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An Engineer Said ‘I Am An Engineer’. Here’s the Crazy Reason He Was Fined $500 For It

This is beyond all belief. In a very believable way.

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BY Chris Matyszczyk - 06 Jan 2019

engineer fined with a crazy reason

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


It all started with a very simple, everyday occurrence.

An ordinary citizen has a run-in with a government paper pusher and the paper pusher decides to push it too far.

This, though, reached such ludicrous proportions that, should you have hair, you might not have too much by the end of the story.

It went like this. Mats Jrlstrm's wife was caught by a red-light camera in Beaverton, Oregon.

He was suspicious. He suggested she not pay the fine. Instead, he came over all engineery and began to examine the realities of Oregon's red-light cameras.

After much engineering, he concluded that his wife had been caught going through a yellow light.

The timing of the traffic lights was all wrong. As Motherboard reports, Jrlstrm decided to tell the Oregon Board of Engineers.

Surely they'd be fascinated by his work. Surely they'd be moved the precision of his conclusions. Surely they'd make sure the ticket given to his wife would be rescinded.

Not quite.

The Oregon Board of Engineers didn't pursue his conclusions at all. Instead, it fined Jrlstrm $500.

His crime? He'd written "I am an engineer" in several emails to the board.

But he really is an electrical engineer, with a bachelor's degree.

Ah, but he's not registered as an engineer in the State of Oregon. Some old law supported the board's piffle-headedness.

(I pause for your extreme ululation and hair-tearing.)

And now let's consider the pathetic, petty notions that appear to support the existence of the Oregon Board of Engineers.

It seems the Board of Engineers had been warning and fining all sorts of people who happened to mention in public that they were engineers.

For example, Edward Schwarz argued against a local ballot initiative and signed his statement: Edward Schwarz, Engineer. He, like Jrlstrm, has a bachelor's degree in engineering and is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

He was forced to apologize.

The board also demanded compliance from Chris Harper.

He was running to be a councilman. In one of his leaflets, he said he was an "engineering manager" and an "engineer."

He has bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering. He's a licensed professional engineer in California.

The board even went after the Oregon State University College of Engineering.

But why, I hear you scream. Because it wanted to use and trademark the phrase "Oregon State Engineer."

It seems the board even monitored pictures on people's websites for the offending word.

It seems the board might need a little social re-engineering.

Oh, I almost forgot. Jrlstrm took the board to court and won.

The judge struck down the board's posturing and explained that calling yourself an engineer when you're an engineer is clearly protected speech.

Should you now be at reasonable peace with yourself, you might enjoy the words of Sam Gedge.

He defended Jrlstrm in court. And, in one brief, he offered:

In short, this case spotlights why we do not entrust officials with an unconstitutional law in the hopes they will enforce it wisely.

It's often wise not to expect wisdom from those who behave with an arrant disregard for common sense.

Oh, and from those who won't listen to an engineer's simple, detailed explanation for why the red-light cameras don't work properly.

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