The mind of an engineer is the mind of a practical problem-solver, someone who likes to see the fruits of their labor fully realized in grand projects such as bridges, buildings, and even machines.
It’s all about efficiency and how well you can make something without needing to go overboard — or in other words, finding the optimal solution.
Engineering is also about using clever mechanics to grant leverage whereby we’re able to transcend normal boundaries that usually pervade our everyday experience.
Engineers are some of the most intelligent and essential people on the planet, and for that reason, we’ve dedicated a list of handpicked hobbies to entertain and entice them/you into finding something they’ll enjoy doing in their spare time – let’s take a look.
Measure Twice, Cut Once – 23 Hand-Picked Hobbies For Engineers
1. 3D Printing
It’s not hard to understand why an engineer might like 3D printing as a hobby and in fact, many of the same principles that apply to civil engineering can also be applied to 3D printing.
In fact, any kind of structural mechanics that work in modern-day building infrastructure will also work with 3D printed objects — in truth, engineers probably have an advantage as they understand what works and what doesn’t from a structural point of view.
Plus, 3D printing and modeling are extremely fun pastimes — you can print just about anything you can imagine, or at least anything you can make in 3D modeling software.
Some more unusual applications involve using 3D printing technology to repair structural damage on the fly, whether that be at home or even when you’re out and about around your city.
It’s an extremely inventive activity and the only limiting factor will be the mind behind the operation — have at it and oh, you’ll need a 3D printer.
Woodworking is one of the oldest and most essential trades/pastimes that has been involved in just about every construction project known to man, and we’re not just talking about living spaces.
Yes, it’s true that wood is a great material for building your typical construction projects i.e. lodges, huts, and bridges, however, it can also be used more creatively for furniture, wood sculptures, jigs, and even weaponry.
You can also augment certain fixtures which can come in really handy for almost any situation.
Again, similar to many of the projects listed on this page, woodworking is only limited by the imagination of the person engaged with it — you can get really creative with wood, mainly because it’s such a versatile material that can be crafted and molded nearly every way imaginable.
Meccano is a toy-based hobby that incorporates many of the elements that make engineering so interesting.
In fact, Meccano is almost entirely tailor-made for folks who like to build things and want to see mechanics in action, hence the name Meccano.
Similar to LEGO, Meccano has purpose-built pieces that fit together nicely meaning it’s much easier than if you were to try to build something entirely from scratch.
In a way, it incorporates this type of modular design so as to offer a high level of accessibility, whilst also allowing for full creativity and versatility that many engineering-type folks like to see.
Lastly, Meccano isn’t made to be static — it also makes use of electronics to allow you to bring your constructions to life, almost like a scaled-down version of real-life pieces.
LEGO is a simplistic toy-based hobby that involves elements of construction and 3D structure building.
In fact, it is the most popular of its kind with Meccano trailing in second place behind it as the most dominant platform for building toy-based structures off of.
If you prefer something more relaxing and less serious then LEGO can be a really fun hobby and can allow you to build some really interesting things — it’s also fairly accessible meaning you can also allow the kids to help out too.
3D modeling or CAD is a way of designing 2D and 3D images/structures that can be used as in-game assets or as inspiration for something made in real-life.
In fact, some CAD systems are so advanced that they’re able to mimic real-world physics and/or mechanics meaning it’s easy to use a testbed for projects before spending tons of money on materials.
As a hobby, you can have lots of fun modeling both flat 2D and 3D structures — the main limitation will be the person utilizing the software who’ll operate as the driving force for efficient and inventive creations.
Engineers don’t just build bridges and buildings, they’re also responsible for working on aircraft whereby they oversee things like material efficiency and aerodynamics.
For this reason, engineers are more likely to appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into designing a drone and how efficient it can be at flying.
In fact, there are a few different kinds of drones, but the most popular is probably quadcopter-style drones mainly because they’re more maneuverable than other designs.
This also makes them exceptional for filming video footage or taking aerial snaps; they allow you to get to places that aren’t usually accessible.
7. RC-Car Racing
Similar to drones, RC cars are based on modern feats of engineering meaning it’s easy to appreciate the work that goes into them — it’s also what makes them incredibly fun to play with.
In fact, if you don’t quite have the money to spend on real cars, RC cars can be a much cheaper way to scratch your petrolhead itch.
Many of the designs that work in real cars are easily transferrable to RC cars meaning tinkering with them is just as fun as tinkering with a full-sized automobile.
If you’ve ever wanted to appreciate buildings for all their intricacies then there is no better way to do that than to take up parkour.
For those who don’t know, parkour is a discipline that involves traversing urban landscapes such as cities and parks in the most efficient way possible.
This could mean scaling buildings up a drainpipe or jumping onto other platforms to quickly get between obstacles — as you can imagine, it’s rather risky and involves a lot of skill in making sure you pull it off as well as you can.
For an engineer, the simplicity between utilizing bodily mechanics and getting to see cityscapes from a new perspective could be an enticing prospect.
Engineers are used to working with foundational tools that eventually build up to a much larger completed project and in a way, coding is not so dissimilar.
In fact, the mind of an engineer is almost the perfect fit for tackling projects from the ground up, mainly because they’re so used to finding the pieces that work well together.
Coding is very much a case of taking what you have and turning it into something marvelous; plus, with an emphasis on efficiency, we’re sure the skills used in engineering will translate very well into coding too.
10. Video Games
Some of the most popular video games ever released were based on puzzles and solving problems – think Zelda and Pokémon.
As an engineer, this is pretty much what you do all day when challenged with projects which aren’t so dissimilar from many video games.
For this reason, engineers are highly likely to be matched well with video games as a hobby that can provide them with all the challenges they enjoy in their normal day-to-day life.
11. Clay Sculpting
Sculpting, especially when constructing anatomical designs or when attempting to make scaled-down replicas of things such as buildings, is actually very similar to engineering in terms of skills whereby you’ll need to have a keen eye for efficiency and how things are made.
In fact, the human body is an absolute work of art when you really get down to the nitty-gritty of how it’s formed — it’s probably why Leonardo da Vinci was so enthralled by it.
And, in case you didn’t know, da Vinci was both an engineer and a sculptor meaning it’s quite likely you’ll find the same enjoyment in both activities, much like he did.
12. Vehicle Restoration
Vehicle restoration is a rather on-the-nose hobby that engineers are pretty much guaranteed to love.
That’s because vehicles are made with modern engineering in mind meaning many of the skills you’ll be using in your work will be highly transferrable to working on cars and machines of this sort.
Plus, bringing something back to its former glory from a dusty old shell is oddly satisfying in a way that not many other pastimes can replicate.
13. Miniature Painting
Miniatures are scaled-down replicas of humanlike figures and machines that many engineers are likely to appreciate.
Being able to paint them is a great way to engage your creative mind without needing to have a high level of skill — it also means you can have fun using color palettes that aren’t usually seen on whatever it is you’re painting.
Engineers are used to working to high standards of efficiency, however, they’re also sometimes tasked with making beautiful structures that can be appreciated for their design.
In a way, constructing a garden is not so estranged from this concept.
Careful planning is required to make sure that each flower or plant has enough room to grow without hindrance — on the flip side, making your garden look pleasing to the eye is also a desirable trait when considering its aesthetic.
In fact, gardening can be more forgiving than typical engineering, mainly because you don’t have to worry about safety standards or how long it will take to build — it’s really relaxing and a great way to channel your creative energy.
15. Hikaru Dorodango
Mud is unlikely to be considered a wondrous or beautiful material, especially when held to today’s high standards against things like metal alloys or woodworking projects.
However, you’d be surprised what you can turn it into through sheer persistence and force of will.
Enter Hikaru Dorodango, a unique pastime that involves smoothing mud down into a perfect sphere that can eventually end up taking on some of the unique aesthetic characteristics of its mineral makeup.
Some master dorodango experts are even able to make their mudballs look like marbles or even like a Palantir from Lord of the Rings.
If you’re curious or want to know more, we really recommend searching this hobby on YouTube to get an idea of what it entails.
16. Survival Experiences
Some of the most rudimentary feats of engineering started thousands of years ago when we had to make basic huts and traps just to survive.
In fact, taking a step back into a world where we had to use whatever was around us can be a really enlightening but thoroughly enjoyable experience to really test your ingenuity.
For this reason, going off-grid or joining a survival experience can be a good way to put those engineering skills to the test whereby you’ll usually be paired up with others for a set period of time to see how well your fare.
17. Virtual Reality/Metaverse
Many large companies and conglomerates are now moving to virtual reality (or the metaverse as it’s now termed) to work on project design before they bring it to life in the real world.
That’s because virtual reality is able to simulate the same freedom that we’re afforded in our normal existence, just without the usual cost or restrictions that are inevitable with such projects.
A good example of this is Boeing who has used virtual reality as a testbed for their 737 MAX 10 plane where they’re showing mechanics how to install things before they need to do it in real life.
Reality and work aside, virtual reality is just a great place to work on creative projects whereby you can really bring them to life without the usual downsides or restrictions that we abide by in real life.
Photography is more a creative hobby rather than a mechanically challenging one, however, we think it’s a great companion hobby to be joined alongside projects that you’re working on whereby you can immortalize the stages of construction through taking pictures or videos.
Some moments of history should never be forgotten, certainly when it comes to things like building bridges or monuments that are likely to stand for hundreds of years into the future.
In most cases, you’ll want a DSLR camera as they’re known for taking high-quality pictures whilst also affording some versatility in the way of attachable lenses.
Geocaching is a hobby that involves navigating landscapes and utilizing your ingenuity to solve clues to ultimately find the hidden treasure.
In a way, many of the same skills you use within engineering will be directly transferrable to geocaching, though, with a greater emphasis on having fun.
In fact, geocaching is a great way to spend the day having fun with friends and family whereby you’ll traverse different topographical fixtures around your local cities and even further afield.
Most people use the official geocaching app which can be found on their website, though, some social media outlets also form groups of their own with locations and times to attend.
20. Sand Art
Sand art is a bit of a no-brainer when it comes to a hobby that engineers can probably appreciate.
That’s because sand is an interesting medium to work with as it’s extremely easy to manipulate into some sort of 3D structure, though, with a greater emphasis on freeform creativity.
You’ll probably not be able to do this all the time not unless you frequent the beach each day, but it’s certainly nice to get involved with it from time to time if you’re feeling particularly creative one day.
Homebrewing isn’t as on-the-nose as some of the other hobbies mentioned on this list, but it still requires a good degree of care, efficiency, and want to craft something marvelous.
In most cases, you can simply buy a homebrewing kit that includes pretty much everything you need to make your first beverage, however, bigger and more dedicated setups can be built over time if you find you have a strong interest in it.
Plus, you’ll be really popular on special occasions when people get to enjoy handcrafted beer and wines to revel in their celebrations.
Blacksmithing is a hobby that can be leveraged quite well, especially if you have a mind for making things or working on creative projects.
In fact, learning to work with metal on a more foundational level will give you a better understanding of metal materials and what their native properties allow.
Some metals are more pliable than others whereas some are imbued with magnetic properties that can be useful in specific projects.
Last but not least, weightlifting is a hobby that most people do but very few appreciate the exact mechanics of how the movements work and how they can be exploited for greater efficiency.
In fact, we dare say that engineers would make great weightlifters, mainly because they should have a greater interest in optimizing results through mechanical motion and also through nutritional efforts too.
In a way, weightlifting is an offshoot of biological engineering rather than your typical civil or mechanical engineering, though, can be equally as fun and as interesting.
Plus, you’ll stave off age-related illness for longer which is a win-win in pretty much any scenario.
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