#EngineeringHero Countdown: Top 10!

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Categories: Civil and structural

28 August 2014 4 minute read


Last week, we asked our twitter followers to tweet us their #engineeringhero suggestions.

The response was amazing, but we’ve counted up the votes and narrowed it down to the top 20. We published the 20 - 11 list yesterday. These are the top 10 engineers as voted for by you.

10) Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858-1937) was a Bengali polymath and writer of science fiction. In 1895, he made a public demonstration of wireless radio, which was ignored by the public. Marconi (no. 17 on our list) was credited for his demonstration two years later in 1897, although Bose is slowly gaining recognition as the true radio pioneer. One of his main contributions to the science world is his research into plant intelligence using the crescograph, his own invention which measured plant response to various stimuli.

9) James Watt (1735-1819) was a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer, known for his improvements to steam engine technology. By introducing the separate condenser into steam engines, he greatly improved their efficiency, and became one of the pioneers of the Industrial Revolution. He also developed the concept of horsepower and the watt, the SI unit, is named after him. Despite his fame and recognition, Watt never gained much money from his inventions, and had to deal with financial problems all his life.

8) Alberto Santos-Dumont (1873-1932) was a Brazilian aviation pioneer, who made the first significant flight of a powered aeroplane in Europe with his N0. 14-bis. Santos designed and built the first working dirigible, after developing many air balloon designs. In 1906 he flew from Parc Saint Cloud to the Eiffel Tower and back in less than 30 minutes, which won him the prestigious Deutsch de la Meurthe prize. There is some controversy regarding who flew the first aeroplane, Santos-Dumont or the Wright Brothers (who also appear on our top 20 list).

7) Grace Hopper (1906-1992) was a pioneering American computer scientist who led the advance of software development concepts. She designed the first ever English-like data processing language, FLOW-MATIC, which greatly influenced future programming languages. Grace Hopper was also a United States Navy Admiral. In 1973, she became the first woman to be made a distinguished fellow of the British Computer Society. Because of her perseverance, talent and stamina, she is often referred to as “Amazing Grace

6) Alan Turing (1912-1954) was an English computer scientist, war-time code breaker, mathematician and philosopher. He is renowned for introducing the ‘universal Turing machine’ in 1936, a pioneering model of a general purpose computer. During the second world war, he became head of a code breaking unit, designing a series of complex code breaking machines called ‘bombes’. His impact on the world of logic and computing was immense, and Turing is considered the father of artificial intelligence.

5) Archimedes (287 BC – 212 BC) was an Ancient Greek mathematician, astronomer and inventor. He is celebrated as one of the greatest mathematicians of all time, and applied his mathematical principles to build many useful objects and machines. One of his greatest inventions is the Archimedes screw, developed to remove bilge water from the Syracusia, a ship that carried up to 600 people. The design was so effective that it is still in use today (more than 2000 years later!), for pumping liquids and granulated solids.

4) Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) was an English mathematician, considered to be the founder of scientific computing. She worked with Charles Babbage on his early mechanical general purpose computer, the “Analytic Engine”. While working on this project, she developed the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine, which is recognised as being the first computing algorithm. Her interest in science was not limited to machines and computing, and she also conducted research to try and map how the brain gives rise to thoughts through mathematical models.

3) Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was a Serbian American electrical engineer and inventor, whose many innovative ideas led to ground-breaking technological developments. He is most famous for working on the alternating current, in a time where most people were still using candle light. Tesla is known for developing many technologies that were implemented by other inventors, namely Edison and Marconi. When Marconi (also on our list) sent the first transatlantic radio signal, Tesla namely said “Marconi is a good fellow. Let him continue. He is using 17 of my patents”. Other inventions due to Tesla are radar, and patents that were later used to develop transistors.

2) Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519) was an Italian Renaissance artist and inventor. He was a true polymath, being an immensely talented artist, engineer and all round scientist. Leonardo’s engineering ideas were vastly ahead of his time, with a range of conceptual designs including the helicopter, concentrated solar power and the calculator. Although most of the inventions included in his notes, most famously flying machines, were never built, Leonardo was an actively productive civil engineer. In 1499 he devised a system of moving barricades to protect Venice, and a scheme to divert the flow of the Arno River.

1) Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806-1859) was one of the greatest English civil and mechanical engineers of the 19th century. He built the Great Western Railway, over a hundred bridges, dock systems and ships, revolutionising public transport. Among his many successes, he is credited for building the first tunnel under a navigable river and developing the first propeller-driven ocean ship. Brunel’s engineer genius wasn’t limited to public transport: he also designed the Renkioi Hospital, a prefabricated building which incorporated the necessities of hygiene by using ventilation and drainage systems.

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