5 Unique Gift Ideas for Engineers and Students

Updated on September 24, 2019
Gadget Boy profile image

My areas of interest include computers, audio recording technology and studio setups, and any kind of hardware in between.


Finding the Best Gifts for Engineers, Students, & Aficionados

If you're lucky enough to know an engineer, you'll know that they're a unique breed. Intensely curious, passionate about precision, design, and how the world works, they are fascinating to talk to. Truthfully, our world wouldn't be what it is today without them. Finding a great gift for an engineer or engineering student is a great way to show how much you appreciate their interests.

Finding a gift that will pique their interests is always a challenge. You'll want to get them something unique, something that will hold their attention and something that they'll remember (and potentially use). That's a tall order, especially if the engineering world isn't something you're overly familiar with.

I have written this article in order to help you out! I'll be listing nine great gifts to give an engineering buff or student. In case you don't get the purpose or the reference, I'll include a little description of what the item is and what it's good for. Hopefully, this will help you find something great, memorable and affordable.

What an Engineer Digs

As I see it, the best way to go about choosing a proper present for your engineer is to analyze the things that they tend to like. Here are a couple of themes to work with:

How Things Work

Engineers tend to be fascinated with how things work. They love to pull things apart and put them back together. It's not enough to see something that has a function and just accept it at face value; they want to know why it works. Any present that caters to that thirst for knowledge will be a hit.

Utility Is Important

A great gift for an engineer is one that has a practical use in their day to day lives. If it makes a routine task or tedious activity a bit easier or more efficient, they'll absolutely love it. Try to find a gift with a useful application.

Humor Is Key

Ask anyone who has spent time with engineers: they love a good joke or prank. They tend to have that delightfully geeky, 'inside joke' sense of humor too, so playing up to their funny side is a good choice. A funny gift for an engineering buff will go over very well.

A Good Book: The First Place to Start Looking

For an inquisitive and curious mind, a book is almost always a top choice. There are literally hundreds of fascinating books on a wide swath of subjects related to engineering. I'd pick something that appeals to their specific interests. If they love circuits and electronics, get them a book on arduino boards. If they love structures and buildings, get them a biography of their favorite architect, or a study of ancient structural practices.

I've got a few suggestions to present to you to get the gears turning.

Basic Machines and How They Work is a fascinating book that even a non-engineer could read and enjoy. It goes over a number of common machines and tools, explaining them inside and out with full illustrations and cutaways. It's a fantastic gift choice for engineering students or anyone who has expressed interest in the subject. It's just the right amount of technical.

Engineering and the Mind's Eye is a look into the art and vision behind technical undertakings. It studies where the real, practical world and the realm of numbers, figures, and formulas intersects, and it's an absorbing read for students and masters alike.

There are many more works of technical writing and non-fiction that will appeal to just about anyone. I'd encourage you to look around further.

Working Stirling Engine: A Gift Idea for Mechanical Engineers

This is a working model of the classic Stirling external combustion engine. The engine is designed to work using energy from an external heat source. It's a wonderful give for anyone who appreciates the inner workings of an engine.

The heat source is an alcohol-fuelled flame that's mounted at the rear of the engine. Once it heats up, the twin pistons will start moving. They power an included dynamo that provides enough electricity to power a small LED light.

It's a great teaching tool as a visual representation of the conversion of heat to electricity (as we use it in vehicles). It's also gorgeous, sitting on a dark wood platform and using brass and steel components. It's a wonderful little item to sit on someone's desktop.

The Stirling engine is a good gift idea for an engineer who loves engines and mechanics in general. Check it out.

Inspection Wire Camera for Their Projects

Another fascinating facet of the engineer: they love to build stuff. There will almost always be a project on the go, and it's almost always unique and complex. Regardless of the project at hand, the human head is a specific size, and it can be tough to see what you need to, especially when it comes to the inner workings of some gadget or other.

A wire camera is a gift for engineering types that has so much utility. The idea is pretty simple: there's a small camera attached to the end of the flexible wire. You can guide that wire into extremely small spaces in order to get a clear view of what you're working with.

It utilizes a small LCD screen on the handle attachment that gives you a clear, color picture of whatever you point it at. It's easy to use and has an LED light at the end. It even has night vision capability, and the tip is waterproof.

It's the perfect companion for an avid builder. Take a look inside the walls of your house, inside an engine block, or even under the couch looking for a lost item. You'll wonder how you ever got along without it—definitely an engineering gift worth giving.


Miniature Wooden Trebuchet: A Unique Present Idea for Engineering Students and Teachers

Does your recipient love destruction as much as construction? The trebuchet is an ancient war machine that was a triumph of engineering when it was first developed. (It still is today, in my opinion).

Using a system of counterweights, the trebuchet is designed to fling an object (usually a rock or similar blunt and heavy thing) over the battlements of a castle to cause mass destruction. Fortunately for you, the only destruction this trebuchet will likely cause is spilled paperclips.

It comes with pre-cut wooden pieces, glue and everything you'll need to put it together. It's a great desktop accessory, and it's suitable for kids and adults alike. It even includes the modelling clay you'll need for the projectiles, and it shoots up to 20 feet!

Perhaps your engineer can even figure out ways of improving the range and accuracy! It's a great opportunity for them to play and have some fun.

Calliper Pen: A High-Utility Gift for Technical Types

The Calliper Pen is a useful present for any engineers who like a little utility with their utility. The pen serves as a writing implement, a ruler, a calliper rule and more. The pen comes in a nice little display box, and it has instructions on how to make use of it.

The pen is great and very usable, with a nice weight to it. You can refill it easily with standard ballpoint refills. And pen thieves beware: this one is unique enough that you'll be able to track down your coworkers if they walk off with it.

It's useful and novel, and any engineer worth their salt will really dig it.

Cautions and Extra Tips

Technical types can be quite picky, so buying a gift for them with no input can carry some risk. I wouldn't be too offended if they don't show much interest in your present, it's a tough task. Here are some cautions that I hope will help:

  • Don't lump their interests into common engineering paradigms. If they don't have any exposure or interest to structural design, for example, don't get them a biography of Frank Lloyd Wright. It's a broad field with tons of applications, be sure that your gift appeals to them specifically.
  • Go for inside jokes and technical humor, but avoid cheese. If it's a joke t-shirt that most people will get right away, your engineer probably won't like it! I know that sounds elitist, but it's true.
  • Listen to them about their current passions. Many people tend to go through 'seasons of interest' in certain subjects. The best gift for engineers is the one that applies to their fascination today, not last year.

If I've missed any gift ideas, please feel free to post a comment in the field below. I'm happy to add to this list over time, so give me your best shot. Thanks for reading!

© 2013 Will Henry

What do you think about these engineering gift ideas?

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Georgia Lyons 

      15 months ago

      Cool gift ideas for students. But in my opinion, the best gift for students would be an excellent service that will help them with their studies. You can find all the information on the site https://essayservicescanner.com/papersowl-review/ about papersowl review. After all, this is what every student needs. And it is very unique.

    • electronician profile image

      Dean Walsh 

      6 years ago from Birmingham, England

      Love the phone camera microscope - I've never seen anything like that before!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, holidappy.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)