Odds & Ends

12 Great Podcasts for Engineers

Over the last couple of years, podcasts have exploded in popularity. It’s no wonder – they’re a powerful medium for listening to great stories, learning about the world, or feeling productive on an otherwise dull commute. The team at Mindtribe is no exception to this trend: we love our podcasts. Moreover, we’ve found some podcasts to be particularly inspirational or educational for us as a team of engineers. Although many podcasts are not specific to engineering as a discipline, they can still provide important insight and improve how we approach and solve problems.

To dig a little deeper, I decided to survey our team and crowdsource a short list of their favorite podcasts and specific episodes they’d recommend to other engineers.

1. Accidental Tech Podcast

The Accidental Tech Podcast covers content spanning the tech industry. It started back in 2013 when show creators Marco Arment (former CTO of Tumblr), John Siracusa (The OS X Review guy), and Casey Liss (longtime friend of both) started a podcast about cars, but their conversations kept shifting into talks about technology.

“For when you can’t get enough pedantic debates about Apple products (i.e. me, every week).” – Kerry

Recommended Episode: 244: The Mac Renaissance

2. The Amp Hour

On the more technical side of things, this podcast is all about the world of electronics and open source hardware. Delivered on a weekly cadence, The Amp Hour is the world’s largest and most respected electronics oriented podcast.

“Sometimes it’s nice to enjoy the comfort of a technical deep dive into a new topic you never considered, like how to make custom segment LCDs! Plus, the interviews are great!” – Kerry

Recommended Episodes:
https://theamphour.com/409-electronics-consultant-impedance-matching/ 
https://theamphour.com/405-an-interview-with-spencer-wright/

3. Planet Money

This is one of the more popular podcasts around the office. It is not entirely engineering focused, but it gives a great overview of the economic forces that drive our country in a creative and entertaining way.

“They tell interesting stories that happen to be about economics. It’s a subject that can be very dry depending on what you’re talking about, but Planet Money frames economic questions around interesting anecdotes ”– Charlie

Recommended Episode: “How Skyscraper Construction Ties Into Tech Bubbles

4. 99% invisible

99% invisible is a design-related podcast that explains the reasoning behind the design details of everyday products and architectures we don’t think about.

“As engineers and designers, we spend untold amounts of hours and work making products just right. This is an effort that consumers never know about, but ultimately makes the product one that consumers love. 99% Invisible is about just that: the 99% of often unnoticed details that go into creating the objects that make up the world around us. In each episode, the host and producers investigate how and why a product and/or object of the built environment is designed and engineered the way it is.” – Andy

Recommended Episode: “Perfect Security

5. Reply All

I asked the team what this show is about and the unanimous reply was “it’s about the internet.” This simple explanation is true, but in an attempt to be more complete I’ll take it a bit further: it’s a show about the internet, how it shapes people, and how people shape the internet.

“The internet is the craziest place ever. So much stuff happens there. Some good, most bad, but it’s properly democratic. Reply All has some amazing segments that illustrate all this. They do a “super tech support” segment where they answer interesting questions that I’ve been wondering about myself. Another segment is called “Yes Yes No” where they explain memes. It’s hilarious!” – Brian

Recommended Episode: “The Line

6. The Vergecast

We love our tech news around the office – we even have a dedicated time during our morning standup to discuss what’s happening in the tech industry. The Vergecast, the flagship podcast of The Verge, is a great source of information and provides insight into the weekly happenings in the tech world.

Recommended Episode: “324: Instagram chaos, Photokina 2018, and Elon Musk gets sued

7. Radiolab

Internally described as the “explainer-of-interesting-things” podcast, Radiolab bridges the worlds of science and wonder through creative storytelling. Radiolab has been around for over a decade, delivering fresh and engaging content that doesn’t disappoint.

“I feel like they do a good job telling the human story behind events or technology, aside from just being great storytellers.” – Jason

Recommended Episode: “Driverless Dilemma

8. The Prepared

Spencer Wright is a hardware enthusiast who publishes a weekly newsletter called “The Prepared.” A group of ‘Tribers are active subscribers and share his findings during our standup meetings. His podcast is a great supplement, offering honest and intimate conversations with engineers and operators. It is definitely worth listening to.

Recommended Episode: Zach Dunham, Centerline Labs // The Public Radio

9. How I Built This

Ever wonder how some of the world’s best-known companies got their start? If so, this is the podcast for you. How I Built This is a series that interviews the founders of some of the most successful companies in the world. Told in an intimate Q&A format, innovators, entrepreneurs, idealists, and the like share the triumphs and failures that ultimately led them to where they are now.

“If you have even the slightest entrepreneurial spirit, this podcast is for you. My favorite part is hearing how an initial idea grows and evolves over time to become the company or business we know today. Sometimes the initial model doesn’t work as intended, and it requires some creative out of the box thinking to reel it back in. Hearing the founders themselves talk about the hardships, pivot points, and big breaks that came along the journey, and all the hard work needed to found and run a successful business is fascinating.” – Joe

Recommended Episode: Southwest Airlines: Herb Kelleher

10. Revisionist History

There are some parts of history that are often overlooked or misunderstood. From bestselling author and New Yorker writer, Malcolm Gladwell, this podcast goes back to those events and reinterprets them. Upvoted several times by the team, Revisionist History is a podcast worth listening to.

“I love everything about Malcolm Gladwell, I have all his books, I enjoy his strong-willed opinions, his voice, his demeanor. The topics are always interesting, whether it’s one I was already familiar or not. Regardless, Malcolm Gladwell offers up new and interesting ideas and takes. It’s an all-around enjoyable and high-quality podcast.” – Sam E.

Recommended Episode: Miss Buchanan’s Period Of Adjustment

11. The Macrofab Engineering Podcast

This is a technical podcast by a Texas-based PCB fab and assembly house where the two hosts (Parker and Stephen) have conversations about electrical engineering. Parker and Stephen provide a unique perspective on hardware and the show is both entertaining and educational.

Recommended Episode: #139: Breaking Bad Taps

12. Freakonomics Radio

Often referenced in our #random Slack channel, Freakonomics Radio is a great resource for just about anything. Each week Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of the popular Freakonomics books, talks about a new and engaging topic that equips you with a basic understanding of something you may(not) have known before.

Recommended Episode: How to be More Productive