Graduation gifts for engineers under $100 – the best gift ideas for PhDs, masters students, and undergrads

by | Gifts

As a machinist, I appreciate thoughtful gifts that cater to my hands-on, realistic, and investigative nature. I have some great recommendations for affordable graduation gifts for engineers and scientists.

The gift ideas also make great birthday or holiday gifts; however, graduation represents a unique gift-buying challenge for friends and family members of engineers. This is because engineers and scientists tend to have several graduations throughout their young adult lives – high school, undergrad, masters and/or PhD, and sometimes other academic milestones along the way.

So, I’m here to assist with 10 unique ideas for graduation gifts for engineers in any stage of their education or graduate journey.

A better way to measure their work

The engineer in your life most likely needs to measure parts, prototypes, or materials as they go about their work or hobbies. A quality set of calipers will get a lot of use over the years. Calipers will also save them from mismeasurements and frustrations.

Mitutoyo is a leader in machinist tools and makes a nice digital caliper for under $100. There are many options for more expensive calipers, if you have a higher budget. The broad range of prices for calipers reflects differences in accuracy, reliability, durability, and type of measurement reading.

A high-end precision spinning top

Engineering is mentally challenging work. An engineer needs a way to de-stress, take a mental break, or fidget away some tension. A custom metal spinning top, such as the ones I sell here on Scovie, is a perfect way to help them do this.

High-end spinning tops do more than act as stress relievers. They make great desk toys and act as conversation pieces for an engineer’s office. They are also small enough to be carried in a backpack, briefcase, or purse.

A major caffeine upgrade

Chances are that the graduating engineer you’re buying a gift for has gotten through his degree program in part with the help of caffeine. It might have come from the campus dining hall, the department breakroom, or a cheap coffee maker in his apartment.

It’s time for an upgrade.

The Ninja programmable brewer looks sleek with its stainless steel housing, but is also known for making coffee that is rich, piping hot, and never bitter. At under $80, you’ll also have money left in your gift budget for a related gift to go alongside it:

A pack of Death Wish coffee Is pricey at nearly $20 per pound, but is also some of best-tasting, strongest coffee available.

Another add-on idea is a no-spill travel mug, such as the Contigo Luxe, that will hold up to a rough commute or being tossed in a backpack.

A board game that really makes you think

An engineer’s mind doesn’t stop thinking once they have left work for the day. Engineers, scientists, and geeks of all types love mental challenges during their downtime, as well. A board game that favors strategy over luck can provide endless hours of entertainment with family and friends.

Two of my favorites are Ricochet Robots and Ticket to Ride. In fact, you can get both games with a budget of $100 to make a complete board game gift set.

A low-effort indoor plant

Graduation often coincides with moving. Get your graduate the perfect gift for their new home—a house plant. A plant has many benefits. Plants make lovely decorations and, since they range in size from tiny to huge, you can find one for any size living space. Plants help keep the air fresh and humidified. Your grad will find it satisfying to nurture their plant and watch it grow. Plants are a present that will keep living for years.

There are several varieties of house plants that can thrive even with a bit of neglect. These include philodendrons, spider plants, English ivy, and peace lilies.

Gift a plant along with a durable and decorated pot or planter, and it’s sure to get a prime spot in your grad’s new apartment or office.

A high quality chef’s knife

Another item that a graduate needs (and probably won’t spend the money on themselves) is a chef’s knife. An engineer will appreciate the ease at which a high quality chef’s knife cuts through any food. They’ll likely want to prepare more meals at home, subsequently saving money and inviting you over for dinner.

Take a look at this 8-inch chef knife by Made-In, a top-end cookware brand that’s been rising in recognition due to offering quality knives at affordable prices.

A pair of geeky earrings or cuff links

Upgrade a graduate’s everyday look with a pair of earrings or cuff links that reflects their love of tinkering and science. These recycled circuit board earrings and matching circuit board cufflinks from the same artist are subtly geeky and equally appropriate for a professional or casual setting.

A perfect brew for an engineer

If the graduate you’re buying for enjoys a beer now and then (or more frequently), you can’t go wrong with a gift that will stimulate both their taste buds and their engineering mind. The rising popularity of craft beer has come with beer names that are as creative as their flavors. Here are a few to check out:

Round out your geeky, delicious grad gift with a set of pint glasses that artfully demonstrate the science of beer.

A new mental challenge

Chances are that the engineer in your life has already solved a Rubix cube. Give them a new mental challenge with a hand-held puzzle that is tough, portable, and looks nice on a bookshelf. The Rubik’s 4×4 or even the 5×5 are options. Or, get a bit fancier with a shiny metal Venn puzzle that doubles as a piece of art.

A cozy way to keep warm at the office

Graduating often coincides with starting a new job. For an engineer, this could mean working in an overly air conditioned office or a chilly lab. A well-made, cozy cardigan is a gift that will get a ton of use as your graduate moves up in their career.

Consider a warm merino wool cardigan, such as this one for men and this one for women. These are especially fitting for grads taking a position in academia, as the cable knitting really screams out “professor.”

We have no shortage of ideas for graduation gifts for engineers and scientists!

The ideas above are fitting for PhD gifts, masters graduation gifts, college graduation gifts, and even unique high school graduation gifts for anyone pursuing engineering or a similar field.

If you’re ready to take a look at Scovie’s precision spinning tops for your next gift-giving opportunity, head over to our top shop!

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