Neil Armstrong on Being a Nerd: An Engineering Manifesto

Written by Gina Smith

An incredible 1:52-minute recording of comments from astronaut Neil Armstrong on being a nerd. If you love engineering, don’t miss it. Prescient stuff — and dead on. Inspiration for your Sunday wherever you are. Happy weekend from all us at aNewDomain. — “I am and ever will be a white socks, pocket protector nerdy engineer,” says astronaut Neil Armstrong on being a nerd. Those words open the short engineering manifesto you see embedded below.

Armstrong says he is “born under the second law of thermodynamics … in love with free body diagrams … and propelled by compressible flow.” In Armstrong on Being a Nerd, below, you’ll hear in under two minutes Armstong’s manifesto for engineers and his vision for the future. “Engineers’ entire existence is dedicated to doing things better and more efficiently,” he says.

“A century ago,” he continues, “the world really needed improvements in quality of life … health, mobility and living standards. At that time, life was a constant struggle. The 20th was a century often punctuated with the terror of war and darkened with societal struggles to overcome injustice.

“But the 20th was also the first century in which technology enabled the tenets and the images of those traumas to reach across the world and touch people in ways that were previously unimagined. Engineering helped create a world in which no injustice could be hidden,” he says. This is amazingly prescient stuff. Find it below. For Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak’s take on engineering, click here.

Video: PhD Comics YouTube Channel

Notes: The above video, from Piled High and Deeper (PhD Comics), is based on Amstrong’s talk “The Engineering Century.” He gave the talk at the National Press Club back in 2000. Audio used by PHD TV with permission from the NPC and C-SPAN. Animated by Jorge Cham, produced by Allison Okamurea and Maria Yang for PHD TV,  produced by PHD TV by Allison Okamura and Maria Yang, editorial consulting by Henry Reich at MinutePhysics. Check out more stuff like this at the cool site PHD Comics TV.

With some inspiration on your Sunday, you’ve just watched the video of the week as selected by our team here at aNewDomain and aNewDomainTV. I’m Gina Smith.

Gina Smith is the New York Times best-selling author of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak’s memoir, iWoz Computer Geek to Cult Icon: How I Invented the Personal Computer and Had Fun Doing It (W.W. Norton, 2005/2007/2012). With John C. Dvorak and Jerry Pournelle, she is the editorial director at Email her at, check out her Google + stream here or follow her @ginasmith888.

1 Comment

  • Click here for Steve Wozniak’s “Too Bad They Forgot the Engineer” commentary. disclosure: I cowrote Wozniak’s biography, iWOZ and do derive profits from book sales. That book and this site, however, are unrelated biz entities. gs.