Steve McQueen as a US Navy Machinist Mate (propulsion engineering)
I am little prejudiced of course having been one myself.
When I was a student back in the late 1970s, I had a flat on the top floor of a house -- the bottom floor was another flat in which lived a very old lady.
Whenever I was going out I'd knock on her door and ask if she wanted anything picking up from the grocery store. Often she would invite me in for cup of tea (I'm from England, remember)
One day she had another little old lady visiting. While we were drinking our tea she asked "What do you do" -- I replied that I was a student studying computers (saying "Control Engineering" didn't seem like a good idea).
She immediately responded -- "Oh, hardware or software?" ... color me surprised!!!
I have done most of my engineering in glamourous or at least comprehensible areas, like TV, film or aircraft test equipment. Mention your equipment was used in making the latest James Bond movie (really), and at least people look at you in an OK way.
(Mind you, it was different when the only one we had done was Scary Movie 2, no kudos there apparently...)
BTW, My dear old Mum (95) does understand what I do, her brothers used to make stop-frame cine-film animations on the kitchen table, and they later worked on the great telephone roll-outs (Strowger/POTS that was, not 2/3G).
When we were still part of Motorola, any time I would meet someone and they learned I worked at Motorola, they immediately wanted to tell me all the things they didn't like about their phone, or that their calls always got dropped in certain parts of town, and could I PLEASE ask someone to fix that!
I remember going home and running into an old acquaintance...
"What do you do these days?"
"I'm a microwave engineer."
"Oh, you fix ovens!!!"
At least "analog engineer" doesn't take you straight to oven-land :-)
There was a similar topic some years ago when the german "Verein Deutscher Ingenieure" (associacion of german engineers) had filmmaker Elwira Bednarz go to pedestian areas / shopping malls and ask people there what engineers do / wear / look like / have in their pockets etc.
The very funny (but all german) films can be found here:
Replay available now: A handful of emerging network technologies are competing to be the preferred wide-area connection for the Internet of Things. All claim lower costs and power use than cellular but none have wide deployment yet. Listen in as proponents of leading contenders make their case to be the metro or national IoT network of the future. Rick Merritt, EE Times Silicon Valley Bureau Chief, moderators this discussion. Join in and ask his guests questions.