Profile: 10 Famous Engineers and Their Accomplishments

by The Burns & McDonnell Team on June 20, 2011

10 famous engineersEngineers change the way our world works in many different ways. They’ve revolutionized the way we communicate, get around and view the world in general. Some folks with engineering degrees are known less for their achievements in engineering than they are for other works. Read on to learn about 10 famous engineers and their contributions to the world.

  1. Alfred Hitchcock: Yes, the master of the psychological thrillerhad a degree in engineering. Hitchcock attended the London County Council School of Engineering and Navigation and got his first job as a draftsman and advertising designer shortly after graduating.
  2. Neil Armstrong: His first small steps towards a career in space exploration began with a couple degrees in engineering. Naturally the first man on the moon had a bachelors degree in aeronautical engineering from Purdue and a masters degree in aerospace engineering from USC.
  3. Hedy Lamarr: This sultry 1940’s actress did not have a formal degree in engineering, but she did invent an anti-jamming device for use against Nazi radar that is the basis for speedy satellite communications today. She’s also credited with the quote: “Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.”
  4. Thomas Edison: The man filed over a thousand patents in his lifetime, including the incandescent light bulb. He also developed the phonograph and the kinetoscope. His extensive forays into various fields of invention earned him the nickname “The Wizard of Menlo Park.”
  5. Leonardo Da Vinci: Of course Da Vinci is best known for his art, but the man was an engineering revolutionary in his time. Many of his drawings for inventions were not actually realized until centuries later. In fact, one of his schematics was for a flying machine that worked very similarly to a modern day helicopter.
  6. Yasser Arafat: This Nobel Peace Prize Laureate has a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Cairo. Of course as the leader of Palestine, the president worked with Israel for the Oslo Accord and struck a shaky peace agreement between the two countries.
  7. Rowan Atkinson: That’s right, Mr. Bean attended both Manchester and Oxford University studying electrical engineering at both. While studying engineering, Atkinson participated in the Oxford University Dramatic Society, the Oxford Revue and the Experimental Theatre Club. It’s apparent which interest won out since the engineering grad has starred in numerous movies not to mention two TV programs: Black Adder and Mr. Bean.
  8. Alexander Graham Bell: We all know that this man invented the telephone, but did you know he also worked in medical research fields and invented several techniques for teaching the deaf to speak? He also founded a little group known as the National Geographic Society.
  9. Henry Ford: Yes, this is the founder of the Ford Motor Company, but his biggest achievement was creating the factory assembly approach to building cars. This changed the face of transportation in the century to come by making cars more affordable to the public.
  10. Bill Nye: There’s a reason he’s “The Science Guy.” Nye has a Mechanical Engineering degree from Cornell University and worked at Boeing for several years before he traded in that job for a career in show biz.

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