a variation on this one some years (> 10?) ago. In the version I heard, the occupants were a fluid dynamicist, an EET, and a software engineer. The car’s engine suddenly stops without warning, and they coast onto the shoulder.

    The fluid dynamicist suggests that they start with the fuel line, and then methodically check all the pipes, valves, and hoses.

    The electrical engineer suggests that they start with the distributor cap and systematically work through the entire electrical harness.

    The software engineer says they should roll down all the windows, get completely out of the car, get back in the car, roll up all the windows, and then see if it starts.

    IOW, I don’t know that you’ll find an original source, as the basic form of the joke has been around a long time, and mutates with each retelling.

    • #2 John Dupuis
      January 6, 2013

      Thanks, HP. I did not realize that there were significantly different versions of the joke. Learn something new everyday, I guess.

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