A dad who doubles as an engineer is a special person who's also hard to shop for. They lean toward gifts that are practical, functional and uniquely quirky to match their personality. Being an engineer myself, I wanted to help you avoid the ties and mugs this year and find them something fresh that will truly surprise them this father's day.
If he's a specific type of engineer, you can also try our more tailored lists for each field:
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!
Father's Day Gifts for Engineers under $50
1. The Pocket Engineer Wallet Ruler and Unit Conversion Reference
The most practical and unique pocket tool for any field of engineering. It’s the size of a credit card and packed with functionality and information that a mechanical, civil, aerospace, electrical or materials engineer will need on daily basis 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. One of the best cheap gadget gifts that any dad engineer will geek out over. You can order directly through our site or on Amazon with the links below.
2. rOtring or Staedtler Mechanical Pencil
Mechanical pencils are loved by old-school engineers who still prefer to put things to paper. But in the new digital age, engineers often find themselves using touchscreens 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.
3. Precision electronics toolkit
If they like to tinker building their own gadgets or repairing electronics, they often need to insert and remove tiny screws and fasteners of all types without damaging nearby sensitive electronics. Regular screwdriver tips are usually not small enough to fit these screws. This 119-piece screwdriver kit has every tip an engineer would ever need and is an inexpensive gift that would last a lifetime.
As a bonus, it also comes with some non-conductive tweezers and mini-crowbars which are essential for work where metal could short out a component if you touch the wrong area.
4. Funny Engineering-themed Word Magnets
To have some fun, we designed a set of magnetic poetry word magnets specifically for engineers! These make for a funny engineering gift for dad that they can stick on their filing cabinets or office refrigerator for some laughs on the coffee break.
You can also bundle it from our site with The Pocket Engineer above!
5. Rocketbook Matrix cloud-connected reusable paper notebook
This one is for the old-school engineer who now has to interface iwth the digital world. Rocketbook finally 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.
The Rocketbook Matrix is 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!).
6. Best books for engineer dads
Engineers often get stuck in a loop of always reading technical documents, textbooks and journal articles. It’s important to occasionally break that cycle and dive into a book for pleasure. Below are a few of our favorite books that are truly an enjoyable read for the engineering father in your life.
The Martian by Andy Weir
This is our all-time favorite book that any scientist or engineer will enjoy reading. For such a technical book, it’s got an incredible plot yet isn’t overly dramatized (except a little at the end). No other fiction book has captured this much popularity while running through exact calculations, estimations and scientific principles just to keep someone alive. They’ll be rooting for Mark Watney and inspired by the idea that their technical knowledge could one day save their life.
Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future
This biography of Elon Musk quickly became a bestseller for its engaging look at the quintessential engineering hero. Biographies are often boring, but not this one. Musk’s life is a roller coaster of visionary undertakings, massive setbacks and outside-the-box thinking that will inspire any engineer to reach further in their own work.
Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years at Lockheed by Ben Rich
A popular and highly-rated classic about the top secret “Skunk Works” engineering projects at Lockheed Martin that helped win the Cold War, written by the head of the division for two decades. It covers the pinnacle of high-pressure, high-stakes ultra-secretive engineering projects and the technological game of chess that the USA was playing with the Soviet Union in the 1970’s and 1980’s. It includes anecdotes and testimonials from high-ranking government officials and pilots on revolutionary projects like the SR-71 Blackbird, F-116 Stealth Fighter and U-2 spy plane.
I personally loved this book and laughed out loud in nearly every chapter. It's an enjoyable and inspiring read for any engineer who has a true passion for problem solving and cutting-edge technology. The reader will also take away valuable lessons for managing technical projects and teams of scientists and engineers to achieve nearly impossible goals.
How to Diagnose and Fix Everything Electronic (2nd Edition)
This isn’t necessarily a “fun” read, but a passionate engineer who loves to tinker will rabidly devour the contents in the name of mastering their craft. It’s the “bible” of electrical work that will teach the fundamentals of hands-on work. It’s perfect for a hobbyist who loves to take things apart for fun, repair household items, or build new DIY gadgets like robotics, smart home tech, or novel devices.
The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
This book is an all-time classic for aerospace engineers but loved by anyone passionate in space technology. It recalls true stories of the first American astronauts from being post-war test pilots, through the failures of the Mercury program into the world-changing successes of the Apollo missions. They won't believe some of it, but it's true. The perfect book for reliving the golden age of rocketry for a seasoned professional.
7. Magnetic wristband for hands-on building and repairs
This magnetic wristband is a cheap but extremely handy add-on that is universally loved by mechanics, machinists, and mechanical or electrical engineers who like to build or fix things. Mine has helped stop my constant clumsiness dropping tiny screws or misplacing my drill bit heads.
Father's Day gifts for Engineers under $100
8. Raspberry Pi 4 kit for custom robotics and DIY projects
A Raspberry Pi is a miniature bare-bones computer that is fully programmable using the Python language. There’s a whole ecosystem of “makers” sharing how-to guides and helping each other on special DIY projects using these. Dads who do hobbyist electronics or computer projects will enjoy building and creating unique custom gadgets that the Raspberry Pi enables.
Most engineers can easily handle the minimal Python coding necessary (following guides). Examples they would love include robotic cars, smart home hubs, and even a real magic mirror. I personally made this one and it was a ton of fun! See a full list of projects on the Adafruit projects page.
9. Mitutoyo Digital Calipers for precise measurements
Every engineer doing hands-on work learns that a good set of calipers is essential to the job. They let you take precise measurements of small objects - this lets you recreate them in 3D modeling, check fit tolerances before assembling parts, or help to design a new product around an existing item.
This particular caliper set measures down to 10 microns and is the gold standard used in most university and industry labs. Mitutoyo is known for precision and durability, and the digital readout helps to save time and reduce errors in recording the measurements. Spend the extra money upfront on this set and they will be set for at least a decade or two. If this one isn't in your budget, you can go for the analog version or a much cheaper but useful one for less-precise projects.
Ultimate Father's Day gifts for Engineers (under $200)
10. Hakko digital soldering station
Any engineer that deals with robotics, machinery, or electronics integrated into their builds will need to solder components together, especially for “maker” DIY projects. I personally own this Hakko digital soldering station for these projects. Hakko isn’t the cheapest, but has consistently been the #1 recommended brand from all the “old-timer” engineers I’ve talked to and should last a lifetime.
If you’re going all-in get the full kit (what I have), but just the station is a great start that they can add to as needed. There are much cheaper options that will get you by but may not last as long as the Hakko kits.
11. FLIR thermal imaging camera for smartphones
If you have the budget, this FLIR thermal imaging camera is an amazing tool that any mechanical, electrical or civil engineer would find plenty of uses for. Primarily it can identify hot-spots where insulation is cracked, fluids are leaking, or components are overheating. You can also just have a lot of fun around the house and in the kitchen exploring the thermals of your world. Many people buy this and make their money back in heating/AC bills by looking at their doors, windows, and walls for gaps or poor insulation.
Be sure to get the correct version (for Android or iPhone). If that’s out of your price range, a handheld infrared point-and-shoot thermometer is also extremely useful for finding hotspots, even though it doesn’t have the digital display or data collection.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
What do you get an engineer for father's day?
Anything that's practical, functional or can help them show their love for engineering. Here are our favorites:
- The Pocket Engineer
- rOtring or Staedtler mechanical pencil
- Precision electronics toolkit
- Engineering word magnets
- Cloud-connected Rocketbook reusable graphing notebook
- Raspberry Pi for custom robotics and DIY projects
- Skunk Works Book - a fun read for any engineer
- FLIR thermal imaging camera
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!