"I've found that all it usually takes to draw out an engineer is to ask a couple of technical questions and then remain calm while listening to the answers. Most people tend to take on a blank, frightened look as soon as they realize that a technical explanation is under way; if you can resist giving this reaction and simply listen, your engineer will open up and tell you everything you ever wanted to know." -- Margaret Lazarus Dean, Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight, 2015
[Not just engineers. In general, you poke a geek the right way, and knowledge falls out. Knitting, weaving, beadmaking, math, astrophysics, music -- find someone who loves the subject you want an intro to, ask a 'how' or 'why' question, and keep looking interested until your brain is full.]
Happy birthday to silmaril!