While you might not remember the names of great engineers from your high school history books as easily as you remember the names of Presidents, monarchs, and scientists, you can bet they were there changing history. Hey, it was probably an engineer who created the wheel, and you know an engineer was instrumental in erecting the Pyramids. Unfortunately, no record exists of stone age engineers, but here is a list of 10 Engineers Who Changed the Course of History.
Imhotep is a name you might remember from The Mummy, but more importantly, he was the earliest civil engineer on record and likely designed and supervised the step Pyramid of Djoser. How did he change history? Other than leaving giant rock piles around the desert, he introduced columns into architecture.
Archimedes was a mechanical engineer in ancient Greece. He invented the Antikythera mechanism, called the first mechanical computer, but most importantly for history, he figured out how to use epicyclic gearing (which would come in handy for trains in the Industrial Revolution).
Leonardo DaVinci was not only an artist, but also an engineer, creating drawings of flying contraptions that would inspire generations of scientists after him.
Thomas Savery, an early mechanical engineer, built the first steam engine in 1698. But that idea literally didn’t go anywhere until around 200 years later.
Alessandro Volta experimented with Electrical engineering in the 1800s, creating the first electric cell called the Volt.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel was a famous British civil engineer during the Industrial Revolution who created bridges, dockyards, and the first major British railway, in addition to steamships and tunnels. He revolutionized public transportation, and built the first tunnel beneath a navigable river.
The Wright brothers may not have been the very first aeronautical engineers, but they were the first to be successful.
Ludwig Prandtl is called the “Father of modern aerodynamics,” and institutionalized aerospace research at the turn of the 20th century. Through decades of wind-tunnel experiments, he and his research team learned about gas dynamics, wings, meteorology, boundary layer and resistance, and other vital flight information that set the course for aerospace engineering.
Alan Emtage, computer engineer, built the first search engine in 1990, bringing the rapid rise of computer technology.
Dilbert, generic engineer, whose only claim on history is that he made engineering funny. It was really very serious before Dilbert came along.
When you look over the great engineers of the past, you see how one branch of engineering engenders the next. Pyramids lead to bridges, archways lead to tunnels, gears lead to engines which created the entire field of chemical engineering. Aeronautical engineering gave way to Aerospace engineering as men learned to fly to the stars. Today, computer engineering changes the world almost daily. Tomorrow, perhaps a new kind of engineer will change history.