Civil Engineering “Cash Cab”

June 16, 2010 at 2:30 pm 6 comments

By Carol A. Metzner
President, The Metzner Group, LLC and
Managing Partner, A/E/P Central, LLC home of

One of my favorite television viewing pleasures is Discovery Channel’s CASH CAB. Host Ben Bailey asks passengers in a New York taxi to answer trivia questions on their way to their destination. Those passengers have a chance to win money for each correct answer. Sorry, we won’t be offering cash rewards to our readers BUT do take a break and try to answer some civil engineering trivia questions! If interested, we can do future civil engineering trivia contests. Send me questions and answers that you think can “stump the chumps!” BIG shout out to Jason Vaughn PE who was great to contribute a majority of questions and answers for our test. Let us know how you do! Ready, set, go…..


1. What famous engineer has the most U.S. patents and how many?

2. Who is “the father of Soil Mechanics?”

3. Name one of the two engineers elected President?

4. When water flows through a full pipe, the water is fastest in what part of the pipe? The top, middle, bottom, or all the same?

5. What caused the Tacoman Narrows suspension bridge collapse in 1940?

6. Why do golf balls have dimples?

7. What is the longest natural bridge?

8. Why don’t railways use suspension bridges?

9. What was the world’s worst accidental oil spill?

10. What is the longest street in the world?


1. Thomas Edison – 1,093

2. Karl Terzaghi

3. Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter

4. Middle. The edge of a pipe has friction. The friction slows down the water in contact with it. Therefore, the middle is the fastest.

5. The wind.

6. The dimples reduce drag and allow the ball to travel farther than a smooth ball.

7. Rainbow Bridge, tucked away among the rugged, isolated canyons at the base of Navajo Mountain, Utah, USA. It is a natural wonder. From its base to the top of the arch, it reaches 88,4 m (290 ft) – nearly the height of the Statue of Liberty – and spans 83,8 m (275 ft) across the river. The top of the arch is 12,8 m (42 ft) thick and 10 m (33 ft) wide.

8. Suspension bridges are too flexible.

9. Supertankers Atlantic Empress and Aegean Captain collided off Trinidad and Tobago on July 19 79:: 90 million gallons of oil ended up in the Caribbean.

10. Toronto’s Yonge Street is listed as 1,178 miles (1,896 km) in length — roughly the distance from San Diego, California, to Seattle, Washington.

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Entry filed under: Career Development, Civil Engineering, civil engineering blog, Civil Engineering Trivia, Fun Stuff. Tags: , , , .

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6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. John Webber  |  July 27, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    I’m a civil grad generally curious about question 9. Was the Deepwater Horizon oil spill not the worst “accidental” oil spill? I suppose the Macondo blowout was “avoidable” if a cement bond log test was completed and if BP recognized failure of the pressure tests. It is disgusting that the worst oil spill in history was intentional: 1) Arabian Gulf/Kuwait, 2) Deepwater Horizon, 3) Ixtoc 1 4) Atlantic Empress

    • 2. aepcentral  |  July 28, 2011 at 9:45 pm

      Good points! Thanks for your insight and comment John…. back to researching our answers….

  • 3. henry stone  |  August 29, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    im a second year MEng civil engineering student in the UK and i was going through your quiz (admitidly using google for the couple that i couldn’t get). However, I believe your answer to number 7 is incorrect as shown by the link below. ‘Fairy Bridge’ over the Buliu River, Guangxi, China is the longest natural span known to date.

    • 4. aepcentral  |  July 28, 2011 at 9:43 pm

      We stand corrected!!!! Not sure how we missed it! Thank you HENRY!

  • 5. Jason Vaughn, PE  |  June 16, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Taylor, that goes to show me that “you can’t believe everything you read on the internet.” Our pediatrician has been telling my wife that for years, but I guess now I am listening. Thanks for the input!

    I got this from a biography online, “In the Navy he [Jimmy Carter]became a submariner, serving in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets and rising to the rank of lieutenant. Chosen by Admiral Hyman Rickover for the nuclear submarine program, he was assigned to Schenectady, N.Y., where he took graduate work at Union College in reactor technology and nuclear physics, and served as senior officer of the pre-commissioning crew of the Seawolf, the second nuclear submarine.”

    But oddly enough this leads into a past discuss we have had on here and it’s summed up as follows:

    “You need a PE to design a foundation for a mobile home, but not to build a nulcear reactor?” – That’s a whole different discussion on the fragmentation of the engineering profession in general.

    And to affirm your comment, I like to be a little generous!

    Take care,

  • 6. Taylor Anderson  |  June 16, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    I think you’re being pretty generous calling Jimmy Carter an engineer. His degree wasn’t in engineering and his work in the army might possibly be construed as serving as an “engineer”, but I’ve heard garbage men called “sanitation engineers”. He was far more interested in working towards becoming an officer in the Navy. After being in the Navy, he went into farming.

    That’s not to detract from his service in the military or his time as a farmer – it’s just that he really never was an engineer, nor educated as one.

    Hoover, on the other hand, was a very typical engineer.


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