Here Comes Santa Claus: The Ultimate Gift List for Structural Engineers


Up on the housetop, click, click, click…

Well readers, it’s that time of year again – the annual wracking of the brain for Christmas/Hanukkah gift ideas for family, friends, and the co-worker whose name you drew in the office gift exchange.  Every year the decision gets more difficult.  A chia pet?  A fruit cake?  A calendar with pictures of cute cats/dogs/ducks?  A zucchini spiralizer?  An ice scraper?


But I bring good news: this year shopping will be a breeze, if you have a structural engineer on your list.  Why?  Because in my role as a full service blogger I have done all your work for you, assembling the Ultimate Gift List for Structural Engineers.  No more wondering, no more worry, no more brain-wracking, just perfect gifts for any structural engineer!  (But before proceeding, I recommend that anyone shopping for an  engineer first review the professional ethics guidelines regarding what types of gifts that engineer may accept.)

So make your list and check it twice — if your engineer has been good this year, here are 10 gift suggestions that he/she will love.

  1. Structural Engineering Christmas Ornament  If you are looking for a stocking stuffer for your engineer, you can’t do better than this Christmas tree ornament.  Who needs visions of sugar plums dancing in your head when you can have I-beams?


  1. Modern Marvels: Engineering Disasters  Everybody loves to curl up with popcorn and a movie on long winter nights, and engineers are no exceptions.  Movies that are of interest to structural engineers?  Easier said than done…While searching on google for “movies for structural engineers” the only suggestions I got were things like Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, all the Star Treks, The Social Network, etc.  Interesting enough, but not particularly germane to structural engineers.  But then I found the History Channel’s Engineering Disasters series, and realized there isn’t a structural engineer anywhere who wouldn’t love to watch this, while pointing out to others why that sort of disaster would never have happened if they had worked on the project.


  1. Structural Themed iPad Case  When engineers are out at the jobsite accessing CloudCalcStructural Analysis in the Cloud — via their iPad Airs, they certainly will need protective cases to guard the devices against the elements.  Here is a case that any structural engineer would be proud to own, showing the strength of a well-designed support for a railroad bridge.


  1. Engineer’s Cheat Sheet T-shirt   Lots of people find it difficult buying clothes for other people – but I believe this engineering T-shirt is a can’t miss gift!  Not only is it attractive and appropriate for just about any occasion, but it is also useful, as it has most commonly referenced engineering equations written on it.  Never again will the recipient have to derive the formula for the warping constant of a wide flange!  Of course if your engineer is looking at the shirt in the mirror, this might be what he/she sees:XM-5


  1. Suspension Bridge Book Shelf Every engineer has a large collection of books – if the engineer is like me, they tend to use each book for one very specific reference, easily located by the dog ear or the well-worn page.  Again if the engineer is like me, the books usually are in a mess, spread out all over the office.  What better way to declutter the book collection, but with a suspension bridge book shelf?  Not only does it look great, but it provides hours of fun for us engineers as we calculate the exact capacity of the shelf (and the expected deflection thereunder).


  1. 3D Model of the Eiffel Tower  What structural engineer can resist owning one of the world’s best loved engineering icons?  10 feet tall, this structure will be visible from all over the neighborhood, proudly proclaiming to all the nearby lawyers, teachers, and firemen “I am an engineer”.  And the piece de resistance for this product are those magic words every engineer loves to hear:  “Assembly required”!


  1. Vintage French Engineering Blueprints   These beautiful blueprints from 1930s France make wonderful wall decorations when framed, and can also be of great help when trying to assemble your 3D Model of the Eiffel Tower.  Besides the particular appeal of blueprints to any structural engineer, you can hardly go wrong gift-wise with anything 1) imported from France or 2) in the color teal.


  1. Architect 3D Printer   What do structural engineers like to do?  First they like to design cool things with their 3D modeling software, and then they like to go ahead and build those cool things.  So what’s the quickest way to get from that Step1 to that Step 2?  3D printing of course!  There are so many printers available, all with different features and price points (from $140 to nearly $1million:, so you should investigate further and select according to your engineer’s exact needs.  (The one I show here, I picked only because it has the best name – “The Architect”.)


  1. Kinekt Gear Jewelry  I admit that this isn’t specifically oriented to structural engineering, but once you take a closer look, you’ll understand the appeal.  The jewelry comes in two versions – ring or necklace.  It also makes a nice gift for a mechanical engineer, if you know any of those.


  1. SEI Futures Fund  Often the best gift for the person who has everything is a charitable contribution in their name.  If this is the case with the engineer on your list, here is a cause that everyone can surely get behind:  the Structural Engineering Institute, an organization under the umbrella of the American Society of Civil Engineers, which has been charged with the mission of “advancing the art, science, and practice of structural engineering”.  And think of the consequences – the more success this Institute has, the more structural engineers there will be in the future, which means Christmas shopping will be easier for everybody!

Now if you have somebody on your list who isn’t a structural engineer, I can’t help you there — I have no clue.  In fact I’d like to solicit some advice from you in return for the work I’ve done on your behalf.  I’m considering this nice pair of warm socks for my wife.  Do you think she will like them?


Do you have a limited budget for holiday shopping this year?  Why not get all the engineers on your list a free registration on CloudCalc, the scalable, collaborative, and mobile cloud-based engineering software.  www.cloudcalc.comStructural Analysis in the CloudAnd since it is cloud-based, it always leaves cookies for Santa!

By Tom Van Laan

Copyright © CloudCalc, Inc. 2015


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