How often have you looked back on your life and thought about the things that made you the person you are today? Being picked last in gym, having a kick me sign on your back or not having a date to the dance? These all probably contributed to your path to engineering, but none of this prepared you for this career like the nerdy board games we all played growing up. Before getting the top 7 games that made us engineers, here are a few that didn’t make the cut.
Kerplunk – Figure out which stick you can remove without causing the marbles to fall. Sounds like a Civil Engineer to me.
Perfection – Use your mind under pressure to match shapes before time runs out and the board explodes. A skill any engineer should have.
Thin Ice – How much weight can the tissue hold before it tears, and where can you place that last marble to screw your opponent? Engineering and office rivalry!
So if those didn’t make it, what did? Here are the top 7 games, for better or worse, have made us engineers, and undoubtable people that everyone hates to play board games with.
Number 7 - Don’t Break the Ice
Use hammers to apply force to little cubes while trying to keep a hippo (I think it’s a hippo?) from falling through the ice to certain death. This pretty much sounds like finite element analysis (FEA) to me! Who knew that we are training ourselves for a life of sitting in a cubicle testing chair designs to see just how fat guys can be before they break.
Number 6 – Scrabble
I know, you hate Scrabble, we all do. This is far less about what we were taught from the game and completely about what we learned. Fact: engineers can’t spell. Nothing makes this clearer than playing scrabble with anyone above a 5th grade reading level that destroys your seemly pathetic BSME. Don’t even get me started on Words with Friends bringing up bad memories. On the bright side, being able to spell doesn’t exactly pay the bills, so the jokes on them.
Number 5 – Topple
Design at its finest, where you stack plastic chips on a teetering board hoping not to be the one to cause it to fall. Understanding shear/moment diagrams might not have been in the instructions, but to someone born to be an engineer this was 2nd nature. Add in the joy you feel when you plan for someone else to fail and they do… how does it get better?!
Number 4 – Jenga
If this one doesn’t prepare you to be a structural engineer, I don’t know what does. Do you take the easy path and take the center piece or life dangerously with one of the others? A steady hand and a keen understanding of physics is a must. Oh, and then of course it usually turns into a drinking game as well, which gets you ready to deal with the crippling depression of cubical life. Yup, a truly educational game.
Number 3 – Operation
You would think that learning to remove someone’s funny bone would be a game for the future doctors of the world, but hear me out. Operation provides one of the earliest chances for a future electrical engineer to understand closed circuits! It’s a great game, but it’s even better to tear the top off of and learn what is causing that horrible buzzing.
Number 2 - Mouse Trap
Making a strong case for the top spot, Mouse Trap comes in just one short. The most fantastic of contraptions is put together all to catch a mouse. Leave it to an engineer to design something this complex instead of just leaving out a little wooden mouse trap with some cheese on it (side note – peanut butter works better to catch mice). What truly makes an engineer with this one? Actually getting the trap to work! I bet in a room of 10 people, at best 1 person would set it up accurately enough, and have enough luck, to get the ball to finish the trap and catch the mice. Go ahead, give it a try as an adult. You still can’t do it.
Number 1 - Dungeons and Dragons
If you’re an engineer and say you didn’t play Dungeons and Dragons, you’re a dirty liar. In fact, if you grew up in the past few decades and didn’t say you didn’t play D&D, you’re also probably a liar. Don’t worry, it’s cool to be a nerd these days and this is a safe place. So what did D&D do to help engineers out? COUNTLESS things! It taught us that there are other geeks like us. To think outside the box to solve problems. To use imagination to come up with a solution to a problem that you’ve wasted hours or days on already. To work as a team to solve problems. To debate different opinions to find the best answer. And most importantly, hopefully you learned to communicate problems and answers in a way that are easily understood by others, especially non-engineers. There are many other lessons this great game has taught us, but my d12 just rolled under the couch, so I have to finish this up…