Historically, engineering has been seen as a somewhat dry, uninteresting field in popular culture, and has also been thought to be the domain of nerds.

In science-fiction engineers are often portrayed as highly knowledgeable and respectable individuals who understand the overwhelming future technologies often portrayed in the genre. The Star Trek characters Montgomery Scott and Geordi La Forge are famous examples.

Engineers are often respected and ridiculed for their intense beliefs and interests. Perhaps because of their deep understanding of the interconnectedness of many things, engineers such as Governor John H. Sununu are often driven into politics to "fix things" for the public good.

Occasionally, engineers may be recognized by a stainless steel ring, worn on the fifth finger of the working hand. This tradition was developed in Canada at the University of Toronto and was originally an iron ring. Some years later this practice was adopted by the United States. Members of the US Order of the Engineer accept this ring as a pledge to uphold the proud history of engineering. A Professional Engineer's name often has the post-nominal letters PE, P.Eng or Ing.

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