Engineers in the South
Do you have no life and can prove it mathematically?
Are you in the habit of destroying things just to see how they work?
Do you assume people around you yawn because they don't get enough sleep?
Can you translate a foreign language into octal and binary?
Have you ever calculated how much you make per second?
Are the experts at Circuit City unable to answer any of your questions?
Can you explain the Doppler Effect and Plank's Constant to a third grader?
Do you have a pet named Einstein or Galileo or Newton or Pythagoras?
If you answered "yes" to exactly 87.5 percent of these questions (7 out of 8), chances are you're an ideal candidate to become an engineer and don't own a pet.
Not only do you need to think in math to become an engineer, but there are special requirements if you plan to do it in the South. One of my highly unreliable sources managed to steal a copy of the engineering licensing exam from a southern state. At the risk of being deported back up north, I've revealed some of the questions.
1) A 2-ton dump truck with a full load of horse manure is traveling at 35 mph on a typical Arkansas county dirt road. As it reaches the peak of a high hill the brakes fail and it begins an unimpeded descent down a slope with a 17 percent grade. Exactly halfway down the slope it reaches 52 mph. How much time will elapse before it reaches the bottom of the grade and what are the odds it will strike a vehicle with a muffler along the way?
2) A man and a woman own a house on 2.7 acres in the West Virginia hills. They have two mules, seventeen cats and five grown boys: Billy Joe, Billy Bob, Billy Joe Bob, Merle and Earl. Can each of their boys put a mobile home (70-feet by 14-feet) on the property and still have enough room for their electric appliances to sit out front?
3) There are five dead cars in the front yard of a house in a damp hollow along the lower end of a muddy river in east Mississippi. There's a southern exposure and chickens loose in the yard. The '48 Packard, '52 Olds, '53 Chevy, '55 Ford and '58 Pontiac are in a random pattern and on blocks. Which car will rust out first?
4) A moonshiner in north Georgia operates a still at a capacity of 35 gallons of shine per hour. Assuming a daily mean temperature of 77 degrees Fahrenheit and an average humidity of 64 percent, how many 1962 Chevy Camero radiators are required to condense the product?
5) A front porch, 8 feet wide by 19.6 feet long, is constructed of 2-feet by 8-feet black oak planks on 4-feet by 4-feet hickory struts spaced 12 inches apart across a field rock foundation that rises 3.4 feet above a red clay surface in South Carolina. When the porch collapses, how many hound dogs will be killed?
6) What is the smallest limb diameter of a dogwood tree that will support a 12-pound possum?
7) Two woodcutters in Kentucky harvest 3.6 acres of trees. The plot is 78 percent oak and 22 percent hickory. The density of the trees in the plot is 388 per acre. The average oak diameter is 13.7 inches and the average hickory diameter is 11.1 inches. One woodcutter has a chainsaw that operates at 2,400 RPM and the other chainsaw operates at 2,800 RPM. How many 12-ounce beers will be consumed before the plot is cleared?
8) If every old refrigerator in south-central Alabama vented a charge of R-12 simultaneously, what would be the percentage decrease in the ozone layer?
9) At a variable reduction rate in the gene pool of 6.7 percent per generation, how long will it take for a town in Tennessee of 4,200 people or less to breed a country-western singer.
A person with an engineering degree asks, "How does it work?" A person with an accounting degree asks, "How much did it cost?" A person with a liberal arts degree asks, "Do you want fries with that?"
Becoming an engineer isn't easy. In the South, it takes a special possum-and-grits type mentality to qualify.
* * *
Bret Burquest is an award-winning columnist and author of four novels. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.