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.
You can also add a custom logo to this for events, networking, or promotional giveaways! Custom orders start at 100 pieces - just email us for more info.
Tests for certified engineering licenses like the PE and FE can seem daunting but they are critical in many engineering careers. Luis Duque, a civil engineer who passed the PE on his first try and hosts a podcast called Engineering Our Future, is dedicated to teaching study skills and career skills for young engineers. Luis also launched a very affordable study skills email course to help engineers actively preparing for their FE or PE exam. If your engineer is close to graduation or approaching their PE exam, gifting them this course would be a huge help.
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.
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.
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.
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 2022 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.
15. Rocketbook Matrix cloud-connected reusable paper notebook
This is my favorite clever invention. It was inevitable.Rocketbookfinally solved the problem of merging your hand-written notes into your favorite digital services. You simply use their app to take a photo of your pages of notes and the QR code and marked symbols on each page trigger the app to send the digitized page to any of the 9 pre-set digital destinations you choose. This includes OneNote, Evernote, Google Drive, Dropbox and even specific emails. Want a shortcut to send notes via email straight to your colleague or boss? This is what you’re looking for.
TheRocketbook Matrixis my personal favorite because it's designed for more technical work. It's got 30 pages of graphing paper and one regular lined page for taking notes, plus a built-in ruler on the inside cover. Did I mention they are resuable? Use their "Pilot Frixion" pens and then wipe the page with a damp cloth after uploading your notes to use it all over again (and win one for the environment!).
For a civil engineer who wants to spend more time with theirkids and get them engaged in STEM, a great approach isworking on small engineering projects together. KiwiCo came up with a line of project boxes for different age groups and subjects. You get a new project box every month and can pause or cancel any time. They are often made of laser-cut wood which you assemble with included electronics to make things like a trebuchet, an adjustable desk lamp, or an automatic pencil sharpener!
TheEureka Crateis targeted at ages 12+ (shown below), so it's perfect for high school students and can also be a ton of fun for a passionate engineer who loves hobby projects. If these are too advanced, try theTinker Crateinstead!
If you can't decide by now, I can still help! Consider this decision made. I put together aEngineer Gift Bundle just to make it easy for you. It includes the Pocket tool and Word Magnets from above, plus a few fun science stickers. You'll save over 20% by bundling them together, so grab this and you can stop your search here!
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