What are the most common misconceptions about engineering?
One common misconception is that you can ask an engineer a question and get an immediate answer. Many times problems that appear simple are not and can take much time. For instance, a farmer asked me if his tractor drawbar could pull a particular implement. This is actually a very complex problem that could require testing and computer analysis. I did a rough estimate and gave him the ok, but it was just a guess; It could have failed.
Engineering work takes much time, much of which is determining the basic principles of the problem and defining variables. Mistakes can be very costly and career ending, therefore, much time is spent looking at a problem several different ways and checking the answers against each other.
I was a teaching assistant in a senior design class for several semesters. Sometimes the students got the wrong answer and pleaded with me, telling me how much time they spent on the project ant the effort they expended. I would respond: if you design a rocket and it has a wrong algorithm in it and hits the White House, will it do any good to tell the President how much effort and time you put into the project?