What’s The Difference Between A Good Engineer And A Great One? The Internet Answers

How does one differentiate a good engineer from a great one? This question was posed on Quora and got some very introspective answers.

One guy didn’t want to get into too much details, so he decided to explain with a witty yet incredibly apt example.

Elaborating on how a good vs. great engineer would solve the conundrum shown in the picture below,

“A good engineer makes either the trucks smaller or the train & bridge taller.

A great engineer deflates the tires.


Of course, as we all know that an engineer’s greatest asset is his/her innovation, proactive approach to problem solving and creativity in achieving the desired goals. Richard Tseng, Ph.D. in Analog Integrated Circuit Design from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign had this to say,

“If told that there is a bug in some system, a bad engineer might make up an excuse as to why the bug cannot be fixed. A good engineer will fix the bug within his or her area of expertise. A great engineer, however, will also:

  • tell you that he or she checked all of the other systems for similar bugs (and perhaps already fixed them)
  • propose a long-term solution or design framework to avoid all similar problems in the future (and perhaps give you some cost/benefit analyses for each solution)
  • look outside his or her area of expertise to see if any other groups might have this problem (and perhaps he or she has already made contact with said groups)

When given a problem, great engineers will look to find the hidden implications behind the challenges or problems that they are given.”

Don’t worry if you don’t feel like a great engineer! Here’s a very informative video on how can you go from good to great using these five rules!

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