Metaphors in the Mechanical Engineering Field

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Metaphors in the Mechanical Engineering Field

The Mechanical Engineering field involves multiple disciplines. The language from the disciplines converges into a complex dialect of sayings and metaphors. Metaphors are used in the field as “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison” [1]. The Mechanical Engineering field entails different working environments and types of employment. The metaphors CAD jockey, cube farm, and worth his salt encapsulate different aspects of a Mechanical Engineer. In everyday life common metaphors like tie the knot, pass the buck, and pushing the envelope are used.

Pushing the envelope means, “to approach or exceed known performance boundaries” [2]. The origin is from “US Air Force test pilot program of the late 1940’s.” The envelope refers to an aircraft’s performance and is difficult to comprehend. It is not clear why the envelope is related to an aircraft’s performance. This comparison is confusing and can mislead people in understanding the concept of the metaphor.

The concept of pass the buck is “pass off responsibility to someone else.” In some card games a marker called buck is used. The marker is used to signify the dealer and the person responsible to deal the cards. Players take turns as the dealer by passing the marker. People familiar with the name of the marker will understand the meaning of this metaphor.

The metaphor tie the knot has been used since ancient times to represent the act of marriage. During antiquity, in many parts of the world only, a priest or patriarch knotted together the garments of the bride and groom to symbolize a permanent union [3]. This metaphor has been used for years and is known around the world. It is hard to understand the meaning from the word usage.

The meaning of a CAD jockey is a person that uses computer-aided design tools. The origin is around the 1990’s when computer-aided design tools became available to the general public. The metaphor is appropriate for a person that uses computer-aided design tools. Someone not familiar with the acronym CAD will be confused by this metaphor.

The metaphor cube farm is “an office filled with cubicles” [4]. This metaphor began in the 1970’s when cubicles sprang up in the office landscape. The phrase usually has negative connotations about the working environment, which are that the environment is stressful and noisy.

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