The first comes from David Weiss’s blog:
"Engineering is the art of modelling materials we do not wholly understand, into shapes we cannot precisely analyze so as to withstand forces we cannot properly assess, in such a way that the public has no reason to suspect the extent of our ignorance."
– Dr. AR Dykes, British Institution of Structural Engineers, 1976.
To echo what David said: If this doesn’t accurately describe software engineering, I don’t know what does.
The second comes from Jeff Atwood’s post on Coding Horror: The Vast And Endless Sea:
If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.
– Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Seriously I’d go and read the whole post. If I were teaching Introduction to Programming, this is the sort of quote I’d use on slide number one. Since thats what I’d be doing.