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Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 8:03 AM

This has bugged me for a long time and of lately it seem to have gotten far worse.

Why do so many engineers outrightly lie or play stupid about the factual requirements and or rules/regulations relating to the work of their jobs?

Back when I first entered the working world I had the privilege of working near or with the occasional engineers who were often brought in to the various jobs the companies I worked with were doing and back then when ever I had a question about the how and why of what they did relating to a code or claimed regulation geting straightforward answer.

If I asked about why something had to be done a certain way most often it was due to some code and if asked about I was shown what that code was for myself to read it.

Now whenever I deal with engineers there seems to be all these excuses for not doing anything properly or completely because some suposed code or regulation prevents them yet when pressed to get any information about where I can find these codes as proof I either get ignored, lied to or they suddenly become so stupid they can't understand basic questions about the very work they do and are in charge of.

Reason being we have a large roadway project going on that passes through our property and they are moving the excess dirt (80,000+ yards) onto our property by agreement with my family. We are mostly happy to have the dirt brought in and put where we want it but at the same time the head engineer keeps making up what I see to be BS excuses for not doing things completely to our requests.

One is supposed floodplain encroachment limits which make absolutely no since (we were once flat out told that an area halfway up a hill was floodplain wetland, it's not and never has been, yet the area they were working below it was not) being in one area for the project they are moving dirt in all over the floodplain and in another they are stonewalling us and say they can't because of some "federal EPA based regulation" they seem to not be able to put a single defining name or accurate reference to.

Yet when the blatant discrepancy is pointed out and they are pushed to provide documented proof they're suddenly somehow too dumb to understand the question and can't even give me a name of what code books they are going by to which as I am seeing online those codebooks are open public information.

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Anonymous Poster #1
#1

Re: Why do engineers lie/play dumb about their jobs?

08/21/2017 8:47 AM

I'm sure there are lots of reasons and most specific situations are probably a combination of reasons. A big part of it is that Big Government is so terribly out of control that not only is everything over regulated but many regulations are in conflict with other regulations.

A lot of regulations are just in place to keep money flowing to non-participants. Wetlands, turtles, birds, etc. all stand in the way of projects but enough money paid for the right studies and right permits and you can move forward again. In some areas out west dirt can not be moved unless thousands of dollars are paid for a study to determine if there might be indian remains on the property. Years later you want to move more dirt on the same property you have to pay for another study. In other areas you have to pay thousands of dollars to have a properly licensed person pick up turtles and move them over the property line. You will go to jail if you move them yourself. All modern government construction seems to be Clinton Foundation on a different scale.

Part of it is a bit like the joke about lawyers and sharks helping each other as a professional courtesy. The regulation makers, the regulation enforcers and the construction companies may be in conflict with each other at times but as an outsider you better not mess with any of them because the system is stacked against you.

Another reason is that things are so complicated that no one knows all the rules they are suppose to follow. Thus, they make up their own reality and impose it onto you. They have the keys to the bulldozer so therefore they are right and you are wrong.

Also, in the modern world most managers live and die by getting a certain number of checkmarks by a certain deadline. Making sense and being right only matter if thy are a necessary part of getting the checkmark (often they aren't). If things go bad later that is a problem for someone else. The manager made his/her boat payments and that is all that matters.

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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 9:15 AM

Why do so many engineers outrightly lie or play stupid about the factual requirements and or rules/regulations relating to the work of their jobs?

I have (2) takes on this....

I don't know about lying

1.) If people really realize what some engineers have to go through to get the job done... it would scare people off to not even attempt it. Even though the Engineer may not entirely know how he's going to accomplish it, based on his practical experience, he realize that he can.

2.) this is what I'm went through and I'm ready to pull the pin. I rebuild an oxidizer stack, the oxidizer needed to be rebuilt also, but I was told if we did that, the company would have to go an repermit it and my push to also rebuild it was repeatedly snuffed out to a point of giving me an ultimatum... (i.e. don't bring it up again or your out of a job)

What could be a long story, I'll make it short... It's my responsibility, I planned on rebuilding the oxidizer under the radar scope of the pencil-necks.

The day we were installing the new stack and replacing the refractory of the oxidizer, my boss comes and tells me there is 'concern' about the condition of the oxidizer that was brought to his attention that the oxidizer needs to be re-enforced.

My response was, I brought that to his attention starting 13 months ago. and continued for 5 month until I was giving an ultimatum. And now when I have 16 contractors here at $80.00/hour each, a crane at $2400.00 to get here and $600.00/hour as well as 3-6 of our own people working on it, only now are you concerned. I waited for his response, because unknown to him, I already had my guys working on it, and they had about an hour to go on re-enforcing the oxidizer.

He turned white as a sheet. I then left him off the hook after making my point and told him, I’m on it, they are making the repairs as we speak and have about an hour left where our contractors can continue.

I hate the word lie, but I have to admit, I told what I call a ‘white lie’ to the customer to calm his concern so at least he can sleep at night (usually cause by the customer himself) on how the project would get done. It's a 'white lie', because it’s all based ONLY on my experience. Even with this, I always had a back-up plan if it didn’t work out.

Bottom line, it was for the customers benefit.

With that’s being said, there is also the case if there is no solution that I can see, I also told them that.

When you address the problem up front only then can you address the issues correctly, even if the solution to the problem is to kill the project.

Now as far as playing dumb,... there are (2) kinds of engineers,...

1.) they play dumb because they set the bar low, and they don't disappoint you. Most are very competent, and easy going.

2.) now the second kind of engineers, these are the ones you have to avoid, they play dumb and watch you make the mistake (which they foresaw and not say anything) for the simple reason is because you threaten their position.

Those are very dangerous people, in more ways than one.

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#3
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 10:12 AM

Part of the issue is they did road work here some years ago with replacing a small wooden bridge with a much larger concrete culvert which totally changed the normal spring and summer rain runoff volumes that got pushed though the original stream channel.

That started a massive and still ongoing erosion problem that cost my family 10's of thousands of dollars plus is still causing problems for our downstream neighbors and even the state highway plus got the Army Corps of Engineers involved to which they found the original county engineers at fault for having place the culvert wrong plus had failed to do properly flow rate study or even to have talked to landowners about the actual water flows or concerns of any kind they/we would have had.

As of now that issue is still in limbo (fixing their problem they made could cost them millions if the higher level people side with us, which is likely if pushed, and they know it) so whenever it's brought up the two chuckle heads running this new road project avoid discussing it at all costs which just makes them look even worse now when confronted about the true validity of what they say in regards to what allowable and what not. Especially when there are obvious contradictions to what their claims that are litter within line of site of each other.

Today I got a response from our local water board officials about my inquiry to what up to date maps they have that may show were the true floodplain boundary is and i plan to get copies of whatever they have today or tomorrow.

Beyond that I have been digging into what ever federal and state road and related construction rule and code books I can find as well since as up to now the engineers we have been dealing with on this for the beginning keep acting like they don't know what the names of their suposed code books even are when asked specifically about them.

I'm not trying to make trouble but instead get everyone on the same level playing field whether they like it on not.

As far as lying, well so far every person I know who has worked with the local county engineers over the years seems to have every reason to feel they are not the least bit trustworthy simply due to incompetence. There are too many examples of them having screwed up simple things due to poor understandings and failure to do their research properly first.

Their not bad people but just not on top of things too often so for me going in sounding like I just might know what I am talking about and have actual paperwork references to back myself up goes a long way in getting things done correctly and fairly.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 11:17 AM

Part of the issue is they did road work here some years ago with replacing a small wooden bridge with a much larger concrete culvert which totally changed the normal spring and summer rain runoff volumes that got pushed though the original stream channel.

James have some good points... but I have experience with government civil engineers that don't have very good practical experience. Where its their way period, because they known what their doing... supposedly.

And when the failure occurs, which is with in 2-3 years, these same civil engineers,... moved on.

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#19
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 4:59 PM

2.) now the second kind of engineers, these are the ones you have to avoid, they play dumb and watch you make the mistake (which they foresaw and not say anything) for the simple reason is because you threaten their position.

Those are very dangerous people, in more ways than one.

In my younger working years, I was grateful to have older co-workers that would actually take the time to answer a question and also take the time to show you if you still didn't understand. They freely gave you all the information you needed to do your job and they would also take the time to teach you from their vast knowledge of work experience.

One day as I was working in the appliance installation trade we had a customer order to replace a 220 volt wall thru A/C. we remove the old unit and in our haste didn't look at the outlet. Well....... after we have the new unit installed, we go to plug it in and lo and behold........ The old unit was 110 volts and there is no 220 outlets anywhere in this apartment. The customer says he has an electrician that could come over immediately so we went to lunch and when we returned the electrician was installing a 220 volt outlet in the box where the 110 outlet used to be. We plugged in the A/C and it worked fine. Out of professional courtesy, we were BS'ing wit the electrician for a few minutes and I decided to ask how he was able to accomplish the task without pulling a new wire. (the electrical was romex and was only 3 wires in the jacket)

His answer was this: In a really snide and condescending voice he states..... If I tell you how I did it, i'm cutting my own throat and WHY should I teach you how to fix electrical problems for free!!!!! I was stunned with his answer and his demeanor. My coworker and I just shrugged our shoulders, got paid for the A/C install and walked to the truck muttering what an A-HOLE that guy was.

On that day, I vowed to never be like that guy. If someone wants to learn some of my knowledge, I give it freely because of the MEN and WOMEN that so freely taught me.

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#24
In reply to #19

Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 7:15 PM

He painted the original white wire black on both ends;
at the outlet connected the two black wires to live and the green to ground;
and in the breaker panel connect the two black wires to the terminals of a 2-pole breaker, and left the green/ground as is.

(At least, we hope that's what he did.)

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#29
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/22/2017 9:25 AM

I'm sure that's what he did, however when he did that, he removed the ground from the circuit. I'm kind of a stickler when it comes to electrical. I like to have all the wires connected where they should be. If it were to be inspected by a competent code inspector, it would fail inspection. I had one inspector fail an entire 2000 square foot kitchen addition due to 2 loose star nuts on flex conduit.

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#30
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/22/2017 10:03 AM

Why in carrots would he remove the ground? Not necessary to do that and not carrying current in 220V circuit anyway. That is a severe code violation, in any book.

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#25
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 7:36 PM

It's called mentoring, and it comes in many flavors.

I have to also say, When I managed designers that I hired right out of school, when I let loose on the reins, I'll watch how they problems... some asked, some tried to handle themselves... both are ok.. when they accomplished and solved issues on their own by basically themselves... I'll let it play out because it's the confidence in themselves that I'm cultivating.

if they are doing something that's just not quite right, or ineffiencemt when the issues are small enough where it can be absorb into the project, I'll let it play out to see how they handle it.

For the most part, they push though. And when it's still fresh in their minds, I'll do a review of the project at that point. And listen to how they handled it... some are even proud how they are. Now and again I'll may say it's a learning experience but rarely would I say I saw it coming. Why,... basically everybody I hired, I'd train them to be able to take my job. To be leaders where people look towards them for direction.

Where it eventually did. They may not realize it at the time but interesting to say, I would received a wedding invite from some, years after we parted. Only to have them say, they didn't realize what I'd did for them at the time when I was their manager, but after they went their own way only then did they realize and thanked me for what I did for them.

that is satisfaction.

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#26
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/22/2017 9:06 AM

Do not worry, my brother, there is a special reward for his kind, up on top of a mountain somewhere, he will be found by Chingatchgook, the Mohican known as the Great Serpent (tr. from Algonquin). Payment in full will be rendered for what he did to Uncas.

That is all I have to say.

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#4

Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 10:37 AM

I think there is more at play here than what has been suggested.

1) maybe the engineer has been told by his boss to keep cards close to his chest.

2) maybe the engineer is working under threat of being fired if he does or says "X".

3) maybe he/she just doesn't like you. That is known to occur. They could be just saying whatever to get you to go away for the moment.

4) there is no excuse for any engineer that (1) violates safe practices in carrying out an objective, (2) violates the trust of the community served by producing a shoddy, or downright dangerous product (within the very broad scope of engineering).

5) loose lips sink ships - maybe they don't want the troubles they are having with permits being known by the general public.

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#6
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 11:45 AM

I follow the mentally but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny being every one of those points tends to make things worse rather than better.

If more is in play and it's being hidden when it gets found out things get worse and always for the side who was hiding something.

Same with keping thing under wraps. Those who are doing things right have no reason to keep their work and reasons hidden.

Like or dislike is irrelevant. If anything, trying to get people to go away because they are suspicious you're doing something wrong, and you know it, just makes them more likely to start poking around with the full intent to find anything that is wrong.

Same with doing shody or questionable work. No one gains from it and it will carry over by word of mouth in how the next person sees them just as others reports of their past dealings with these guys are now giving me reason to question them and the validity and accuracy of their statements as well.

And again, if they are playing the game without proper permits in place that's their problem not mine and the public and those they answer to needs to know why.

The main things that are drawing me and my family's attention to them is gross lack of detail in explaining anything while making strange and unjustifiable changes to certain aspects of the new roadway and our affected property without first consulting us.

Part of the problem is there are old roadway approaches that gave access to ours and different peoples properties that have been taken out and then other new access points added that lead to nowhere that no one has asked for.

We have a brand new culvert that was installed halfway up a hill some 10 feet above the lay of the new roadway where there never was and never will be a property access point or roadway (property goes off a near cliff ~50 feet furth in) and other dumb stuff like that and the only answers are 'The codes say' then nothing definitive given as to what code could possibly say that local regularly used access points need to be removed and put in new places that are dead end unserviceable locations.

They dug the hell out of our neighbors hillside "because they needed dirt' yet three blocks away they are dumping the same type of fill dirt on our property making a mountain where we did not want one.

As I said, we are not looking for trouble but we are getting the point we want some rational definitive answers as to the rhyme and reason of all the odd actions that have different and contradicting excuses behind them from week to week as the project goes on.

I'm not saying they are lying but if one keeps hearing and seeing things that contradict what was said from one meeting to the next you do the do start thinking you're either dealing with incompetence and or a group of factual liars or both.

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#7
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 11:58 AM

This almost sounds like capricious activity by the construction engineers.

I guess your community could acquire legal advise, and consider taking them to court.

That appears to be the sane, legal option.

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#8

Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 1:03 PM

Broadly speaking,you (are/were) wrestling with at least 4 basiic issues:

First, instances of engineers being called-in to address technical issues are private sector consultants, and they don't want to just give away their (trade secrets) if they can avoid it, so they don't tell you any more than they feel they can afford to...

Second, the current working environment can literally be a tangled morass of conflicting code requirements, and to some extent, engineers may be telling you the truth, depending on the geographic location, associated technical issues, politics, etc...

Third, projects with constuction drawings that have Final Approval, almost always encounter at least one, if not more, unanticipared circumstance that requires some kind of physical change to the project scope, materials, selected, technology, personnel, and/or cost(s)...

Fourth, any construction project will be under the jurisdiction of at least one government entity, and they are all about being the entity in control, at all costs, no matter how much additional cost that control inflicts on the owner...

Fifth, government entities typically act as if they are in competition with each other, in order to inflate their own sense of self-importance, and justification for future pat raises, etc...

Sixth, not all construction contractors are completely construction-competent...

Seventh, the relevant city, county, state, other government should be able to provide a map/general-plan/specific-plan of the actual current extents of the relevant floodplain, and provide (access to) a copy of the current floodplain. Does yours?...

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#20
In reply to #8

Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 5:03 PM

Eight, The engineer may feel that you wouldn't understand it if he tried to explain it to you.

Nine, The engineer may not even understand it himself.

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#27
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/22/2017 9:07 AM

Yes, go back and circle in bold #9, please.

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#9

Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 1:36 PM

You seem to be talking with the foot soldiers when you should be talking to the general if you want answers... Who is funding this project?

https://www.dot.nd.gov/projects/

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#10
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 1:39 PM

Good suggestion.... It goes up the ladder... unfortunately,... public servants priority seems to be not to make waves to a point of the only thing they are concerned with is retiring at 55,.... or even at 45. and collect the their pension.

But I'm sure all experiences isn't like that.

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#11
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 1:42 PM

Who said that all experiences are not like that? I wanted to retire at 45, but I won't get my official 20+ years in with SS eligibility until 2019.

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#12
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 1:45 PM

SS is different than a pension,... government pension

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#13
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 2:29 PM

I don't know what you call Municipal retirement, but in my mind that is government pension, practically the same as.

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#14
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 2:41 PM

SS I thought meant it Social Security... maybe SSA

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#15
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 3:59 PM

Sorry, I am not communicating well. (1) I am eligible to retire under TMRS (Texas Municipal Retirement System), having over 20 years.

(2) I am not eligible to retire under SSA until I get old enough. I am old, but not that old, yet. This would mean either very expensive health care, or no insurance, or some other alternative option like share care (that I actually have very little knowledge of).

My wife and I both need coverage seriously at this time.

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#16
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 4:01 PM

Nowadays, the rules keep changing but, if you had put 20+ years into some branch of Federal Civil Service, and retire at 67, you can now draw a bi-weekly, minimal, full federal pension check...

If you work a minimum of 10+ (or 20+ ?) different years for a State, you can draw a State pension, you can retire at (62?) and draw a really minimal State pension check ...

If you work for an additional ''40 quarters'' (i.e.: 10 years) for a business that pays into Social Security, and retire at (67?), you can draw a monthly, maximal, Federal Social Security check of 1700 ( + / - ) dollars each month...

Yes, it (was theoretically) possible to put in 50-ish years and retire on (smallish) checks from three separate government sources...

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#17
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 4:34 PM

I worked at a nonunion shipyard where they had a pension. When you retired their, at the shop party (held at noon at your shop) the presented you a lump check.

there was a family of brothers, that had retired with 20, 25 and 35 years in. This created problems because The administration said, this was set for retirement and how can you retire at such a young ages.. 37, 42 and 52 years. They in fact retired...

soon after the company started putting a cap on the retirement.

a friend of mine, his dad worked for the city municipal. And in the early 90's, He retired at 57 and collected a lump sum $500,000.00 check.

now-a-days, it's hard to find a private sector company that has a pension.

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#18
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 4:36 PM

Well, SSA would like people to work till their 70's (eventually even longer) and they hang that carrot out there of how much more your SSA check will be. But what they are counting on, is you expire before then. Because they use UN collected SSA what you put in as a piggy bank for their government spending habits.

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#21
In reply to #9

Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 5:37 PM

As I read all this, I wonder if there are any Professional Engineering organizations or PE Certificates that might be contacted on this issue.

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#22

Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 5:56 PM

I don't know?

Why do engineers lie/play dumb about their job?

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#28
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/22/2017 9:08 AM

Never answer a rhetorical question from an engineer, that is unless you have a full pot of coffee and a long time to sit and listen.

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#23

Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/21/2017 6:30 PM

They might just be lazy and don't want to have to go back and check their work when they simply made things up as they went because it sounded good to them at the time. I've seen plenty of 'experts' do this.

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#31
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/22/2017 4:00 PM

To the OP, the replies of (Ronseto) and (Brave Sir Robin) sound like very worthy ''Eighth'', ''Ninth'', and ''Tenth'', respectively, basic issues, to me...

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#34
In reply to #23

Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/22/2017 5:06 PM

Unfortunately that the feeling I get with way too many engineers, technicians, contractors etc work theses days.

The stuff we see on this forum most every day with who comes here asking for what despite the supposed backgrounds pretty well proves it.

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#32

Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/22/2017 4:24 PM

I believe that you your case, the answer lies in post #4, answer #3.

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#33
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/22/2017 5:01 PM

There was a post #4 ??

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#35
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/22/2017 5:13 PM

Still sore about the fact that not everyone was happy to see you 'officially' return opposed to 'perv lurking at the window' watching us I see.

(seriously most everyone here knew you were doing it the whole time. )

Oh well. Not my problem.

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#36
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Re: Why do Engineers Lie/Play Dumb About their Jobs?

08/22/2017 6:32 PM

Still sore about the fact ...

Is that a stock tip to buy Pfizer?

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