Engineers Explain Which Client Requests Were Downright Impossible To Fulfill


Just can't do it!

People are people. Nobody has Samantha's nose twitch from 'Bewitched.' We can't make things miraculously happen. So though engineers are basically all geniuses... they can't just conjure up all of the inventory of their inventions in a time frame that is unreasonable. It would be nice for consumers and buyers to have patience. It's going to take the time it takes. Take a deep breath and a drink. It'll all get done.

Redditor u/darien_gap wanted the genius engineers out there to share about the work that became too much by asking.... Engineers of reddit, what's something that a client has insisted on having that is literally impossible?

I hate the marketing department. 

Not a client, but when marketing tries to set all the goals for engineering without consulting any engineer about feasibility. Marketing wants UL certification, I tell them we need 3 units to test. Each unit cost 20k. Marketing loses their mind and I kid you not says, "We don't need to waste 60k on those tests, just because those standard engineers agree that those should be the standards doesn't make them right. They only need one unit and no destructive testing needs to be done we can do that later." I hate the marketing department. OccultAssassin

To the Max.....


I'm not an engineer, but work in data science. We once had a client who gave us a bunch of their sales data and asked us to make a program that based on their data calculates the exact price at which their product should be priced to maximize revenue.

We could attempt to create a pricing estimate model, but there's no guarantees it will be accurate to the point you want due to numerous factors. Data science is great and can help with a lot of things, but it can't do everything. JabTrill

I gave up.

Just a student, but a relevant story: I had an assignment in college one day where we had to model something in AutoCAD, but there was one particular arc involved and absolutely no way to determine the diameter. The whole class was stumped, but the professor kept insisting that we had all the dimensions we needed and we just had to think outside the box. Class ended, and we were told to finish it for homework.

I spent another two hours just staring at the screen and researching geometric theorems that I might not have learned. I gave up. Next class, the professor apologized and told us that, apparently, there was one dimension missing in the newest edition of the textbook. It was literally impossible. EvieOfDestruction

Go count the marbles.....

A long time ago, the CEO of the company I was working for asked how the warm standby database setup we had in place was set up and, specifically, how we could ensure that the data contained on the warm standby wasn't corrupt or different to the primary database instance.

I tried explaining that logs are shipped from the primary to the warm standby at very frequent intervals and that those logs apply either entirely or not at all when restored.

I further had to explain to him that actually bringing the warm standby up so that it could be queried would see the instance need to be rebuilt with a full set of database backups and so on.

His response to this was... odd :

"If I have two buckets of marbles, and I want to make sure they contain the same number of marbles, I need to count all the marbles in each bucket. Go count the marbles." Reddit

Ask Google...


Made a website for a client. Then came the request "In the Google results, I see my website but the link to it is blue. I want it green. We agreed on a visual identity." pdelaby

Bad Feedback. 

Audio engineer: every so often I will get asked to "fix" or "get rid of" feedback (that ringing sound mics get when too much of the speaker's output is getting picked up by the mic) when they insist on walking everywhere in the room. While it is possible to mitigate feedback its **** near impossible to do so when you have an omnidirectional mic directly in front of the speakers. SnowconeE01


I don't know which irritates me more, the fact that your manager counted the weekend days, or that they counted THE DAY YOU WERE ON! So if you told your manager you could add the feature in one day they would count: "Thursday, that's today. So you can add the feature today?" Yes one day from now is today (insert eye roll). 16bitgamer



"Can we get this functionality added by tomorrow?"- Never ever does that make any sense whatsoever. pratysinhaaa

I See You. 

Working on a school project, a non sighted woman asked our group to develop a product that allowed her to interface with any machine by simply 'attaching it'. Non sighted people have challenges with touch interfaces and she essentially wanted a universal hacker. Forward thinker, maybe, but just not possible despite the problems she has to deal with. cws-d

At my last job, I don't think the marketing guy knew it, but he asked me to solve the halting problem. I wrote him a note saying it was impossible and included a proof, and then asked why he needed that feature and suggested that we meet to discuss a better way to get what he wanted.

Off to India....

He reassigned it to the India team, who then contacted me. I told them what I had found and gave them the proof. Two weeks later they reported back saying it was impossible.

Then at the next all hands meeting, the India team was publicly thanked for investigating this issue and determining that it was impossible. They normally don't thank a team even when something does work, so this was really weird. Aperture_T

The Flow....


Worked once with a customer who wanted a shipping case with both cooling fans (item inside needed air flow) and waterproof... It took three days of phone calls to explain, as the boss of their company kept sending me links to waterproof fans not realizing that meant the fans themselves were waterproof, not that there was some magical way to get airflow but not water flow. LycorisSeig

Early in my career....

Early in my career, I was on a contract to provide lighting for the inside of a mining tunnel. The customer wanted low heat, semi-permanent flood lights, but didn't want to run a generator or replace batteries. He wanted them to be solar powered. When I explained that this wasn't possible because there was no sunlight in available to charge them, he insisted that if we just point the lights at each other, they'll all be charged and run indefinitely.

17 years in electrical engineering has taught me that a LOT of people believe in perpetual motion. irrelevant_usernam3


A client insisted we should be able to remove 100% of a trace gas from their main product gas. 100% as in every last molecule.

I had to explain that's not how separation processes work. ElectricalOmen

"make it floppier but more stiff"

Worked in med device engineering for a little while. Brought a survey about our prototype to a conference where the largest response was "make it floppier but more stiff." What the actual heck, you're doctors?

It was for internal peripheral pulmonary ultrasound and biopsy. I honestly think the "solution" would have been one of those weird smart materials where the stiffness of the device changes based on user input but only at specific places. MAY have been possible, but would have made the device prohibitively expensive and delayed the release by at least 3 years (effectively 100 years in medical R&D terms). tnoyes301

'our game'


Another fun case was someone who played a game service had a problem. You see, 'our game' was making his CRT monitor 'freak out'. Customer support couldn't figure it out, and for some reason the call was sent to ME.

As it turns out, his monitor was failing, and really he only ever had it on long enough to heat up and start showing symptoms while playing our game. He still thought I could fix it with an 'update'. FutureSerf

"...... You must comply......" 

End User spec said "Paint the pulsation vessels orange."

Contractor spec said "Paint the pulsation vessels blue."

Contractor said "You must comply."

We said "Sure, no problem; with which spec?"

"...... You must comply......" spatula6554



them: "please tie down the part so it doesn't float away."

me: "it won't float away. there's no need."

them: "yeah, but you're pumping out the gravity, so it'll float away."

me: "this is a vacuum chamber."

them: "exactly."

For those that don't know - a vacuum chamber pumps out the air. But the folks that asked me to do this - they should know. They're the ones launching stuff into space. BrianneVooDoo

Oh Mitch....

I'm your standard web-dev/programmer type.

I had a customer who asked me to make him his very own TLD. (Like .com, .org, .net, .ca, etc.)

He wanted Mitch (his name is Mitch.)

When I told him that wasn't reasonably feasible for me to just .. give him his own TLD, he dropped me as a vendor because I didn't have enough of a "can-do attitude."

Edit: to the multitude of people saying, "you can!", It's prohibitively expensive, subject to approval, and this happened somewhere around 2005 when it wasn't reasonably possible. dnewfm

PRIDE of the Fix....

I pride myself of top-notch brake work. Perfectly true rotors, excellent finish, clean brake fluid, noiseless operation.

I finished the job, seated the pads, gave the car back to the customer. He came back the next day complaining that his brakes stopped TOO WELL and demanded that I fix them.

"Look buddy, you can either adapt to how your vehicle is SUPPOSED to operate or crash on the freeway next time you need to do an emergency stop" xJD88x



I had a woman complain at me that she wanted me to make sure the asphalt I laid down in her neighborhood on her street was not BLACK but was the SAME SHADE of grey that already existed. She didn't want the non-matching asphalt, she wanted the stuff that matched what was already there. geeltulpen


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