Top 10 Gifts for Engineers

Still struggling to find a holiday gift for the engineer in your life? Check out these 10 suggestions for various budgets.

So, you’re having an office gift exchange for the holidays and you had the misfortune of pulling Dave the Engineer out of the hat. What’s he into, again? Math and…grumbling? Maybe it’s an engineer closer to home: a friend or family member. Or maybe you’re the engineer looking for an answer for all those people asking, “What do you want this year?”

Whatever the case, has you covered with our Top 10 Gifts for Engineers.

10) Samsung Gear VR

Samsung Gear VR (Image courtesy of Samsung.)

Samsung Gear VR (Image courtesy of Samsung.)

Virtual Reality seems to be here to stay (for the moment, at least). If the engineer in your life doesn’t yet have a VR system, you could do a lot worse than drop 80 bucks on a Samsung Gear VR headset- it’s way more robust and comfortable than Google Cardboard and has its own Oculus app store for Android.

All in all, it’s a very good stepping stone into VR for those who don’t want to spend all that cash on a Vive or Oculus yet. It does require a Samsung phone to work with it though, so bear that in mind before you pony up those Benjamins. 

9) Leatherman Charge TTI

Hack your holiday dinners to pieces with a Leatherman. (Image courtesy of Leatherman.)

Hack your holiday dinners to pieces with a Leatherman. (Image courtesy of Leatherman.)

Multitools are great, especially if you end up stranded on a desert island for your holiday vacation. Of course, there are many variations of multitool available, but I chose this one for its titanium handle and the sheer variety of tools it features. The 19 tools include various sets of pliers, screwdrivers, files, a can opener, a bottle opener and a serrated knife—helpful if you need to demonstrate your turkey-carving skills.

At $169 USD, this is a rugged gift that will last a very long time.

8) DJI Spark

DJI Spark. A good little drone. (Image courtesy of DJI)

DJI Spark. A good little drone. (Image courtesy of DJI)

Drones are fashionable and fun, and they’re packing more and more functionality into smaller packages at a smaller cost these days. Commercial drone industry leader DJI released the DJI Spark earlier this year and it has a decent flight time for a small drone as well as a gimbal-stabilized 1080p camera.

For the remainder of 2017, you can get your hands on one for the discounted price of $429 from DJI at this link.

7) Monoprice MP Select Mini V2

ABS rings are a girl's best friend (Image courtesy of Monoprice.)

ABS rings are a girl’s best friend (Image courtesy of Monoprice.)

Do you know an engineer without a 3D printer? You can remedy that by buying them a Monoprice MP Select Mini, which is (according to Monoprice) the world’s best-selling 3D printer and was voted best budget 3D printer by All3DP.

Be warned though: If you purchase a 3D printer as a gift for the engineer in your life, all of your future gifts from said engineer will be 3D-printed.

I keep telling my girlfriend that I will 3D print her engagement ring. She is not impressed. I tell her it’s the thought that counts and I reassure her that ABS is a very sturdy thermoplastic so she should not fear the ring becoming worn or broken. I have shown her the S-N Curves for 3D printed thermoplastics to demonstrate the superior fatigue properties of ABS, yet for some reason, she is not convinced. Maybe she prefers the shiny finish of mechanically inferior PLA?

Either way, at $219 USD, the MP Select Mini V2 truly is the gift that keeps on giving.


Turn your smartphone into a thermal camera (Image courtesy of FLIR Systems.)

Turn your smartphone into a thermal camera (Image courtesy of FLIR Systems.)

Fed up of food photographs on social media? Give a FLIR ONE Pro thermal imaging camera attachment to your engineer friend and watch them spam your friends’ social media feeds with thermographic images of hot turkey!

Available for Android and iOS for $399. 

5) Dremel 4300 Rotary Tool

Dremel 4300. Great tool. Uninspired caption (Image courtesy of Dremel.)

Dremel rotary tools are great. You can cut, polish, grind, drill and even engrave with them. The newest model, the 4300 series, has the most powerful motor a Dremel rotary tool yet, and allows for tool-less and collet-less accessory changes.

It also has a light attached, should your engineer friend/partner wish to drill stuff in the dark. Available now with a variety of accessory kits starting at around $100.

4) Sienci Mill One V2

Crowdfunded and opensource. CNC for the masses (Image courtesy of Sienci Labs.)

3D printing is great, but still a little bit limited due to the available materials. That’s where CNC milling comes in. The Sienci Mill One made huge waves when it was launched on Kickstarter a while back, and continues to build a fanbase among engineers and makers.

The Sienci Mill One V2 can mill various plastics, woods and even aluminium and can be purchased in kit form for just under 400 bucks. It’s in kit form, so there is the added fun of building it too!

3) Omega Speedmaster Professional

If it's good enough for NASA, it's good enough for anyone. (Image courtesy of NASA.)

If it’s good enough for NASA, it’s good enough for anyone. (Image courtesy of NASA.)

Have money to burn? Then why not burn it on the original Moon watch? First worn on the Gemini 4 spacewalk, it was also worn on the Apollo 11 moon landing. Hence the nickname, “Moonwatch.”

It remains one of the preferred chronographs for NASA spaceflight and is to this day, it is the only watch qualified for extra vehicular activity. What’s the damage? Well, you can get a pre-owned 145.012 model (the exact sort worn on the Moon) for about $6,000, or you can get a brand new Dark Side of the Moon edition for upwards of $12,000.

2) The Planets: Photographs from the Archives of NASA

Books. Yes, people still read them (Image courtesy of Amazon.)

Books. Yes, people still read them (Image courtesy of Amazon.)

Everyone loves space pictures, not just engineers. If you don’t, then you’re a broken human being and no gift on Earth will satisfy the emptiness that you experience every day.

For the rest of us, there was a lovely hardback photo book just recently published named The Planets: Photographs from the Archives of NASA. Authored by Nirmala Nataraj and with a forward by Bill Nye the Science Guy, The Planets features over 200 colour pictures collected from the last 40 years of NASA space exploration, ranging from planets to moons to asteroids.

Weighing in at over 3 lbs, you may want a bigger stocking to accommodate this glorious tome.

It’s a lot of book for under 40 bucks.

1) Alcohol

“Liquor? There ain’t no hooch here, see? This is a respectable club, copper. It ain’t no speakeasy joint!”

I think we all knew what #1 was going to be.

Alcohol comes in a variety of styles and is suited to any budget, ranging from Laotian Rice Whiskey at $1 per liter, all the way up to a diamond encrusted bottle of Limoncello for *spits coffee out*… just under 37 million dollars.

Who on Earth would spend 37 million dollars on a drink that tastes like a cough lozenge?

All of a sudden, that Omega Speedmaster is looking like a bargain.

Anyway, alcohol is delicious, available almost anywhere and makes a great last-minute gift when all else fails. That’s why it’s #1.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

And please remember to drink / cut / CNC mill responsibly! 

Looking for more gift ideas? Check out Top 10 Video Games for Engineers and Top Toys for Engineers of All Ages.