Skip to comments.The 5 greatest engineers of all time
Posted on 09/14/2012 2:23:44 PM PDT by null and void
We recently asked, Who are the greatest engineers of all time? and you, the engineering community, commented with your thoughts.
In the more than 115 comments posted, you also offered some good debate on who did what and who deserves to be called one of the greatest engineers of all timeso good, in fact, that commenter Al.Sledge posted:
Reading the nominees was fantastic by itself. Thank you all. I often reflect on why I have such great vision and can see so far. It is because I sit atop the shoulders of the giants who preceded me.
Ponder a moment what engineering would be like without the invention of zero. Each great inventor is preceded by smaller discoveries of others plus a gift of vision.
I doubt that I will ever make a great earth-shattering contribution to engineering, but I have the satisfaction of building things that others want built. For myself, it is not about ego, but rather the great satisfaction I get from seeing my ideas become reality.
Well said, Al.Sledge. With that, we present a handful of giants: the five engineering greats most mentioned by EDNs engineering community. Read on. Who landed in the top five may surprise
No, I'm not listing them, it's worth reading the stories and reasoning for the picks.
I’m disappointed John Roebling didn’t make the list. He designed the Brooklyn Bridge.
The Beaver, MIT’s mascot.
I’m down with Kelly Johnson, for sure.
That would be a better choice than Leon Moisseiff...
The guy who invented beer should be on that list but then again, maybe he wasn’t an engineer.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Elmer Ambrose Sperry
Charles Algernon Parsons
The builders of the pyramids. With little technology other than rudimentary tools they built something that lasted centuries and still awe inspiring.
I agree. Kelly Johnson did everything from the P-38 Lightning to the SR-71, and IIRC, even had something of a consulting role in the F-117. You don’t stay cutting edge for half a century without being an absolute genius.
George Smith. Hands down.
Why Throttler Smith?
When Julius Caesar invaded Germany, his engineers built a wooden bridge across the Rhine in just a few days. It was capable of carrying infantry and vehicles.
When they recrossed headed back towards Rome, they destroyed it.
Did they put Tesla in there, or was he considered more inventor than engineer? Lots of overlap from my view.
Casey Jones has to be first.
I’m glad to see Tesla was at the top. He invented the basis for modern civilizaion to the extent it depends on AC power. If Edison would have had his way we would have been stuck with small local DC power plants. The Supreme Court finally ruled that Tesla, not Marconi invented the radio.
That would be telling...
I’d nominate Kettering, with a honorable mention for Smokey Yunick.
James Clerk Maxwell
No no no
My old engineer friend, George Smith. He’s about 84 now.
Has a huge extended family.
And he is always building them things made of wood. Cradles, tables, etc.
Except he isn’t much of a carpenter/cabinetmaker. So he comes to me. And I “help” him. Time, materials, tools...
He pays me with FOOD!
It don’t get any greater than that.
Weird. He just showed up. (No kidding)
Oh and we gotta include the guy who wrote the Engineer’s Song, whoever he is...
Godiva was a lady who through Coventry did ride
To show the royal villagers her fine and pure white hide
The most observant man of all, an engineer of course,
Was the only one who noticed that Godiva rode a horse
We are, we are, we are, we are, we are the Engineers
We can, we can, we can, we can, demolish forty beers
Drink rum, drink rum, drink rum all day, and come along with us
‘Cause we don’t give a damn for any old man who don’t give a damn for us!
She said, “I’ve come a long, long way, and I will go as far
With the man who takes me from this horse and leads me to a bar
The man who took her from her steed and lead her to a beer
Was a bleary-eyed surveyor and a drunken engineer
Godiva was a lady well-endowed there is no doubt
She never wore a stitch of clothes, just wound her hair about
The first man who did make her was a Engineer, of course,
But on just one beer an artsie queer had made Godiva’s horse
They have completely ignored the Muslims! What about all the miraculous inventions created by Muslims?? For this slight Muslims all over the world should storm American facilities and burn them to the ground!
I nominate Theodore Judah. As the chief engineer of the Central Pacific Railroad, Judah surveyed the route over the Sierra Nevada along which the railroad was to be built during the 1860s. He succeeded in signing up four Sacramento merchantsthe “Big Four”: Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins, and Charles Crocker to finance construction of the CPRR. Construction was completed in 1869, with virtually the entire course of the railroad having followed Judah’s plans.
Who he ? (George Smith)
The builders of the pyramids.
Agreed. How about the guy who engineered the wheel!
How many Muslims made the list? NASA was supposed to promote all of their contributions to science and engineering after all...
Edison did a lot of trial and error using teams to try different apsects unil they got a workable solution. Tesla was a genius up there with Einstein. He did everything mostly in his head including the final design. He told the builders and machinists the dimensions instead of writing them down. He built the machines and ran them mentally before they were constructed. He wasn’t the trial and error nor the team developer Edison was. If J.P. Morgan hadn’t interfered with Westinghouse and Tesla, it’s hard to say what inventions may have come out of Tesla’s head. For that alone J.P. Morgan deserves to be scorned.
Westinghouse needs a mention for his inventions. In the end Westinghouse and Tesla proved AC was far superior to DC that Edison advocated by building large scale sysems. Edison used dirty tricks to derail AC power to no avail.
See post 23.
The article ponders what, exactly, Edison invented vs. what he took credit for, but I posit that his most important invention of all was the “idea factory”, a.k.a. R&D as an actual organized effort by teams. Without this, we would still be relying on lone wolves, dreamers and crackpots for advancements, which nowadays would be impossible, given the high costs for incremental advancement.
I was thinking Choo-Choo Charlie..
“The builders of the pyramids. With little technology other than rudimentary tools they built something that lasted centuries and still awe inspiring.”
Heron of Alexandria, hands-down. Way ahead of his time. In some cases, by a millennium or more.
On a more serious note.
Whoever it was that got the Trilithon at Baalbek from point A to point B.
BA Baracus didn’t make the list? What about MacGyver?????
First name that came to my mind as well.
My top two nominees would be John Moses Browning ( http://www.bobtuley.com/johnbrowning.htm ) and Nikola Tesla. I have not checked the list yet.
I thought the same thing...the guy that built the
great pyramid would be on the list
No doubt about Tesla...never knew that his notes
were taken by the gov at his death,Tesla,a mind that
comes around every two or three hundred years
Yep. I've never seen or heard a plausible explanation for that. For some strange reason, Occam's Razor is not allowed in considering the possibilities... /g
I demand that a Muslim be put on the list so that they feel better about themselves.