Personality traits and qualities of a Good Engineer | Modis USA

Common Personality Traits of a Good Engineer

Modis Posted 20 February 2014

Looking to hire exceptional engineers with skills and personality traits that can change the world?

Engineers have diverse personalities and characteristics. When evaluating engineering candidates, employers must keep in mind that many personalities could make a good engineer and the hiring process should look for the best fit for a team's needs.

Many of the traits of a good engineer are the same as for any good employee, including communication and leadership skills. Beyond those, there are several specific engineer personality traits that typically translate well into the job. Look for these when hiring for your next vacancy.

Interpersonal and Leadership Skills

The traits of a good engineer start with the basics. Soft skills, such as honesty, trustworthiness, and an excellent work ethic and are fundamental to any profitable employer-employee relationship.

The concept of a lone engineer developing a breakthrough patent hidden away in a basement laboratory is unrealistic. Today's engineers work on complicated, multi-faceted projects that cross many disciplines. Every engineer will interact regularly with several members of a team, each having different skills and responsibilities. Employees must show respect for each team member, and demonstrate leadership qualities, even if they aren't the official team leader.

Communication Skills

A good engineer needs to communicate well, both orally and in writing. Everything from the problem definition to discussions of the possible solutions to the instructions for manufacturing or producing the final design must be accurately and clearly conveyed to others, including clients, team members, and the C-suite. At the same time, an engineer must be able to listen and receive feedback in order to modify the project or product and satisfy evolving requirements and conditions.

Engineering Traits

The following skills and personality traits are general requirements for all engineers.

Math and Computer Skills

A qualified engineer should be good at math, at least through the level of calculus and trigonometry, and understand the importance of following the data when making design decisions. A corollary to that is that they need to be fluent users of the software that supports their engineering discipline.

Organization and Attention to Detail

Engineers must be able to find and organize all pertinent data, and to use the information correctly. This requires a good memory and strict attention to detail.


Engineers are curious folk, like the child who takes apart a toaster to find out how it works. The innate curiosity of any high-quality engineer should drive them to figure out how to make something that works work even better.


An engineer's creativity looks different to what we typically think of as artistic creativity. Rather than focusing on a message or a feeling, creative engineers solve practical problems, such as how to store more data in a smaller amount of memory. Engineers must be able to look at the big picture, conceive a range of solutions, and then narrow down the possibilities through testing and experimentation.

Critical Thinking

Engineering solutions must work in the real world, where complex variables compete. As a result, engineers need critical thinking skills, developed through experience and training, in order to solve open-ended problems that have no single right answer. Their job is to optimize a solution within the constraints, including time, money, material, and manufacturing capability, as presented by their employer.


Once they have developed and optimized a solution, a good engineer must have the self-confidence to stand behind that solution, even without complete data or proof. This trait will manifest as an intuitive sense of what can or will work.

Engineering Personalities

In addition to the general traits described above, engineers working in different fields often display the following different types of personality traits:

Civil Engineer Personality Traits

Civil engineers work on large projects, such as roads, bridges, power plants, and water and wastewater treatment systems. Because these projects concern human interaction with the environment, good civil engineer personality traits include a broad sense of civic mindedness.

Civil engineers typically want work that is meaningful, to themselves and to others. They also must also have a good eye for aesthetics, because their projects will be visible to the public.

Robotic Engineer Personality Traits

Most robots are located within factories, and robotic engineers work on making automated manufacturing processes faster, more accurate and more efficient. Robotic engineers need a good sense of logic to analyze the steps in a process, in order to reproduce it or improve on it using robots. They must also have a good mechanical sense and an ability to visualize machinery moving in 3D.

Because they often work in a busy factory environment, robotic engineers need to be observant and sensitive to their surroundings and get along well with people from all walks of life.

Mechanical Engineer Personality Traits

Good mechanical engineers are assertive and confident, with a strong mechanical aptitude and the uncanny ability to visualize processes and objects in 3D. When designing a part, they must be able to imagine how it will fit within an assembly.

Mechanical engineers should have a good feel for different materials and how each is affected by temperature, vibrations, and mechanical stresses. They also need to understand the best methods for manufacturing a given part.

Electrical Engineer Personality Traits

Electrical engineers are good at math and science, with strong analytical minds. They must be hard-working and detail-oriented, in order to design the intricate electrical circuits, components, devices, and systems needed to support a wide range of projects, such as electric car batteries, aerospace flight controls, or nuclear power stations.

Modis provides global engineering and IT staffing services, as well as managed services and solutions. Look for our white papers and salary guide to keep up with the engineering and IT job markets. For help in finding top-notch engineering support, contact the Modis Global Delivery Centers and Centers of Excellence, offering fully-customized solutions, on an onshore, nearshore or offshore basis.

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