Civil engineers are notoriously difficult to find gifts for. They tend to want things that are practical, functional, and unique. Being an engineer myself, I wanted to assemble what I think are the best gift ideas for civil engineers and civil engineering students.
Whether it’s a graduation gift for a civil engineering student, birthday present, or Christmas gift, I hope this gift guide helps you finish your gift shopping faster than ever and brings a smile to an engineer’s face. Show them you understand their passion for civil or structural engineering and support them when they geek out over your perfect gift.
This list is a compilation of my favorites from around the internet. Some are our own Genius Lab Gear inventions and some we’re just jealous we didn’t think of first! Some external links in this page are from affiliates, which means that any purchase of the items after clicking the link will result in a small monetary referral fee paid back to Genius Lab Gear at no cost to you. We appreciate your support which allows us to continue inventing and testing the best tools for engineers on the planet!
1. The Pocket Engineer: Wallet Ruler and Unit Conversion Reference
The most practical and unique pocket tool for any student or professional in civil or structural engineering. It’s the size of a typical credit card and packed with functionality and information that a civil engineer will need on a daily basis both in school and on the job. The laser-cut and laser-engraved stainless steel has a thick black enamel coating to prevent scratching and stand up to years of abuse. It’s one of the best inexpensive gadget gifts that any engineer will geek out over. You can order directly through our site or on Amazon with the links below.
2. Bamboo Cutting Board for Engineers
A truly unique gift for a civil engineer is something that they can use for their passion or hobby. This Bamboo Cutting Board is specifically made for your engineer loved one who also happens to be an amazing chef! What we loved about this gift is that you can use the solid side to chop food or use the engraved side as a perfect display in the kitchen. Also, it's made of 100% natural bamboo so it’s more sustainable than other hardwoods.
3. Funny Engineering-themed Word Magnets
We recently launched a full line of science and engineering-themed word magnets and of course made a set specifically for engineers! Each specialty pack comes with 144 tiles carefully designed by a PhD in that field for technical accuracy and tacit absurdity. These make for a funny civil engineering gift for students for a dorm, lab, or office that lets them express their technical side but isn't work-oriented.
4. Texas Instruments Scientific Calculator
Just as a doctor needs their stethoscope, civil engineers must have their trusty scientific calculator. Problem-solving and countless calculations are part of an engineer’s job, no matter what type of field they are in. So if you are thinking of a useful gift for a civil engineer, then we suggest this updated Scientific Calculator from Texas Instruments! It features a 3.5” colored screen and a rechargeable battery that can last up to two weeks!
5. Geekey Multi-tool
For a civil engineer who spends a lot of time in the field or at a construction site, we suggest this key-shaped multi-tool paired with The Pocket Engineer. It’s easy to carry on their keychain so they will always have a Screwdriver, Wrench, Bit Driver, File, Scoring Tip, Serrated Edge, Can Opener, and Wire Stripper handy at all times! You can’t beat that kind of convenience.
6. BOSCH Laser Distance Measure
Another tool that civil engineers use is the tape measure. Regular tape measures can be inaccurate and awkward to use. Fortunately, those problems can be solved with a newer technology called laser distance measurement. It’s truly a perfect gift for a civil engineer! We love that it’s accurate up to 65 feet, fits inside a pocket, and it provides live measurements that adjust as you move closer or further from the target.
7. Magnetic Pocket Level Tool
Engineers love making home improvements, and when it comes to remodeling, straight lines are important. To make sure they get the most out of their space, gift them this magnetic pocket level tool! What we loved about this tool is that it can be stored in a pocket, can be put in a keychain, or they can stick it to a metal post within their workplace since it has a magnetic strip on the side.
8. Math Wall Clock
Reading an analog clock was a task we learned as a kid but what about a unique analog clock that uses math equations? Solving these equations is a fun daily challenge to keep you sharp. And who likes challenges? Engineers. It’s a perfect gift for civil engineers since it’s a great nerdy decoration for a room or an office!
9. LEGO Architecture - Empire State Building
The Empire State Building is an iconic skyscraper for civil engineers. The American Society of Civil Engineers listed the Empire State Building as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. How can this not be a perfect gift for a civil engineer? It’s a fun way to “build” a structure without the extra pressure of being on the job! Let’s be honest - LEGOs were designed for kids but are secretly a ton of fun for adults too! It’s a great way to reduce stress, anxiety and exercise your creativity.
10. Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down - Book
Engineers, as we all know, enjoy reading. But what types of books do they actually enjoy? For a civil engineer who seeks to gain more knowledge about his or her profession, this book by J. E. Gordon is a perfect fit. “Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down” is for anyone who wants to know everything about how structures work. This book will calm your nerves and answer your questions about why suspension bridges don't collapse under eight lanes of traffic, how dams hold back—or give way under—thousands of liters of water, and what principles determine the construction decisions in a skyscraper.
11. rOtring or Staedtler Mechanical Pencil
Mechanical pencils are considered a daily essential for civil engineers. They let you precisely draw diagrams for homework or professional work with the option to make fine adjustments with the eraser. In the new digital age, mechanical pencils are still required but civil engineers often find themselves using touch screens as well.
That’s why my new favorite is the rOtring 800 Retractable Mechanical Pencil, (0.5 mm). This one turns from a pencil to a stylus on the fly, and also ensures the tip isn’t poking holes in your pocket all day like most other models. This is truly the top-end mechanical pencil and will make a special gift.
Staedtler is another brand much-loved by engineers. This model is cheaper and will last a long time, but just isn’t convertible to a stylus. You can’t go wrong with either one.
12. 3D Wooden Brain Teaser Puzzle
Brain teasers and puzzles help improve memory, activate both sides of your brain, boost mood and lower stress. Engineers will love reaping these benefits while taking on a challenge! Keep their minds active and sharp with this 3D Wooden Brain Teaser Puzzle.
We love that this puzzle is sturdy and well-made. A perfect gift that you can play anywhere, whether you are at home, an office, or even when traveling!
13. eTape16 Digital Electronic Tape Measure
One useful gift that a civil engineer would truly appreciate is a tape measure. The tape measure is a trusty old tool but paired with 2021 technology the digital tape measure is quite the level-up.
These digital tape measures from eTape16 have a display at the top for a quicker and more precise read. Our favorite part of this newer technology is that it has a memory function. Let’s say you forgot to bring a pen to write down your measurements. Just use the built-in buttons to store your measurements for later!
14. KARECEL Rechargeable Hand Warmers
Civil engineers spend a lot of time in the field even in the winter months. If they struggle to stay warm, consider getting them these Rechargeable Hand Warmers from KARECEL. It’s a thoughtful gift they will surely appreciate!
This present isn’t just a hand warmer. It’s also a powerbank that they can use to charge their phones when they are stuck outside all day without access to outlets. You can even use different temperature settings to make them perfectly toasty depending on the weather that day.
For other color options, you can check them out on Amazon.
15. Cognitive Surplus Engineering Notebook
This engineering-themed hardcover notebook would be an excellent gift that they can use daily at work or at school. The hardcover engineering design adds some subtle style to their normally utilitarian work gear. The hardcover is also waterproof so no worries about spilling coffee all over it! Did we mention that it is made from 100% recycled material?!
It is a very popular gift and you can check them out on Amazon.
16. Pipe Desk Lamp
Setting up the ideal desk area is crucial for those of us who work and study from home. This engineering-themed pipe desk lamp is designed with an industrial and rustic feel that is a perfect home or office decoration. Made out of high-quality iron and consistent with the safety standards, this lamp will add just the right amount of personality to an engineer’s office space.
17. Tzowla Travel Laptop Backpack
Working as a civil engineer involves both office and fieldwork. Going from site A to site B also means carrying your personal belongings from one place to another. A perfect solution for that is a versatile backpack to store papers, notebooks, writing utensils, a calculator, safety gear, a laptop, and other personal items. This specific travel laptop backpack has tons of amazing features: It has a fixed password lock so you can worry less about your things getting stolen, a cool USB interface design for charging phones and using headsets, and it has a large internal capacity to fit a laptop, work essentials, and more personal items.
For other color options, you can check them out on Amazon.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
What is the best gift for a civil engineer?
Anything that's practical, functional, or can help them show their love for engineering. Here are our favorites:
- The Pocket Engineer - Credit card-sized engineering ruler and reference
- Engineering word magnets
- Bamboo Cutting Board for Engineers
- Texas Instruments Scientific Calculator
- Geekey Multi-tool
- BOSCH Laser Distance Measure
- Magnetic Pocket Level Tool
- Math Wall Clock
- LEGO Architecture - Empire State Building
- Structures: Or Why Things Don't Fall Down - Book
- rOtring or Staedtler Mechanical Pencil
- 3D Wooden Brain Teaser Puzzle
- eTape16 Digital Electronic Tape Measure
- KARECEL Rechargeable Hand Warmers
- Cognitive Surplus Engineering Notebook
- Pipe Desk Lamp
- Tzowla Travel Laptop Backpack
More gift collections for specific types of scientists and engineers:
We've further curated several collections of our own inventions depending on the type of scientist or engineer you're looking for. See these more niche collections below for more ideas!