Civil engineers can at times be difficult to work with. A necessity to have on a team, but not something you seek out and get excited about. Where does this difficulty come from? Why does working with engineers have to feel insufferable sometimes? I think part of it stems from the fact that civil engineers are aware that our role is not glamorous. We don't typically design things that capture people's imagination or inspire awe. Certainly there are some great feats of engineering that are well known and timeless and awe inspiring, but at a project level the bulk of our work is spent trying to go unnoticed.
Engineers can be... engineery. We pride ourselves on being "problem solvers" at our core, but we often view the world through a certain specific lens. A typical engineer's lens might be their particular field of study and practice (Disclaimer, this article does not mean I advocate for engineers practicing outside of their area of expertise!). At face value this is perfectly reasonable. But as the saying goes, if you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. As long as we assign only nails to people with hammers there is no conflict.
It sounds like an oxymoron, but what if the best qualities in an engineer are the least rational?
Some time ago a passing comment was made about computers taking our engineering jobs. A comment that is not unique to engineering by any stretch of the imagination, but I took my turn at contemplating it. If I may lower myself briefly to mock the classic engineer stereotype he, yes he, is a nerdy, anti-social, white, bespectacled, balding, middle-aged man who talks more like a computer than a human. I admittedly check all of these boxes except for my age, but with a little luck I expect I'll get there too. It is no secret however that this is not the only or best version of an engineer. We know that most of those stereotypical qualities are completely unrelated to the profession. We know your race, gender, age, and hairline have nothing to do with your engineering abilities. But what about the other qualities.